Vital vaccinations

Vaccination is one of the most powerful tools we utilise to help keep your pet healthy. Vaccinations are safe. They have minimal (if any) side effects and we recommend you vaccinate your pet because, above all, they work.

Quick Vaccination Facts:
  • Vaccinations protect against potentially fatal diseases.
    Many dangerous or life-threatening animal diseases are preventable with the right vaccinations.
  • Vaccinations protect other pets in the community. 
    When there are a greater number of pets vaccinated, the spread of disease is greatly reduced. (This if often referred to as herd immunity.)
  • Vaccinations protect your pet when they are at their most vulnerable.
    If your pet is old, or unwell, their immune system may be weak. Vaccinations ensure that they are protected even in this state.
  • Vaccinations mean you can board your pet.
    Kennels and catteries require that pets be up-to-date with their vaccinations. This comes in handy in family emergencies, or if you decide to go away on holiday.
  • Vaccinations save money. 
    The cost of keeping your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date is minimal when compared to the cost of treating a preventable disease. In other words, it’s better to be safe now, than sorry later!
Core and non-core vaccines

Vaccines are grouped into either core or non-core vaccines. Core vaccines should be administered to all pets to protect them from disease, no matter their circumstance. Core vaccines help protect your pets from life-threatening diseases that can be found, or contracted, anywhere:

Core vaccines for dogs protect against 
Canine distemper virus 
Canine adenovirus (hepatitis)
Canine parvovirus
Kennel cough

Core vaccines for cats protect against
Feline parvovirus 
Feline calicivirus 
Feline herpesvirus
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

Non-core vaccines are not always necessary. This is because non-core vaccines are only required by animals whose location, environment, or lifestyle places them at risk of contracting specific infections.
For example, non-core vaccines protect against:
Leptospira interrogans in dogs, and Feline leukaemia virus and Chlamydia felis in cats.

Remember, we are always available to help identify any risk to your pet’s health. A quick chat, or a check up, can help us determine if your pet needs a non-core vaccination.

How often should you vaccinate your pet?

This depends on the type of vaccine given. For instance, some vaccines will only protect your pet for a year, and there are other vaccines that will give your pet three years protection. A vital part of being a good pet owner is keeping up to date with your pet’s vaccinations.

It’s important that, if you are unsure of your pet’s vaccination status, you talk to us as soon as possible.

A Word from our Vets:

“No matter how often you vaccinate your pet, it is important that we perform a health check on your pet at least once a year.  This helps monitor all aspects of their health. We look to their dental, heart, and joint health, their weight and mobility, and look out for any new lumps or bumps.”

What do I do if I find kittens?

It’s Spring, the season of adorable baby animals, and that means kittens are going to be out in abundance! Already, we have been inundated with requests from kind members of the public to help with small kittens that have been found in sheds and under houses. If you find yourself with a surprise family in your backyard, we have some tips to help you help them. 

If you find a litter of kittens – become a covert-op spy:

If you find a litter of kittens it’s best not to assume that kittens have been abandoned. Whether it’s to hunt for food, perform perimeter checks, or just for a little break – mother cats will leave their kittens for periods of time during the day. Sometimes, she may even be in the process of moving them to a new location when you stumble across them. She will do this one at a time, and only if she thinks you aren’t looking!

The best thing you can do is observe them from a safe distance (think 15 meters at least), secret agent style. Check every hour or so to see if the mother returns. If you spy her moving her kittens about it’s best she thinks you haven’t seen her, or she’ll likely move them again for safety’s sake. 

Helping the cat-family:

  • If you want to help keep mum and her kittens near, it’s best to leave them untouched, but you can leave some food and water in a safe place out of reach of the litter. If mum is comfortable eating and drinking from a place near her kittens, it’s less likely she’ll have reason to leave.
  • If they seem settled, it’s best to ask around (through Facebook, bulletin boards, the good old fashioned phone book) and find out if the cat and her kittens have owners. 
  • If you know that the cats are unowned, it’s recommended that they are trapped and handed in when the kittens are 3 weeks or older. Get in touch with your local rescue or vet for advice on how to do this in a way that won’t freak them out, or separate the family!
  • Avoid separating the kittens from their mum, as they are entirely dependent on her when they are under 4 weeks old.

What to do if the mother cat has not come back:

It’s uncommon for a mother cat to leave her kittens behind. If you have observed the litter (sneakily and from afar) and you’re certain that the mother isn’t returning, then there is cause for action!

Small orphan kittens under 8 weeks can be handed into vet clinics and rescue groups straight away – you can tell how old they are by how they look:

  • Newborns: completely helpless, their eyes are closed and their ears are folded. They can’t stand, eat or toilet on their own, and they also can’t regulate their own heat. 
  • 1 Week: kittens are starting to open their eyes, and to become more aware of their surroundings. Their ears will start to unfold and they will wiggle around on their own a little more. They still depend on regular feeds and toileting from mum. 
  • 2 Weeks: Eyes and ears are open, and you’ll start to hear little mewling sounds coming from them as they discover their surroundings. They have begun kneading, and still can’t retract their little claws. They still depend on regular feeds and toileting from mum. 
  • 3 Weeks: You can tell by now if the kittens are boys or girls, their teeth are coming in and their walking is becoming more confident. They will start toileting themselves, and will be more active and mobile. Some wet food can be eaten.
  • 4 Weeks: Kittens are sturdier, playing with each other, toys and people. 
  • 5 Weeks: Kittens now have a measure of independence, and will be more active – their personalities will begin to show through, they will likely be exploring a lot. They will climb and run and will be interested in solids.
  • 6 Weeks: Kittens are mobile now, can eat cat food – although they will want mum for comfort and some feeds. 

If you need to move kittens who are up to 5 weeks old, they should be placed in a box (good air ventilation is a must) with blankets or towels, ideally with a warm hot water bottle underneath. 

Abandoned kittens should be handed to your vet or a rescue group who can care for them, because when they are young need constant attention and care.
They are lactose intolerant, and will need specialised formula made to imitate their mother’s milk. They will need regular feeds, every 2 hours if they are under 2 weeks, every 3 hours if they are 3 weeks, and every 4 hours if they are 4-5 weeks!

Helping cats and kittens where you can is a great and heartwarming thing to do – but the best thing you can do is ensure that they won’t end up homeless, and pregnant again. Finding forever homes, plus the cost of vaccinating and desexing kittens is no small task. Rescue groups will ensure that they receive the care they need, and when they are old enough – will ensure that the cats are desexed, microchipped and vaccinated. You can do your part by helping us help the kittens by donating time, money, or supplies to vet clinics, or rescue groups like our favourite cat charity Maneki Neko based right here in Melbourne. 

For info about Maneki Neko, and their upcoming Kitten Shower to raise funds for rearing kittens – click here, or check them out on Facebook.

It’s all in the eyes

Pardon the pun, but you don’t have to be blind to see that your pet’s eyes are very important!

Eye issues can be serious. That’s why, if you notice anything unusual about your pet’s eyes, it’s best to have them checked out ASAP. Conditions like conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, uveitis and glaucoma can be very painful and, if left untreated, can go downhill rapidly.

Things to watch out for:
  • Discharge from one or both eyes
    Mucoid, sticky, yellow or green discharge is not normal. Any one of these may be a sign of infection, or other diseases like dry eye.
  • Squinting or excessive blinking
    Similarly, this may be a sign that your pet is in pain.
  • Increased redness on the white of the eye
    Infections and irritation can lead to an angry looking eye. Likewise glaucoma, an increase of pressure in the eye, can lead to redness.
  • Swollen eyelids or swollen eye
    Infections, trauma, allergies or the presence of a foreign body can cause swelling.
  • Your pet is repeatedly rubbing their eye
    Itchy eyes, a foreign body or any type of irritation can make your pet scratch or rub their eye/s. As a result, this can lead to further trauma (often due to a scratch on the eye) and even corneal ulcers.
  • Your pet’s third eyelid is easily visible
    Or is swollen, or very red. The third eyelid is usually hidden in the corner of the eye, but changes in its appearance may be a sign of: pain, a corneal ulcer, a foreign body or even a condition known as ‘cherry eye’.
  • Your pet is suddenly bumping into furniture or walls or seems disoriented
    This can indicate a change in vision and may be due to the presence of cataracts, glaucoma or retinal diseases. A sudden loss in vision may also occur with high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Behavioural changes
    Eye conditions can be very painful. This can lead to changes in behaviour and demeanour – as well as constant tiredness in your pet. It’s amazing how often (after treatment) fur-parents realise just how much the condition was affecting their pet’s demeanour. 
Other Tips

Above all, resist the temptation to use any leftover ointment or drops (human or animal) that you might have at home on your pet. Some medications can actually make conditions worse – and leave your pet in serious discomfort.
Most importantly, the best thing you can do is bring them in to us, and let us determine the cause of any eye problems. 

If you ever think there’s something ‘not quite right’ please give us a call for advice

Kidney disease can be thirsty work

If your pet is thirstier than usual it could be a sign of kidney disease. The increase in thirst may only be subtle but if you find yourself filling up the water bowl more regularly or even notice your pet drinking from the shower recess, you should arrange a check-up with us.

When it comes to the kidneys and exactly how they work things are pretty complex. Having said that, their basic role is to work out how much water should be conserved in the body. They do this using thousands of little factories called ‘nephrons’. Once damaged or destroyed, nephrons do not function properly. As a result, the body doesn’t conserve enough water so your pet will need to drink more to stay hydrated.

Toxins, drugs, diseases or even just old age can harm the nephrons. The alarming thing is, your pet may not show any signs or any changes on routine blood tests until 75% of these nephrons are damaged. Unfortunately, nephrons do not regenerate.

There are two types of kidney disease (also known as renal disease) that can affect your pet. The chronic form of kidney disease is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’ as it can sneak up on your pet and signs may be hard to notice. In other cases, kidney disease can come on quickly (classified as acute kidney disease) and might occur following the kidneys being exposed to a toxin or a certain drug for example.

Other than increased thirst, signs of kidney disease might include:

  • increased urination
  • weight loss
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • dehydration
  • mouth ulcers

There are other diseases that will present with similar signs to kidney disease (such as diabetes) so if there are ever any changes in your pet’s daily habits we need to investigate further. Measuring your pet’s water intake over 24-hours and bringing us a morning urine sample are two things you can do at home to get the investigation process started. A blood test, urine test and a measure of your pet’s blood pressure may then be necessary.

The good news is that there is a new blood test available that can help detect kidney disease earlier than ever before. The result of this blood test is always interpreted with the results of a urine test, routine kidney blood tests and a blood pressure check to help stage the disease and decide what treatment if any is necessary.

If we detect that your pet’s kidneys are not working properly, the earlier we initiate treatment the better. Treatment may include diet modification and even medication that can help reduce protein loss through the kidneys. This can all help slow the progression of this insidious disease.

It’s best to arrange an appointment with us as soon as possible if you notice any changes in your pet’s thirst, urination or any other daily habits. Subtle changes can be an indication of an underlying disease and early intervention is going to help your pet live a happier and healthier life.

Itchy and scratchy

You don’t need us to tell you that an episode of itchy and scratchy can be extremely frustrating for your pet. If the cycle of itch, scratch, rub and lick it continues, it can leave your pet feeling uncomfortable, frustrated and downright miserable. Not to mention the need for ongoing veterinary visits and medication!

A common ‘itchy skin’ condition we see in dogs is atopic dermatitis.
This inflammatory disease is caused by a reaction to allergens in the environment, similar to the common triggers of asthma and hayfever in humans. It is particularly troublesome in Spring and Summer but can occur all year round.

Allergens that can cause a problem include: 
  • Grasses
  • Trees
  • Plant pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Insects
  • Moulds

The signs associated with atopic dermatitis generally consist of itching, scratching, rubbing, biting, and licking. They usually appear in dogs between the ages of 1 and 6 years old.

Common sites your dog may be itchy:
  • Ears (recurrent ear infections are common)
  • The feet and in between the toes
  • The armpits
  • The groin and anal glands
  • Around the eyes

Diagnosis and management of atopic dermatitis relies on a thorough history of your dog’s symptoms and a thorough physical examination. It is essential that all potential parasitic causes (such as the common the flea) and food allergies are ruled out.
Your dog may also undergo further allergy testing and these results can be used to formulate a unique desensitising allergy vaccine.

When it comes to managing the itchy pet, there is, unfortunately, no magic pill that cures all cases. It’s all about prevention, careful management and taking action before things get out of control.
The good news is that there are drugs available that can greatly improve your dog’s comfort and we can discuss these with you.

There are even a few things you can do at home to help your pet stay itch free:
  • Be vigilant with flea prevention all year round for all pets in your family.
    Fleas are THE major cause of an itchy pet and consistent use of flea treatment is easier and cheaper than trying to get rid of the itch. Ask us for the best flea treatment available for your pet.
  • A premium balanced diet is essential to keep your pet’s skin and coat in top shape. This will provide a good barrier against potential allergens – ask us for a recommendation.
  • Always wash your dog in pet-approved shampoo and conditioner. A product containing ceramides can help rebuild the epidermal barrier and reduce allergen exposure.
  • Medication to help reduce the immune system’s response to the allergen can greatly reduce an itch, and can be used both during flare-ups and for ongoing management – chat with us to find out what’s suitable for your pet.
  • If you notice your pet is itching, licking, biting, or rubbing, you should arrange a check-up with us ASAP. The sooner we settle the itch, the less likely your pet is to cause self-trauma and secondary skin infections.
If you would like more information about skin disease and your dog we are on hand to provide you with the best help and advice!

Dental disease stinks

There’s no doubt about it when it comes to dental disease it can really stink! But don’t be tempted to simply turn your head away, as bad breath can be a sign that your furry friend is suffering from dental disease, a sneaky condition that likes to creep up on them.

As the disease progresses, plaque and tartar build up around the teeth leading to an inflammatory condition called gingivitis. Eventually, the gum separates from the tooth and small pockets of bacteria accumulate. This is very painful as nerves are exposed and tooth root abscesses can form.

Dental disease is painful, and can impact the overall health of your pet. If bacteria from dental disease are left untreated, there is a risk that it will enter the bloodstream, affecting your furry friend’s health. Small signals of pain and discomfort can be easy to overlook, but it’s vital that you stay vigilant for the sake of your four legged friend!

Signs of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Redness of the gums
  • Drooling from the mouth
  • Changes to the way your pet eats, or their preferences in their diet 
  • A loss of appetite or weight loss

Sometimes the signs are subtle and you may not notice anything at all. This is why regular check-ups with us are so important as during any routine examination we will always examine your pet’s mouth to rule out the need for further intervention.

How do we treat dental disease?

If we diagnose dental disease early enough, we can implement a treatment plan and slow the progression of this condition.
Dogs and cats with more advanced dental disease need a general anaesthetic to assess the teeth and thoroughly clean the entire mouth, including under the gum line. This helps remove the plaque and bacteria, and treats gingivitis. Radiographs may also be taken to look for hidden problems inside the tooth or beneath the gums. Teeth that are severely diseased and cannot be saved are removed.

Here are our top tips for dental care at home:

  • Make every mouthful count
    Wet and soft food diets are notorious for allowing plaque and tartar to accumulate.We have excellent diets available that are actually designed to clean the teeth as your pet chews. We can also advise you on the best chews and treats available when it comes to dental care. Not every chew on the market is entirely safe for your pet so it’s best to ask us for advice.
  • Brushing is best
    Brushing your pet’s teeth is considered gold standard in home care. We have toothbrushes that enable you to get into the hard to reach places. Keep in mind that it can take a few months for your pet to get used to the idea! Daily brushing is recommended (in an ideal world) however a couple of times a week is better than no brushing at all. If you are using a dental paste make sure it pet-friendly (human toothpaste is toxic to pets). We will show you how best to brush your pet’s teeth – just ask us for a demonstration.

If you are worried about your pet’s teeth you should speak to us. With correct dental care, your pet will be happier and live a healthier and longer life without dreaded doggy, or kitty, breath! 

Is your pet overweight?

When it comes to your pet, you might think that carrying a few extra kilos isn’t a big deal. Unfortunately, overweight pets are at an increased risk of developing a host of diseases such as: arthritis, heart disease, respiratory disorders and diabetes.

Pets come in all shapes and sizes, and due to the variety of sizes and shapes in breeds – there’s no one ideal weight for all of them. The key is to know what to look out for so you can identify when your pet is getting a bit portly, no matter their natural build.

Here are our top tips for determining if your pet is carrying a few too many kilos:

  • Look at your pet from above – an overweight pet will have lost definition of their waist. Instead of an hourglass figure, they may resemble a barrel on legs.  
  • Have a feel of your pet’s ribs – if you can’t feel their ribs easily when you run your hands over their sides, they are hidden under a layer of fat. In some cases, you may be able to feel rolls of fat over the ribs.
  • Can you see their neck? A very obese pet may have neck fat, a pendulous tummy as well as fat deposits over the hips.

The very best way to determine whether your pet is overweight is to drop in for a weight check with us. This will allow us to score your pet’s body condition and, if necessary, start a weight loss plan.

Thankfully, getting your pet to lose weight is easier than you think.

Physical exercise is a must, and it will be crucial to monitor the amount, as well as what type of food you are feeding your pet. Get your family involved in the process too, get them measuring the correct scoops of food per feeding, and stop them sneaking scraps from the dinner table to the pampered pet!

It’s also easy to overdo the treats at home and you might not be aware just how much of an impact these treats are having on your pet’s weight. Keep these calorie translator facts in mind when you are having trouble saying ‘no’ to those adorable eyes:

For the average 5kg cat: a glass of milk is equivalent to a human eating 3 hamburgers! (not to mention the fact that cats can’t digest the lactose in cow’s milk)

For a 10kg dog: a 30g piece of cheese is equivalent to a human eating 1.5 hamburgers!

The best news is, we have diets available that will actually help your pet lose weight, including one to increase your pet’s metabolic rate. We are happy to say that many of our patients have had great success with these so you should ask us for more information.

Helping your pet lose weight is easier than you think and we will help support you and your pet through the process.

Our Guide To Helping Your Dog Lose Weight In 2019

Did you know that around 40% of dogs in Australia are overweight or obese? This shocking number is unfortunately one that contributes to many health issues experienced by the dogs that visit our Narre Warren veterinary clinic. In the spirit of the new year, we’ve put together some simple tips to help you achieve an extra New Year’s resolution: helping your dog lose weight.

 

3 easy ways to check if your dog is overweight

Every dog is different. However, there are a few general ways to check if your dog is overweight:

  • Look at your dog from above. In healthy form, he or she should have an hourglass shape (with tapering at the waist-line).
  • Look at your dog from the side. When viewed at eye level, you should be able to observe that your dog’s abdomen is tucked behind the ribcage (at a healthy weight).
  • See if you can feel your dog’s ribs. If you cannot, it is possible your pet is overweight. To feel for ribs correctly, place your thumbs on your dog’s backbone and spread your hands across the ribcage.

 

Easy things you can do to help manage your pet’s weight

Want to kickstart your pet’s weight management plan now? The first step is visiting our Narre Warren veterinary clinic. Our vets will assess your dog’s unique needs and create an effective, personalised weight management plan that is designed to keep your pet healthy and happy. The plan will usually involve feeding a completely balanced, prescription weight loss food. It is also important to visit the vet clinic continually throughout the weight management process so that your vet can monitor your pet’s progress.

After you get professional veterinary advice, there are a few simple things you can do at home to help your dog lose some weight, such as:

  • Cutting out or minimising treats and bones
  • Not giving in to those puppy dog eyes and avoid sharing your own meal
  • Exercising your dog daily
  • Reducing your dog’s food intake based on your vet’s recommendation on the correct type and portion size for your furry friend.

 

Pet advice at our Narre Warren veterinary clinic

At Vets in Endeavour Hills, we are committed to helping your pet stay healthy. Our Narre Warren veterinary clinic offers a variety of valuable services to help keep your pet in good shape, including our weight management services.

Find out more by calling us on (03) 9700 2264, or by booking an appointment with us online.

The Christmas Treats That Aren’t Pet-Friendly

In December, our Endeavour Hills vet sees a lot of patients with tummy upsets which can often be traced back to too many rich festive foods. Ideally, pets should not ever be fed processed foods as their stomachs have not evolved to digest them and so eating them often leads to diarrhoea and/or vomiting.

 

However, there are some festive ingredients (and inedible) which can cause more serious health issues including:

  • Candy wrappers/toothpicks/skewers: If something smells good, your pet will eat it, even if it’s not edible. These are just some of the things that can get swallowed and stuck in your pet’s oesophagus or intestines.
  • Poinsettias: These traditional flowers are toxic to dogs and cats, so keep them out of reach or out of the house altogether if your pet likes to nibble on plants.
  • Raw or undercooked meats: The bacteria in raw or undercooked meat makes pets sick too! If you do give your pet some meat over the festive season, it should be boneless and without seasoning- lean cuts like chicken breast are ideal.
  • Dough: Once ingested, the raw dough will continue to rise in your pet’s stomach and it can cause life-threatening bloat or alcohol poisoning (from the yeast).
  • Alcohol, tea and coffee: Whilst tea leaves and coffee are only likely to cause a stomach upset, alcohol is toxic to pets and can be lethal even in small amounts.
  • Sage: Toxic to cats, this herb can cause central nervous problems.

Has your pet consumed any of the above? We recommend you book an appointment with our Endeavour Hills vet clinic immediately.

Protecting Your Pets From The Sun

During summer, most of our pet patients visit our Narre Warren North veterinary clinic because they have been overexposed to the harsh sun. In this blog, we are explaining the different health consequences that this exposure can have on your pet. We’ve also put together a quick 5-step grooming guide for owners to care for their pets during summer.

Sunburn

Pets can get sunburnt too! Whilst any breed of animal can get sunburnt, pets with white or lightly pigmented hair are particularly susceptible. Sun damage usually occurs where your pet’s hair coat is at its thinnest. For cats and rabbits, sunburn is most common on the tips of the ears, eyelids and noses; for dogs, sunburn is most common on muzzles, armpits, abdomens and groins.

Like humans, sunburnt pets will have skin that looks red and flaky. Longer term sun damage shows up as thickened or scarred skin with ulceration and crusting. This skin is also susceptible to secondary bacterial infections and sun cancers may also develop.

 

How to protect your pet from the sun – slip, slop, shade

  • If you have an all-white or light coloured dog, or they have a thin coat, invest in sun-protective clothing. (Yes, they make sun shirts for pets!) Just make sure they don’t overheat in them.
  • Use a pet-specific sunscreen (available in our East Kew veterinary clinic) to ward off sunburn. Apply as directed to vulnerable areas twice a day.
  • Try to keep your pets out of the sun between 10am and 4pm. UV rays are at their strongest between these times so keep them in a well-shaded area of your yard or inside under the air con.

 

Pad burn

Did you know: When the air temperature is 25°C, the temperature of asphalt in the sun is 51°C. You can fry an egg at 55°C so imagine what that feels like on your dog’s feet!

The pads of your dog’s feet are as thick as the skin on the soles of your own feet, so walking your dog on surfaces like asphalt, concrete and brick during the summer months can burn the skin in as little as 60 seconds.

The best way to test if the pavement is too hot for walking your dog is to press your own hand onto the surface for 7-8 seconds. If it’s uncomfortable for you, then it will be uncomfortable for your dog.

Other summer walking tips to keep in mind:

  • Walk your dog in the morning rather than the evening, as asphalt retains heat.
  • Walk on dirt or grass paths which don’t soak up the heat at the same rate.
  • Consider investing in protective booties for your dog.

 

Our summer grooming guide

  1. Get your dog a summer cut but make sure they are not shaved all the way down to the skin as this makes them susceptible to sunburn.
  2. Cats typically do not need to be shaved unless they are unable to groom themselves.
  3. Bathe your dog once every few weeks using pet-friendly shampoo. Bathing more often or with products meant for humans can cause irritation.
  4. Check in between your dog’s paw pads after they have been playing outdoors – burrs and grass seeds can work their way into the skin and cause irritation or infection.
  5. Summer is flea and tick season! Make sure your pet is up to date with their parasite control and chat with your vet if you’re planning on taking your pet to the beach (other parts of Victoria and Australia are home to different kinds of parasites).

Vets in Endeavour Hills is a Narre Warren North veterinary clinic that is dedicated to supporting our community with helpful veterinary advice and services. Please don’t hesitate to book an appointment at our clinic today!