COVID-19 and Pets – What You Need To Know Now

COVID-19 has changed the way we go about our lives and will continue to for many months. When it comes to the virus, there are plenty of questions to be asked, so here are a few answers:

How is COVID-19 spread?

Although it has been theorised that the new coronavirus emerged from an animal source, the pangolin, the current main known route of transmission is human-to-human. 

At present, the spread of COVID-19 appears to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when a person sneezes, coughs or when they come into contact with infected sputum (hand-to-mouth transmission).

Can cats and dogs get coronavirus?

There are species-specific coronaviruses that affect dogs and cats, but it is essential to realise that these are not the same as the COVID-19. The strains that affect cats and dogs can cause mild gastrointestinal signs and, very rarely, can lead to a disease in cats called Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). 

There is a vaccine available for the canine form of coronavirus. This vaccine should not be used for prevention of COVID-19 as the viruses are distinctly different.

Can I get coronavirus from my pet?

No. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread from a pet to a human. Transmission appears to occur via a human touching a contaminated surface and then touching their mouth, nose and possibly eyes. Smooth surfaces such as a countertop or a door handle transmit the virus better than porous materials such as paper and clothing. At this time, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to people from the skin or fur of pets. 

Can pets contract COVID-19 from humans?

Currently, the only pets incidentally exposed to COVID-19 that have tested positive to the virus are two pet dogs in Hong Kong and two pet cats (one in Belgium and the other in Hong Kong). In all of these cases, these pets were in the direct care of someone who had confirmed COVID-19. It was only in the case of the cat in Belgium that there was any suggestion of the pet showing clinical signs of the disease, but it is essential to understand that other diseases that could have caused the same symptoms were not ruled out. This cat has since recovered. According to the World Health Organisation, there is currently no evidence that pets can transmit COVID-19. 

What should pet owners do?

The best way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to adopt sufficient hygiene measures and maintain social distancing. This includes washing your hands before and after handling animals. The Centre for Disease Control recommends that people who are sick, or who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, should restrict their contact with animals (this means avoiding cuddling, kissing or being licked by your pet) until further information about the virus is available. There is no reason to remove pets from their homes if COVID-19 has been identified in members of the household. 

If your pet is unwell, or you have any questions regarding your pet’s health you should always contact us for advice.

COVID-19 Information for Vets in Endeavour Hills

During this constantly evolving situation regarding COVID-19, the safety of our clients, patients and team members is our highest priority. We are in this together. 

Contactless Consults:

We have decided to implement the below guidelines and we ask for your understanding, patience and your cooperation so we can all do our best to protect each other. 

Veterinary care is an essential part of our community – that’s why our clinic will continue to provide all of our usual services during this time.

To focus on safety, we also want to work with you and our team to limit direct contact, and ask that you please follow the below steps: 

• Upon your arrival at Vets in Endeavour Hills, please remain outside the clinic and call us.

• After receiving your call, we will check you in as soon as possible from outside the clinic.

• If you are picking up food or medication, please remain in your car or outside the hospital and call the front desk. We can happily deliver your order to your car.

• If you are not feeling well or are likely to be at risk of exposure to coronavirus, please ask a healthy friend or family member to transport your pet to the hospital on your behalf.

• We will do our best to coordinate your visit from outside the hospital and provide you with follow-up and payment instructions.

Thank you for all your patience and cooperation during these challenging times. It is Vets in Endeavour Hills’s mission is to bring joy, love and the highest level of veterinary care to all fur families.

If there is anything further we can do to assist you and your pets, please do not hesitate to call or chat to one of our friendly team members. 

Your friendly team,
Vets in Endeavour Hills

A Hearty Topic


As February features its heart-focussed Valentine’s Day, we thought that this month would be the perfect time to talk about the heart that matters most: your pet’s.


When it comes to diseases of the heart, knowing what to watch out for really makes a difference. Early detection of heart disease means that medical treatment is able to get underway sooner, which can help your pet to live a longer and healthier life.

Most signs of heart disease are related to a decrease in the function of the heart. The signs, however, can be very subtle and often difficult to detect.


What to look out for:

+ Coughing

+ Reluctance to exercise or tiring easily on walks

+ Laboured or fast breathing

+ Weakness or fainting from exercise

+ An enlarged abdomen

+ Weight loss or poor appetite


What can WE do?

We always listen to your pet’s heart. This physical examination allows us to detect any changes to the heart, as early as possible. Sometimes we might hear a murmur (abnormal blood flow) or an arrhythmia (irregular rhythm). If we do detect a murmur or arrhythmia, we may perform further tests such as an ultrasound, an ECG or X-rays.

Thankfully, we have a number of medications at the ready to improve your pet’s heart function, if needed.


What can YOU do?

If we diagnose your pet with heart disease, you may be asked to keep a record of their SRR. The SRR is an acronym for your pet’s sleeping respiratory rate. Taking record of the SRR is a powerful tool and can be implemented in your own home. The records can help to detect, or improve the monitoring of, left-sided congestive heart failure (CHF) in dogs and cats.

Many of the common heart diseases lead to CHF. When the pressure in the top left heart chamber increases, and blood backs up into vessels within the lung, it results in the blood accumulating in the lungs. This fluid is the cause of the increase in your pet’s respiratory rate.


How to monitor the sleeping respiratory rate

The SRR should be measured when your pet is asleep in their usual environment. 

Repeat the measuring over 2-3 days, then ongoing once or twice a week.

The normal SRR in cats and dogs is often in the high teens or low 20s, at around less than 30 breaths per minute.


When to seek veterinary advice?

If your pet’s SRR is consistently greater than 30 breaths per minute, they could be at high risk of developing congestive heart failure. This means that veterinary advice needs to be sought as soon as possible.

It’s important to note that an elevated SRR can at times be caused by high blood pressure, pain, anaemia, pneumonia, heat stress or even a fever – so a veterinary check-up is always urged.

If you are at all concerned about your pet’s heart health, call us today for advice. 

Giardia – what is it and how you can prevent it

In recent weeks we’ve noticed an increase in the number of Giardia cases in dogs and cats in our community, so we thought we would put up some information outlining what Giardia is, what it does, and what we can do to prevent it.

Giardia is a parasite which inhabits the intestines of dogs and cats, it exists around the world and can also infect humans. Giardia causes infection when it is consumed (i.e. swallowed), so the most common causes of infection include contact with contaminated water (drinking, swimming or playing), contact with faeces deposited by an infected mammal, rolling in contaminated soil, or consuming contaminated food.

The most common sign of Giardia is diarrhoea, however, affected dogs and cats may also suffer from vomiting, lethargy, stomach pain and have a decreased appetite. Some animals may be asymptomatic and not show any signs of disease. To work out if an animal has Giardia generally a faecal sample is tested.

Although Giardia is a zoonotic parasite, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans, this is quite uncommon. As many animals have the disease with no signs, Giardia is generally most concerning to us when it is causing severe diarrhoea, or in cases where the pet or owner has a depressed immune system e.g. is very young, very old, undergoing chemotherapy, etc.

If treatment is required, certain antibiotics and medications may be prescribed by us.

Preventing Giardia
The easiest and most effective way to prevent a Giardia infection is by maintaining routine hygiene practices, especially thorough handwashing. Other ways to decrease the risk of Giardia for you and your pet are:

  • Handwashing after all animal contact
  • Using gloves to pick up animal faeces
  • Limiting the contact your animal may have with contaminated water sources e.g. rivers or ponds at the park, communal water bowls, etc.
  • Cleaning household surfaces, bedding and toys your pet has access to regularly

Please contact the clinic if you have any questions or concerns.

Summer Heat Hazards

As we reach the peak of summer we welcome long hot days and balmy nights. It’s the best time of the year to get out and about with your pet but there are a few hazards you need to watch out for. 

Heat stroke:

It can be easy to overdo it in the summer and heat stress can be very serious in our pets. Therefore, it’s crucial to remember that our pets can’t perspire the way humans do, as they only produce only a tiny amount of sweat through their footpads. They cool themselves down by panting but sometimes this isn’t enough and they start to overheat.

Brachycephalic or flat-faced dogs (French bulldogs, Pugs, Cavaliers, Boxers) are super susceptible to heat stroke but ANY breed is at risk. Keep an eye out for excessive, exaggerated or noisy panting, drooling, weakness or collapse. 

If you think your pet might have heat stroke, bring them to us immediately (or seek emergency veterinary care). It’s best to place your pet in front of the air conditioner or a fan while you are in the car. You can lightly spray them with water and also place wet towels on hairless parts of the body (footpads and groins). You should not immerse them in cold water or use ice as this can cause the body to cool down too quickly and lead to further complications.

Hot underfoot:

Ever heard the term ‘this pavement is so hot you could fry an egg on it?’ The hidden danger on the street this summer IS the street!

Pavement and bitumen (and even sand at the beach) can get so hot in summer that it can cause excruciatingly painful burns and blisters to your dog’s paw pads. Metal ute trays can also burn your dog’s paws. 

We recommend you test the surface by holding your hand to it for a count of five seconds. Or stick to walking your dog in the cool of the day and take the softer (grass) route to the park.

Pools are not always safe:

Pets don’t always like the water and many cannot swim. Never force your pet to get in the water and do not leave your pet where they can access a body of water without supervision. Dogs have been known to fall into pools and drown. 

Don’t let your pet drink the pool water as it can be toxic and wash your pet off after a swim as chlorinated water can irritate the skin and eyes. Moisture in the ears can also lead to annoying ear infections. 

Our top tips for preventing heatstroke:
  1. Never leave your pet in the car even on a mild day as the internal temperature of a car can become like an oven in minutes. Dogs can die in just six minutes in a hot car so don’t risk it. 
  2. Never exercise your pet in the heat of the day and skip exercise altogether on extremely hot days.
  3. If your pet has a thick coat, consider a full summer clip to help them stay cool.
  4. Always provide plenty of drinking water in multiple bowls.
  5. Make sure your pet has access to shade throughout the day, or even better, airflow from a fan (and/or air-conditioning – this is particularly important for Brachycephalic breeds).
  6. Pets should be brought inside on extremely hot days.
We are here to help keep your pet healthy and comfortable over the summer months. If you are worried about your pet you should always ask us for advice.
Christmas dog hiding under blanket

The “Twelve Pet Hazards of Christmas”

We’d like to help make sure your pet stays happy and healthy this silly season so here’s a list we’ve compiled of the ‘Twelve Pet Hazards of Christmas’:

Christmas can be a risky time for your pet. There is usually lots of food around as well as plenty of people, parties and changes in routine. You may not be able to keep an eye on your pet as much as usual and on top of this, we tend to find that pets can get themselves into all sorts of trouble during this period. Keep an eye out for the following hazards, and give you and your pet the best shot at a happy, healthy, holiday season!

Food Hazards:

1. Christmas dinner and leftovers: These are all too rich for our pets and can cause nasty tummy upsets and even life threatening Pancreatitis. We recommend you stick to ‘pet approved’ treats only, and avoid the temptation to feed your pet Christmas ham under the table.

2. Macadamia nuts: While they are very popular at Christmas, Macadamia nuts can be toxic to dogs if ingested. The toxicity leads to muscle weakness, vomiting and tremors.

3. Sultanas and raisins are common in Christmas cakes and grapes make a lovely addition to a fruit platter but they may contain a mycotoxin which can cause kidney failure in dogs. Keep these out of paws reach! 

4. BBQ skewers can be catastrophic for pets if they are accidentally ingested. Take extra care to ensure your pet doesn’t grab one that has fallen off the BBQ. NEVER feed your pet cooked bones as these can splinter, or cause an obstruction, and result in the need for emergency intestinal surgery.

5. Chocolate – dogs can’t metabolise the theobromine in chocolate. Chocolate ingestion can lead to an increased heart rate, tremors, seizures and even death. The darker the chocolate the more toxic, and the size of the dog and amount ingested also plays a part in the severity of the symptoms. Seek veterinary attention immediately if your dog eats chocolate. 

Environmental Hazards:

6. Decorations such as tinsel and fairy lights are very attractive to pets (especially cats) but can lead to a gastric obstruction if eaten.

7. Ribbons and string tied around presents are also super attractive to cats and if ingested can lead to a nasty gastric obstruction requiring emergency surgery.

8. The Christmas tree might be an attractive indoor ‘pee tree’ but can also be a falling hazard.

9. Lots of guests can cause your pet to become stressed and even lead to them trying to escape, so make sure they have a safe and quiet place to retreat to.

10. Christmas lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. The stamen, leaves and stems are all potentially toxic as is the water they are stored in. If possible, it’s best not to have them in the first place.

11. Snakes are out and about and will be all summer. Take care in long grass, around water or areas where there are rodents (grain sheds and chicken pens are common places.)

12. Heatstroke: Never leave your pet in the car during the warmer weather as heat stroke can occur very quickly. Even on a mild day, the temperature inside a car can reach dangerous levels in minutes. Leaving a window down will not help either, so please don’t risk it! It’s best to avoid car trips in the heat with your pet unless absolutely necessary. 

If you think that your pet has partaken in one of the “Twelve Pet Hazards of Christmas,” or generally have any questions, we are always here to help!

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.