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

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.

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!

All About Heatstroke In Dogs, Cats, And Pocket Pets

Summer is finally just around the corner! For our pets, this often means a lot of time outside in the sun. Unfortunately, this does put our much-loved furry friends at a greater risk of heatstroke. In fact, during the summer months, our Endeavour Hills animal hospital is often visited by worried pet owners who aren’t sure what to do when their pets have experienced heatstroke. That’s why today, we are sharing all the information you should know about heatstroke.

 

Why do pets experience heatstroke?

Pets don’t deal with external heat in the same way that humans do. While we have sweat glands all over our bodies, cats and dogs only have a few around their paws, and it’s a similar case for pocket pets too. Panting only works to a certain extent before their internal temperatures begin to rise to a point of overheating. Once they begin to experience heatstroke, their normal body function can be affected which can result in organ damage or even be fatal.

 

3 ways to prevent heatstroke

#1: Provide a well-ventilated, shady area for your pet to play and relax in.

#2: Provide dogs with a paddling pool if they are outside, or give your bird a bathing bowl alongside their water bowl.

#3: Never leave your pet in the car, even if the window is ajar. On a 21°C day, the temperature in a car can rise to 37°C in just 20 minutes. Once a dog’s internal temperature rises to 39°C, they are overheated.

 

Symptoms of heatstroke in pets

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition for your pet and you should contact your vet immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Increased panting or drooling
  • Bright red gums and tongue
  • Collapsing
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness or lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing.

 

What to do if your pet has heatstroke

Heatstroke is classified as a veterinary emergency and as such, if you suspect your pet is experiencing heatstroke, you must take him or her to our Endeavour Hills animal hospital immediately.

In the time you take to get to our Endeavour Hills animal hospital, you should also:

  • Ensure your pet is not in a hot environment anymore
  • Apply or spray cool (not cold) water on your pet and then fan them to speed up the cooling process
  • Place a moist towel over your pet whilst transporting them to the clinic

Vets in Endeavour Hills is a veterinary clinic that offers a number of services, including general check-ups, surgery, and emergency care. To find out how we can help your pet, book an appointment at our Endeavour Hills animal hospital today.

4 Household Items That Are Risks For Your Pet’s Health

Keeping your pet safe is not just about feeding them the right kind of food. It’s often about looking around your own house and removing risks that can potentially harm their health. But how do you know what’s classified as a risk for your pet? Well, today, we’re giving you some examples of common household items that you should be wary of.

 

Plants

While houseplants might seem perfectly harmless, certain varieties can be very harmful to your pets. You should always research whether the new plant you’re planning to buy is harmful to your cats or dogs before you purchase it. If you find that you already have a plant that is potentially harmful, keep it in a place that your pet cannot access.

There are many toxic houseplants on the list, which is why it’s important to do your research and talk to your vet. Here are just a few common houseplants that can be deadly news for your pet:

  • Lilies
  • Aloe Vera
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Yucca

 

Rodenticides

Rodenticides, commonly known as Rat Sac, are designed to smell appealing, and unfortunately, they don’t just attract rats and mice. Your pet might be drawn to them and decide to chew them – which is obviously extremely dangerous for the health of your pet. Therefore, it’s vital to place traps in areas that your pets can’t get to, and only set traps if it’s absolutely necessary.

You should remember that even if your pet doesn’t chew a rodenticide, they can still be poisoned if they choose to attack a rodent that has been affected by the rodenticide. Thus, your best option to get rid of the rodent problem without harming your pets would be to contact a professional exterminator.

 

Food

For a full list of foods that can be harmful to cats and dogs, you should get in touch with your vet.

The most common toxic foods include:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions and garlic
  • Salt
  • Caffeine and alcohol

 

Human medication

Always keep your medication in areas your pets cannot reach. If human medication is easily accessible to your pets, they can be severely impacted. A medication as simple as Advil is a common cause of painful gastrointestinal ulcers in cats, dogs, birds and ferrets.

Some common medications to keep out of reach include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Paracetamol and anti-inflammatories
  • Cold medicines
  • Muscle relaxants

 

What to do if your pet comes into contact with a toxin

You should follow this three-step action plan if your pet has chewed, vomited or ingested anything that resembles a household toxin:

  • Immediately collect any packaging as this assists your vet in identifying the toxin.
  • Collect what you can of the toxic substance, even if it has been chewed or vomited. This also helps with identifying the toxin (particularly if there was no packaging).
  • Get in touch with your vet straight away; symptoms of poisoning may not show immediately and it is safer to be proactive.

 

If you need to take your pet to an Endeavour Hills veterinary hospital, your first port of call should be Vets in Endeavour Hills. We take the health of your pet very seriously and getting in touch as soon as possible could save your pet’s life. Please do not hesitate to call us on (03) 9700 2264 if you are worried about your pet.

Everything You Should Know Before You De-sex Your Dog Or Cat

De-sexing your dog or cat isn’t just about avoiding unwanted pregnancies. They are often healthier as they are less likely to develop certain diseases over the course of their lives. It can also help with certain behavioural problems. If you are a new dog or cat owner and you are unsure about the whole process, don’t stress, de-sexing is a commonly performed procedure. In this blog, we are going through what you should know about getting your pet de-sexed.

 

At what age are dogs and cats de-sexed? Can they ever be too old for the procedure?

 

Most owners have their dogs and cats de-sexed between four and six months of age. Females usually have their first heat from 6 months onwards, so it is good to have them de-sexed before this occurs. If your pet is older and hasn’t been de-sexed, don’t worry! It is still safe and can be beneficial to have them de-sexed at any age.

What are the benefits of de-sexing for male dogs and cats?

 

Getting your male dog castrated means he may be less aggressive towards other dogs, less territorial, less likely to develop complications with his prostate and eliminates the chance of developing testicular cancer. For male cats it can reduce unwanted spraying and reduces their roaming, therefore avoiding fights.

 

What are the benefits of de-sexing for female dogs and cats?

 

Spaying your female dog or cat will stop her going into heat, getting pregnant and producing unwanted litters. The procedure also radically reduces the chances of mammary tumours as well as potentially life-threatening uterine infections (pyometra). The procedure is a little more complicated with females, as the uterus and/or ovaries are removed, however; provided post-operative care instructions by your veterinarian are followed, there is a low risk of complication.

 

How do I prepare my pet for de-sexing surgery?

 

Before you bring your pet to their surgery make sure you have followed the instructions your vet has given you. The big thing to remember is not to feed them from the night before the surgery (water is still allowed). If your dog has eaten in the 12 hours before surgery, they can run the risk of vomiting while under general anaesthetic, resulting in a clogged air passage.

 

To make anaesthetics as safe as possible, Vets in Endeavour Hills recommend and offer an optional pre-anaesthetic blood test for all dogs and cats (even seemingly healthy puppies and kittens). This test will make sure that your dog or cat’s body is functioning adequately and can prepare the surgeon for any unique complications. All animals going under anaesthesia receive intravenous fluids to help maintain their blood pressure and assist with metabolization of the anaesthetic.

 

How long will it take my pet to recover from de-sexing surgery?

 

Your dog or cat will need ten to fourteen days of rest, so they will have to forgo walks for a week and should be discouraged from jumping or vigorous activity. It’s a good idea to be around them for the first couple of days to provide some TLC and to keep an eye on their recovery. Make sure you write down and follow your vet’s instructions. For more information check out our before and after surgery page.

Vets in Endeavour Hills offer onsite de-sexing surgeries. De-sexing is typically a day procedure performed at our fully equipped veterinary surgery. Pet owners bring their pets into the surgery in the morning and are usually able to pick them up the same afternoon. To learn more about this procedure, please give us a call on (03) 9700 2264.

Paralysis ticks are in Melbourne

Along with all the benefits of living in the most liveable city in the world, not having to worry about the paralysis tick was an added bonus.

Unfortunately, thanks to climate change, they have arrived on our doorstep.

I don’t want to be an alarmist and worry pet owners unnecessarily, the risk is still very low and even lower if you and your pet don’t venture much past our neat nature strips and dog parks.

However, for peace of mind, please follow the tips below and speak to your trusted vet if you have any questions.

Tick tips:

  • Keep your pet’s hair short
  • Ticks hang out in long grass. Keep your pooch out! (snakes hang there too)
  • Check your pet’s coat regularly – ticks need to be attached for 2-3 days before they inject their poison
  • Added tick prevention – 100% necessary for those pet owners travelling with their pet either north (towards the Murray) or east of Melbourne (towards Gippsland)
  1. The Bravecto chew will protect your dog for 4 months from the paralysis tick. It can be used safely in conjunction with most other parasite preventions (Advocate, Sentinel etc.)
  2. Cats – unfortunately, there is only ONE product available. Frontline plus Spray – needs to be applied every 3 weeks.
  3. Other tick preventions – Advantix, Nexgard, Serasto collars – may be recommended.

Preparing your pets for summer

The warmer months provide a great opportunity for us to get out into the sunshine with our pets! With the heat comes a few potential dangers – here are some of the more common things to be mindful of over the summer months:

Heatstroke is a common problem seen in both dogs and cats during summer and is very serious. A few simple tips can go a long way to help prevent it:

Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. Temperatures in a car can rise to dangerous levels and can rapidly reach more than double the outside temperature even on mild days. Tinting, parking in the shade, or leaving the windows open do not help to reduce the inside temperature significantly.

If you find your dog panting heavily, doesn’t obey normal commands, has warm, dry skin and a rapid heart beat, he may be suffering from heatstroke. Other signs include vomiting, anxiety and high fever. Try to cool them off with cool water, cold packs and a cooler environment; and of course see a vet as soon as possible.

Avoid walking or exercising your dog at the park in the middle of the day. Apart from the outside air termperature, another good test for this is to take a few steps on the footath in your bare feet – if it’s too hot for you, it is too hot for them!

Senior pets and arthritic animals sometimes can’t get themselves out of their hot kennel. Kennels should always be kept in a shaded area with plenty of airflow around it.

Keep them cool – keep inside if possible, frozen pet treats, ice blocks, paddling pools are all great ideas on those really hot days.

Is your four-legged friend a Pug, Bull dog, Mastiff, or Chow Chow? Dogs with short muzzles like the breeds just mentioned are even more susceptible to over heating, so as their owners, you need to be even more careful.