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.”

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! 

Our Seasonal Allergies Guide

Spring season is allergy season for pets so keep an eye out for skin irritations and inflammation, excessive scratching and respiratory issues. In particular, we want to highlight three types of allergies which land pets in our clinic around this time of year:

Grass allergies

The pollen from grass can cause an allergic reaction in both cats and dogs. Some animals have the condition for life, some develop it over time. The allergy most commonly shows up as dermatitis- an itchy rash on the skin which your pet will scratch excessively. Scratching often leads to hair loss and wounds, which can then lead to infection. If you notice your pet displaying these symptoms, your first stop should be the vet to rule out parasites and other allergies. If your pet does have a grass allergy, your vet will be able to provide medication to treat inflammation when it appears. Limiting the amount of contact your dog has with grass pollen is also important. Keep your grass mowed down, and wash and dry your dog’s feet when they come in from playing outside.

Purple heart (Wandering Jew)

 This common weed causes allergic dermatitis in dogs when they come into contact with it. Simply walking through the plants can cause redness and irritation as well as loss of fur and potentially even a secondary infection if your pet scratches and damages the skin. If your pet comes into contact with the weed, bring them to the clinic and your vet will be able to soothe the irritation to make your pet more comfortable and stop them scratching so they heal quickly.

Bee stings

 Dogs can have a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to bee stings. Symptoms begin to show up almost immediately and include itching and swelling around the sting area, redness, hives, diarrhoea, and possibly vomiting. If you notice these symptoms, call your vet immediately as time is key when it comes to treating allergic reactions. Some dogs go into anaphylactic shock when stung by bees which is characterised by symptoms including trouble breathing, wheezing, a blue tint to the skin and collapse. If your dog is displaying these symptoms, it is an emergency situation and you should call the team at Vets in Endeavour Hills as soon as possible.

 

The team at Vets in Endeavour Hills have all the skills and resources necessary to help you manage your pet’s seasonal allergies. Book your pet in for an allergy consultation today by calling (03) 9700 2264 or booking online.

 

3 Tips for Happy Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

Everybody wants the best for their pet. Keeping your pet fed, clean and with plenty of water are the basics of taking proper care of your beloved rabbit or guinea pig. However, they have needs beyond these essentials. If they are neglected, your pet may end up feeling distressed. Don’t worry though, keeping your pet happy is pretty easy once you know how to do it. In this blog, we are sharing three ways to keep your rabbit or guinea pig happy.

 

Give them enough space

 

People often suggest rabbits and guinea pigs as pets for people who don’t have a lot of space. If you keep them cooped up in a small cage your little pet will get distressed and bored. If you intend to keep your pet in a hutch most of the time, ensure they have a substantial run area attached to the hutch which gives them room to play and stretch their legs. However, it is recommended that you regularly let your pet out of their hutch/run area to explore and avoid boredom.

 

Proof your house

 

As small and adorable as bunnies and guinea pigs are, they can cause their fair share of destruction. Rabbits and guinea pigs need to be constantly chewing because their teeth never stop growing. Proofing your house will create a safe space for your pet to wander and it will also help protect your belongings. Rabbits are especially known to chew through cords and cables so cover them in some tubing, put them away or create a barrier to keep them away from power boards. Rabbits may also try and chew through table legs and baseboards as well, so keep an eye on them. If you can’t proof your house or keep an eye on your pets when they go exploring, it’s best to set them up in an enclosed playpen.

 

Keep them entertained

 

Like most animals, rabbits and guinea pigs need entertainment. You can make or get toys to keep them from chewing up your house out of boredom. If you have some old cardboard boxes around you can make a little house or maze for them to explore and tear to shreds. Guinea pigs love little places they can hide and burrow in so you can make them a little blanket fort or a pouch they can snuggle in for hours of entertainment.

 

 

If want to know how to give your rabbit or guinea pig the best care possible or if you’re concerned about your pet’s health, Vets in Endeavour Hills offers vet services for pocket-sized pets. Call our friendly vets on (03) 9700 2264 to schedule an appointment today.

Summer Newsletter

Snakes!

As we are heading out to enjoy the warmer weather, so are the snakes that we share our parks and river areas with. Snakes seek out warm places to sun themselves as well as an ongoing supply of food and sometimes travel into homes and yards in search for these. During these searches snakes can come into contact with our pets who get too inquisitive and end up being bitten.

Some things you can do to discourage reptilian visitors in your home and protect both them and your pets are:

  • Keep the grass in your yard and around your fences short, and avoid having piles of rubbish or garden waste lying around
  • Ensure your property is not a attractive to mice and other small vermin such as mice are an attractive food source to snakes
  • Keep cats inside or confined to an enclosure to prevent them from paying a visit to the small critter buffet that the snakes will already be attending.
  • When walking your dog, keep them on lead and stick to the footpaths

If you think that your pet may have been interacting with a snake, please carry them to the car and get them straight to the nearest vet.

Signs of snake bite toxicity in dogs include:

  • Sudden weakness and collapse. Your dog may collapse suddenly after being bitten then rise again and appear fine for a short me while the adrenaline is present before collapsing again.
  •  Muscle tremors or twitching
  • Reduced ability to blink and dilated pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Paralysis
  • Death if treatment not started early enough

Signs of snake bite toxicity in cats include:

  • All symptoms seen in dogs
  • The progression of the toxicity may be slower as cats are more resistant to the venom
  • They will often hide themselves away in a quiet place
  • May appear “floppy” and cry out when touched

When in doubt always bring your pet to the clinic if there is a chance they have been bitten. We have simple in clinic testing that can give us an answer fast and ensure your pet receives instant treatment if required.

 

Feeling the Heat

Things are heating up in Melbourne and now is the time to take action and ensure your pet remains comfortable during the warmer months. Because pets can’t sweat, turn on the air conditioning or even just move their cage to a cooler spot, many suffer from heat exhaustion during summer. Here are 5 hot tips on how to keep your pet cool and comfortable:

Book your long-haired cats and dogs in for a stylish trim

A new shorter hairstyle will help them to look and feel great!

2. Provide shade

Make sure you have a shaded area in the yard for your pet to hang out with a large water bowl. Place ice blocks in the water when you are leaving for work to help keep the water cool. If the temperature is set to skyrocket, bring your pets inside to stay cool with the air conditioning for the day. Even a darkened tiled room with a fan can be better than outside.

3. Bath time 

For dogs and birds, a bath during the hotter parts of the day can be bliss. Most dogs love dipping their toes or bodies in a paddling pool to help cool off. For birds, use a wide shallow bowl in their cage for them to bathe in. Ensure they have their normal water bowl as well to drink from. Refresh the water daily.

4. Avoid walking your dog during the day 

Can you imagine walking around barefoot on bitumen during a 30 degree plus day? If you wouldn’t do it, your dog shouldn’t do it. Take walks early in the morning or in the cooler part of the evening once the temperature has dropped.

5. Rabbits and guinea pigs can really struggle over summer

Place wet blankets or mats in the bottom of their cages for them to lay on and ensure they have a supply of fresh veggies to nibble on for extra moisture.

 

Scratching that Itch

The dreaded itch. An itching, unsettled pet is not a happy one. As we come into spring and summer more pets will develop skin problems in reaction to pollens, food and flea bites. There are three simple things you can do at home to help reduce the itch!

  • Switch to a skin support diet like Hills Dermcare Defense. Skin support diets offer extra nutrients that help nourish the skin and coat as well as strengthen the natural barrier of the skin to help reduce the severity of a reaction to allergens. They are also free of food products that commonly cause allergies in pets.
  • Protect all pets from fleas by using a good quality preventative on all your furry friends. Flea saliva is a common cause of dermatitis in both cats and dogs. A single bite can result in itchy skin for hours. Over summer, flea numbers will rise and they will be looking to jump onto any poor soul that happens to walk past them.
  • If your dog has a grass allergy and gets itchy feet after every walk, try giving them a quick wipe down with a damp cloth or a dip in a paddle pool as soon as you get home. Using an oatmeal based shampoo for full baths on the weekend will also help wash those pesky pollens away and help soothe their itchy skin.

If you have any questions or concerns about taking care of your pet during the summer months, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Vets in Endeavour Hills. Our Endeavour Hills veterinary clinic is open throughout summer and can be reached by calling 03 9700 2264.

Dry vs Wet Food: Choosing The Best Food For Your Pet 

There are lots of decisions to make when choosing food for your pet. Do you opt for the tuna or the turkey? The lamb or the beef? The wet or the dry? Like any decision concerning your pet, it’s important to do your research and consider what your breeder and veterinarian recommends. In this week’s blog, we discuss the differences between dry and wet food, and which is right for your pet. 

Dry Pet Food: Pros and Cons 

Dry pet food is the most convenient choice for storing and feeding. The benefit of dry food is that it can be left out for your pet to eat at their own pace without fear of spoilage. In fact, you can leave food out for your pet for an entire day or even multiple days. This is a great choice if you’re pet is going to be left at home for a day or two. It is also incredibly easy to store dry food – all you need is a large plastic bin with a seal-tight lid to keep insects away. Dry food is also more cost-effective when feeding multiple pets and can be used as an effective training treat and dental health supplement. Some dry food treats are specifically created to help clean your dog’s teeth. 

One con of dry pet food is that they do not provide as much moisture as wet foods. This is important when your pet is ill, older or in hot, dry climates. In these instances, a wet food diet can be more suitable. Dry food can also have smaller amounts of animal-based proteins, which are a significant part of your pet’s development.   

Wet Pet Food: Pros and Cons 

The main advantage of wet pet food is that it is a great source of hydration. This also means your pet can enjoy larger amounts of food without adding additional calories. Wet pet foods can also be better for older animals who have lost some of their olfactory senses or sick pets who cannot smell and have lost their appetite. For dogs with missing teeth, poorly aligned jaws or smaller mouths, wet food is best.

The cons of wet food is that it is messy, easily loses its shelf life, doesn’t offer the dental benefits of dry food and is typically more expensive than dry pet food.

We hope that provides a helpful overview of the pros and cons of dry and wet pet food. At Vets in Endeavour Hills, we provide expert care for your pet. To speak with a veterinary professional, please call us today at (03) 9700 2264.

Keep your pets snake safe

October to March is snake season in Melbourne – our pets are most at risk from tiger and brown snakes. To avoid you or your pet being bitten:

  • Control mice and other vermin which may attract snakes (but be very careful if you are using poisons as bait)
  • Keep a tidy, well maintained garden and shed/garage
  • Always walk your dog on a lead and avoid areas of long grass
  • Keep cats inside or in an outdoor enclosure
  • Attract predatory birds to your property-kookaburras love to eat snakes