4 Pet Toxins In Your Home

While we may be aware of what can poison us, we can’t always say the same about knowing exactly what will harm our pets – especially since they generally seem willing to give anything a go. Today, we’re assessing some things we might have in our homes that could be bad news for pets.

 

Plants

Some common houseplants that can be deadly to your pets include:

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

 

There are quite a few more plants that are harmful to cats and dogs. It is vital that you conduct your research before bringing a new plant home.

 

While pets generally avoid plants that are toxic to them, there is a chance that they can nibble on these plants anyway out of curiosity (and we all know how that can turn out for cats)! To avoid this, ensure these plants are not accessible to your cats or dogs.

 

Food

We all know that chocolate is bad for your pets. However, did you know that grapes, salt, tomatoes, garlic, onions and avocadoes are also toxic to your pets, with some of these foods even causing death? Xylitol (found in sugar-free gum) is another common and harmful toxin. It is important to check exactly what kinds of human foods can be harmful to your cats and dogs.

 

Human medication

Anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil are a common cause of gastrointestinal ulcers in cats, dogs, birds, and even small mammals like hamsters or ferrets. Again, the best way to prevent this is to ensure that your pet cannot easily access your medication.

 

Other harmful (and common) medications include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Paracetamol
  • Cold medicines
  • Muscle relaxants

 

Rodenticides

Rodenticides – such as rat or mouse bait – are pet toxins because they are designed to attract them. Moreover, the poison can be transferred to your cat if it eats a poisoned rat. For this reason, it is advised that you exercise extreme caution when placing bait. Symptoms such as weakness, coughing and depression tend to appear up to four days after ingestion.

 

What do I do if my pet has ingested any of the above?

It is a good idea to collect any remnants of what your pet may have chewed or vomited (including labels or packaging) in a zip-lock bag. This can help make clear exactly which toxins are involved, and may save the life of your pet.

 

The next thing you should do if you suspect your pet has swallowed any toxins is to contact a vet. Calling a vet as soon as possible is imperative, as some symptoms may take hours or days to show. The Vets on Balwyn veterinary clinic in Balwyn North can assess your pet in a timely manner if you’re concerned for your pet. Call us today on (03) 9857 8100.

Feeding your Senior Cat

Cats spend approximately 40 per cent of their lives as seniors. It’s therefore important that they eat the correct food to maintain optimal health. Senior cats have different nutritional requirements than their younger counterparts. Well in this week’s blog, we give you our advice on how to how feed a senior cat to ensure they remain healthy and happy throughout their golden years.

How to feed a senior cat

When cats get older, their nutritional requirements change. Senior cats are less active, tend to spend more time indoors and have a slower metabolism – meaning less calories and less fat are required in an older cat’s diet. However, what senior cats do need more of is high-quality, easy-to-digest protein. This is essential to supporting a senior cat’s overall body condition.

So, a good senior diet is one that includes high-quality, low-fat protein and easy-to-digest carbohydrates for energy. The key minerals provided in these foods will support ageing joints, while the vitamins and proteins help fight infections that the body may become vulnerable to as the immune system declines.

Senior cat foods

It is best to transition older cats to specially formulated senior cat food. These foods are created to provide high-quality protein and lower levels of phosphorous to reduce the strain on kidneys. They also included added Vitamin E to strengthen one’s natural defences. Manufactured senior cat foods also contain less calories to help maintain your cat’s overall body weight as their activity levels drop.

An older cat will also have a weaker ability to smell and taste. This can hinder their capacity to chew effectively, too. So, make sure to feed your cat smaller, softer pieces of food to ensure they get the most out of their meals.

To familiarise your cat with the new food, start by mixing the new food with the old and slowly build up the portion over a week to ten days until you are only feeding the new senior formula food.

Senior cats with special needs

Whilst this is the standard diet we recommend for healthy senior cats, animals with certain age-related health conditions can have dramatically different nutritional requirements. For example, senior cats who suffer from kidney disease need a diet very low in protein and salt to remain healthy. The best way to determine your senior cat’s nutritional needs is to bring them in for a regular blood screen every six months at our Balwyn clinic. Dental disease can also affect the appetite of senior cats as oral pain or discomfort may cause them to eat less or avoid eating certain foods that require more chewing.

 

At Vets on Balwyn, we know better than anyone that every senior cat is different and has their own unique needs. We can tell you from experience that the needs of an 8-year-old senior cat are very different to those of an 18-year-old senior cat! To make sure your senior cat is eating the right diet for their health, we recommend bringing them in for a check-up and blood test once every six months. Regular appointments with the vet mean we can monitor your cat for any changes in condition, which in turn enables us to diagnose and treat age related diseases early. Make an appointment for your senior cat at our Balwyn clinic today by calling (03) 9857 8100.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Allergies? ‘Snot A Problem

Spring is already upon us, and with so much pollen in the air many of us use of hay fever medication to keep allergies at bay. But what about your pets? For cats and dogs, it’s a little more complicated to minimise the problems that come with environmental allergies. In this week’s article, we’ll be going over pet allergies in greater detail, so that you can help your furry friend enjoy the rest of spring.

 

What are some of the allergy symptoms?

While we may not speak the same language as our pets, they’re generally pretty good at letting us know that something isn’t quite right. For example, pets that are itchy are difficult to ignore. Itchiness is often symptomatic of allergies, so if you notice any excessive hair loss, licking or raw, red spots on your dog it may be a sign of an allergic reaction (and time to take them to the vet). Luckily, it’s rare for cats to suffer from seasonal allergies, although many sneeze due to irritation from pollen. Those cats that do struggle with allergies will show similar symptoms to dogs such as scabs and hair loss.

 

What can I do if my pet has allergies?

One of the best ways to manage your pet’s allergies is to simply limit their exposure to pollen. This can involve a weekly bath with a skin supportive shampoo, or wiping your pet’s paws and belly after they have been outside to remove the pollen. These are great steps to take, but don’t ignore house dust and dust mites found inside the home – these are often the worst culprits! Ensure that you’re cleaning your house regularly by vacuuming carpets and washing linen on a weekly basis. It’s also a good idea to consider paying close attention to the areas of your home where your pets spend most of their time. When it comes to your pet’s favourite toy, you can freeze these plush toys every now and then to kill any dust mites that may be lurking – just make sure to do so while your pet isn’t watching!

 

Many pets that suffer from skin allergies are also extremely sensitive to flea saliva, with one bite can cause them to madly scratch for hours if not days. Using a regular flea preventative can protect your pet (and your household) from these pesky blood suckers. Speak to one of our friendly staff members about the best preventative for your pet.

 

While these tips are helpful, if your pet is suffering from seasonal allergies, truly the best thing you can do is visit your local vet for advice. Veterinarian professionals are in the best position to diagnose the allergies, and provide you with medication that is appropriate to your pet. For expert support and advice on a range of issues including allergies, call Vets on Balwyn today on 9857 8100.

How To Choose The Right Pet For Your Family

Introducing a furry friend into your home can be an incredibly exciting time, but it’s important that you make an informed decision about the right pet for your family. Among other factors, your family size, housing situation and amount of time you’ll be able to dedicate to your pet will impact this choice. In this article, we’ll be going over some questions to consider if you’re thinking about getting a new pet.

 

What type of pet should you get?

Are you a cat or a dog person? Or are you someone who likes both, or neither? These are important questions to ask yourself before choosing a new pet. In general, dogs will require a considerable time investment as they need to be taken for walks, trained properly and prefer not to be left alone for long periods of time. In contrast, cats are much more independent, but will still require lots of love and affection. If you’re time poor and looking for something more low maintenance, a rabbit or guinea pig can be a great place to start as they don’t require a lot of space and are relatively quiet whilst still being incredibly affectionate pets and full of personality.

 

What kind of pet will best suit your lifestyle?

Aside from time commitment, different types of animals have different lifestyle needs and you need to thoroughly research these before you make any final decisions. For example, dog breeds like a kelpies, Labradors and border collies need an outdoor space to run around and exercise. Breeds like these are also highly intelligent and energetic, so they’ll need toys to amuse them and you’ll need to schedule in regular play time to ensure they get the mental stimulation they need. By contrast, dog breeds like Boston terriers, pugs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Shih Tzu are well suited to apartment life or small space living, as they tend to prefer the quiet life indoors and are quite content as long as you take them on daily walks. However, it’s important to remember that many lap dog breeds like Shih Tzu, Maltese and Yorkshire Terriers require daily brushing and regular trips to the groomer so you’ll need to become handy with a brush and deshedding comb.

 

Where should you get your new pet from?

Once you’ve decided what kind of pet to get, you then need to consider where you’ll buy that pet. If you’re sold on one particular breed or another, it’s best to do your research to find an ethical breeder. The best place to source an ethical breeder is through a registered breeding club which exists for both dogs and cats in Victoria.

 

As an alternative, mixed breed dogs or cats are generally much less prone to illnesses or genetic diseases, and can be a great option for many families. The RSPCA and other local rescue shelters are some places where you can find mixed breed pets. In doing so, you’ll most likely be saving that animal’s life, and supporting those organisations to continue their work. But a word of caution- visiting rescue shelters can be an overwhelming experience, especially for children, so make sure you’re prepared before you go.

 

To make the best decision, you must consider factors such as lifestyle, environment, temperament and other social needs. It may sound obvious, when you’re bringing a new pet into your home, it’s a long lasting commitment. If you’re unsure, reach out to an animal welfare organisation or your local vet, as they’ll be able to give you the most relevant and comprehensive information.

 

If you want some professional advice in choosing the right pet for your family, the team at Vets on Balwyn are more than happy to help. With a comprehensive knowledge of all kinds of domestic pets, we are well placed to advise you on the right fur, scale or feather baby to add to your family. Get in touch with us today by calling 03 9857 8100.

 

 

 

How To Introduce A New Puppy to Your Cat

The age-old battle between the animal kingdom’s greatest ‘enemies’ has been exaggerated in pop culture but has never actually been scientifically proven . Nonetheless, introducing a new puppy to your household if you already have a cat can be a sticky diplomatic situation and a stressful time for both pets and owners. In this blog, we’ll be debunking the dog and cat rivalry myth and sharing some tips on the best way to introduce a new puppy into your household.

 

Do cats and dogs hate each other?

While their differing behaviours may lead to some conflict, cats and dogs are actually pretty similar in many ways. Because cats and dogs are carnivores, in the ‘wild’ they would compete for prey, or may feed on each other if there were no other food sources around. Whilst they might be competing predators, dogs don’t actively hunt or chase cats or vice versa. Problems can arise however, when cats and dogs cohabit in the confined territory of your household.

 

What’s the major cause of conflict between cats and dogs?

The answer to this question lies in their ancestry: cats are evolved from the lonesome Arabian wildcat, whilst dogs evolved from the wolf, a highly social animal that generally travels in packs. Cats like to hang back, assess the situation from a distance and treat others with suspicion until they’re comfortable. On the other hand, dogs often interact in a way that is highly dynamic, and will bounce right up to someone new. Cats may interpret this behaviour as a threat, and run away, prompting the dog to chase them, thinking it’s a game. In this situation, neither the cat nor the dog understands the other’s motivation behind the behaviour, which can cause problems.

 

What can I do to ease the transition of a new puppy?

It may not seem fair, but the new puppy essentially has to learn the cat’s language. In the initial introductory period, it’s a good idea to place the puppy and cat in different areas of the house so that they are close enough to smell and hear one another without direct interaction. Make sure you spend time with each pet individually, as this can help both relax and avoid jealousy. Once they’re familiar with the scent and sound of one another and you’ve given them lots of reassuring cuddles, it’s time to set up a face to face meeting. In the beginning, hold the puppy on a leash so that the cat has time to adjust and can retreat if it needs to. Over time, both animals will learn to share the space and your affection, and may even become friends.

 

Luckily, domesticated animals such as cats and dogs are highly adaptable to new situations and environments. As long as you supervise the interactions between your new puppy and cat in the beginning to ensure there’s no animosity between the two, they should be able to peacefully cohabit. If you find yourself struggling to introduce your puppy and cat, Vets On Balwyn is here to help with advice and even behavioural training if necessary. Get in touch with us today by calling (03) 9857 8100.

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.

The Easter treat your pets should avoid

The best part of Easter is the sweet treats that fill your house, but not for your pet! Cats and dogs should avoid the types of Easter foods you’ll be snacking on.

Every year we warn pet owners on the seriousness of chocolate poisoning. But why is chocolate so bad? Surely a little bit won’t hurt?

The truth is, even a small amount of dark or cooking chocolate can cause very serious problems. No matter what those dark brown eyes are telling you – give them something safer! It’s not worth it.

Chocolate poisoning is caused by excessive intake of the methyl-xanthine alkaloid, theobromine. Although dogs are the most susceptible, the toxin has been known to affect or kill cats, birds, rodents and reptiles as well.

Different types of chocolate contain different concentrations of this dangerous chemical. The biggest threat is from cooking chocolate, followed by semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, and hot chocolate.

The symptoms of poisoning in your pet may include vomiting, diarrhoea hyperactivity, tremors, irregular heart rate and seizures. Heart failure, weakness, coma, and death can occur 12 to 36 hours after intake.

If your pet has ingested chocolate, get your pet to [Vets on Parker / Vets on Balwyn / Vets in Cranbourne] immediately. We will be able to get your pet to vomit, which will hopefully remove most of the ingested chocolate from their system. In some more serious instances, pets need to be hospitalised or treated for cardiac problems or seizure activity.

The best way to keep your pet safe is to keep the chocolate well out of reach!

Via:: Dr Kevin Pet Advice

Scratch your pet’s itch

As veterinarians we can always give medicines to stop that itch, but not all of these medicines are safe to use long term. What we need to do is work together (pet owner and vet) to find out why they are itching.

Below are some simple tips and first steps to help reduce that itch:

1: Monthly flea control

All dogs and cats with sensitive skin benefit from a good quality flea control. Pets that are allergic to flea saliva only need one flea to bite them once a week to set off an intense allergic reaction. You don’t need to see fleas for them to be the cause of the problem.

Flea collars, flea powders and flea shampoos do not cut it! Ask your trusted vet for advice on what flea control you should use.

2: Bath time

If your pet has been scratching, but the skin isn’t raw or showing signs of inflammation, you can administer a lukewarm bath with a medically approved anti-itch shampoo to relieve the symptoms.

3: Fish oil supplementation

Supplementing your pet’s diet with fish oils can be incredibly beneficial. Not only will this natural anti-inflammatory aid in managing your pet’s skin problems it will also provide additional benefits for their joints, cardiovascular system and kidney health! We recommended 1000mg fish oil per 10kg body weight daily or utilizing a special skin support diet which has fish oil added already.

What your vet can do

Whatever the cause of itching, it’s important to take your pet to see a vet for peace of mind. If your pet has badly scratched themselves there may be an infection or painful sores that need professional care.

Your vet is likely to check for fleas, take a skin scraping to check for signs of mange and take an earwax sample to rule out ear mites as the cause. In some cases your vet may also perform a fungal culture to rule out the possibility of ringworm.

Once the cause has been found most cases can be resolved so that your furry family member can return to a scratch free life.

Via:: Dr Kevin Pet Advice

Dr Kevin’s top 5 tips for summer!

Our very own Dr. Kevin provides 5 top tips for keeping your pets happy this summer.

Build the exercise up slowly

The New Year is here, and it’s time to step back into our exercise routines (or start new ones!). Australians love Summer and so do our dogs. More daylight means more hours to spend at the park, longer walks and the chance to hit the beach too. But take heed – exercise related injuries are very common in spring. Remember that your dog’s fitness might have dropped off just like yours, so make sure you don’t go too hard too early.

That prickly feeling – Grass seeds

A sore paw, an itchy ear, a new lump and even sneezing – all problems which can be caused by grass seeds. Needless to say, I spend a lot of my time during summer treating problems like these.

My number one tip – check your pet’s entire coat thoroughly after a visit to the park. Pay particularly close attention to the feet, ears, under arms and groin. Keeping your pet’s coat short in summer also reduces the chance of them picking up grass seeds at all.

The summer heat!

Did you know that the only way dogs and cats can lose body heat is through panting? Heat stroke is a common problem seen in both dogs and cats during summer and is very serious. So how do you prevent this from happening to your pet? The good news is that it’s an easy fix:

  • Keep them out of the car
  • Avoid walking your dog or taking them to the park in the middle of the day
  • Senior pets and arthritic animals sometimes can’t get themselves out of their hot kennel. Kennels should always be kept in a shaded area.
  • Keep them cool – frozen pet treats, ice blocks, paddling pools are all great ideas to help your pet
  • 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.

Australian wildlife

I am going to be totally honest with you here – wild snakes are not my favourite. Not because they are slithery and slimy, but because they kill our pets. Tiger snakes and brown snakes are the most common species which envenomate our pets. See my tips below on ways to reduce the risk:

  • Keep the grass directly around the house short
  • Control mice and other vermin, which may attract snakes, however be VERY CAREFUL if using poisons as rat bait.
  • On walks keep dogs on lead and avoid areas of long grass.
  • Keep cats inside your house or in an outdoor cat enclosure.
  • Use snake deterrents – available online
  • Attract kookaburras to your property – snakes are one of their favourite food

Swimmer’s Ear

Who doesn’t like a swim to cool down during summer? Like many dog owners, I think there’s nothing better than seeing my Macy pounce into the water after a ball or better yet, swim out with me at the beach. However, be warned of the dreaded post-swim ear infection – it’s really common. Any water getting inside your dog’s ear may lead to an ear infection. That’s why I clean Macy’s ears with a gentle ear cleaning solution after swimming and after a bath.

Via:: Dr Kevin Pet Advice