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.

 

 

 

What’s The Best Diet For My Dog?

 

Today, the dog food industry is immense and can be overwhelming to even experienced pet owners. With an enormous variety of diet options available, it can be hard to decide what’s best for your pet and source quality products that give your dog all the nutrients it needs to enjoy a long and healthy life. In this week’s article, we’ve put together a checklist of how to go about choosing the right food for your dog. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines only, and we recommend consulting your vet to find a diet that is tailored to the health requirements and lifestyle of your pet.

 

Species-specific diet

The decision around how to feed your pet is one of the most important ones, as this has a huge influence over their overall health and wellbeing. A dog’s diet should contain six basic nutritional components, these are:

  • Water

Water aids in digestion, nutrient absorption, body temperature regulation and joint lubrication.

  • Proteins

Proteins provide dogs with the essential amino acids they need to grow hair, skin, muscles, nails, tendons ligaments and cartilage. It assists with building and repairing body tissues and plays an important role in the production of chemicals such as hormones and enzymes, provides energy, and supports immune function.

  • Fats

Fats provide energy, help in vitamin absorption, play a role in the development and function of cells, nerves, muscle and tissue and are an important component in the production of prostaglandins which reduce inflammation.

  • Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide energy, can assist in regulating blood sugar levels, aids in digestion, supports colon health and provides beneficial fibre.

  • Minerals

Minerals perform an important role in the formation of cartilage and bone, in hormone production, in supporting nerve and muscle function, and in fluid balance regulation as well as in the transportation of oxygen in the bloodstream.

  • Vitamins

Vitamins aid in vision, skin and coat maintenance, appetite, teeth and bone development, reproduction, blood cell production, metabolic and digestive function, nerve and hormone function and immune function.

Factors to consider

Whilst all dogs need these six nutritional elements in their diet, the amounts and proportions they require of each can vary greatly. Some of the factors which you need to consider when finding the right diet for your dog include:

  • Breed

Metabolic function and nutrient requirements vary between different dog breeds.

  • Lifestyle

Working dogs require a different ratio of fats and proteins in their diets when compared to lap dogs because they have different energy needs.

  • Age

Your dog has different nutritional requirements and different stages of life. A growing puppy for example, needs a diet rich in calcium to support the growth of healthy teeth and bones whilst a senior dog with reduced energy levels will need a lower calorie diet to avoid weight gain.

  • Health

The management of some health conditions require diet adjustment. For example, dogs that have trouble with constipation require a high fibre diet to ensure regular digestion, whilst dogs with diabetes will need a low far, high fibre diet to help regulate blood sugar levels.

 

Packaged dog food

For dogs, the basis of any diet should be premium dog food that is high quality, balanced, and complies with the Australian Standard: Manufacturing and Marketing Pet Food AS 5812:2011. When buying commercial dog food, look for:

  1. Lots of a named animal protein at the top of the ingredients label (avoid meat and poultry by-products as these tend to be lower quality)
  2. If fresh meat is the number one ingredient, look for animal protein meal as well. This is because fresh meat alone, often does not contain enough protein for dogs.
  3. Whole vegetables and grains
  4. A best before date that is at least six months away

Try to avoid commercial dog foods that contain:

  • Generic fat sources like ‘animal fat’. Look for foods that mention the animal the fat source has come from like ‘chicken fat’ or ‘duck fat’ as this means it is traceable
  • Sweeteners
  • Artificial colours, flavours and preservatives such as BHA, BHT and ehtoxyquin

 

 

Natural foods

Raw meat and raw meaty bones can be a great addition for your best friend, but make sure to check with your vet first. Sometimes dogs may have misshapen jaws or dental disease, and this could make bones difficult for them. You can also include a small amount of cooked vegetables, but make sure that your dog has access to grass, as this is often their source of vegetable matter and micronutrients. When feeding your dog a natural diet, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You should NEVER feed your dog cooked bones of any kind as these can eaisily splinter and cause serious injury or even death
  • Organ meat should not make up more than 15% of your dog’s diet
  • Raw meaty bones include chicken backs, necks, wings, whole carcasses, lamb necks, turkey necks, pork necks, beef ribs, ox tails and any other meaty bone that can be completely consumed by your dog
  • Marrow and knuckle bones are NOT considered Raw Meaty Bones and shouldn’t be given. We see too many broken teeth and digestive issues associated with Marrow Bones.

 

Regardless of what kind of pet you have, fresh water should always be available to them. If you’re looking for more information about the right diet for your pet, or want advice specific for your dog, seek out help from a vet. The team at Vets On Balwyn are experts when it comes to the nutritional requirements of dogs and will help you find the right dietary solution for your pet’s needs. Get in touch with us 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

Introducing: The pets behind the vets

Meet Macy

Christmas Foods to Avoid

Macy is an Airedale Terrier, who is almost five years old.

Her best trick is a classic – it’s where she pretends not to hear Dr Kevin’s call or instructions. That is, until the treats come out and then her ears are magically open!

Macy is relatively healthy aside from a sensitive stomach and allergies. Dr Kevin has to keep her diet relatively bland, despite her insistence that she would be fine with leftover lamb, otherwise she develops colitis (inflammation of her bowel) for a few days. Macy is also allergic to fleas, if she misses her monthly flea treatment the itching of her backside and licking of her feet becomes quite intense.

Macy’s favourite toy is a very squeaky and noisy rubber hedgehog. Dr Kevin has to keep a supply of them at home otherwise when she exhausts the squeak the fun is over!

Via:: Dr Kevin Pet Advice

Pups on the beach

Cooling off at the beach is a great way to turn your hot dog into a cool dog. As long as it isn’t too hot and you have plenty of water on hand, a trip to the beach with your dog can be an amazing way to spend a summer’s day. Below we have listed some of the best dog friendly beaches in Melbourne.

Port Melbourne Beach

This beach is between Lagoon Peir and South West to Dow Street, St Kilda. It’s a popular spot and a great plays to socialise your pup.

Ruffey Lake Park – 99 Victoria St, Templestowe, 3106

Not technically a beach but this reserve has large areas where your dog can enjoy some off-leash freedom and a dip in the lake.

Gardeners Creek Reserve Burwood- Sixth Ave, Burwood 3125

Again, not technically a beach but this fenced in dog park offers an off leash play area that includes sand and water.

Brighton Dog Beach – 19 Seacombe Grove, Brighton 3186

Located in Melbourne’s southeast, this dog beach allows for off-leash playtime in a fenced off area. It’s a popular pup destination so is also great for socialising.

West Beach St Kilda – 330A Beaconsfield Parade, St Kilda West 3182

West Beach is close to the City and offers off-leash fun with plenty of space for playing and splashing in the water.

 

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