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.

Night frights with New Pups

The first few days with a new pup can be a nightmare and particularly trying to get the little hair-ball to sleep through the night.

Getting some sleep

How do you do it? Do you ‘tough love’ the pup and force it to stay in the laundry or outside or do you ‘spoil the pup’ and let it sleep inside, knowing that’s not what you really want?

Let’s look at it from the pup’s perspective. All it has known is its mum, its litter mates and the people who tenderly bred the little wriggler.

As total strangers, you whisk the pup away from the comfort of its litter and throw it into hostile territory – and you expect it to be happy???

Spoil the pup and let it sleep inside!!! Worry not, as you can always get it to sleep outside later.

The first nights

The first priority is to get the pup acquainted with its new home and your new routines but, above all, to make it settled and happy. That’s why you let it sleep inside.

Human company is the important ingredient, so let the pup sleep in your bedroom for the first few nights.

Perhaps you can put the pup in a cage or crate beside your bed. Maybe you can barricade it into a corner of your bedroom or perhaps you can borrow a baby’s play pen to house the pup at night.

The pup will settle more quickly if it eats a meal just before bed and has a comfortable basket or box to sleep in.

Use the ‘Sock-it-to-em’ principle. Mimic its mum’s heartbeat by placing a ticking clock (not easy to get nowadays) in its box and then make it a ‘virtual litter mate’. Get one of your smelly socks. Fill a second sock with a cup of raw rice that you have heated to a safe temperature in the microwave. Place it and several other old socks inside the smelly one and leave this virtual pup with your little buddy to mimic a litter mate. Make sure the rice-sock is not too hot and is seated deep inside the virtual pup.

Alternatively, you can purchase plush toys that have a beating, ticking heart for your pup to snuggle up to.

Conditioning to its night-time abode

Having weathered the first few nights, now we need to move the pooch to its permanent night-time abode. This we do progressively and with a smattering of science to help the process.

Say you want the pup to sleep in your laundry at night. The first task is to make the pup love the laundry. Let’s make the laundry into its ‘Den’.

To do this, associate all the pup’s peak joys in life with the laundry. For instance, feed the pup in the laundry. As you will be feeding it four times a day, that gives the hair-ball plenty of practice to learn to love the laundry.

Better still, feed the pup in unusual ways. Try hiding some food inside a toilet roll core or under an empty plant pot so the pup has to steam-clean his little brain working out how to get to the food.

While it is eating, lock the pup inside the laundry with its food so that the joy of the food is linked with being confined. Once this happy association has started, try putting the pup in the laundry for longer times during the day but don’t expect too much at the start.

If it is noisy, use the ‘Progressive Praise Technique’ to control the noise. At the very first squeak, tap the closed door of the laundry and instruct your pup to be QUIET, but don’t be too gruff.

This should ‘buy’ you five seconds of silence. Praise the pup through the closed door and that should buy you a longer quiet time of, say, 15 seconds. Now reward this longer time with more praise by opening the door and giving the pup a brief cuddle. Close the door once more and if the pup is quiet for a further 15 seconds, then let it out as a reward.

As the pup learns, make the confinement times longer. In no time at all, you should be able to put the pup in the laundry overnight.

Pheromone fun

Next, use the settling science of furry pheromones to help. The Dog Appeasing Pheromone is available from your vet and is a wonderful way of helping a pup to acclimatise to a new home.

The Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) is a synthetic equivalent of the pheromones released from the pup’s mum. These pheromones bond the pup to the mum when the pup is only seven days old and the effect follows into adult life. The DAP is a convenient plug-in diffuser. Place it in a power-point where the pup sleeps and the pup should bond to that area quickly.

Don’t forget to have your pup checked by your vet to ensure he or she is fit and healthy. You can also get the latest advice on worming, vaccination schedules, flea and tick treatments and join a puppy pre-school class as soon as the first vaccination is given. Here you will learn the tools to set your pup up for a happy, harmonious life with your family.

Is your house Pet Safe?

Young puppies and kittens can be very mischievous and inquisitive. Before you bring home your new pet you should make sure your house is as safe as possible.

1. Store any household poisons, such as cleaning agents and detergents, where your pet will not be able to access them.

2. When using rat or mouse baits, cockroach traps or snail baits, make sure they are placed in areas that are inaccessible to your animals.

3. Some indoor plants can be poisonous to your pet and should be kept out of reach or in a room you can close off. Your vet can give you a complete list.

4. Store any insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers in a secure area. When using any of these products in your garden, make sure your pet is safely inside until the area dries and always read the instructions first.

5. Car products, such as oil, anti-freeze and petrol can be deadly to your pet. Keep them out of reach.

6. Medications should be stored safely in a locked cupboard. Human medications, such as painkillers and cold medicines, should never be given to your pet and can be potentially lethal even in small doses.

7. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats. Never leave unattended or offer as a treat. Also keep cigarettes, coffee and alcohol away from your pets, and make sure your garbage is safe from being rifled through. Spoiled foods, plastic bags or sharp objects can be dangerous.

8. Check the placement of objects such as lamps and any electrical appliances that can be pulled over or off a high place onto your pet. Puppies and kittens love to play with anything hanging, like dangling cords and fringes from tablecloths. They also like to chew, so check any electrical cords that may be fayed and could shock your pet.

9. Puppies and kittens may get tangled or hang themselves in cords hanging from blinds. Cut them short or keep them tightly wrapped up.

10. Keep breakable objects out of harms way and small objects that can be swallowed, especially by puppies.