Why De-sexing your Cat is the Environmentally Responsible Thing to Do

On July 26th 2018, the Victorian Government officially declared feral cats to be a pest species on public land. This means that trapping, baiting and possibly bounties can be put into place in order to manage feral cat populations. It’s thought that Australia’s feral cat population first began establishing itself in the 17th century as a result of Dutch exploration. At certain points in history, cats have even been released into the wild by farmers in a bid to control mice and other rodents. However, the major spread of feral cats in Australia occurred in the 20th century as domestic pet cats were allowed to roam and breed. We have often talked about the importance of de-sexing your cat from a health and wellbeing perspective but in article, we take a look at the link between de-sexing your cat, and doing your part to help manage Australia’s feral cat population.

How un-desexed cats can go from fluffy to feral in three key phases

Of course, your tummy rub loving cat doesn’t transform overnight from a beloved family pet to a highly aggressive, 15kg predator, but there is a direct link between the two, and it doesn’t take more than a few generations for your cat’s descendants to go from domestic to feral.

Domestic

Your pet cat is entirely dependent on you for survival and their lifestyle shows it. When properly cared for, a domestic cat has very little impact on the environment and the wider community. Veterinary care ensures they are free from all common feline diseases, have a minimal impact on the local wildlife (by being kept inside at night), are entirely dependent on humans for food, and stay close to home with a territory size between 230 (for female cats) and 500 meters (for male cats). The problem comes when owners fail to de-sex their domestic cats. Animals that have not been de-sexed tend to roam much further, driven by the desire to look for a mate. When this happens, cats often lose their bearings and are unable to find their way home, becoming lost. RSPCA statistics suggest that 9/10 cats which go missing are never reunited with their owners.

Unowned/semi domestic/semi feral

Cats which have become lost or are abandoned enter a state known as ‘unowned’, ‘semi feral’ or ‘semi domestic’. These animals and their immediate offspring are still reliant on humans for their food and shelter but have a much lower quality of life than a domestic cat. They live in large colonies in urban fringe areas such as rubbish dumps and around factories and rely on scavenging or occasional feeds from well-meaning members of the public. As these animals receive no veterinary care, they often suffer from common (and preventable) feline diseases and parasites. Provided there is food around, they will continue to breed and when left unchecked, feline populations can grow at an astonishing rate.

Feral

Around 130,000 unowned cats end up in Australian shelters every year, and over 100,000 of these are then euthanized. The remaining half a million unowned cats that survive into adulthood every year continue breeding and eventually become feral. Feral cats are wild animals which are self-sufficient and survive by hunting or scavenging. In Australia, it’s estimated that there are 0.7 feral cats per square kilometer of land.

 

Feral Cat Facts

  • Feral cats can have 2-3 litters per year
  • It takes 6 months for feral kittens to become experienced hunters
  • Remarkably adaptable, feral cats are present on >>99.8% of Australia’s land area
  • Feral cats live for 2-7 years
  • Feral cats carry a wide range of diseases and parasite which can be passed onto wildlife, humans and other domestic animals
  • Feral cats have a low quality of life with leading causes of death being other cats and disease

Economic Impact

  • The Australian Government spends $2 million dollars per year on feral cat management and research
  • Feral cats cost inflict economic loss of around $144 million per year through bird predation alone

Ecological impact

  • 80 endangered and threatened Australian animals are at risk of feral cat predation
  • Feral cats have been implicated in the extinction of 20 Australian mammal species and sub species including the lesser bilby and the desert bandicoot
  • Feral cats are estimated to kill 75 million animals every night in Australia
  • Feral cats kill around 272 million birds per year or 2-3% of Australia’s bird total population

De-sexing is not just an important part of being a responsible cat owner, it plays a crucial role in protecting Australia’s unique and vulnerable ecosystems. Vets on Balwyn offer onsite de-sexing day procedures and we strongly advise that every cat is de-sexed once they are 5-6 months old. Book a consultation online or give us a call on (03) 9857 8100 to learn more.

 

 

 

Why The Pros Of Dry Food Outweigh The Pros Of Canned Food

As a pet owner, it is imperative to know what kinds of foods are appropriate for your cat or dog. Whether you should feed your pet wet or dry food has been hotly debated among the pet community for quite some time. However, the knowledgeable vets at our East Kew veterinary clinic prefer to recommend dry food for your pet. This is because the pros of dry food far outweigh the pros of canned food, and today we are exploring why.

 

The main pro of canned food

The main pro of canned food is that it is hydrating. This means that vets may sometimes recommend canned food if your pet suffers from certain conditions such as kidney and liver disease.

 

Cons of canned food

The biggest con of canned food is the inconvenience it entails. Unlike dry food, which can be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks, canned food must be refrigerated and often lasts less than a week once opened. This means that in order to feed your cat or dog canned food, you’ll need to buy it in smaller quantities, and make more shopping trips each week – which unfortunately doesn’t suit everyone’s lifestyle.

The other cons of canned food include:

  • It tends to be more costly, which can affect your final purchase decision
  • It is sticky and encourages the accumulation of plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth, which is bad for dental health
  • Canned food can cause disturbances to your pet’s gastrointestinal system, which can lead to issues such as diarrhea.

 

Pros of dry food

The biggest reason why pet owners choose dry kibble is due to its convenience. It is much more cost effective than canned food and only needs to be bought once every month or so. It’s also easy to portion and leave in the bowl for your pet to consume in his or her own time – rather than canned food, which can’t be left out for too long.

Another major pro of dry food is its positive effect on your pet’s dental hygiene. The effect is similar for both cats and dogs. The dry, tough kibble scrapes against the teeth and helps to remove plaque and tartar buildup. In combination with a proper dental routine, dry food can help keep your cat or dog’s teeth nice and healthy.

 

The main con of dry food

The only con of dry kibble is that it isn’t as hydrating as wet food. However, this is easily fixed by providing a bowl of clean water for your pet to drink beside the food.

Vets on Balwyn is an East Kew veterinary clinic that specialises in pet care. With our state-of-the-art medical facilities and friendly, pet-loving vets, we put your mind at ease when it comes to your pet. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

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