Obesity in Pets

Obesity is a condition where your pet has an excess amount of body fat. Obesity can develop for many reasons and is known to impair your pet’s health and wellbeing.

Reasons why your pet may be overweight:

  • Overfeeding – The guidelines on the bag of food are just guidelines and need to be adjusted based on individual needs.
  • Genetics – Some individuals and breeds are prone to obesity e.g. Golden Retriever, Labrador, Cairn Terrier, just to name a few.
  • Too many treats – Pet treats are often high in calories, and with 4-5 treats given daily this can equate to an extra meal.
  • Lack of exercise – An inappropriate level of activity for the quantity of calories consumed.
  • Metabolism – Neutered animals have a lower metabolic rate than entire animals, so need less food.
  • Some medical conditions promote weight gain.

Problems of an overweight pet include:

  • Arthritis – Due to stress on the joints, leading to joint degeneration and pain. • Respiratory problems – With excess fat forming around the chest, the pet is less able to take deep breaths, the lungs are not able to fully inflate and coughing results. The pet can also overheat more easily.
  • Diabetes mellitus – Excess body fat leads to insulin resistance.
  • Liver problems – The liver stores fat so when a dog or cat is overweight there is an increased build-up of fat in the liver, resulting in decreased liver function.
  • Reduced life span – Studies have shown that pets kept on the slender side of normal lived an average of 2.5 years longer than overweight pets.
  • Reluctance to eat a more appropriate diet – A diet high in treats and feeding human food, is potentially more appealing than a premium diet food (especially for the owner).
  • Increased surgical and anaesthetic risk.
  • Heart disease – Overweight dogs may have high blood pressure which can lead to congestive heart failure and other health problems.

What can be done for your pet?

  • A veterinary consultation to ensure no underlying health problems are present.
  • Dependent upon fi ndings from your veterinarian, management options usually involve diet modifications and exercise recommendations.
  • Feeding a set amount at specific meal times helps reduce snacking and grazing.
  • Regular weight checks with your vet clinic to ensure the pet is heading in the right direction i.e. Losing and not gaining weight. The nurses at Levin and Horowhenua Vets provide these weight clinics and are more than happy to help you to manage your pet’s weight.
  • Regular exercise for the pet e.g. Play activity or walking.


Image result for dog in hot carSummer is here, the warm days are enjoyable, but we need to be watchful for heatstroke in our pets.

Heatstroke occurs when the body temperature of our pets is raised above 40 degrees C., causing heart and brain issues and can quickly lead to multi-organ failure. Signs of heatstroke include excessive paning, red or pale gums, red tongue, loss of coordination, collapsing, vomiting and diarrhoea, mental dullness, seizures and death.

Dogs cannot sweat, instead they lose heat through panting (evaporation), lying on cold surfaces (conduction) and via voll water or air (convection). All these methods are much less effective with hotter environmental temperatures and higher levels of humidity.

In hot weather limit exercise during the heat of the day, and ensure your pet has plenty of fresh water and shade. It is important to never leave your pet in a hot car, even if it is in the shade and with widows partly down.

Other risk factors for heatstroke include:

  • Obesity
  • Brachycephalic dogs (short nose so less effective panting)
  • Laryngeal paralysis dogs (noisy breathing  most common in older dogs)
  • Heart disease
  • Certain medications

If you are concerned your pet is experiencing heatstroke, please contact your vet immediately, and start slowly cooling y our pet by covering them in wet towels (do not use ice). Veterinary treatment involves trying to correct the cardiovascular impairment, and prevent multi-organ failure.

Instead of taking y our pet out in a hot car this Christmas, consider buying them some new toys and treats to keep them happy at home. We have a great range of products at Levin and Horowhenua Vets to fill your furry pets’ stockings, so come down and take a look.

We’re Celebrating 80 years!

Open Day BannerOn Saturday November the 16th from 2pm to 4pm, Levin and Horowhenua Vets will be celebrating its 80th anniversary with an open day and festivities.

The practice has undergone many changes over the last 80 years, reflecting the need and expectation for effective treatment for your animals. It started in 1939 as a small collection of rooms behind the old dairy factory with a single veterinarian, progressing to the purpose built facility we use today with 16 veterinarians on staff. Equipment and techniques have evolved over time, with the hospital resembling much more of the human grade hospital we know of today.

We are very proud of what we do at Levin and Horowhenua Vets, and what we offer you and your animals. Come on down to 518 Queen Street, see how we can provide you with an excellent level of care and have a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look around the clinic. Our staff will be on hand to show you around and explain what we do and how we do it, as well as answer your questions. Bring the family along and have a great day.

Festivities include:

  • Behind-the-scenes tour of the clinic, with interactive and informative displays, and a chance to ask our staff any questions that you may have.
  • In-store specials and promotions, including ‘pay only 80%’ for our 80th anniversary on all pet foods, as well as plenty of special purchase bargains in store.
  • Photo competitions
  • Colouring in competition
  • Teddy Bear First Aid Clinic. If your child has an injured teddy bear they can bring it down to the Teddy Bear First Aid Clinic for a check-up or stitch-up.
  • Food and drink available
  • Face Painting
  • Story telling
  • Official celebration at 3.30pm with photo competition prize giving.

We look forward to seeing you all on the 16th November.

Best Practice Accreditation, what does it mean for you and your pet?

Best PracticeLevin and Horowhenua Veterinary Centre is the only local clinic with Best Practice Accreditation.

Best Practice Accreditation is the sole quality accreditation programme in New Zealand for veterinary clinics and hospitals, ensuring the highest standard of care for your pet. It is currently a voluntary programme for practices, which means you know that your veterinarians stand by their excellence, as they undergo voluntary auditing every two years.

What does this mean for you and your pet? 

When you choose a Best Practice Accredited clinic, you can be confident that your pet is receiving a high standard of care, by highly trained professionals, in modern well maintained facilities. This means that when your pet is examined, treated or undergoing a procedure, we use modern medicine or surgical techniques, and your patient is monitored throughout the procedure by a registered nurse with modern monitoring equipment.

This can be reflected by considering our points of difference with a routine cat spey.

In clinic, there are separate areas for cats and dogs in reception as well as separate cat and dog wards in clinic. In addition, we use pheromone diffusers (Adaptil and Feliway) in all clinical areas to reduce stress. All animals receive a pre anaesthetic exam, pre-emptive pain relief prior to the procedure, intravenous catheterisation, monitoring throughout the procedure (a minimum of blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate and respiratory rate with additional monitoring for compromised patients), post-operative pain relief, and free post op checks. We take pain management seriously and often use multiple types of pain relief to keep your pet as comfortable as possible.

On Saturday November the 16th from 2pm until 4pm, Levin and Horowhenua Veterinary Centre will be celebrating its 80th birthday with an open day and festivities. Watch this space for more information nearer the time, and be sure to check out our website; lhvc.co.nz for information on how to enter and vote in our photo competitions!

Does your pet have bad breath?

Bad breath is one of the early signs your pet may have dental disease. As veterinarians, we are concerned about dental care for many reasons. Not only can dental disease cause your pet discomfort, the high levels of bacteria in a diseased mouth can periodically be released into the blood stream, potentially affecting heart, kidney and liver.

We all appreciate that tooth root infections and loose teeth can cause dental pain, but dental discomfort can occur prior to these advanced conditions.  Periodontitis (infection of the gums and structures around the teeth) is also a painful condition.  Eating habits of a pet are not a good indication of how much dental pain might be present.  Chronic pain can lead to depression and behavioural changes.  80% of dogs are affected by periodontal issues by the age of two.

There are some breeds that have a higher incidence of dental disease.  It is believed they lack an enzyme that helps attack anaerobic mouth bacteria (Greyhounds, Dachshunds, Schnauzers, Maine coon, Ragdolls, Birmans, Tonkinese)

How can I treat dental disease?

You cannot treat disease with preventive measures.  We need to treat the existing disease then continue with preventative measures to improve longer term dental health. Treatment requires your pet to have a full anaesthetic to examine the mouth, radiograph any teeth of concern, clean the teeth and extract any teeth as required. Once clean, home dental care is critical in maintaining a healthy mouth. This can include brushing teeth, applying gel or using wipes on teeth; feeding a prescription dental food or dental chews.

At Levin and Horowhenua Vets, we are the only local BEST PRACTICE accredited clinic. This means you can trust us to provide a high standard of care to your pet, where we prioritise pain management, and your patient is monitored throughout their dental procedure by highly skilled staff, including blood pressure monitoring.

If you are concerned about your pet’s dental health, make an appointment to see one of our nurses for a free dental check, or take advantage of our various specials on dental products and dental procedures for the month of September. Phone us on 06 368 2891 or come in store, to see what best suits you and your pet.

Puppy Pre-School Training

Puppy Preschool GraduationWelcoming a new puppy into the household is an exciting time for all members of the family. Puppies bring with them a lot of fun and enjoyment but owning a puppy can raise all sorts of questions, from the best way to toilet training your pup, to teaching them to sit on command. The path to a perfectly trained pooch can be a rocky road!

Here at Levin and Horowhenua vets we offer puppy pre-school for you, your puppy and your family members to come along to. Classes run for four weeks and are held from 6pm -7pm here at the clinic in Levin. Classes are held by Serena McGrannachan, a qualified veterinary nurse with a special interest in canine behaviour and Catherine Robinson, a mixed-animal veterinarian.

Over the four-week period a variety of topics are covered, including nutrition, toilet training and neutering. On week two we guide you through a top-to-toe examination of your puppy, giving you different health pointers including dental management, ear care and clipping nails. The final two weeks focus on training including the “stay” and “come” commands, and in the final week we build an obstacle course to incorporate everything the puppies have learnt over the previous weeks.

A large focus is spent on socialisation and time is given at the end of every class to allow the puppies off the lead to play and interact with the other puppies. This also gives us time to answer any of your questions and queries.

If you are interested in attending the next puppy preschool, commenting September or have any questions for Serena of Catherine then please pop into the clinic to fill in a registration form. Serena and Catherine look forward to meeting you and your puppies.

Grain Free Diets

Grain free dog food has increased in popularity over the last few years. It was previously reserved for dogs with certain health issues, but has recently been used more readily with the perception that certain grains are bad for dogs.

So, is grain free a better diet for dogs? Not necessarily. There may be more harm feeding grain free diets than benefits. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in America, recently released a warning that there is a potential link between feeding grain free diets and a life threatening heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy. The exact link is still unknown, but investigations are continuing.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart disease that causes enlargement of the heart chambers, thinning of the heart muscle and reduction in ability for the heart to pump blood around the body. Certain breeds are more prone to dilated cardiomyopathy than others. These include Boxers, Dobermans, Great Danes and Cocker Spaniels. However, dogs that have been affected with dilated cardiomyopathy when fed grain free diets are of various breeds.

The more common food allergy in dogs is to proteins rather than grains. This is why dogs with skin issues are often trialled on limited protein, novel protein or hydrolysed protein diets. The exact requirement needs to be determined by a veterinarian, and may involve trialling different foods until we find the one that works best for your pet.

If you have any questions over suitability of your dog’s diet, or are concerned about your dog’s heart, please contact us at Levin and Horowhenua Veterinary Centre. Our nurses are able to help find a suitable diet for your pet, or we can arrange a consult with one of our vets to check your dog’s heart.

Does your pet have High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is not just an issue in people, it also affects pets. Similar to people, high blood pressure is more common in older animals. High blood pressure can be related to other diseases, or can occur in otherwise healthy animals. Regular blood pressure checks can detect issues in blood pressure sooner, and with treatment can reduce the chance of further complications.

When your pet has high blood pressure, it affects organs that have high blood supply. These include heart, eyes, kidneys, brain and spinal cord. If left untreated, high blood pressure can result in heart failure, blindness, strokes, and kidney failure. As the kidneys become more damaged, the body loses even more control over blood pressure, and the average survival rate decreases significantly.

Monitoring blood pressure in pets is relatively easy and non-invasive, very similar to the process with people. We place a cuff around their leg or tail, the cuff is attached to a machine which inflate and deflates the cuff and gives a reading of the blood pressure. This is repeated a few times, and an average taken. If this is high, we will want to repeat on another day. We may give you a calming medication to use before your pet arrives, to reduce the stress component and ensure the reading is true. If the blood pressure is consistently high, we may need to do further testing to check for other diseases, and start medication.

If your pet is over seven years of age, contact us to see how we can help your senior pet. We have discounts on selected senior products and services for the months of June and July, so pop on in and check it out.

Old Age is not a Disease

senior cat dogWith the lifespan of our companion animals being considerably shorter than our own, we inevitably see them develop from a puppy/kitten, through the juvenile stages, into adulthood and beyond into their senior years and eventually passing over the rainbow bridge. We commonly hear from owners of senior pets that they are slowing down with increasing age.

However, we must remember, old age in itself is not a disease and many older animals can continue to lead a happy and healthy life. However, as an animal ages, the number of diseases or health problems can increase and require treatment to maintain quality of life. Many people have a plan in place to ensure their own senior care is managed in a comfortable way, so why not consider the same for your loyal companion.

As with people, early detection of diseases can result in more effective treatment or management of their condition. Detection of diseases in your pet can involve routine clinical health checks and diagnostics, as well as monitoring your pet at home for changes in behaviour, eating pattern or weight changes and seeking advice when their habits change.

Common disease processes we see in senior pets include hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) in cats, kidney disease, heart disease, dental disease, arthritis and cancer. Diagnosis of these diseases is the first step so we can treat your pet accordingly. Treatments may include medications, prescription diets, joint supplements, surgery, rehabilitation and physiotherapy, and even toe grips to help stop your senior dog slipping over on smooth flooring.

Make an appointment today to discuss your senior pets needs with one of the friendly veterinarians at the clinic.

Keeping your Pet Safe this Easter

easter dogsEaster is often a time for reflection, family gatherings, hot cross buns and Easter eggs. With many activities happening and festive food around, it is an important time to keep your pet safe. Do not share chocolate or hot cross buns with your pet. Instead, include your pet in activities rather than overindulging them with food.

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine – both are dangerous to dogs, cats, horses and birds! Pets can’t break down theobromine and so it builds up in their system, occasionally with fatal outcomes. The symptoms of chocolate poisoning include restlessness, excitement, hyperactivity, nervousness, trembling, vomiting, diarrhoea, increased drinking and urination, increased heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures and possibly death. These symptoms can happen as soon as 30 minutes after eating. If your pet has consumed chocolate, contact your vet immediately.

Hot cross buns contain sultanas or raisins which are poisonous for dogs. The mechanism is unknown but can lead to kidney failure in dogs. Some dogs only need to consume a small amount before showing toxic signs, while other dogs can eat large quantities without showing any obvious symptoms. The symptoms of sultana/raisin toxicity include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, abdominal pain, dehydration, reduced or no urine production, foul breath, mouth ulcers, seizures and possibly death. If you dog has consumed sultanas or raisins, contact your vet immediately.

Eater lilies, like all lilies, are one type of flower that is poisonous to cats and dogs. Even ingesting a small amount of pollen can cause severe kidney failure in cats. The symptoms of lily toxicity include vomiting, lethargy, hiding, excessive thirst, drooling, and foul breath. If your cat shows andy of these signs, contact your vet immediately.