Lumps and Bumps

morethantwoFinding lumps or bumps on our pets can be a worry. There are many reasons for them to appear. They may be small or large, soft or firm, covered in normal skin, or be bleeding. They may appear suddenly, grow slowly, or grow rapidly. Although the majority of lumps and bumps are harmless, it’s nearly impossible to tell if a lump is serious just by looking at it. Don’t ignore them, wait for them to get bigger or to change before you see a vet. Most lumps cause few problems for our pets, however it is possible they may be irritating, painful, or be a sign of serious illness. Some lumps can be life threatening if left untreated.

After an examination your vet may want to perform a test on any suspicious lumps. This may involve a relatively simple fine needle aspirate (FNA) to collect cells, or a biopsy (surgical removal of a part or the whole lump) to be sent to the lab for a diagnosis. Ultrasounds or x-rays are sometimes required to see how the lump forms under the skin, or if it has spread to other parts of the body, as with some cancers. What we see on the surface may be just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Lumps and bumps can also involve organs or bones.

Once the diagnosis is made your vet will be able to give you an appropriate treatment plan and prognosis for your pet. Your pet’s health and wellbeing will be considered in all cases. Many lumps will simply need monitoring; others will require extensive surgery to remove large areas of tissue.

Occasionally some pets will need medical treatment (chemotherapy) after surgical removal of the lump. Veterinarians are now even able to make special titanium implants to replace bone tissue removed because of a lump (tumour).

Regardless of the cause, most lumps and bumps can be successfully managed, so check your pet regularly, and if you find a lump or bump, book an appointment with your vet.

Itchies & Scratchies

catdogitchingThe warmer weather means the fleas are up and ready to bite; our pets are outside in the garden; and their winter coats are shedding. All good reasons to get itchy and scratchy. Make sure their flea treatment is up-to-date and give them a good groom. But what if they’re still itching or their skin is looking red or inflamed, or worse, and your pet is in discomfort? First book an appointment with your vet. Don’t jump to conclusions about what is causing your pet’s itchy skin.

Allergies are a common cause of skin conditions in dogs and cats. The main difference between us and pets is that they tend to get skin conditions, rather than runny eyes and noses. Itching, scratching, chewing, biting, licking, or rubbing the skin can all be signs.

There are three main types of allergies related to skin conditions in our pets. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), Food Allergy and Atopy. A pet may have one or a combination of these conditions.

Fleas are a common cause of skin allergies, especially in cats. Even if you do not see fleas on your pet, treating year round is vital for any pet with FAD.

The least common cause of skin allergies is food allergy. The vast majority are caused by an allergic reaction to proteins. Most of the symptoms involve itchy skin, but can also cause vomiting or diarrhoea. Gastrointestinal signs are more common in cats. Determining a food allergy can be

complex and requires consultation with your vet.

It is estimated that up to 15% of dogs have atopy, a genetic predisposition to react to allergens such as pollen, house dust and mites, mould, grasses, trees and shrubs. The allergens can be inhaled, pass through the pads of the feet and even ingested. Preventing exposure to these allergens is extremely difficult. Atopy tends to be progressive with each allergy season.

Allergies can be hard to control and are chronic in nature. This can be very frustrating for pet owners. It’s vital to see your vet, get a proper diagnosis and get started on the appropriate therapy early.



Fireworks and your Animals


Fireworks Safety Tips for Pets

From Visually

Many people love the sights and sounds of fireworks, but for our pets and other animals they can be frightening, sometimes to the extreme. Most vet clinics and SPCA’s around the country encounter a number of lost, injured and even abused animals following fireworks. With some preparation and awareness, however, it is possible to get through the fireworks season with minimal fear and stress.

Always make sure your pets are safe and secure. They should be microchipped, or at least have a collar with contact details in the event that they run off from fright. Make sure runs, cages and bird aviaries are secured and covered.

Cats and dogs are best to be kept inside. Make sure the windows are covered, doors shut and secured, and have the t.v. or radio on to help cover the sounds of fireworks. Your pet may have their own safe spot – it may be their crate, or perhaps a certain bedroom, whilst others may prefer an area created for them that is dark and quiet. Let them use this, and make sure it remains a positive place for them to retreat.

If your pet hides in a cupboard or under a bed, don’t try to get them out – this may distress them further. Scared animals can be unpredictable. Stay safe. Just reassure them you’re there and let them come out on their own.

Some pets seem naughty when they are in fact scared or distressed. Do not get cross with your pet. They will not understand. Fear is an emotion, not a behaviour, so comforting your pet when they’re scared may help them feel less scared; it doesn’t reinforce the fear. Give them a treat and tell them it’s ok, acting as normal as you can. Remember to pat and praise your pet when they are relaxed.

If you’re not going to be home during a fireworks display, perhaps have someone come and stay with your pets if you know they get particularly distressed. Alternatively it may be preferable to have them stay at a boarding facility in a quiet area.

It’s not too late to get some Adaptil (DAP – dog appeasing pheromone) or Feliway (synthetic feline pheromone) from your vet that can be used in the home as a collar (dogs only), spray or diffuser to provide comforting scent specific for dogs or cats. This should be started at least a few days prior to an event, and in the area where they are most likely to find refuge. There are also products such as the ‘Thundershirt’ that can be used on cats and dogs to reduce anxiety. This is a compression coat that can help our pets feel safe and secure. Ask us if you’d like to order one now.

If your pet has previously reacted badly to fireworks, discuss with your vet whether medication is suitable to get them through the season. Once it’s over an individual training plan can be designed to desensitise your dog to make it easier next time.

Don’t forget outside pets and livestock. They should be secured safely in their enclosures and paddocks, preferably in the quietest area of the property. Stay safe! Don’t try to stop large animals if they’re panicking. Just ensure they remain safe and secure at a distance, and reassure them once they calm down.

If you’re planning on having a fireworks display, please consider the animals in your area. Let your neighbours know in advance so they too can keep their pets safe.

If you see an animal in distress or harmed by fireworks, please let the authorities know immediately.

Slug & Snail Bait Toxicity

Spring often means a burst of activity in and around our homes to get things fixed and spruced up. It’s a great time to do the same for our pets. Book them in for their annual health check, get onto flea and worm treatment, and perhaps a new brush to get rid of the winter coat. Unfortunately there’s also a lot of things around the house that could be dangerous for our pets, especially in the garden. Keep pets away from garden sprays, fertiliser and compost, and tools or machinery.

One of the most common dangers at this time of year is slug & snail bait toxicity. Dogs especially like to eat it, either straight out of the box, or from the garden.

Most contain a toxin called metaldehyde that affects the central nervous system. Initial signs of poisoning occur in as little as half an hour after ingestion. Death can occur within a couple of hours.

Signs of poisoning are usually progressive:

  • Anxious behaviour
  • Mild twitching
  • Uncoordinated walk
  • Salivating or excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Hyperthermia

If you know or suspect your pet has eaten slug & snail bait but is not yet showing signs, bring them into the clinic immediately.  If you know the brand, inform the vet and if possible, bring the box with you.  Unfortunately, slug and snail bait is often ingested without the owner’s knowledge.

There is no antidote. Treatment is aimed at managing the clinical signs and getting rid of as much of the toxin as possible through making your pet vomit, gastric lavage (”stomach pump”), and enemas; supportive care with IV fluids, medications or anaesthesia to control the tremors or seizures; cooling the body; and charcoal to help absorb any toxin that remains. Your pet will be hospitalised. Signs may continue for 24 hours or more.

As with all emergencies, the sooner they get to the vet the better the chance of a positive outcome.

Mouth Matters

dog cat toothbrushingThe health of your pet’s mouth matters. By the age of just three years, up to 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have signs of dental disease. An unhealthy mouth can cause bad breath, chronic pain, reduced quality of life, and can even lead to heart, kidney or liver disease.

Unfortunately pets can’t tell us that their teeth or mouth hurt. As a result, many cases of oral disease escape detection and pets suffer in silence. Very often the problem is advanced by the time we notice anything is wrong, and treatment becomes more difficult and costly.

Signs that your pet may have a problem and require a vet visit include bad breath, facial swellings, dribbling or drooling, having difficulty eating or going off their food, weight loss, pawing or rubbing their mouth, or lack of grooming. However, the presence of dental tartar and reddening of the gums with no other signs is enough to suggest that your pet may need a dental.

During a dental procedure, you pet is anaesthetised and an evaluation of their teeth and gums is performed, including radiographs of the tooth roots if indicated. Each tooth is then thoroughly cleaned above and below the gum line with a sonic scaler and polished to create a smooth surface that is more resistant to plaque build-up. Sometimes teeth need to be removed, or other oral issues may become evident at this stage.

Dental care is an important part of maintaining your pet’s overall good health and we are committed to helping you achieve the healthiest life possible for your furry friend. Regular dental checks can help make sure your pet’s mouth stays in excellent health. Your pet may need to be referred to a vet, or suitable at-home measures such as specialised dental diets, dental chews or toys, teeth brushing or additives for their drinking water may be recommended.

During August we’re focusing on your pet’s dental health, so give us a call to arrange an appointment for their free dental check with our Community Nurse!

Pet Insurance

sick doggyIn the vast majority of households, our pets are considered members of the family. Unlike their human family, pets cost money to care for, as there is no pet public health system. Technology and advancements in veterinary science have increased the options available for treatment. Your vet may even wish to refer your pet onto a specialist. All this comes with increased costs.

Being a responsible pet owner requires regular preventative health care, and making difficult decisions at times of unexpected accidents or illness. Owners want to be able to pay whatever is necessary to make their pet well in the best possible way, but realistically this can put them in financial difficulty. When a decision has to be made, it’s not always easy to go with the ideal option. Setting aside money or building up a credit at your veterinary clinic can be very useful but injuries or illness often happen before you’ve saved enough.

Pet insurance is worth considering to help smooth the costs associated with caring for your furry family, and there are several companies offering pet insurance in NZ.

There are two mains types of cover available; comprehensive and surgery-only. Surgery-only cover will only contribute towards the surgical costs of your pet’s illness or injury. This can be a cost-effective way to meet unexpected surgical costs, but it is important to note that most policies have an annual maximum limit that can be claimed on particular procedures.

Comprehensive cover will contribute towards both any surgery caused by accident or illness as well as associated medical costs. Some policies cover routine vaccinations and annual health checks.

It’s important to assess exclusions and limitations related to age, breed and pre-existing conditions that may relate to your pet.

Ultimately the right pet insurance for you will depend on your budget, the type of pets you have and the level of cover you wish to be insured for. As with all insurance though, the best advice is to take your time, shop around and always read the fine print.

Rat Bait Toxicity


rat and baitAs the weather gets colder, mice and rats start seeking shelter in warm locations like our houses. The start of winter means an increase in mouse and rat poisoning. As the use of these poisons increases so does the accidental poisoning of our pets from eating baits. Secondary poisoning, from eating poisoned rats or mice is not very common, but may occur with some types of bait.

Most rat baits available to the public contain anticoagulants. These work by preventing clotting of the blood. Symptoms often do not appear until several days after eating as it takes some time for the clotting factors to be depleted.

Signs of poisoning are variable and are caused by internal bleeding. These include:

  • Lethargy, depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale gums
  • Coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Blood in stool or urine
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding from nose or gums

If you suspect your pet has eaten rat bait but is not yet showing signs, it is important to bring them into the clinic immediately.  If you know what brand of rat bait it is, inform the vet and if possible, bring the box with you to the clinic.

Unfortunately, rat bait is often ingested without the owner’s knowledge and an untreated animal can potentially die from blood loss.

Treatment is based on the presentation of the animal and the severity of the signs. If your pet has ingested the poison within the previous hour, the vet will give your animal something to make them vomit. Blood tests will be required, and most animals will need to go on a course of Vitamin K, the antidote to the poisons. Some animals will require hospitalisation. If an animal presented to the clinic has already lost a large amount of blood, they may require a blood transfusion.

If you know or suspect your pet has eaten rat bait or is showing any of the signs, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

We are Best Practice


Best PracticeAs a responsible and caring pet owner it’s nice to know that the veterinary practice you choose meets the highest industry standards. Levin & Horowhenua Vets has met the rigorous standards defined by the BESTPRACTICE® committee of the NZ Veterinary Association. These standards cover all areas in a clinic to ensure that you and your pet get consistently high quality treatment and you can be assured that your vet is up to date with the latest in pet healthcare. They encourage veterinary clinics to continually evaluate and improve their surgical, medical, diagnostic and nursing protocols in order to maintain a high level of excellence.

What does it mean for you and your pet? Everything we do at LHVC is designed to maximise your pet’s well-being in both the short and long-term.

One of the most frequent surgeries performed is desexing. Although considered routine, desexing is actually a significant surgical procedure that requires a high level of expertise.

Our team of qualified nurses take care of your pet throughout their stay.  Every patient is evaluated prior to their anaesthetic and the drugs used are tailored to the individual. Intravenous catheters are placed, and in the majority of procedures IV fluids are administered to protect organ function. Most patients are intubated – we deliver oxygen and anaesthetic direct into the airway. Patients are monitored continuously through surgery to ensure that their oxygen level, heart rate and blood pressure remain stable. All patients receive post-operative pain-relief and are fed once they have recovered from their anaesthetic. When we are satisfied that everything is okay, they are sent home with instructions for their continuing care, pain relief to be given at home, and appointments are scheduled for a check in three and 10 days’ time to make sure everything is as it should be.

All of these measures are in place to ensure that the best quality care is provided for your pet during and after a life-changing operation. We provide 24 hour care for all of our patients to ensure that any issues are dealt with promptly and appropriately. BESTPRACTICE® ensures your pets receive the highest standard of care.

No Bones About It…


dog_PNG178Should you feed your dog bones? There is much debate around the issue, no bones about it, but we say no, and here’s why.

Bones can make your dog very unwell, and even be deadly. Bones get stuck in the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, and small intestine, and cause constipation. Any of these can prove fatal. It is also a costly and traumatic exercise to treat any of these problems.

Recently we have seen three cases of very sick and painful dogs with different problems due to eating bones. The constipated dog required several days in the hospital with repeated enemas; the dog with an oesophageal obstruction required urgent referral to the specialists at Massey; and the dog with an intestinal obstruction required urgent surgery in the clinic. Fortunately all of these animals were successfully treated. Unfortunately none of these issues are unusual.

Bones may help to clean teeth but can also wear them down faster and may cause teeth to fracture or break. The high fat content of marrow bones can cause pancreatitis, a very painful condition requiring hospitalisation; and raw meat can be a source of bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, and Giardia, which cause pain, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Dogs in the wild that eat bones are vastly different animals to our pets. In the wild dogs live much shorter, harder lives, and if a wild dog gets a bone obstruction or breaks a tooth there is no vet to care for them.

Come in to our clinic to see our range of recommended alternatives for bones suitable for your pet. If you have fed your dog bones, it seems uncomfortable or depressed, has vomiting or diarrhoea, or you suspect it is constipated, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Don’t wait for them to get better on their own, as they may get worse before you seek help.

When Your Cat Can’t Pee


cat_PNG131Sometimes we notice our cats frequently going (or trying to go) to the toilet. We may describe this as straining, or think that they are constipated. Sometimes they manage to pass little drops of urine which may be tinged with blood. At other times, nothing seems to happen. Your cat may cry out, seem distressed, or become quiet and depressed, and they may resent being petted or spend a lot of time cleaning their genital area.

Your cat may have cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder.  They will be very uncomfortable and require veterinary attention. Causes can include stress, diet and infections. Sometimes we can’t determine the cause, but we still need to treat the symptoms.

If your cat is male, there is a chance your cat is partially or totally ‘blocked’. This is an emergency, and they must see a veterinarian immediately! It is a life-threatening condition. The kidneys are no longer able to remove toxins from the blood or maintain a balance of fluids and electrolytes in the body. Without treatment, death frequently occurs when these imbalances lead to heart failure—often in less than twenty-four to forty-eight hours.

We often see a number of cases when the rain comes, because cats that are used to going to the toilet outside stay in – holding-on waiting for the weather to improve, stuck inside, possibly with other cats. It’s most common in overweight neutered males, but any cat can be affected.

If you suspect that your cat is having trouble peeing, contact your veterinarian immediately. Please don’t wait for them to get better on their own, or to get worse before seeking help. For more information on this problem, the symptoms, treatment, and ways to help prevent it, please download a copy of FLUTD Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease from the Companion Animal Resources page, or come into the clinic for a copy of our brochure.