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.

Are You Prepared for Another 6 Family Members?

Thousands of unwanted kittens, cats, puppies and dogs that end up on our streets, in shelters and rescue facilities, with simply not enough people to take them home, are killed every year. No-kill facilities are placed under extreme pressure and become unable to accept new animals. We can help to save lives by preventing unwanted litters through desexing our pets.

Unplanned and unwanted pregnancies can be hard on pets, especially if they’re very young themselves, and they place enormous emotional and financial strain for their owners. Did you know that an unspeyed female cat can have up to 29 litters over 10 years, and one male cat can sire 2500 kittens in a single year? The cost of desexing a pet is a fraction of the cost of taking care of these unexpected lives.

Desexing also has important medical and behavioural benefits for your pet. It helps reduce roaming and fighting behaviours and eliminates or reduces the risk of a number of cancers and life-threatening conditions.

Desexing your pet will not change their personality, there is no benefit to your pet to have a litter before being desexed, and desexed animals generally live longer and healthier lives.

We recommend cats and dogs be desexed at around 4-6 months of age, prior to their first ‘heat’, but they can be desexed earlier or later, depending on the individual animal.

Pop in and request our Desexing pamphlet for more information about the benefits of desexing your pet, and the surgical procedure at our Best Practice clinic. 

WSD_2015_Logos_LowRes (2)Did you know, Tuesday February 24th is World Spay Day? We know that it takes more than a day to highlight the need to spey and neuter our pets. Keep an eye out on our pavement boards for upcoming offers for pets booked in for desexing.

Summer Safe Pets

Take some simple precautions to keep your much loved pet healthy, happy and safe this summertime.

Keep your pet cool. A panting animal is trying to cool down. If they can’t, they may become heat stressed, and this can rapidly become life threatening. NEVER leave your pet in an enclosed space or car, even with the windows down. Even exercise on a warm day can cause a problem. If you suspect an animal is heat stressed cool with tap water and seek help immediately. They may pant heavily, feel hot, salivate, or have dry, dark gums. They may be lethargic, collapse or seizure. This is an emergency! Take water for your pets with you, even on walks. 

Lovely romps outside can turn nasty when certain grass seeds get stuck in paws, ears or into the skin. This can be very painful. Grass seeds can even migrate through the skin, requiring extensive surgical exploration to remove. Check your pet regularly for grass seeds and see your veterinarian if you suspect a problem.

Skin issues are common in summer, including skin infections, flea bites, burns and sunburn. Keep up with their flea treatment – a scratching pet may develop skin problems, such as “hot spots” – areas of moist, inflamed skin. Animal safe sunscreens are available and it is worth applying some to your pet’s ears and nose, especially if they are light coloured. Just like us sunburn can lead to skin cancer. Hot concrete, tarmac and BBQs can cause burns, especially on paws. If you can’t touch it, neither can they!

Discard any uneaten food that can quickly become spoiled or contaminated by flies. And remember – BBQ and party food is not for pets.

Don’t forget the pets outside. Flystrike is a common problem in bunnies, and is often discovered too late. Check your rabbit regularly for any soiling around their bottom and if you find maggots, see your veterinarian straight away.

Please always make sure your pets have cool shade, and fresh water available.

Keeping Pets Safe During the Holiday Season

The holiday season can be overwhelming for animals and a full house can be quite intimidating. There’s a lot going on, and plenty of trouble to get into. Here are a few suggestions for how you can put your pet at ease and keep them safe so that they can enjoy this time as well.

  • Make time during the day to simply spend time with your pet and keep to their normal routine as much as possible.
  • Make sure they have a safe and comfortable retreat area away from the hustle and bustle.
  • Noise can scare your pet. Christmas crackers and corks popping could panic your pet.
  • Please choose pet specific food treats. Human food can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, or worse, poison your pet or become a medical or surgical emergency. Beware your pet getting into chocolate, nuts, fatty foods and bones.
  • Buy your pet’s Christmas present from a reputable pet shop or veterinary clinic, and keep your pet away from children’s toys.
  • Keep them away from decorations and wrapping paper, electrical cords and lights.
  • Several festive plants are attractive and poisonous to cat, including lillies and poinsettia. Lillies are EXTREMELY TOXIC and will cause irreparable kidney damage or death with the slightest amount of ingestion. Even licking pollen off their fur can be fatal. Poinsettia may cause skin irritation, vomiting or diarrhoea if ingested.
  • Keep your pets cool. If you’re outside, make sure they have access to shade and plenty of water. NEVER leave your dog in the car or any enclosed space where they can overheat. Animals that get too hot can die – fast.
  • If you’re going away and taking your pet, make sure they travel safely and securely, have rest and toilet breaks, and the opportunity to have a drink.
  • If you‘re leaving them in boarding facilities, make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date. Don’t leave it until the last minute! If you find your pet is due for a vaccination whilst you’re away, call your vet now to book an appointment.
  • If you’re leaving them at home, make sure the person staying with them or checking on them daily has yours and your veterinarian’s contact number on hand.
  • If your pet has a prescription medicine or diet, check that there will be enough to cover your time away.
  • Last but not least, help spread the message that pets are for life, not just for Christmas. Never support the giving of animals as a surprise gift.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Parvo Virus in Dogs

Canine parvovirus, normally referred to as Parvo, is a highly infectious, potentially fatal disease of dogs.  The majority of cases are seen in puppies and young dogs, but any age dog can contract this terrible disease.

Parvo is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s faeces. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, arguably years, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors. It is common for an unvaccinated dog to contract Parvo from the streets, especially in urban areas where there are many dogs.

The main symptoms associated with the infection include severe, bloody and foul smelling diarrhoea, lethargy anorexia, fever, vomiting, and severe weight loss.

Parvo can be diagnosed on a rapid test performed at the clinic. Treatment for Parvo may require intensive therapy. Most patients will need to be hospitalised in the isolation ward, placed on intravenous fluids, given specialised nutrition, antibiotics and anti-nausea drugs. Special gowns, gloves, footwear and other disposable items are used in their care.  It may take several days before a patient shows improvement.

Some patients do not survive. Many pets are euthanised due to the cost of treating this disease.

It is, however, very easy to prevent Parvo. Vaccination is highly effective , and every dog should be vaccinated. All puppies should receive their full course of vaccinations, and adult dogs vaccinated at the recommended intervals throughout their life.

Wellness and Your Pets

Lifestageby Tracey Wallace BVSc

As vets, our goal is to help you to keep your pets in the best of health. A relatively new approach to this is the development of ‘wellness’ plans, so that we can be proactive in managing your pet’s health through their lifestages; from kitten- or puppy-hood through their adolescence and into adulthood, and then supporting them through their senior years. Proactive healthcare is tailored to your pet, and varies depending on a number of factors such as:

  • Size: A Great Dane puppy requires a very different feeding and exercise programme than is needed by a Chihuahua puppy.
  • Lifestyle: A Border Collie competing in agility competitions will need more special attention to joint health than a Bichon Frise that walks with her elderly owner.
  • Age: Kidney function deteriorates with age, and early detection will improve quality and quantity of life.
  • Medical history: A pet that has suffered from pancreatitis will need to be monitored for the development of diabetes.
  • Breed: Many dogs and cats, both purebred and crossbred, can be affected by inherited diseases. It is now possible to DNA test your pet to screen for most of these diseases. While we cannot prevent all of them, we can help to minimise the impact on your pet’s health.

Wellness plans help to identify and treat problems early, before they become more serious and harder to manage. This is why it is important for healthy adult pets to have regular check-ups. Pets age 5-10 year equivalents for every human year, as indicated on the feline chart.

Dogs and cats will often hide pain, and very rarely complain about feeling unwell. Some of their problems may not be obvious to you (the owner) as there are not always external signs of illness, particularly in the early stages of disease.

By knowing what to watch out for at each stage of your pet’s life, we can help to ensure that you and your pet enjoy a long and healthy life together. As the old adage says, ‘Prevention is better than cure’!