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’!