What you need to know about Stage 4 and accessing vet care for your pet

Following yesterday’s announcement by the Victorian Government, we can now say with certainty that we will remain open during the Stage 4 restrictions.

We are pleased that the government has recognised the important role our pets play in our lives and community. By remaining open during these Stage 4 restrictions, Vets on Parker is here to help keep your pets happy and healthy.  

We have a comprehensive COVID plan in place to ensure the safety of our teams and our clients. For the duration of Stage 4 restrictions, we will be continuing to perform ‘contactless consultations’ – please see below details for more details.  

Now, more than ever, furry family members are essential to the wellbeing of their owners. We are here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. 

Contactless Consulting 

To maintain a safe environment and minimise the risk of transmission, we have put in place a new ‘contactless consultation’ procedure to limit direct contact when bringing your pet in to see us.  We ask that you please follow these steps until further notice. Thank you for all your patience and cooperation during these challenging times.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call on (03) 9850 1355.

How to care for an elderly cat

Thanks to better nutrition, disease prevention and proper home care, cats are now living longer than ever before. Senior cats have recently been redefined as cats over the age of 11 years, but it’s not uncommon for us to see a ‘super-senior’ feline over the age of 18 years. We have even had the pleasure of helping to celebrate some feline 21st birthdays this year!

Here are a few essential things to consider when it comes to caring for an ageing feline:

  1. Ageing pets need more regular vet check-ups.

Cats are experts at hiding pain and keeping to themselves if they feel unwell. It is common for a cat suffering from painful arthritis, insidious dental disease or chronic kidney disease to sleep a bit more or potentially be a bit picky with their food. Because of this, we like to see your elderly cat for regular health checks, at least every six months.

Blood and urine testing, as well as blood pressure checks, are also crucial for our ageing feline friends. We can get a lot of information about the health of your cat from these diagnostic procedures and diagnose diseases such as hypertension and kidney disease. 

  1. Keep a close eye on habits.

Knowing what is normal for your elderly cat in terms of eating, drinking, toileting, and sleeping is an excellent way to pick up on any changes early. Some older cats may have reduced appetite due to diminished smell and taste, but a lack of appetite can also be a symptom of diseases or pain. Conversely, an increased appetite may also be a symptom of diseases such as hyperthyroidism. 

Older cats may be less inclined to want to toilet outside, especially if it’s cold or if they have arthritis. It’s a good idea to provide multiple litter trays, in different areas of the house. This way you can also keep an eye on elimination habits and look for blood in the urine or changes in faecal consistency, also another indicator of disease. 

  1. Grooming and claw trimming is essential.

Geriatric cats are generally not as good at grooming themselves as they might have once been in their younger years. This may be due to sore joints or secondary to conditions such as dementia (a common condition in dogs that is now better recognised in cats). 

You may need to regularly brush your elderly cat and gently tease out any mats. This is also an excellent time to check for any lumps or bumps, skin irritations or other changes that could indicate illness. Please arrange a check-up with us if you find anything unusual. Long-haired cats are susceptible to severe matting – avoid attempting to cut these with scissors as more often than not your will end up cutting your friends skin. Our nursing team are happy to help with clipping mats using pet clippers. A de-furminator comb is a handy tool to use with long hair cats as it helps comb out the tangles from the skin, reducing matts and evening helping to remove them.

We recommend checking your elderly cat’s nails twice a week. It is common for older cats to get overgrown nails, which can get stuck in carpet and furniture and even grow into their footpads. Ouch! Ask us for more information on how to trim your cat’s claws, or call us if you would like to book in a nail trim with one of our nurses. Regular nail trims are also a great opportunity to have your elderly friend weighed on a regular basis to help keep an eye out for any early drops in weight.

If you have any questions or concerns about your geriatric feline friends please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What to do if your pet has tummy troubles

At some point in your pet’s life, they will probably experience a gastrointestinal upset. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea and nausea. It can be distressing for you and your pet, and it’s sometimes hard to know what you should do. We have simplified the facts, so you know how best to care for your pet. 

What you should do at home:

If your pet has a one-off vomit or one bout of diarrhoea, you should withhold food for a few hours (known as gastric rest), offer water for rehydration and then feed a bland diet for 24 hours. Steamed chicken with no skin or bones and some boiled rice is usually sufficient for 1-2 meals (or we can provide you with a balanced prescription diet). In the majority of cases, your pet will recover without a problem. 

If the vomiting and diarrhoea does not resolve or becomes more severe that’s when you need to call on us.

You should seek advice from us if your pet:

1. Vomits more than once 
2. Has multiple bouts of diarrhoea 
3. Seems lethargic or has a reduced appetite 
4. Might have ingested something they shouldn’t have
5. Has been losing weight recently 
6. Has had intermittent bouts of vomiting and/or diarrhoea for weeks or months

What is a dietary indiscretion?

One of the most common causes of a gastrointestinal upset in pets is a dietary indiscretion, and this is just our way of saying your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have. 

Dogs are notorious with this, as they are typically scavengers. Common culprits for dogs include leftovers, scraps from the rubbish bin or discarded human food at the park. 

Cats can be a bit fussier when it comes to what they will and won’t eat, but they can, of course, get themselves into trouble too, so you should always call us for advice if you are worried about your pet. 

Other causes of vomiting and/or diarrhoea include but are not limited to:

  • Ingestion of a toxin
  • Infection from a virus, a bacteria or a parasite (such as giardia)
  • Conditions such as pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • A gastric obstruction from a foreign body
  • Other systemic diseases, such as liver or kidney disease 
  • Cancer 

If you have a puppy or a kitten that is vomiting or has diarrhoea, we recommend that you always get them checked by us that day, as they can become dehydrated very quickly and can become very unwell in just a few hours. We also need to rule out serious diseases such as parvovirus, which can be fatal in some animals.

Treatment for vomiting and diarrhoea usually involves medications to help reduce nausea and treatment for common bacterias. Intravenous fluid therapy may also be required to rehydrate your pet. In some cases, we must perform blood tests and further imaging, such as radiographs of the abdomen, to rule out the more concerning causes. If required, we can provide your pet with a balanced prescription diet explicitly made for an upset stomach. 

If you are worried about your pet, please call us for advice. We are always here to help!

Understanding canine cruciate ligament disease

“Oh no! My dog isn’t a footballer but could he have just ‘done his knee?” 

One of the most common orthopedic conditions we see in dogs is cranial cruciate ligament disease, which is actually very similar to the injury seen in humans on the sporting field – rupture of the “ACL”. Cranial cruciate ligament disease is painful, will lead to arthritis and, if not treated correctly, can severely affect your dog’s quality of life. 

The cranial cruciate ligament plays a vital role in stabilising the knee (stifle) joint. It connects the tibia (shin bone) to the femur (thigh bone) and is intricately associated with a ‘cartilage-like’ structure known as the meniscus. This meniscus plays a critical role in shock absorption in the stifle and is frequently damaged when the cranial cruciate ligament is injured.  

Occasionally dogs will ‘snap’ the ligament due to overextension of the stifle joint. An example of this may be when a dog jumps from a height or turns quickly. The dog will present their injured hind leg, bearing no weight on it. Cranial cruciate ligament disease is more commonly a progressive and degenerative condition, resulting from stretching and partial tears of the ligament over time. As the disease progresses, there is a thickening of the joint and the development of osteoarthritis. The changes in the joint commonly lead to a complete rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament and damage to the meniscus. These dogs typically have a history of intermittent lameness, thickening of the joint and wasting of the thigh muscles. 

Cranial cruciate disease can occur in any breed of dog but is seen most commonly in large breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Boxers and Rottweilers. Alarmingly, approximately 50-70% of patients will eventually end up with cranial cruciate ligament disease in both stifle joints. 

Examination of a dog under sedation or general anaesthetic will help diagnose the condition. If the ligament is damaged, we will be able to detect instability in the stifle. Radiographs will also reveal swelling within the stifle joint as well as signs of osteoarthritis.

If there is instability within the stifle joint, surgery is usually the best option for treatment. Some small dogs may respond to conservative treatment, such as rest and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication but may still develop severe arthritis in the future. 

There are different surgical techniques for cranial cruciate ligament repair – the most common methods are a TPLO (tibial plateau levelling osteotomy) or extracapsular stabilisation procedure. If your dog ruptures their cruciate ligament, we will be able to give you more information on the most suitable type of surgery based on your dog’s medical history, size and the health of their other joints. 

If you are ever worried about your pet please call us for advice. We are always here to help. 

COVID-19 and Pets – What You Need To Know Now

COVID-19 has changed the way we go about our lives and will continue to for many months. When it comes to the virus, there are plenty of questions to be asked, so here are a few answers:

How is COVID-19 spread?

Although it has been theorised that the new coronavirus emerged from an animal source, the pangolin, the current main known route of transmission is human-to-human. 

At present, the spread of COVID-19 appears to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when a person sneezes, coughs or when they come into contact with infected sputum (hand-to-mouth transmission).

Can cats and dogs get coronavirus?

There are species-specific coronaviruses that affect dogs and cats, but it is essential to realise that these are not the same as the COVID-19. The strains that affect cats and dogs can cause mild gastrointestinal signs and, very rarely, can lead to a disease in cats called Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). 

There is a vaccine available for the canine form of coronavirus. This vaccine should not be used for prevention of COVID-19 as the viruses are distinctly different.

Can I get coronavirus from my pet?

No. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread from a pet to a human. Transmission appears to occur via a human touching a contaminated surface and then touching their mouth, nose and possibly eyes. Smooth surfaces such as a countertop or a door handle transmit the virus better than porous materials such as paper and clothing. At this time, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to people from the skin or fur of pets. 

Can pets contract COVID-19 from humans?

Currently, the only pets incidentally exposed to COVID-19 that have tested positive to the virus are two pet dogs in Hong Kong and two pet cats (one in Belgium and the other in Hong Kong). In all of these cases, these pets were in the direct care of someone who had confirmed COVID-19. It was only in the case of the cat in Belgium that there was any suggestion of the pet showing clinical signs of the disease, but it is essential to understand that other diseases that could have caused the same symptoms were not ruled out. This cat has since recovered. According to the World Health Organisation, there is currently no evidence that pets can transmit COVID-19. 

What should pet owners do?

The best way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to adopt sufficient hygiene measures and maintain social distancing. This includes washing your hands before and after handling animals. The Centre for Disease Control recommends that people who are sick, or who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, should restrict their contact with animals (this means avoiding cuddling, kissing or being licked by your pet) until further information about the virus is available. There is no reason to remove pets from their homes if COVID-19 has been identified in members of the household. 

If your pet is unwell, or you have any questions regarding your pet’s health you should always contact us for advice.

COVID-19 Information for Vets on Parker

During this constantly evolving situation regarding COVID-19, the safety of our clients, patients and team members is our highest priority. We are in this together. 

Contactless Consults:

We have decided to implement the below guidelines and we ask for your understanding, patience and your cooperation so we can all do our best to protect each other. 

Veterinary care is an essential part of our community – that’s why our clinic will continue to provide all of our usual services during this time.

To focus on safety, we also want to work with you and our team to limit direct contact, and ask that you please follow the below steps: 

• Upon your arrival at Vets on Parker, please remain outside the clinic and call us.

• After receiving your call, we will check you in as soon as possible from outside the clinic.

• If you are picking up food or medication, please remain in your car or outside the hospital and call the front desk. We can happily deliver your order to your car.

• If you are not feeling well or are likely to be at risk of exposure to coronavirus, please ask a healthy friend or family member to transport your pet to the hospital on your behalf.

• We will do our best to coordinate your visit from outside the hospital and provide you with follow-up and payment instructions.

Thank you for all your patience and cooperation during these challenging times. It is Vets on Parker’s mission is to bring joy, love and the highest level of veterinary care to all fur families.

If there is anything further we can do to assist you and your pets, please do not hesitate to call or chat to one of our friendly team members. 

Your friendly team,
Vets on Parker

A Hearty Topic


As February features its heart-focussed Valentine’s Day, we thought that this month would be the perfect time to talk about the heart that matters most: your pet’s.


When it comes to diseases of the heart, knowing what to watch out for really makes a difference. Early detection of heart disease means that medical treatment is able to get underway sooner, which can help your pet to live a longer and healthier life.

Most signs of heart disease are related to a decrease in the function of the heart. The signs, however, can be very subtle and often difficult to detect.


What to look out for:

+ Coughing

+ Reluctance to exercise or tiring easily on walks

+ Laboured or fast breathing

+ Weakness or fainting from exercise

+ An enlarged abdomen

+ Weight loss or poor appetite


What can WE do?

We always listen to your pet’s heart. This physical examination allows us to detect any changes to the heart, as early as possible. Sometimes we might hear a murmur (abnormal blood flow) or an arrhythmia (irregular rhythm). If we do detect a murmur or arrhythmia, we may perform further tests such as an ultrasound, an ECG or X-rays.

Thankfully, we have a number of medications at the ready to improve your pet’s heart function, if needed.


What can YOU do?

If we diagnose your pet with heart disease, you may be asked to keep a record of their SRR. The SRR is an acronym for your pet’s sleeping respiratory rate. Taking record of the SRR is a powerful tool and can be implemented in your own home. The records can help to detect, or improve the monitoring of, left-sided congestive heart failure (CHF) in dogs and cats.

Many of the common heart diseases lead to CHF. When the pressure in the top left heart chamber increases, and blood backs up into vessels within the lung, it results in the blood accumulating in the lungs. This fluid is the cause of the increase in your pet’s respiratory rate.


How to monitor the sleeping respiratory rate

The SRR should be measured when your pet is asleep in their usual environment. 

Repeat the measuring over 2-3 days, then ongoing once or twice a week.

The normal SRR in cats and dogs is often in the high teens or low 20s, at around less than 30 breaths per minute.


When to seek veterinary advice?

If your pet’s SRR is consistently greater than 30 breaths per minute, they could be at high risk of developing congestive heart failure. This means that veterinary advice needs to be sought as soon as possible.

It’s important to note that an elevated SRR can at times be caused by high blood pressure, pain, anaemia, pneumonia, heat stress or even a fever – so a veterinary check-up is always urged.

If you are at all concerned about your pet’s heart health, call us today for advice. 

Giardia – what is it and how you can prevent it

In recent weeks we’ve noticed an increase in the number of Giardia cases in dogs and cats in our community, so we thought we would put up some information outlining what Giardia is, what it does, and what we can do to prevent it.

Giardia is a parasite which inhabits the intestines of dogs and cats, it exists around the world and can also infect humans. Giardia causes infection when it is consumed (i.e. swallowed), so the most common causes of infection include contact with contaminated water (drinking, swimming or playing), contact with faeces deposited by an infected mammal, rolling in contaminated soil, or consuming contaminated food.

The most common sign of Giardia is diarrhoea, however, affected dogs and cats may also suffer from vomiting, lethargy, stomach pain and have a decreased appetite. Some animals may be asymptomatic and not show any signs of disease. To work out if an animal has Giardia generally a faecal sample is tested.

Although Giardia is a zoonotic parasite, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans, this is quite uncommon. As many animals have the disease with no signs, Giardia is generally most concerning to us when it is causing severe diarrhoea, or in cases where the pet or owner has a depressed immune system e.g. is very young, very old, undergoing chemotherapy, etc.

If treatment is required, certain antibiotics and medications may be prescribed by us.

Preventing Giardia
The easiest and most effective way to prevent a Giardia infection is by maintaining routine hygiene practices, especially thorough handwashing. Other ways to decrease the risk of Giardia for you and your pet are:

  • Handwashing after all animal contact
  • Using gloves to pick up animal faeces
  • Limiting the contact your animal may have with contaminated water sources e.g. rivers or ponds at the park, communal water bowls, etc.
  • Cleaning household surfaces, bedding and toys your pet has access to regularly

Please contact the clinic if you have any questions or concerns.

Summer Heat Hazards

As we reach the peak of summer we welcome long hot days and balmy nights. It’s the best time of the year to get out and about with your pet but there are a few hazards you need to watch out for. 

Heat stroke:

It can be easy to overdo it in the summer and heat stress can be very serious in our pets. Therefore, it’s crucial to remember that our pets can’t perspire the way humans do, as they only produce only a tiny amount of sweat through their footpads. They cool themselves down by panting but sometimes this isn’t enough and they start to overheat.

Brachycephalic or flat-faced dogs (French bulldogs, Pugs, Cavaliers, Boxers) are super susceptible to heat stroke but ANY breed is at risk. Keep an eye out for excessive, exaggerated or noisy panting, drooling, weakness or collapse. 

If you think your pet might have heat stroke, bring them to us immediately (or seek emergency veterinary care). It’s best to place your pet in front of the air conditioner or a fan while you are in the car. You can lightly spray them with water and also place wet towels on hairless parts of the body (footpads and groins). You should not immerse them in cold water or use ice as this can cause the body to cool down too quickly and lead to further complications.

Hot underfoot:

Ever heard the term ‘this pavement is so hot you could fry an egg on it?’ The hidden danger on the street this summer IS the street!

Pavement and bitumen (and even sand at the beach) can get so hot in summer that it can cause excruciatingly painful burns and blisters to your dog’s paw pads. Metal ute trays can also burn your dog’s paws. 

We recommend you test the surface by holding your hand to it for a count of five seconds. Or stick to walking your dog in the cool of the day and take the softer (grass) route to the park.

Pools are not always safe:

Pets don’t always like the water and many cannot swim. Never force your pet to get in the water and do not leave your pet where they can access a body of water without supervision. Dogs have been known to fall into pools and drown. 

Don’t let your pet drink the pool water as it can be toxic and wash your pet off after a swim as chlorinated water can irritate the skin and eyes. Moisture in the ears can also lead to annoying ear infections. 

Our top tips for preventing heatstroke:
  1. Never leave your pet in the car even on a mild day as the internal temperature of a car can become like an oven in minutes. Dogs can die in just six minutes in a hot car so don’t risk it. 
  2. Never exercise your pet in the heat of the day and skip exercise altogether on extremely hot days.
  3. If your pet has a thick coat, consider a full summer clip to help them stay cool.
  4. Always provide plenty of drinking water in multiple bowls.
  5. Make sure your pet has access to shade throughout the day, or even better, airflow from a fan (and/or air-conditioning – this is particularly important for Brachycephalic breeds).
  6. Pets should be brought inside on extremely hot days.
We are here to help keep your pet healthy and comfortable over the summer months. If you are worried about your pet you should always ask us for advice.
Christmas dog hiding under blanket

The “Twelve Pet Hazard of Christmas”

We’d like to help make sure your pet stays happy and healthy this silly season so here’s a list we’ve compiled of the ‘Twelve Pet Hazards of Christmas’:

Christmas can be a risky time for your pet. There is usually lots of food around as well as plenty of people, parties and changes in routine. You may not be able to keep an eye on your pet as much as usual and on top of this, we tend to find that pets can get themselves into all sorts of trouble during this period. Keep an eye out for the following hazards, and give you and your pet the best shot at a happy, healthy, holiday season!

Food Hazards:

1. Christmas dinner and leftovers: These are all too rich for our pets and can cause nasty tummy upsets and even life threatening Pancreatitis. We recommend you stick to ‘pet approved’ treats only, and avoid the temptation to feed your pet Christmas ham under the table.

2. Macadamia nuts: While they are very popular at Christmas, Macadamia nuts can be toxic to dogs if ingested. The toxicity leads to muscle weakness, vomiting and tremors.

3. Sultanas and raisins are common in Christmas cakes and grapes make a lovely addition to a fruit platter but they may contain a mycotoxin which can cause kidney failure in dogs. Keep these out of paws reach! 

4. BBQ skewers can be catastrophic for pets if they are accidentally ingested. Take extra care to ensure your pet doesn’t grab one that has fallen off the BBQ. NEVER feed your pet cooked bones as these can splinter, or cause an obstruction, and result in the need for emergency intestinal surgery.

5. Chocolate – dogs can’t metabolise the theobromine in chocolate. Chocolate ingestion can lead to an increased heart rate, tremors, seizures and even death. The darker the chocolate the more toxic, and the size of the dog and amount ingested also plays a part in the severity of the symptoms. Seek veterinary attention immediately if your dog eats chocolate. 

Environmental Hazards:

6. Decorations such as tinsel and fairy lights are very attractive to pets (especially cats) but can lead to a gastric obstruction if eaten.

7. Ribbons and string tied around presents are also super attractive to cats and if ingested can lead to a nasty gastric obstruction requiring emergency surgery.

8. The Christmas tree might be an attractive indoor ‘pee tree’ but can also be a falling hazard.

9. Lots of guests can cause your pet to become stressed and even lead to them trying to escape, so make sure they have a safe and quiet place to retreat to.

10. Christmas lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. The stamen, leaves and stems are all potentially toxic as is the water they are stored in. If possible, it’s best not to have them in the first place.

11. Snakes are out and about and will be all summer. Take care in long grass, around water or areas where there are rodents (grain sheds and chicken pens are common places.)

12. Heatstroke: Never leave your pet in the car during the warmer weather as heat stroke can occur very quickly. Even on a mild day, the temperature inside a car can reach dangerous levels in minutes. Leaving a window down will not help either, so please don’t risk it! It’s best to avoid car trips in the heat with your pet unless absolutely necessary. 

If you think that your pet has partaken in one of the “Twelve Pet Hazards of Christmas,” or generally have any questions, we are always here to help!