Proudly sponsoring Templestowe Valley Preschool’s aquarium

We are very pleased to announce our sponsorship of Templestowe Valley Preschool’s aquarium. Staff at Templestowe Valley have found that the new classroom addition provides a calming distraction, stimulating young minds and encouraging new enquiries into science and animal care.

The final weeks of the school term can be very demanding on preschool-age children as they navigate the transition into school programs and more intense learning, and the aquarium has been a welcome inclusion to the classroom. “The children have really embraced it, they enjoy watching the fish”, said teacher Lee Thiele. “They’ve expressed a strong interest in learning more about them through our research, stories and craft activities.”

Unfortunately, continuing the aquarium rental through the end of term wasn’t going to be feasible financially for Templestowe Valley Preschool, so we at Vets on Parker have offered to cover the remaining costs. We’re so happy we’re able to contribute to the welfare of our smallest community members in this way.

Keeping your pet up-to-date with parasite prevention

With increasing day length and warmer weather, most of us, including our pets, will be enjoying more time spent outdoors. It’s always important to ensure your four-legged friend is up-to-date with routine disease and parasite prevention, but especially so at a time of year when insects are more prevalent and more animals are out and about.

What vaccinations should my pet be getting?

We recommend vaccinating your K9 companions with the C5 vaccination.

This protects against deadly Parvovirus, Distemper and Hepatitis, as well as the two types of Canine Cough.

All cats are recommended to be kept up-to-date with the F3 vaccination – this helps protect them against the two types of Cat flu and Feline Panleukopenia (Feline Parvovirus). If your kitty’s lifestyle includes roaming time outside, they may also need to be vaccinated against FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FeLV (Feline Leukaemia Virus).

Every pup and kitten should receive a primary course of vaccines (usually three separate vaccines done four-to-six weeks apart), followed by their first adult vaccination one year later. From this point, they generally receive annual vaccines with alternating components (as not every component needs to be boosted every year).

If you are boarding your pets they are required to be up to date with their C5 or F3 vaccinations.

What parasite prevention should I give my pet?

There are lots of product options for parasite control in dogs and cats, and generally at least two products need to be used per pet for a thorough parasite prevention routine.

Any cat or dog going outdoors should regularly receive products to protect against ticks, fleas and intestinal worms. Dogs should also be on routine heartworm prevention, but this is optional in cats, as they are not the preferred host for heartworm, so are less susceptible.

For puppies and kittens, we recommend an intestinal all-wormer every two weeks up until 12 weeks old, and then continuing worming monthly until six months old. From this point, your pet should be wormed every three months. In rural areas where pets have access to livestock or if your pet is on a raw meat diet,  it is recommended to give your pet a tapeworm treatment every month in-between quarterly all-wormer doses. 

Flea and tick treatments can be covered by combination products. For dogs, there are a range of effective preventative products, including a variety of chews that last between one and three months, veterinary-strength medicated collars or topical products that last up to six months. For cats, there are topical products that last one- three months.

For heartworm prevention in dogs, you may consider an annual injection administered by one of our vets (which can be synced up with your pet’s annual check and vaccination) or a monthly chew or tablet.

As a general rule, pets should be seen for a vet check every 6 months, where we can assess your cat or dog’s general health and discuss which vaccines are required each year to maintain their protection. At this time, we can also discuss the best options for thorough parasite prevention based on your pet’s requirements.

Parasite control can be confusing with all of the different products out there so if you need help please seek advice from our friendly team!

Ditch the itch

20% off Hill’s skin and food sensitive diets! For the months of October and November 2020, we are offering 20% off Hill’s skin and food sensitive diet range for dogs and cats. Hill’s nutritionists and veterinarians developed the Derm Defense, z/d and d/d food ranges especially to support pets with skin and food sensitivities. Offer ends November 30. If you think your pet is suffering from itchy skin, call us or make a booking online. If your pet does require a special diet for a skin allergy, we will be able to recommend the best Hill’s product for your pet’s particular condition. 

Itchy skin can cause absolute chaos and really affect your pet’s quality of life. One of the most common and frustrating ‘itchy skin’ conditions we see in pets is atopic dermatitis. This inflammatory condition is caused by a reaction to allergens in the environment (a bit like the common triggers of asthma and hay fever in humans). It is particularly troublesome in spring and summer but can occur all year round. 

These irritants can cause dogs to bite, lick or scratch themselves with their legs, and cats to over-groom (constantly lick) certain areas, causing hair loss. This itchiness can be excruciatingly annoying for your pet, and if left untreated can quickly lead to trauma of the skin and secondary skin infections. 

Allergens that might cause a problem include: grasses, trees, plant pollen, dust mites, insects, and moulds. The signs associated with itchy skin generally consist of itching, scratching, rubbing, biting, and licking. 

Diagnosis and management of itchy skin relies on a good history of your pet’s symptoms and a thorough physical examination. It is essential that all potential parasitic causes and food allergies are ruled out. Your pet may also undergo further allergy testing and these results can be used to formulate a unique desensitising allergy vaccine.

The good news is that there are some exciting new immunotherapy drugs available that have minimal side effects, and can greatly improve your dog’s comfort and quality of life. 

Our top skin care tips for your pet

When it comes to managing the itchy pet, there is no magic pill. It’s all about prevention of parasites and taking action before things get out of control. Here are our top tips for healthy skin:

  1. Be vigilant with flea treatment all year round for all pets in your family. Fleas are the major cause of an itchy pet and regular use of a flea treatment is easier and cheaper than trying to get rid of the itch. Ask us for the best flea treatment available for your pet, including those that provide protection for a few months at a time.
  1. A premium diet balanced is essential to keep your pet’s skin and coat in top shape. This will provide a good barrier against potential allergens – ask us for a recommendation.
  1. Always wash your dog in pet-approved shampoo and conditioner. A product containing ceramides can help rebuild the epidermal barrier and reduce allergen exposure – ask us for more information.
  1. Medication to help reduce the immune system’s response to the allergen can greatly reduce an itch and these can be used during flare-ups and for ongoing management – we can provide you with more information so chat with us about what’s suitable for your pet.
  1. And finally, if you notice your pet is itching, licking, biting, or rubbing, you should arrange a check up with us ASAP. The sooner we settle the itch, the less likely your pet is to cause self trauma and secondary skin infections.

If you have an itchy pet at your house it is best arrange an appointment with us. We will help keep your pet happy, healthy and comfortable.

A little bit of wee goes a long way

A urine test is a simple and effective method for us to check the health of your pet’s urinary system. A urine test provides a large amount of information on the health of your pet and can be helpful in identifying conditions such as bladder stones and obstructions, kidney disease, diabetes, urinary tract infections, and other metabolic conditions. In this blog, we look at two conditions which can be detected with testing a urine sample and how you can collect a sample from your pet at home.  

Kidney disease

Just like humans, our pets have kidneys too. The role of the kidneys is to:

  • Filter out waste from the blood to produce urine.
  • Maintain the balance of fluids and electrolytes within the body.
  • Produce hormones and enzymes that help regulate various metabolic functions throughout the body. 

When there is a problem with any aspect of the kidneys’ function, this is referred to as kidney disease or renal failure. 

A urine test, combined with a blood test, can measure different enzymes and substances in the urine and blood to determine if the kidneys are functioning normally. Further diagnostic tests may often also be indicated, including imaging (x-rays or ultrasound), blood pressure measurement and further blood tests. 

Bladder stones and obstructions 

Bladder stones are rock-like accumulations of minerals which can form in the bladder. The bladder stones can occur as a few larger stones or multiple smaller stones. The smaller stones can sometimes block the urethra, which is the outflow tube from the bladder, causing pain or difficulty with urination. 

If the bladder cannot empty urine, not only is this painful for the pet, but the toxic products that are normally excreted out of the body in urine build up in the bloodstream and can result in kidney damage and other problems. A blocked bladder is also at risk of rupturing, which is painful and results in urine leaking into the abdominal cavity causing disease.

Depending on their size, number and location, bladder stones can often be diagnosed via a combination of urine tests, physical examination and imaging (x-rays). 

How to collect a urine sample

If you notice a change in your pet’s urination, such as discoloured urine or increased frequency of urination, then we recommend booking them in for a health check and a urinalysis.

You can even collect a urine sample on the day of the appointment to help save time.

With dogs, collecting a urine sample is usually a matter of waiting until they go to urinate, and then catching a sample of the urine into a clean and dry container such as a plastic bowl or jar. Once the sample is collected, you can bring it into the vet hospital along with your pet for testing.

For cats, collecting a urine sample can be a bit trickier. If your cat uses a plastic litter tray, you can remove the cat litter and replace it with a non-absorbent crystal litter (available from the clinic), and then when the cat urinates you can tip a small amount of urine from the tray into a clean plastic container. 

If you collect the sample prior to your appointment please refrigerate it until your visit to help preserve the sample.

If you’re unable to collect a urine sample from your cat at home one of our vets will be able to collect it during the consult, provided your feline friend hasn’t visited the tray just prior. We can sometimes palpate and express a cat’s bladder to collect a urine sample. If this is not possible, we may consider using a technique called cystocentesis, which involves collecting a urine sample from the bladder by passing a needle through the abdomen – we can explain this procedure in more detail if it is recommended. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly veterinary team.

Taking care of teeth at home

The development of dental disease in pets can be affected by the animal’s breed, oral anatomy, diet and age. Dental disease is one of the most common problems we see in veterinary practice and it needs to be managed with a multi-targeted approach. Regular check-ups with the vet will help to identify any dental issues your pet might be hiding, and there are several important things you can do at home to help your pet’s teeth stay healthy.

What causes dental disease?

When particles of food and bacteria accumulate along the gum line, they combine with saliva to form plaque. If this plaque builds up, then tartar and bacteria accumulate too. The presence of this tartar and bacteria leads to inflammation around the gum line, a condition known as gingivitis.

As dental disease progresses, teeth can become eroded and the gum tissue infected. Once this happens, your pet can suffer from bone and tissue damage, and wobbly, rotten teeth. These changes can be severely painful and can significantly affect your pet’s quality of life.

Sometimes, even with all the best dental prevention measures in place, your pet may still need a dental procedure at some point. An excellent example of this is a dog who fractures a tooth chewing on something! The fractured tooth needs to be assessed by the vet and is usually extracted, as exposure of the tooth nerves can be painful and also lead to infection.

Brushing is best!

Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is considered gold standard in-home care. Keep in mind that it may take some time for your pet to get used to the idea, however even if you only manage to do this occasionally, it is better than no brushing at all. If you are using a dental toothpaste, make sure it is pet-friendly (human toothpaste is toxic to pets). Ask us for a tooth brushing demonstration!

Make every mouthful count

We have excellent dental diets available designed to help clean your pet’s teeth as they chew. Speak to our friendly team for more information about the best diet to feed your pet.

Signs of dental disease in dogs and cats:

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow or brown staining on the teeth
  • Redness of the gums around the teeth
  • Bleeding gums or excessive drooling
  • A loss of appetite or weight loss

What to do if you think your pet has dental disease

Dental disease is painful and can impact the overall health of your pet as the bacteria enter the bloodstream and make their way around your pet’s body.

If we diagnose the dental disease early enough, we can implement a treatment plan and slow the progression of this condition. Correct management of dental disease means your pet will lead a happier and healthier life and, in most cases, be less likely to need major dental procedures during their life, so it’s vitally important to keep an eye out for dental disease in your pet. 

We strongly recommend getting your pet in for a dental check-up if you haven’t done so in the past 12 months. Ask us for further advice on dental disease prevention for your pet.

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.