There’s no doubt about it when it comes to dental disease it can really stink! But don’t be tempted to simply turn your head away, as bad breath can be a sign that your furry friend is suffering from dental disease, a sneaky condition that likes to creep up on them.
As the disease progresses, plaque and tartar build up around the teeth leading to an inflammatory condition called gingivitis. Eventually, the gum separates from the tooth and small pockets of bacteria accumulate. This is very painful as nerves are exposed and tooth root abscesses can form.
Dental disease is painful, and can impact the overall health of your pet. If bacteria from dental disease are left untreated, there is a risk that it will enter the bloodstream, affecting your furry friend’s health. Small signals of pain and discomfort can be easy to overlook, but it’s vital that you stay vigilant for the sake of your four legged friend!
Signs of dental disease include:
- Bad breath
- Redness of the gums
- Drooling from the mouth
- Changes to the way your pet eats, or their preferences in their diet
- A loss of appetite or weight loss
Sometimes the signs are subtle and you may not notice anything at all. This is why regular check-ups with us are so important as during any routine examination we will always examine your pet’s mouth to rule out the need for further intervention.
How do we treat dental disease?
If we diagnose dental disease early enough, we can implement a treatment plan and slow the progression of this condition.
Dogs and cats with more advanced dental disease need a general anaesthetic to assess the teeth and thoroughly clean the entire mouth, including under the gum line. This helps remove the plaque and bacteria, and treats gingivitis. Radiographs may also be taken to look for hidden problems inside the tooth or beneath the gums. Teeth that are severely diseased and cannot be saved are removed.
Here are our top tips for dental care at home:
- Make every mouthful count:
Wet and soft food diets are notorious for allowing plaque and tartar to accumulate.We have excellent diets available that are actually designed to clean the teeth as your pet chews. We can also advise you on the best chews and treats available when it comes to dental care. Not every chew on the market is entirely safe for your pet so it’s best to ask us for advice.
- Brushing is best:
Brushing your pet’s teeth is considered gold standard in home care. We have toothbrushes that enable you to get into the hard to reach places. Keep in mind that it can take a few months for your pet to get used to the idea! Daily brushing is recommended (in an ideal world) however a couple of times a week is better than no brushing at all. If you are using a dental paste make sure it pet-friendly (human toothpaste is toxic to pets). We will show you how best to brush your pet’s teeth – just ask us for a demonstration.
If you are worried about your pet’s teeth you should speak to us. With correct dental care, your pet will be happier and live a healthier and longer life without dreaded doggy, or kitty, breath!
When it comes to your pet, you might think that carrying a few extra kilos isn’t a big deal. Unfortunately, even slightly overweight pets are at an increased risk of developing a host of diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, respiratory disorders and diabetes.
Pets come in all shapes and sizes and there’s no ideal weight for every breed. The key is to know what to look out for so you can identify when your pet is getting a bit portly.
Here are our top tips for determining if your pet is carrying a few too many kilos:
- Look at your pet from above – an overweight pet will have lost definition of their waist. Instead of an hourglass figure, they may resemble a barrel on legs.
- Have a feel of your pet’s ribs – if you can’t feel their ribs easily when you run your hands over their sides, they are hidden under a layer of fat. In some cases, you may be able to feel rolls of fat over the ribs.
- Can you see their neck? A very obese pet may have neck fat, a pendulous tummy as well as fat deposits over the hips.
The very best way to determine whether your pet is overweight is to drop in for a weight check with us. This will allow us to score your pet’s body condition and, if necessary, start a weight loss plan.
Thankfully, getting your pet to lose weight is easier than you think.
Physical exercise is a must, and it will be crucial to monitor the amount, as well as what type of food you are feeding your pet. Get your family involved in the process too, get them measuring the correct scoops of food per feeding, and stop them sneaking scraps from the dinner table to the pampered pet!
It’s also easy to overdo the treats at home and you might not be aware just how much of an impact these treats are having on your pet’s weight. Keep these calorie translator facts in mind when you are having trouble saying ‘no’ to those adorable eyes:
For the average 5kg cat: a glass of milk is equivalent to a human eating 3 hamburgers! (not to mention the fact that cats can’t digest the lactose in cow’s milk)
For a 10kg dog: a 30g piece of cheese is equivalent to a human eating 1.5 hamburgers!
The best news is, we have diets available that will actually help your pet lose weight, including one to increase your pet’s metabolic rate. We are happy to say that many of our patients have had great success with these so you should ask us for more information.
Helping your pet lose weight is easier than you think and we will help support you and your pet through the process.
In December, our Bulleen vet sees a lot of patients with tummy upsets which can often be traced back to too many rich festive foods. Ideally, pets should not ever be fed processed foods as their stomachs have not evolved to digest them and so eating them often leads to diarrhoea and/or vomiting.
However, there are some festive ingredients (and inedible) which can cause more serious health issues including:
- Candy wrappers/toothpicks/skewers: If something smells good, your pet will eat it, even if it’s not edible. These are just some of the things that can get swallowed and stuck in your pet’s oesophagus or intestines.
- Poinsettias: These traditional flowers are toxic to dogs and cats, so keep them out of reach or out of the house altogether if your pet likes to nibble on plants.
- Raw or undercooked meats: The bacteria in raw or undercooked meat makes pets sick too! If you do give your pet some meat over the festive season, it should be boneless and without seasoning- lean cuts like chicken breast are ideal.
- Dough: Once ingested, the raw dough will continue to rise in your pet’s stomach and it can cause life-threatening bloat or alcohol poisoning (from the yeast).
- Alcohol, tea and coffee: Whilst tea leaves and coffee are only likely to cause a stomach upset, alcohol is toxic to pets and can be lethal even in small amounts.
- Sage: Toxic to cats, this herb can cause central nervous problems.
Has your pet consumed any of the above? We recommend you book an appointment with our Bulleen vet clinic immediately.
During summer, most of our pet patients visit our Templestowe veterinary clinic because they have been overexposed to the harsh sun. In this blog, we are explaining the different health consequences that this exposure can have on your pet. We’ve also put together a quick 5-step grooming guide for owners to care for their pets during summer.
Pets can get sunburnt too! Whilst any breed of animal can get sunburnt, pets with white or lightly pigmented hair are particularly susceptible. Sun damage usually occurs where your pet’s hair coat is at its thinnest. For cats and rabbits, sunburn is most common on the tips of the ears, eyelids and noses; for dogs, sunburn is most common on muzzles, armpits, abdomens and groins.
Like humans, sunburnt pets will have skin that looks red and flaky. Longer term sun damage shows up as thickened or scarred skin with ulceration and crusting. This skin is also susceptible to secondary bacterial infections and sun cancers may also develop.
How to protect your pet from the sun – slip, slop, shade
- If you have an all-white or light coloured dog, or they have a thin coat, invest in sun-protective clothing. (Yes, they make sun shirts for pets!) Just make sure they don’t overheat in them.
- Use a pet-specific sunscreen (available in our East Kew veterinary clinic) to ward off sunburn. Apply as directed to vulnerable areas twice a day.
- Try to keep your pets out of the sun between 10am and 4pm. UV rays are at their strongest between these times so keep them in a well-shaded area of your yard or inside under the air con.
Did you know: When the air temperature is 25°C, the temperature of asphalt in the sun is 51°C. You can fry an egg at 55°C so imagine what that feels like on your dog’s feet!
The pads of your dog’s feet are as thick as the skin on the soles of your own feet, so walking your dog on surfaces like asphalt, concrete and brick during the summer months can burn the skin in as little as 60 seconds.
The best way to test if the pavement is too hot for walking your dog is to press your own hand onto the surface for 7-8 seconds. If it’s uncomfortable for you, then it will be uncomfortable for your dog.
Other summer walking tips to keep in mind:
- Walk your dog in the morning rather than the evening, as asphalt retains heat.
- Walk on dirt or grass paths which don’t soak up the heat at the same rate.
- Consider investing in protective booties for your dog.
Our summer grooming guide
- Get your dog a summer cut but make sure they are not shaved all the way down to the skin as this makes them susceptible to sunburn.
- Cats typically do not need to be shaved unless they are unable to groom themselves.
- Bathe your dog once every few weeks using pet-friendly shampoo. Bathing more often or with products meant for humans can cause irritation.
- Check in between your dog’s paw pads after they have been playing outdoors – burrs and grass seeds can work their way into the skin and cause irritation or infection.
- Summer is flea and tick season! Make sure your pet is up to date with their parasite control and chat with your vet if you’re planning on taking your pet to the beach (other parts of Victoria and Australia are home to different kinds of parasites).
Vets on Parker is a Templestowe veterinary clinic that is dedicated to supporting our community with helpful veterinary advice and services. Please don’t hesitate to book an appointment at our clinic today!
As we head into summer, it’s important to know the risks that the hot weather will present to your cat, dog or pocket pet. The main risk is heatstroke – a life-threatening condition that can escalate in a matter of minutes. In today’s blog, our trusted vet in Templestowe has put together a guide for everything you need to know about heatstroke so you can help your pet avoid the deadly consequences.
Know why heatstroke occurs
At our vet clinic in Templestowe, the number one heatstroke-related question we get asked is, “Why does it happen?”
Heatstroke occurs because our cats, dogs and pocket pets cannot cool down their bodies in the same way that we can, as they do not have as many sweat glands as we do. In order to compensate, they can often start to pant, but this only works to a certain extent before they begin to overheat. Once they start overheating, they can experience the symptoms of heatstroke, which is a condition that can be fatal.
Know how to help prevent heatstroke
The best way to help your pet with heatstroke is to prevent it altogether. You can help prevent heatstroke in the following ways:
- Avoid exercising your pet or allowing them to walk on heat-retentive surfaces (such as sand or asphalt) in the hot weather
- Put a wet towel inside your pocket pet’s cage for them to lie on, and hang another wet cloth on the side of the cage so that the passing breeze will be cooler
- Never ever leave your pet in the car – in just 20 minutes on a 21°C day, your dog can overheat.
Know the symptoms of heatstroke
The main symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Rapid panting and salivation
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Muscle tremors and/or seizures.
Know a vet in Templestowe that you can contact
The first thing you should do if you notice that your pet is suffering from any of the above symptoms is call a vet in Templestowe and let them know your pet is experiencing a medical emergency.
The next few things you do are crucial to helping your pet cool down in the meantime:
- Immediately remove your pet from the hot environment
- Spray or apply cool (not cold) water on your pet and then use a fan to cool down your pet quickly
- Use a wet cloth to wet the area around your pet.
Vets on Parker is a vet in Templestowe that has been trusted by pet owners for over 30 years. If you have noticed that your pet is displaying any signs of heatstroke, we urge you to get in touch with us immediately on (03) 9850 1355.
Many children love animals and can develop close bonds with their pets. This, in turn, can help the child learn important social skills such as empathy, respect for others and patience. However, if an animal feels trapped, frightened or threatened, even the most docile pets will do everything they can to make a perceived threat go away. As a parent, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your family pet and your child develop a harmonious and safe relationship. In this blog, we look at the four basic steps of animal and child safety.
Teach your child how to be safe around pets
Safe behaviour around animals as well as the knowing the signs of an upset animal are both valuable skills which can be taught very early on.
Children should be taught:
- To leave sleeping and eating dogs alone
- To recognise the signs of an aggressive or upset dog (lifted lips, growling, staring, raised hair)
- To ask pet owners for permission before interacting with a new dog
- When approached by an unfamiliar dog, to stand completely still ‘like a tree’ with arms by their sides, hands in a fist, and not to make eye contact
- To pat a dog gently along the back and sides
- To avoid roughhousing
- To never get between two fighting dogs
Children should be taught
- To recognise the signs of an upset cat (swishing tail, raised hair, hissing, swiping)
- To leave sleeping and eating cats alone
- To pat rather than pick up the cat
Children should be taught:
- To never tap the cage or stick objects in it
Children should be taught:
- To hold the pet securely but gently
- Not to pull hair or drop the animal from a height
- Not to rattle or stick things into the cage
Reinforce basic hygiene around animals
Good hygiene should be practised around pets at every age. Teach your children to wash their hands with soap every time they touch a pet, it’s food or it’s bedding. Children should be discouraged from going near the litter box or dog poo and parents should regularly clean cages or toileting areas to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Supervise children under the age of five
In Australia, children five years old and younger are the group most likely to sustain injuries from pets (particularly dogs) so during these first five years, children should always be supervised when around a dog or separated from them if supervision is not possible. Other supervision tips to keep in mind are:
- With birds, it’s best if you hold the bird and have your young child pat it
- Try to handle rabbits/mice and guinea pigs at least 15 minutes a day so the animal gets used to being held and is less likely to scratch or bite
- Keep cages in a common area so you can supervise all interactions
Take precautions to ensure your pet is healthy and well trained
Make sure your family pet is up to date with all of their vaccinations and parasite treatments as some parasites are transferable to humans. In addition to this, dogs who regularly interact with children should have basic obedience training and be able to follow simple commands.
Vets on Parker is a family-focused veterinary clinic in Templestowe dedicated to ensuring your pet has the best possible quality of life. Book an appointment online or call us on (03) 9850 1355.
When it comes to deciding between wet or canned food for your pet, there are a number of pros and cons on each side. However, the vets at our Bulleen veterinary clinic usually recommend dry food over wet food for both cats and dogs. Today we are explaining exactly why dry food is better for your pet than wet food.
The main benefit of wet food is that it can be recommended for dogs with health conditions such as kidney stones or struvite crystals.
There are, however, more downsides to wet food:
- Wet food has a shorter shelf life, meaning you’ll need to buy it more often and in smaller quantities, which can be inconvenient
- It is more expensive
- Wet food can be messy and stick in between teeth, which can be bad news for dental health
- Wet food can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea
Like canned food for dogs, wet cat food is hydrating and is sometimes recommended to cats that have the following:
- Kidney problems
- Lower urinary tract disease (as the diluted urine lessens the pain and/or frequency of symptoms)
The downsides to wet cat food are similar to that of canned dog food (listed above).
Dry dog food holds many more benefits than wet dog food. There are a number of benefits to dry kibble for dogs:
- It’s much easier to store, lasts longer and is more cost efficient
- Kibble helps to remove built-up tartar and plaque, which is better for your pet’s dental health
The only main downside to dry food (for both cats and dogs) is that it is not as hydrating as wet food. However, providing your pet with clean water does the trick just fine.
While dry food does not substitute for proper dental care, dry cat food is also commonly agreed to be better for your cat’s teeth than canned food. It is also more affordable and convenient than canned food, which is another plus point. Therefore, dry food is also better for your cat than canned food.
Got any more questions about dry and canned pet food? Vets on Parker can help with any concerns you might have, from feeding plans to dental care. Book an appointment at our Bulleen veterinary clinic today on (03) 9850 1355.
Winter is here!
Here are some handy tips on preparing your pets for another chilly Melbourne winter:
• Remember that even though your pet has a fur coat, they still feel the cold.
• Ensure your pet has a thick, insulated bed for chilly nights. If you’re unsure whether their bed is warm enough why not add a nice fuzzy blanket?
• For rabbits and guinea pigs, add some extra straw to their hutch and give them a protected box to make their bed in. Place a blanket or waterproof tarp over outdoor runs to help keep the weather out.
• Birds feel the cold too. Bring birds in cages inside or place them somewhere sheltered out of the wind and weather. A blanket can be placed over the cage at night to help keep the warmth in.
• If your pet is outside, ensure they have an area they that is out of the wind and protected from the rain with a dry clean floor. Providing access to food, water and a bed in this area is ideal.
• Dog kennels should always be placed against a fence or undercover to give them extra protection from the wind and rain.
• Warm up your pet’s meals. We all love a warm meal on a cold night so why shouldn’t our pets enjoy it too?
• Pet coats. There is a huge range of warm and stylish pet coats on the market. These are great for short haired dogs and older pets who struggle to insulate themselves from the cold.
• Remember that young animals can’t control their body temperatures the same way adult animals do, so you’ll need to keep them inside in cold weather.
• Older pets with arthritis often have flare ups in colder weather. Speak to us about natural supplements and dietary tweaks that can help keep them moving comfortably.
With all the recent rain, we have seen an increase in the number of dogs coming into the clinic suffering from ear infections.
Dogs and cats have L shaped ear canals that easily trap moisture. This then creates a warm, moist environment that yeast and bacteria thrive in. These ear infections can become very painful and cause permanent damage to your pets hearing if not properly treated.
Signs your pet has an ear infection
- Rubbing their head along the ground or scratching at their ear
- A dark discharge coming from the ear or the ear canal appearing red
- A strong smell – yeast releases a particularly unpleasant smell
What you should do
If your pet displays any of these symptoms, we recommend booking them in for an appointment to see one of our lovely vets. They will take a swab of the ear canal and diagnose what type of infection is plaguing your pet. Once your pet is diagnosed, the vet will able to prescribe the best medication to eradicate the problem quickly.
How to prevent ear infections
We also stock an ear cleaner that is perfect for preventing ear infections in dogs. The cleaner not only helps remove the natural waxy build-up of the ear but dries out any additional moisture, making the environment less appealing to yeast and bacteria. This cleaner is easy to use and perfect for using after baths or when your pet has been playing in the rain.