Animal and Child Safety

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.

  1. 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.

Dogs

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

Cats

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

Birds

Children should be taught:

  • To never tap the cage or stick objects in it

Rabbits/mice/guinea pigs

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
  1. 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.

  1. 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
  1. 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.

 

Why You Should Feed Your Pet Dry Food Instead Of Canned Food

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.

Wet food

Dogs

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

Cats

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 food

Dogs

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.

Cats

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 Pet Care Tips

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.

Ear Infections in Dogs and Cats

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.

Why Essential Oils And Pets Do Not Mix

What’s good for humans is not always good for pets. This is particularly true when it comes to essential oils. Because essential oils are a cornerstone of holistic human healthcare and are used for everything from cleaning through to creating ambience in a room, pet owners often make the mistake of assuming that these oils are benign and even beneficial for their pets. A quick internet search of ‘pets and essential oils’ will display articles dispensing advice on everything from using lavender oil in a diffuser to calm an anxious dog through to putting peppermint oil in a water bowl to combat bad breath. However, animals do not have the same metabolic capabilities as humans and are not able to process many types of essential oils. As a result, certain essential oils are toxic to pets and can cause serious illness when your pet is exposed to them. This includes when essential oils are released into the air via an oil diffuser. In this blog, we examine why essential oils can make your pet sick and whether or not they have a place in pet healthcare or even your home.

Why essential oils are toxic to pets

Cats are particularly sensitive to poisoning from essential oils. This is because they lack a liver enzyme (glucuronyl transferase) that helps break down certain compounds contained in essential oils. As a result, their livers are slower at eliminating these compounds which can lead to toxic build up. Whilst dogs do not lack this enzyme, they are still sensitive to essential oils and can become very sick if exposed to them.

 

How your pet is exposed

Exposure to essential oils can occur via ingestion (either by consuming the oils directly or through grooming), skin exposure or inhalation. The symptoms of essential oil poisoning will depend on the type of oil, the quantity and the way your pet is exposed.

 

Symptoms of essential oil poisoning

Common signs of poisoning as a result of inhalation (usually from an oil diffuser) include labored breathing, lack of coordination and difficulty walking, drooling, diarrhoea, lethargy, depression, low body temperature, weakness, muscle tremors and vomiting. When essential oils are exposed directly to the skin, they can also cause chemical burns, redness and irritation.

Oils that are particularly toxic to cats include:

  • Cassia
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Clove
  • Bergamot
  • Basil
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Lavender
  • Melaleuca
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Pennyroyal
  • Spruce
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Wild orange

Oils that are particularly toxic to dogs include:

  • Clove
  • Garlic
  • Geranium
  • Juniper
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen

 

Using oil diffusers at home

Recently, the trend of using oil diffusers at home has resulted in a spate of sick pets and there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not they should be used in the homes of pet owners. Some advice suggests that it’s fine to keep your pet confined in one room whilst you use the diffuser in another and only use it for a short period of time. However, once the oil diffuser is turned off, the essential oils may still be in the air or settle on the floor where your pet can inhale them or ingest them orally when they groom themselves. For this reason, we don’t recommend pet owners keep an oil diffuser in their home.

As we mentioned earlier, some essential oils are more toxic than others to pets, so we recommend that pet owners avoid using those essential oils at home wherever possible.

 

Do essential oils have a role to play in pet care?

Any essential oil has the potential to be toxic to your pet, depending on the quantity and the manner in which they are exposed to it. Because of this, we strongly advise you avoid deliberately exposing your pet to any kind of essential oil unless you have been advised to by a veterinarian.

Every animal has its own unique healthcare requirements, so what might work for the pets of your favourite holistic health blogger could seriously compromise the health of your own animal. If you are looking for pet care advice, your local veterinarian should be your first port of call. A veterinarian is the only person qualified to give an accurate diagnosis and prescribe a well-researched and proven treatment solution that is both safe and tailored to the needs of your pet.

 

Vets on Parker is an established Templestowe veterinary clinic that has been helping pet owners in the local community for over 30 years. If your pet is sick, ditch the lavender oil and instead call us on (03) 9850 1355.

 

What to Do if Your Pet is Bitten by a Snake

During the summer months, snakes are far more active than they are at other times of the year. Whilst you might think of snake habitat as being the country or the bush, they are just as prevalent in suburban and metropolitan areas. Snakes will live anywhere there is a food source, water and shelter so encounters with these reptiles can happen anywhere, at your local dog park, or even in your own backyard. So what you should do in the case of your pet being bitten by a snake? In this week’s blog, we share the correct course of action you should take to ensure your pet recovers.

 

1) First Aid

If you suspect your dog or cat has been bitten by a snake, you should immobilise your pet and try to keep them as quiet as you can. It is critical that you take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The quicker your pet is treated, the greater their chances of survival. We recommend calling ahead to let your vet know you are bringing in an animal that needs emergency assistance.

It is also essential that you do not try to identify the snake. This can put not only yourself but others at risk and will waste valuable time.

2) Snake bite signs

There are several contributing factors that will influence the sort of reaction your pet has to a snake bite. This includes: the type of snake, the amount of venom injected and the site of the snake bite, the location of the bite and the size of your pet. Dogs and cats are predominantly bitten around the head and limbs. Normally, the closer the bite is to the heart, the quicker the venom will be absorbed into your pet’s system and spread around their body.

When snakes first emerge from hibernation at the beginning of summer, their venom glands are typically fuller, so their bites can be much more severe at this time of year.

While the signs of a snake bite can differ, they may show some or all of the following signs:

  • Sudden weakness followed by collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the urine
  • Shaking or twitching of the muscles
  • Dilated pupils not responsive to light
  • Reduced ability to blink
  • In the later stages paralysis may occur

We recommend bringing your pet into the vet after an encounter with a snake even if they initially appear to be fine. Cats often have a delayed onset of symptoms as they are more resistant to venom than dogs and so the progression of the toxin may be slower, but no less deadly. In the case of dogs, sometimes the animal will collapse after a bite and then get up and appear fine for a short period of time as their body courses with adrenalin. However, this state is only temporary and the animal will collapse again soon after.

3) Veterinary Treatment

Your veterinarian will first examine your pet before assessing their symptoms to determine the best course of action. They may also take further diagnostic tests to ensure your pet has actually been bitten. Treatments vary depending on the individual case, severity of symptoms and how quickly the symptoms develop. Typical treatment for a snakebite may include intravenous fluids and the administration of antivenom to neutralise the snake venom in the pet’s body.

4) Recovery

On average, 80% of pets survive a snake bite if treated promptly. Recovery normally takes 24 to 48 hours if the pet receives quick veterinary attention following the snake bite. Although, some pets can take longer if internal organs have been damaged.

At Vets on Parker, we care about keeping your pets safe. If your pet has had an encounter with a snake please call our Templestowe veterinary clinic immediately (even if they appear to be fine) by calling (03) 9850 1355.

How To Care For Your Pet When You Go On A Holiday

Everyone loves going away on a holiday. But as a pet owner, there are some extra arrangements you need to make to ensure your pet remains happy and healthy while you’re away. There are lots of different options available to look after your pet and in this week’s blog, we’ll be discussing a few of these options as well as giving you a few pointers on how to prepare your pet for their vacation.

 

Care Options

Boarding Kennels and Catteries

Boarding kennels and catteries are specifically created for looking after pets when their pet owner is away. Booking your pet into a boarding kennel or cattery can provide peace of mind as you know your pet is being taken care of by professionals in a safe, specially designed environment. However, it’s important to do your research and find a reputable kennel or cattery where you can be sure your pet will be properly cared for, receive plenty of attention and receive daily exercise. If your pet has specific medical or dietary needs, it’s also a good idea to find a kennel or cattery with staff that have experience caring for special needs animals, or better still, a kennel or cattery that is attached with a veterinary practice. That way if your pet does require medical assistance, help isn’t too far away.

Vets on Parker, offer cat boarding services where your pet will be taken care of in a safe, clean and caring environment. We’d love to take care of your cat over the Christmas holidays but you’ll have to book quickly as places are very limited at this time of year. Get in touch with us today on (03) 9850 1355.

Pet Sitter Care

The other choice, which might be better suited to you is to have a private pet sitter come to your house or have your pet board with them. This can be a good option if you have an old or anxiety prone pet as they get to stay in their own environment and don’t have to deal with the stress of being somewhere unfamiliar. If you do decide to go down this route, make sure to discuss and then implement appropriate processes with the pet sitter and vet if something unexpected happens. This should include: which vet to take your pet to, how the vet can contact you (the pet owner) to discuss their condition and receive consent for any required treatments, as well as how payment for the treatment will work.

Preparing your pet for their holiday

Microchip your pet and update their details

Before you leave, it’s crucial that your pet is microchipped and all their details are up to date. This will be incredibly helpful if something unforeseen (like an escape) happens while your pet is in your sitter’s care.

Make sure your pet is vaccinated and wormed

Most boarding kennels and catteries require that their guests have up to date vaccinations and are both wormed and flea treated. This prevents the spread of disease and helps ensure your pet remains healthy for the duration of their holiday.

Provide your pet sitter with clear instructions

Communication is key to ensuring your pet is well-looked after. Make sure you give your sitter contact details while away as well as treatment authorisation information, payment arrangements, your pet’s microchip number and the contact details of your vet. It is also essential that you notify your vet of your pet’s care arrangements.

Paralysis tick and flea treatment

If you happen to be taking your pet outside of Melbourne on interstate, it’s important you treat them for paralysis tick and fleas as these parasites are a lot more common outside of urban areas.

 

Paralysis ticks are in Melbourne

Along with all the benefits of living in the most liveable city in the world, not having to worry about the paralysis tick was an added bonus.

Unfortunately, thanks to climate change, they have arrived on our doorstep.

I don’t want to be an alarmist and worry pet owners unnecessarily, the risk is still very low and even lower if you and your pet don’t venture much past our neat nature strips and dog parks.

However, for peace of mind, please follow the tips below and speak to your trusted vet if you have any questions.

Tick tips:

  • Keep your pet’s hair short
  • Ticks hang out in long grass. Keep your pooch out! (snakes hang there too)
  • Check your pet’s coat regularly – ticks need to be attached for 2-3 days before they inject their poison
  • Added tick prevention – 100% necessary for those pet owners travelling with their pet either north (towards the Murray) or east of Melbourne (towards Gippsland)
  1. The Bravecto chew will protect your dog for 4 months from the paralysis tick. It can be used safely in conjunction with most other parasite preventions (Advocate, Sentinel etc.)
  2. Cats – unfortunately, there is only ONE product available. Frontline plus Spray – needs to be applied every 3 weeks.
  3. Other tick preventions – Advantix, Nexgard, Serasto collars – may be recommended.

Preparing your pets for summer

The warmer months provide a great opportunity for us to get out into the sunshine with our pets! With the heat comes a few potential dangers – here are some of the more common things to be mindful of over the summer months:

Heatstroke is a common problem seen in both dogs and cats during summer and is very serious. A few simple tips can go a long way to help prevent it:

Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. Temperatures in a car can rise to dangerous levels and can rapidly reach more than double the outside temperature even on mild days. Tinting, parking in the shade, or leaving the windows open do not help to reduce the inside temperature significantly.

If you find your dog panting heavily, doesn’t obey normal commands, has warm, dry skin and a rapid heart beat, he may be suffering from heatstroke. Other signs include vomiting, anxiety and high fever. Try to cool them off with cool water, cold packs and a cooler environment; and of course see a vet as soon as possible.

Avoid walking or exercising your dog at the park in the middle of the day. Apart from the outside air termperature, another good test for this is to take a few steps on the footath in your bare feet – if it’s too hot for you, it is too hot for them!

Senior pets and arthritic animals sometimes can’t get themselves out of their hot kennel. Kennels should always be kept in a shaded area with plenty of airflow around it.

Keep them cool – keep inside if possible, frozen pet treats, ice blocks, paddling pools are all great ideas on those really hot days.

Is your four-legged friend a Pug, Bull dog, Mastiff, or Chow Chow? Dogs with short muzzles like the breeds just mentioned are even more susceptible to over heating, so as their owners, you need to be even more careful.