It’s all in the eyes

Pardon the pun, but you don’t have to be blind to see that your pet’s eyes are very important!

Eye issues can be serious. That’s why, if you notice anything unusual about your pet’s eyes, it’s best to have them checked out ASAP. Conditions like conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, uveitis and glaucoma can be very painful and, if left untreated, can go downhill rapidly.

Things to watch out for:
  • Discharge from one or both eyes
    Mucoid, sticky, yellow or green discharge is not normal. Any one of these may be a sign of infection, or other diseases like dry eye.
  • Squinting or excessive blinking
    Similarly, this may be a sign that your pet is in pain.
  • Increased redness on the white of the eye
    Infections and irritation can lead to an angry looking eye. Likewise glaucoma, an increase of pressure in the eye, can lead to redness.
  • Swollen eyelids or swollen eye
    Infections, trauma, allergies or the presence of a foreign body can cause swelling.
  • Your pet is repeatedly rubbing their eye
    Itchy eyes, a foreign body or any type of irritation can make your pet scratch or rub their eye/s. As a result, this can lead to further trauma (often due to a scratch on the eye) and even corneal ulcers.
  • Your pet’s third eyelid is easily visible
    Or is swollen, or very red. The third eyelid is usually hidden in the corner of the eye, but changes in its appearance may be a sign of: pain, a corneal ulcer, a foreign body or even a condition known as ‘cherry eye’.
  • Your pet is suddenly bumping into furniture or walls or seems disoriented
    This can indicate a change in vision and may be due to the presence of cataracts, glaucoma or retinal diseases. A sudden loss in vision may also occur with high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Behavioural changes
    Eye conditions can be very painful. This can lead to changes in behaviour and demeanour – as well as constant tiredness in your pet. It’s amazing how often (after treatment) fur-parents realise just how much the condition was affecting their pet’s demeanour. 
Other Tips

Above all, resist the temptation to use any leftover ointment or drops (human or animal) that you might have at home on your pet. Some medications can actually make conditions worse – and leave your pet in serious discomfort.
Most importantly, the best thing you can do is bring them in to us, and let us determine the cause of any eye problems. 

If you ever think there’s something ‘not quite right’ please give us a call for advice.

Itchy and scratchy

You don’t need us to tell you that an episode of itchy and scratchy can be extremely frustrating for your pet. If the cycle of itch, scratch, rub and lick it continues, it can leave your pet feeling uncomfortable, frustrated and downright miserable. Not to mention the need for ongoing veterinary visits and medication!

A common ‘itchy skin’ condition we see in dogs is atopic dermatitis.
This inflammatory disease is caused by a reaction to allergens in the environment, similar to the common triggers of asthma and hayfever in humans. It is particularly troublesome in Spring and Summer but can occur all year round.

Allergens that can cause a problem include: 
  • Grasses
  • Trees
  • Plant pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Insects
  • Moulds

The signs associated with atopic dermatitis generally consist of itching, scratching, rubbing, biting, and licking. They usually appear in dogs between the ages of 1 and 6 years old.

Common sites your dog may be itchy:
  • Ears (recurrent ear infections are common)
  • The feet and in between the toes
  • The armpits
  • The groin and anal glands
  • Around the eyes

Diagnosis and management of atopic dermatitis relies on a thorough history of your dog’s symptoms and a thorough physical examination. It is essential that all potential parasitic causes (such as the common the flea) and food allergies are ruled out.
Your dog may also undergo further allergy testing and these results can be used to formulate a unique desensitising allergy vaccine.

When it comes to managing the itchy pet, there is, unfortunately, no magic pill that cures all cases. It’s all about prevention, careful management and taking action before things get out of control.
The good news is that there are drugs available that can greatly improve your dog’s comfort and we can discuss these with you.

There are even a few things you can do at home to help your pet stay itch free:
  • Be vigilant with flea prevention all year round for all pets in your family.
    Fleas are THE major cause of an itchy pet and consistent use of 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.
  • A premium balanced diet 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.
  • Always wash your dog in pet-approved shampoo and conditioner. A product containing ceramides can help rebuild the epidermal barrier and reduce allergen exposure.
  • Medication to help reduce the immune system’s response to the allergen can greatly reduce an itch, and can be used both during flare-ups and for ongoing management – chat with us to find out what’s suitable for your pet.
  • 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 would like more information about skin disease and your dog we are on hand to provide you with the best help and advice!

Dental disease stinks

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! 

Is your pet overweight?

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.

3 Dog Weight Management Tips For The New Year

What is your New Year’s resolution? For many of us, it’s weight loss. While our personal health is incredibly important, it is not every day that we take our dog’s weight into consideration too. In fact, approximately 40% of dogs in Australia are overweight or obese, and many pet owners don’t even know it! Therefore, today the vets at our Templestowe veterinary clinic are sharing some key tips for keeping your dog at a healthy weight in the coming year.

 

3 ways to check if your pet is overweight

It is common to check whether your dog is overweight in the following ways:

  • Checking from above: If your dog is at a healthy weight, his or her body shape should represent an hourglass.
  • Checking your pet’s ribs: You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs quite easily at a healthy weight. To correctly feel for ribs, place your thumbs on your dog’s backbone and spread your hands across the ribcage.
  • Checking from the side at eye level: Healthy dogs will have their abdomens tucked behind their ribcages.

 

3 tips for pet weight management

The first thing you should do if you notice your dog is overweight is book a visit to our Templestowe veterinary clinic. Upon assessing your pet, our vets will be able to create a weight management plan that is perfectly suited to the needs of your dog. We will also be able to monitor your dog’s health and track his or her weight loss progress.

After you visit a vet, there are some things you can do at home to help manage your dog’s weight, including:

  1. Feeding your dog more vegetables (typically we recommend that you replace a third of your dog’s regular kibble with healthy veggies).
  2. Exercising your dog more frequently (aim for around 30 minutes per day). Remember: this will help you achieve your New Year’s resolution, too!
  3. Reducing your dog’s calorie intake by reducing portion size. Your vet will be able to advise you on the optimal portion size for your dog. As a pet owner, you can ensure this portion is enforced by carefully measuring your dog’s food before serving.

 

Book an appointment at our Templestowe veterinary clinic

At Vets on Parker, we are passionate about your pet’s health. Our Templestowe veterinary clinic offers a range of veterinary services that benefit the local community of pets and pet owners, including weight management planning.

To find out more about our weight management services for pets, get in touch with us at (03) 9850 1355 or book an appointment at our Templestowe veterinary clinic today.

The Christmas Treats That Aren’t Pet-Friendly

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.

Protecting Your Pets From The Sun

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.

Sunburn

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.

 

Pad burn

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

  1. 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.
  2. Cats typically do not need to be shaved unless they are unable to groom themselves.
  3. Bathe your dog once every few weeks using pet-friendly shampoo. Bathing more often or with products meant for humans can cause irritation.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Pet First Aid 101: Heatstroke

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
  • Agitation
  • Collapsing
  • 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.

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.

 

4 Natural Foods That Are Toxic to Dogs

By now, most dog owners are aware that their pet can’t eat chocolate or drink alcohol or caffeine. However, there are plenty of other seemingly innocuous natural foods that are often fed as treats to dogs that can cause health issues. In this blog, we take a look at 4 natural foods which can be toxic to dogs and offer some safe alternatives.

Avocado

Whilst a little bit of avocado probably won’t do any harm, too much avocado can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. This is due to persin, which is a naturally occurring fungicidal toxin present in the seed, skin and flesh of the avocado.

Dog friendly alternative: Sweet, creamy and full of vitamins, a little bit of banana as an occasional treat won’t cause any tummy upset.

 

Grapes

Seemingly the perfect treat sized piece of fruit, grapes are actually toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure. Early signs of kidney failure to watch out for include repeated vomiting, sluggish behaviour and depression.

Dog friendly alternative: Equally compact and full of antioxidants, blueberries make a great replacement treat.

Raw meat, fish and eggs

Feeding dogs raw meat like they would eat in the wild is fine right? The flaw in this thinking is that the raw meat or eggs you feed to your dog comes from a supermarket and is therefore a potential carrier of disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli. Raw fish can also carry parasites which cause vomiting, fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Dog friendly alternative: Lean, cooked meat (never cooked bones) is fine as part of a balanced diet. Talk to your vet if you are considering putting your pet on a raw or home cooked diet as it is not suitable for all dogs.

 

Raw potato/raw sweet potato

It’s not just green potatoes! All parts of the raw potato and the potato plant contain glycoalkaloids called solanine and chaconine. These toxins can cause a range of symptoms in dogs including heart problems, breathing problems, gastrointestinal upset, nervous system tremors and kidney function disorders.

Dog friendly alternative: Raw carrots are sweet, tasty, safe and are packed full of vitamins.

 

Whilst our suggestion alternatives are all fine for your dog to eat, keep in mind that no more than 10% of your dog’s daily intake should come from treats. If you find your pet has eaten any of the toxic foods we have listed in this article, call Vets on Parker immediately on (03) 9850 1355 even if they are not displaying any symptoms of illness. Our Templestowe veterinary clinic team will be able to advise you on the best course of action.