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.

Is My Dog Too Old for Teeth Cleaning?

Good dental health is important for dogs at every age. Unfortunately, around 80% of dogs over the age of three years old suffer from tooth and gum disease. If your dog has untreated tartar build-up from such a young age, by the time they reach their senior years (dogs aged 7 and over are considered seniors), they can have significant dental problems which in turn can have a big impact on their general health. Senior dogs can benefit significantly from teeth cleaning; however, many owners have concerns that given their pet’s age, they may be doing more harm than good by putting their dog under anaesthesia to have their teeth cleaned. In this blog, we’ll break down the factors that go into determining whether or not your dog is too old to have its teeth cleaned.

Old age is not a disease

Whilst senior dogs are more susceptible to certain health conditions and their bodies have certainly seen more wear and tear than the average puppy, age is not a disease and technically speaking, no dog is ‘too old’ to go under anaesthesia and have their teeth cleaned. What really matters is your dog’s state of health.

Periodontal disease could be the reason your pet is ‘slowing down’

Many pet owners underestimate the impact that poor dental health can have on their senior dog’s health and quality of life. Tartar build-up can lead to periodontal disease which not only causes sore gums, swelling, tooth pain, and tooth loss, but the bacteria can move into the dog’s bloodstream and cause problems with the heart, kidneys and liver. Stressing the organs in this way can lead to a number of functional problems and can take a toll on your dog’s immune system, ultimately shortening their lifespan. When you look at it like this, teeth cleaning is not an ‘elective procedure’ but a crucial element of senior pet healthcare.

Veterinarians are more than capable of managing the risks of anaesthesia in older dogs

There are genuine risks associated with administering an anaesthesia to a senior dog, but veterinarians have become adept at mitigating these risks.

Potential risk Management solution
Low blood pressure IV fluids are administered during the procedure support blog pressure and circulation.

 

Low heart rate Pre-anaesthetic blood testing assesses organ function to ensure any issues are flagged and planned for before the procedure begins.

 

Low blood oxygen & body temperature  

A veterinarian will monitor your dog’s vital signs throughout the procedure and can administer medication if issues arise.

 

Prolonged recovery Antibiotics may be used to manage infection in dogs with a compromised immune system.

 

What’s the best course of action?

As always, the best person to consult regarding whether your senior dog is a suitable candidate for teeth cleaning is your veterinarian. They will have a good idea of your pet’s general health and will be able to perform a thorough dental exam to assess the state of your pet’s teeth. Your vet will then take these factors into consideration and discuss treatment options with you.

Vets on Parker offer free dental assessments to our patients as part of their regular check-up. Book your senior dog in for their 6-month check-up online or give us a call on (03) 9850 1355.

 

 

Can My Dog Drink Water Before Surgery? (And Other Pet Surgery FAQs)

Pet surgery can understandably be a stressful time for owners. If your pet is due for surgery, you might be feeling nervous or worried, but don’t stress: at our Narre Warren North veterinary hospital, we often get surgery-related questions from nervous pet-owners. In this blog, we are taking you through some of the most commonly asked pet surgery questions, and hopefully, the answers will help put your mind at ease.

 

Can my pet drink water before surgery?

Yes, you are welcome to give your dog or cat some water right up until you leave home for surgery. However, you need to avoid feeding your pet after 10pm the night before surgery. This can help reduce the risk of vomiting whilst under anaesthesia or during the wake-up period which could block their airway when not completely conscious.

 

Will my pet have stitches?

It ultimately depends on the kind of surgery being performed, but in most cases where a skin incision needs to be made, your pet will have one of two kinds of stitches:

  • Dissolvable sutures under the skin that disappear naturally
  • Skin stitches that need to be removed by your vet around two weeks after the surgery.

The vets at our Narre Warren North veterinary hospital will send your pet home with an e-collar to prevent them from disturbing the stitches by licking or chewing them. You will also be given advice on keeping the wound clean and dry at home to help minimise the chance of post-operative infections.

 

How should I care for my pet after surgery?

Generally speaking, you should keep an eye on your pet and monitor the wound for any changes. Cats should be kept indoors and dogs kept confined and only let out for toilet breaks. Report changes to your vet immediately if they involve:

  • Repeated vomiting, diarrhoea or reluctance to eat
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Any bleeding or discharge from the wound
  • Restlessness or signs of pain
  • Anything else that is not normal for your pet and concerning you

After your pet’s surgery at our Narre Warren North veterinary hospital, you will also be given detailed care instructions relative to your pet. These instructions might be to do with additional medication, keeping the wound clean, or even a new diet. Post-operative checks will also be scheduled.

Looking for experienced, friendly vets? Vets in Endeavour Hills is a veterinary hospital that offers everything from general checkups to surgery. Our Narre Warren veterinary hospital is fully equipped with everything that is needed to diagnose, treat and care for your pet. Schedule an appointment with us online or by calling (03) 9700 2264.

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.

Our Guide To Senior Dog Diets

As your dog gets older, its body will begin to change. In particular, your dog will become more susceptible to a range of health problems. This is why senior dogs require attentive care, extending all the way to their diets, which we are exploring today in this blog.

 

When is a dog considered ‘senior’?

Whether or not your dog is considered senior depends on a number of factors:

  • Breed. Generally, smaller dogs tend to have a longer lifespan than bigger dogs.
  • Lifestyle. A dog that is unhealthy and overweight will also age faster than one that gets plenty of exercise and good food.

Generally speaking, depending on the breed and size of your dog, dogs can start to be considered senior from anywhere between 5-9 years old. However, the only surefire way to know whether your dog is senior and needs senior care is by regularly visiting your local vet for checkups.

 

Dogs with gastrointestinal problems

If your dog is suffering from gastrointestinal issues – such as constipation or diarrhoea – then you should:

  • Ensure you aren’t feeding your dog fatty foods or bones, as these items are generally not digested well
  • Try and avoid treats
  • Invest in fibre-rich food/additives (this helps both constipation and diarrhoea).

 

Dogs with dental issues

Steer clear of buying canned food for your senior dog, as it is sticky. The stickiness of the food means it can become lodged on or in between your dog’s teeth, which encourages the growth of plaque and tartar. Instead, purchase dry kibble that is suitable for senior dogs. The kibble scrapes against tartar and plaque and helps to remove it.

 

Dogs with kidney or heart disease

Does your dog have a form of kidney or heart disease? If so, you should avoid buying foods with excess salt and protein. Although there is no proof to suggest that doing so will prevent the disease altogether, avoiding these things will help ease the painful effects of the disease. Ensure your dog is also getting plenty of water.

 

Overweight dogs

As dogs age, their metabolism slows – not unlike humans. Slower metabolism means that it is easier for your dog to put on weight, and obesity can lead to a range of other health issues for your dog. The main things you should not be buying for your dog are treats and bones.

To combat your senior dog’s obesity, you should consult your local Bulleen vet, Vets on Parker. We offer a range of pet services, including weight management plans, dental care and surgery. Get in touch with a friendly Bulleen vet today on (03) 9850 1355.