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.

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.

Travelling with Your Pet

Although human road safety is something we are taught about from an early age, pet road safety is an important issue that is often overlooked. Just like us, pets need to be properly secured when travelling in cars to ensure that they remain safe and do not distract the driver. In this week’s blog, we discuss how to ensure your pet is appropriately secured when you are driving.

 

Restrain your dog – to save their life and yours

Many dogs are killed or injured every year when travelling on the back of open and moving vehicles. Not only can unrestrained pets distract you while driving, they also risk being thrown from a seat or the back of the car upon heavy braking. Additionally, there are some instances of unrestrained pets jumping out of open windows and hurting themselves.

Each state in Australia has laws governing the transportation of animals in cars. In Victoria, it is illegal to put a dog in the boot of a sedan but they can travel in the cabin of the car of behind a cargo barrier. Dogs are permitted to travel on the back of a ute or trailer but they need to be properly tethered or caged. Additionally, dogs must have adequate ventilation with multiple ventilation holes on at least 3 sides of the container.

Dog restraints

A dog car restraint system is best when it anchors your pet down without restricting their movement. The harness should go around your dog’s neck, in front of its shoulder and behind their front legs. There are several different materials available such as nylon, leather and fabric, so choose the one that is best for your dog. As mentioned above, it’s important to consult your state standards before purchasing your car pet restraint or cargo barrier.

Smaller pet carriers

Even if your pet is small, it’s important that they’re properly secured in your car. A robust carrier, secured to the car seat with a seat belt or a designed carrier restraint, is a good way to protect your smaller pet. Make sure you choose a carrier that is the right size – it should be wide enough to let your pet lie down flat, turn around, stand erect and stretch with clearance.

Are you planning a road trip?

Make the most of your road trip by planning ahead, researching the relevant road rules, having proper pet transport restraints ready, packing your pet’s favourite toys, and bringing a first aid kid in case of an emergency. Also make sure there is an adequate supply of food and water.

At Vets on Parker, we want you to enjoy your travels – with your pet right by your side. If your pet needs a checkup or you just have a question about travelling safely with your pet, please call our Templestowe veterinary clinic on (03) 9850 1355.

Tasty DIY Pet Treats you can Make at Home

As pet owners, we know how difficult it can be to resist the puppy dog eyes pet gives you when they spy some human food they want to eat. Although giving your pet a little bit of what you’re eating from time to time doesn’t seem like it could hurt, the food we eat is often far too high in calories and all those delicious scraps you give your pet can add up to a serious weight problem which affects their health and quality of life. In addition to this, there are many foods we can eat which are toxic to animals with consumption leading to a trip to the vet or worse. Whilst it’s fine to give your pet the occasional treat, it’s important that the treat you choose is safe for pets and doesn’t tip their calorie consumption over the edge. This week, we take a look at three easy treat recipes which are the equivalent of a trip to the ice cream parlour for your pet.

 

1) Easy Peanut Butter Treats

Want a delicious treat your pup will enjoy? Meet the peanut butter treat. If you’re dog loves peanut butter, you can’t go wrong with this treat. All you need is two cups of flour, ½ cup peanut butter and two eggs. Mix the ingredients until combined, and then add water until it is wet enough to roll out as dough.

2) Easy Two-Ingredient Dog Treats

This is a perfect recipe for beginners. Here’s what you’ll need: two cups of whole wheat flour and two jars of pureed baby food (apple, carrot, banana or sweet potato is ideal, here is a list of fruits and vegetables that dogs can eat) . To make the treats, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees Celsius. Mix ingredients together to form a stiff dough, and if necessary, add flour or water as needed. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out evenly until it’s about ¼ inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shape and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Make sure to cool completely before storing in a paper bag.

3) Homemade Dog Biscuits

Once you’ve tackled the two to three ingredient recipes, why not try something with five ingredients? This is a favourite your dog is sure to love. You’ll need whole wheat flours, oats, flaxseed, beef broth, and peanut butter. Once you’ve rolled the mixture to about ¼ inch thickness, cut out to desired shape. Bake for around 20 minutes until golden brown, flipping halfway.

 

Vets on Parker is a full service vet clinic with the latest technology. We have a wide range of premier veterinary and boarding facilities, including large surgery and treatment areas, hospital, intensive care and isolation facilities. If your pet needs a vaccination, ultrasound or just a general check-up, Vets in Parker can help. Please call us on (03) 9850 1355 to organise an appointment today.

 

Basic Pet First Aid: What You Need To Know

Have you ever been worried that your pet may be suffering, but feel as though you lack the proper knowledge to help ease their pain? While it’s always best to seek advice or treatment from a professional veterinarian, there are some basic first aid tips that all pet owners should know. In this week’s article, we’ve put together a checklist for some ways that you may temporarily alleviate pain your pet may be experiencing.

 

Cuts and scrapes

If your pet is bleeding, make sure to first control the bleeding by placing pressure over the wound for 3 minutes. If the wound is open, apply a bandage to the area if you aren’t able to get to a vet right away. Check whether the injury is near the chest; this area is incredibly sensitive and may cause extreme pain for your pet. If a bone is poking out, head to the vet immediately- this may indicate a fracture or broken bone.

 

Burns

Burns can be caused by dry heat sources such as corrosive chemicals, radiation and extreme cold as well as by moist heat, like wax, water and hot oil. Regardless of the trigger, burn damage will occur immediately on the surface of the skin, as well as potentially through to deeper layers of the skin. At home, ensure that you immediately attend to the affected area with a cool, moist compress or running water for a minimum of 5 minutes. On the way to the vet, wrap your pet in a blanket to keep them warm, and continue to hold the cool compress to the burn.

 

Temperature changes

In order to warm your pet up, wrap your furry friend in a thick blanket or jumper. Consider adding a heat pack to the mix, but ensure that its initial temperature is not too hot. Check your pet’s temperate routinely to prevent them from overheating. To cool your pet down, wrapping your pet in a cool, wet towel. As always, continue to check your pet’s temperature, and once they reach 39 degrees Celsius, remove the cool towel and dry them, as you don’t want their temperature to drop below this.

 

While we don’t encourage DIY care when it comes to our beloved pets, first aid tactics can help ease any pain your pet may be experiencing on the way to the vet, and prevent secondary injury. Vets On Parker are a friendly, local team of veterinary experts that want the best for your furry companions. For any queries, get in touch by calling 03 9850 1355 today.