Skin and Coat Care

By Dr Philip McConachy BVSc

As a vet, I see a lot of dogs with itchy red skin.

This is called Dermatitis.

Many things can cause dermatitis including allergies, parasitic infections, and imageimagephysiological disorders.

In this article, I’d like to outline some things that dogs owners can do to improve the health of these dogs skin and coat and reduce the likelihood of dermatitis.

Washing: Washing with soap is bad for dogs skin because it removes protective oils from the skin. Most pet shampoos contain soap. I recommend using natural soap free  shampoos such as Dermcare Natural Shampoo.

For itchy dogs, the Dermcare Aloveen Oatmeal Shampoo and Conditioner is a better option.

 

Parasite Control: Unless dogs are allergic to fleas, I do not necessarily advise routine use of prophylactic flea products. What i do recommend is to check for flea droppings before every wash.imageimage

This can be done by scratching the dogs skin along its back while in a seated position. A piece of white paper or plastic near the dogs tail will collect any flea droppings. If water is placed onto the droppings, they will turn a reddish colour due to the blood within them leaching out.

If flea droppings are present, the use of a good flea product on all of the dogs and cats in the house for several months will be required to break the flea cycle.

We are happy to give advise on flea control.

 

Good Diet: I believe good diet is important in monitoring healthy skin and coat.

imageimageI believe at least part of the diet should be raw and unprocessed. I believe Doctor B’s BARF is one very good example of such diet.

Omega 3 fatty acid supplements like Melrose Fish Oil can be useful in reducing itching and maintaining a shiny coat.

 

Stimulation: Some dogs will lick and and bite themselves due to boredom or anxiety. I believe giving dogs access to raw brisket and neck bones, treat balls and Kong toys can reduce boredom and anxiety, particularly when they done.image

 

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New Years Eve FIREWORKS and your Fur-kids

New Years Eve fireworks and the beat of loud music seems to be a common situation around this time of year. For many pets it is not all fun and games, although we as humans enjoy it, for our Fur-kids they can be quite distressed by it.
Spontaneous loud bangs and explosions, and even unexpected noises can send some pets into a manic state and others will become trembling balls of fur.

Here are a few tips to help your companion cope with fireworks and loud noises:

imageKeep your pet securely contained for the entire night – a fence may not be enough to keep a determined, scared pet from escaping during fireworks or loud music. Scaling fences can also lead to serious injury for dogs. Ideally you should keep your pet inside, in a secure room, like the laundry where they can neither escape nor hurt themselves. It is important that you don’t tie up your dog at the collar, as in a moment of panic he or she could try to get away causing serious injury to his or her neck.

• Most Importantly, ensure your pet is completely identifiable with a microchip, collar ID tag and most importantly, ensure your contact details are up-to-date. If you have any questions around your pet’s identification the National Pet Register can be contacted 24/7 on 1300 734 738. This gives you and your pet the best chance of being reunited in the event they become lost.

• Keep your pet in a secure indoor area during fireworks and thunderstorms. A laundry or garage is good if you have an outdoor pet.

image• Create a hideout for your pet in a quiet room with as few windows as possible. If this is not possible, using a crate as their safe spot/den is a fantastic idea.

• Cover any windows in this room to further block out noise and to block out flashes of lightening or fireworks, or covering the crate with a cover or blanket to create a dark safe spot.

• Create a bed from blankets for burrowing and put an unwashed tracksuit or a similar item of clothing in the room so they have your scent; or prepare your pet’s crate in a similar way.

If you cannot be home with your furr-kids on New Years, a few ppointers for preparing your furr-kids.

• A few days before the fireworks, take your pet into the room/crate and give it treats on the blankets so that it gets comfortable being in the room.

• If you are expecting fireworks, take your dog for a walk in the early afternoon to wear it out. this may help with the settling of your pet later that evening.

• Have food available such as kongs, bones, treatballs and long-lasting treats. Extended chewing will help calm dogs and the stimulation will distract them.

Put on moderately loud music or a TV to muffle loud outside noises and to distract your pet. A small battery operated radio maybe a safe way to incorporate noise. Sometimes familiar ambient noise may help to calm your pet.

Take your dog to the toilet before locking it up, or if you have a cat, remember to put kitty litter in the room.

Beware: if you are leaving the pet unattended and it becomes anxious, it may behave erratically so ensure there are no dangerous items that the pet could chew on or knock. Cables and any breakables should be removed. Make sure your pet cannot escape.

If medicating your pet, follow the dosage instructions exactly and medicate before anxiety sets in. Discuss your plans with your vet.

Return home as quickly as possible to check on your pet and take it to the toilet after the noises have subsided, keeping it on a leash when you do in case it is still upset or becomes spooked.

• Do not punish your pet for any damage/bad behaviour on your return; being fearful is an emotional/instinctual response which an animal cannot control.image

Ask us for more information about progressive desensitisation, a process whereby dogs learn how to tolerate loud noise.

Reference Material:
http://adelaidevet.com.au/pet-library/fireworks-and-coping-with-loud-noises

http://www.rspcavic.org/documents/Health%20and%20behaviour/Fireworks%20and%20thunderstorms/RSPCA%20Fireworks%20Info%20Sheet%20-%203%20Fold.pdf.pdf

Heartworm Prevention

Will you join Pound Road Veterinary clinic in putting a stop to deadly heartworm by treating your dogs?
Heartworm is a deadly worm that is unlike any other worms you may have heard of; it does not affect our pet’s tummies by living in them and is not passed on through their faeces.
Did you know?
Heartworm is in fact spread by mosquito’s, the mosquito will bite the dog and pass it onto the next unsuspecting dog by biting them too. This will inject the disease into your dog’s blood stream. Unless we work out a way to stop mosquito’s biting all together, which would be a dream come true for all of us especially in summer, we cannot stop potential exposure of this disease.
Heartworm migrates from wherever on the body the host has bitten into the abdomen approximately 3 weeks later. It will move into the dog’s lungs and heart after approximately 3 months, where at this stage they are about 1-2 inches in size… disturbing we know!!
Heartworm is potentially deadly, and in most cases almost impossible to treat.
The female worm can increase in length by almost tenfold (up to 25cm). Understandably, should this be in your dogs heart, it can prevent your dogs heart from functioning properly causing heart failure. While surgical removal and supportive therapy may be possible at specialist institutions, this is rarely done and more likely the cause of heart failure may never be discovered… or at least not until it’s too late.
The scariest part is…
Heartworm IS present in Victoria; there have been recent studies that have shown heartworm is present in all states of Australia! In Victoria, a 2013 study discovered heartworm to be in 4% of foxes tested. Given that foxes are not the natural host of heartworm, the prevalence in non-protected dogs is likely to be even higher.
Although it is more prevalent in tropical regions heartworm has been found in Victoria. While heartworm is very much dependant on temperature for its development, microclimates in urban environments such as car parks with warm cars or 24hour lights can provide favorable environments even in cooler periods of the year.

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Were you were wondering what about my cat?
YES cats can contract heartworm, although the heartworm can not complete its lifecycle in cats therefore making the risk much lower in cats, but animals do surprise us everyday and that risk is still there. The decision is yours.
The good news is we CAN prevent heart worm easily!
Use of regular injections of Proheart can be given twice in the first year of your pet’s life and then only ONCE yearly, often clients will have this done for their pets together with their other yearly vaccinations. It’s quick and easy, and you have peace of mind that your pet will always be covered.
Other types of preventative medicines come in tablet/chewable form or a spot on treatment this must be done monthly. IF treatment is missed your dog may contract heartworm in the time they were not being protected. The preventatives if given after your pet has contracted heartworm will only kill juvenile heartworm therefore leaving adult heart worm untouched and free to grow more.
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The most important thing with ANY of these treatments is CONSISTENCY!
There is MORE good news-
We can test your pet for heartworm if he/she has never been on any preventative medication or has missed their yearly injection/ monthly treatment.
For a limited time only to help prevent heartworm all together, Pound Road Veterinary clinic is offering a 20% discount off Heartworm blood testing, it is done here in our clinic it is quick and easy.
Contact us today to discuss with our friendly staff about getting your pet on heartworm prevention or be sure to mention it in your next consultation with us.
Together we can prevent this deadly disease and help our pets live a long, healthy happy life.

Ways to minimise a cats stress level when coming to the vet!

By Dr Philip McConachy BVSc   image

  • Put Familiar toys and bedding material / towels into the pet carrier & cover carrier with a towel.
  • Spray Feliway into the cage.
  • Put the carry cage down with the door open 30mins before departing to the vet to allow the cat to enter voluntarily.
  • When making your appointment, advise us if your cat gets very anxious and / or aggressive so that we can organise a quiet time to see your cat. This will keep waiting time and other pets to a minimum.
  • If your cat has been aggressive despite these precautions, we can supply sedative medications.

Bowel Obstruction

Bowel Obstructions
By Dr Philip McConachy BVSc

Intestinal obstruction is quite common in dogs; particularly young, larger breed dogs.
Over the years I have surgically removed various things from dogs bowels: corn cobs, peach pips, plastic bags, toys, rocks, audio tape and rope are some of the most common.

image      image

Dogs are very oral creatures just like children. They love to mouth and chew things.
People often worry about bones getting stuck. Infact whilst I have removed bones from dogs mouths and throats, I don’t recall removing one from a dogs bowel. The key is to give your pets the right sort of bones. For cats ad very small dogs I recommend chicken necks. For larger breed dogs I recommend RAW lamb brisket bones and necks.
If you have more than one dog or cat, please separate them while they are eating their bones so they don’t gulp the bones down too quickly or fight over them.
I think every dog should have a treat ball and a KONG toy. These are very safe and also great for relieving boredom.
Instead of placing a bowel of dry food down for your pet, place it in a treat ball and give it to your pooch before you go to work.
This not only reduces boredom, but also stimulates exercise and can help prevent separation anxiety.

imageimageimageimage

August is Dental Month!

dog-dental

Unfortunately dogs and cats cannot brush their own teeth like we do.

The facts you should know about dental disease

* By the age of 3years 70% of cats and dogs will have the beginnings of periodontal disease.

* This disease frequently goes unnoticed by pet owners.

*Dental disease does not only affect the mouth but can cause serious issues in other parts of the body.

* Your pet may be suffering from pain, especially when eating, although this may not be apparent to you. 

Plaque and tartar

Saliva, bacteria and food particles combine to form plaque every day. Plaque is the film you feel on your teeth in the morning when you wake up. Within 24 hours the plaque may begin to turn into tartar, a hard yellowish deposit on the teeth. Plaque also causes gingivitis – an infection of the gums – that is the first stage of periodontal disease.

A problem at all ages

Dental disease is more common as pets get older.   The major cause of gum disease is accumulation of plaque, which contains a large number of bacteria. These bacteria can spread to the lungs, liver, kidney and heart, causing infection there. Periodontal disease is painful, even though your dog or cat may not show it.

Tell-tale signs                                                  Cat

Your vet will be able to spot any problems during your dog’s or cat’s check-up, but until then, here are some things to look out for:

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow and brown tartar deposits on the teeth – normal teeth should always be white
  • A red line along the gum line (gingivitis)
  • Difficulty eating
  • Bleeding gums

A good brush

There are 3 parts to taking care of your dog’s or cat’s teeth:

1) Regular tooth brushing,

2) A special food that works like a toothbrush

3) Regular check-ups with your vet – every 6 months or AT LEAST once a year

Brushing will be easier if you begin while your dog or cat is still young, although you may have success even if you start with an older dog or cat, provided she doesn’t already have painful gum disease.

Don’t use toothpaste designed for people, as there are pastes specially designed for pets that are safer. Ask your vet or vet nurse what he or she would recommend and get them to show you what to do.

You should brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth at least once a week, but once a day is best.

Special food

In addition to, or instead of, tooth brushing, you can use a special food. Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d™ has a unique structure and size that helps reduce plaque, tartar and gingivitis. Regular dry food does not remove plaque.

This is the simplest way of making sure your cat gets some form of ‘brushing’ each day.

Remember to see your vet regularly – keeping your dog’s or cat’s teeth in good condition is essential for her overall health.

The good news is that our staff are always willing to offer free advice on dental care ranging from prevention to treatment. We also have a variety of pet foods and specially designed treats to aid in the a prevention of this disease.  

As a treatment we offer comprehensive dental care using the latest ultrasonic scaling and polishing equipment.

 

Call us today on (03) 9799 1479 for a free dental check.

   chihuahua dental

 

 

Creating a fun indoor living space for your cat!

Does your cat live indoors?
Does your cat decide play time is at 3 or 4 am in the morning? Does your cat attack your ankles and hang off your hands when they play?
Has your furniture been shred to pieces?

If you answer yes to these questions, you need to read this article.
Cats are born to move. They have sharp senses, eye sight and flexible body that enable them to move with incredible speed, stealth and accuracy. Free roaming cats have a range of habitat that allows them to use their skills and ‘weapons’ to hunt, scavenge for food and interact with other cats. On the contrary, household cats, especially strictly indoor cats (which we strongly recommend) can be deprived of these environmental stimuli and boredom may set in. Boredom in cats can potentially lead to the above undesirable behaviours. Therefore we need to make the indoors as interesting as the outdoors. This is called, environmental enrichment.
We strongly recommend for cats to be kept indoors, because indoor cats are less likely to contract various diseases (FIV, cat flu) and less likely to be injured.

Environmental enrichment tips:
Feeding
You can provide feed related enrichment for your cat. Instead of feeding them 1 or 2 large meals per day in a food bowl, why not make it interesting by placing food in different locations and on a higher platform where your cat has to jump over or jump on to get to his or her food? That not only simulates scavenge/hunting behaviour but also keeps your cat active while looking for food; an added plus for those portly cats out there.
There are various interactive puzzle feeding bowls available. For example, Aikiou has  produced food bowls with openings at different levels so that the cat has to reach in to get access to its food.
There are also special feeding plastic balls with holes in them that drop dry food out as the cat rolls them.

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You could also make up a DIY interactive food bowl using used toilet rolls and cupboard or a plastic bottle with cut up holes in them.

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Play time and toys
There are multiple toys that can simulate hunting behaviour in cats. One of the toys that my cat absolutely loves is a dangling toy on a pole. To trigger their prey-drive, try moving the toy across their vision or away from the field of vision to simulate a prey running away from them. Dangling the toy in front of them usually doesn’t entice cats as prey doesn’t run to the cat and offer themselves as lunch.
Toys with catnip or with rattles are also good fun toys for cats. Start by catching their attention by darting the toy across their vision and hiding them in tissue boxes or half way out the opening of their cubby house to entice their curiosity.
A ping pong ball across wooden or tile floors or hidden in a box can also provide a lot of fun!

Scratching posts
Scratching is a very important part of a cat’s life; it helps stretch out their muscles and displaces anxiety. Cats like variety and sometimes vertical scratching posts alone are not enough. Providing your cat with various scratching surfaces on different angles may prevent your cat from destroying your well-loved furniture.
My personal favourite would be cat furniture that is made of cupboard. It not only functions as an excellent scratching surface but also looks good in the living room!

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Hideaways/ tunnels
Cats love to have hideaways. Hideaways can be a safe escape for a timid cat but also a fun hide and seek game as well. An igloo shaped hut, A-shaped tent or an empty box is an excellent hideaway. Crumply doughnut shaped tunnels are heaps of fun, especially in a multi-cat household.

image                                        image
You can make your own A-shaped tent using old clothes hangers, cupboard and a used T-shirt.

 

Visual stimulus
Cats love to watch the world pass by. Setting up a hammock near the window may occupy your cat for hours.

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There are cat entertainment DVDs that could bring out your cats’ inner hunter.
There are also apps for ipads or tablets that could simulate prey action that could provide hours of fun!

 

Safe outdoor enclosures
Many companies make safe outdoor enclosures, ranging from an outdoor portable tent to a complete enclosed backyard. Some of the enclosures can be fairly costly but it is definitely worthwhile especially if your cat is stubborn and demands to be outdoors all the time.
Bringing things from outside such as grass, small twigs, logs or dried leaves indoors could help your cat experience the scent of the outdoors. Logs can also be provided as a scratching tool as well.

Training
Yes, you can train your cat. You can train them to sit or even fetch and retrieve light objects. Cats are not as keen to work for praise and attention as dogs are but training your cat does have a few benefits. It not only stimulates their mind and body but also strengthens the bond you share.
Here are some tips to teach your cat to sit:
First, you need to get your cats attention by knowing her/his favourite treat. It can be a piece of diced chicken, toast with vegemite, bits of meat or commercial treats. We sell dried beef lung and liver at Pound Road Veterinary Clinic and I have found most cats are very fond of the dried beef treats.
Once you have your cat’s attention, hold the treat in front of its nose. When your cat is sniffing the treat, slowly move the treat back towards its ears. Most cats will sit down when their chin is raised upwards and back. Try not to lift the treat upwards as your cat may just stand up on its hindlegs.
The moment your cat’s bottom hits the floor, say the command ‘sit’, then praise it and offer it the treat. If your cat does not sit in the first try, but its bottom is moving downwards, give it the treat anyway.
Most cats can’t see objects that are still and close up in between their nose. If your cat is struggling to take the treat from your finger you may have to offer it on your palm or toss it on the floor.
With patience, repetition and positive encouragement your cat will be sitting on command in no time.

 

Dr Yuen Jia Lim BVSc