Aging is an unavoidable part of life, and when it comes to our pets, some will age without any major issues, and some will need a little extra TLC. It is important to know what age-related changes look like and how to manage them appropriately, so we can ensure our pets are comfortable.
When does my pet become a senior?
This can vary between individuals and can be greatly influenced by breed, size, pre-existing health conditions and living situations, but typically:
- Small dogs – six to seven years old
- Large dogs – five to six years old
- Cats – eight to ten years old
You might notice some physical and behavioural changes, such as:
- Greying or whitening fur around the nose and mouth or throughout the coat
- A general ‘slowing down’ or a slightly less bouncy personality
- Longer and more frequent naps throughout the day
- More frequent urination, and perhaps the odd ‘accident’
- Increased vocalisation – this can be caused by increased anxiety, confusion or frustration
Common Senior Pet Ailments
Some of the age-related changes our pets may experience may be uncomfortable and impact their daily lives a little more than a greying moustache. If you notice any of the below it is important to have your vet check them out to determine a plan to help your pet
- Arthritis (inflammation of the joints, making it uncomfortable to stand up and move around).
- Loss of eyesight –caused by a clouding of the eyes, cataracts or other eye diseases.
- Loss of hearing.
- Incontinence – this is common in older pets but there are plenty of treatment plans your vet can recommend. Incontinence can also indicate urinary tract infections, kidney disease or hormonal changes.
- Weight changes – due to reduced physical activity and/or changes in hormones as they age, older pets can gain weight. You may also find that they lose weight due to a changed appetite, reduced nutrient absorption, reduced muscle mass or even a digestive illness. Weight gain or loss as a pet ages isn’t normal and should be investigated by your vet.
- Lumps and bumps are definitely more common as our pets age! It is always recommended to get them checked by a vet to rule out possible nasties.
- Smelly breath – just like us, our pet’s immune systems weaken with age, so their bodies can’t fight off germs as easily as they once did. We can see this as gum disease, tooth decay, or other infections in the mouth, leading to smelly breath. Smelly breath can mean a painful mouth for your pet (not to mention offensive to us!) so check in with our team if you notice this.
How can I make my senior pet more comfortable?
There are plenty of ways to manage your pet’s aging, and these tips are very easy to implement:
- Talk to your vet about your pet’s diet – they may need more nutritious food for nurturing specific conditions and even the inclusion of dietary supplements.
- Let your senior pet sleep inside in winter – keeping them comfy and warm will keep them feeling safe and secure, as well as help to alleviate any arthritis symptoms.
- Provide them with soft and easily accessible (not too high or low) bedding.
- Add extra water bowls around the house (and closer to their bed area) so they do not need to move around unnecessarily.
- Raise food and water bowls to prevent your pet needing to hunch to access the contents.
- Offer extra litter trays or make sure their toileting area is easily accessible.
- Keep your senior pet active with simple, low impact activities and exercises.
- Keep an eye on the temperature. As pets age they may struggle with regulating their body temperature – in winter keep your pet indoors where possible, move their bedding inside and investigate pet jackets or jumpers for some breeds.
If you have a senior pet, we invite you to come into the clinic for a health check to make sure your best friend is in tip-top shape, especially ahead of the winter months where the cooler temperatures can slow everyone down. Call us on 07 3357 3882 or email email@example.com to book your consultation today.
Grooming your pet is just as important in winter as it is during the rest of the year – it’s not just about looking good, but promoting good health and comfort. Every pet’s coat is different, so it is important to make sure you understand how to look after them properly. If you are not sure, speak to us before the cool weather sets in. Grooming your pet for winter doesn’t need to be an ordeal, it can be an extremely simple and comfortable activity with these squeaky-clean tips!
Bathing guidelines are a little different, depending on your pet. When it comes to cats, most don’t really need (or enjoy!) a bath. Dogs on the other hand, typically need more frequent bathing. Of course, there are special circumstances when you may need to bathe your pet more or less:
- If they are recovering from an injury or procedure and cannot clean themselves efficiently you may need to bathe your pet.
- Some hairless cats require frequent bathing, speak to your vet for advice.
- They may need an unscheduled bath if their coat has become matted, stuck with something that cannot be cleaned naturally or even just rolled in something smelly.
- If your pet has dry skin or other skin conditions, they may benefit from less (or more) frequent bathing.
When you do have to bathe your pet, keep in mind a few important tips:
- Never use human shampoo and conditioner! The pH levels are different to what your pet needs and can cause skin irritations. Make sure you buy a specific kitten, cat, puppy, or dog shampoo.
- Check the temperature – pets can’t tolerate the same water temperatures adult humans can. Make sure the water is comfortably warm but not hot or cold – imagine you are running a bath for a newborn baby. Use the tip of your elbow to check the temperature.
- Make sure to dry your pet properly after a bath. Whether this is with a hairdryer or towel, it is important to make sure your pet dries thoroughly. Leaving your pet’s coat wet can lead to problematic skin conditions, matted fur and can also cause hypothermia in cold weather. If your pet prefers to air dry after a quick towel rub, make sure you bathe them early on a warm day so they have plenty of time to dry in the sun.
- Remember to keep an eye on your hair dryer’s temperature if you use one – these can get HOT!
Brushing your pet’s coat is extremely important for removing knots to prevent mats from forming. A smooth, well brushed coat is key to properly insulating and keeping your pet clean in winter. Some dog and cat breeds have double (and even triple!) coats, so getting rid of tangles needs to be a priority! Try to brush your pet every couple of days (depending on their coat).
Our pets need paw-dicures too! Here are some easy tips for looking after your pet’s feet:
- Keep your pet’s nails trimmed – this will prevent painful cracked or curling nails and more serious long-term foot and leg damage.
- Take your dog outside to walk on hard and rough surfaces like concrete – the rough surface will act as a file and help to wear their nails down naturally.
- Trim your cat’s claws during winter – if they spend more time indoors when it is cold outside, they might be more prone to scratch household furniture and other indoor pets!
- Keep the fur in between your pet’s toes trimmed neatly. If this becomes wet through walking, it may be slow to dry, encouraging bacterial growth that causes skin irritations and other issues (not to mention, it will become smelly!).
Just like us, our pet’s skin can become dry in winter too. This can be for a number of reasons (incl. parasites, cool weather or allergies) and may be treated with moisturisers, dietary supplements, regular grooming and if needed, medication (check with us before starting your pet on any treatment). It is important to check your pet closely for signs of dry or irritated skin –
- Itchiness (look for excessive scratching),
- Dandruff, scabby and flaky skin,
- Cracked paws,
- Hair loss,
- Increased oiliness,
- An unpleasant odour.
No matter how big or small your pet is, proper winter grooming will keep them happy, healthy, comfortable and looking fantastic over the cooler months!
Have a chat with us today about grooming and any concerns you may have – you can get in touch by calling 07 3357 3882 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
The internet is full of cute, funny photos and videos of ‘chonky’ pets – but a fat cat or pudgy pup is no laughing matter. Much the same as humans, overweight and obese animals are susceptible to a range of dangerous and uncomfortable health conditions, and ultimately can lead to a shortened life.
Obesity is one of the most common nutritional disorders our vets see in cats and dogs. In Australia and New Zealand, nearly half of all pet dogs and approximately a third of pet cats are overweight!
Some common ailments caused by being overweight include:
- Cardiovascular disease (heart disease)
- Degenerative joint and orthopedic disease (including arthritis)
- Joint stress or musculoskeletal pain
- Respiratory problems
- Cancer and tumours
- Skin problems
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Reproductive disorders
- Decreased quality of life
- Shorter life expectancy
What causes pets to become overweight?
There are a few ways our pets can gain excess weight, and whilst some breeds are more susceptible to weight-gain than others, most reasons come down to our willpower as a responsible pet parent! These causes can include:
- Feeding extra treats
- Feeding unhealthy treats
- Feeding an unbalanced diet
- Lack of exercise
How do I know if my pet is overweight?
Your pet might be overweight if:
- You experience difficulty when trying to feel their ribs
- You cannot see a defined ‘waist’
- You can see obvious fat deposits and rolls
- They are no longer grooming themselves efficiently, if at all
- They are reluctant to exercise or are disinterested
- They quickly become tired and refuse to continue exercise
- They have a ‘waddle’ to their walk – or other abnormal movement
- They are at a weight dramatically different from breed guidelines
- They are often panting – even without movement or exercise
Healthy treats and fun exercise
Avoid feeding your pet ‘junk food’ treats like jerky type strips and highly processed snacks that might be purchased in the supermarket. Human treats are also a big no-no – no matter how cute those begging eyes are. It is also important not to feed your pet treats here and there ‘just because’. Use treats as a reward for positive behaviours and training.
Some healthier reward treats include:
- A small percentage of your pet’s daily feed allowance (kibble)
- Fresh foods like carrots, zucchini, berries, or beans for dogs
- Small amounts of cooked fish, catnip, or cat grass for cats
Some simple ways to include fun exercise in your pet’s day include:
- A walk
- Playing with your pet – inside or in the backyard
- Fetch (for cats and dogs!)
- Climbing toys and spaces for cats
- Chasing laser toys
- Socialising with other animals your pet is comfortable with
- Nose-works – get your cat or dog moving by hiding healthy treats or interesting smells for them to sniff out
What can I do if I think my pet is overweight?
If you suspect your pet is overweight, it is important not to change their diet or exercise schedule drastically or quickly – this could exacerbate the problem. Book an appointment to see our team, and together we will create a plan to help your pet reach their optimal weight in a healthy and sustainable manner.
Vaccinations are a vital factor in keeping your pet happy, and healthy, and safe from potentially life-threatening diseases.
Here are the most common vaccinations you will need to make sure your pet is up to date with:
We recommend that cats be vaccinated with at least an annual ‘F3’ vaccination.
This protects them against:
- Feline herpes virus– which causes sneezing and a runny nose.
- Feline calicivirus– which causes difficulty breathing, runny eyes and nose, and can develop into pneumonia.
- Feline panleukopaenia– which causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
We recommend that dogs be vaccinated against the following:
- Distemper– a highly contagious viral disease which is often fatal. It can be spread via nose-to-nose contact with infected animals or sniffing urine, vomit, or faeces from an infected animal.
- Hepatitis –which causes inflammation of the liver. This disease is more extensive than affecting just this organ. Initially, the dog develops a fever, then the virus spreads to the lymphatic system and damages the liver and kidneys.
- Parvovirus– a viral disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow, and lymphatic systems. The condition is contracted by contact with the saliva, vomit, or faeces of an infected animal or by direct contact with an infected animal.
- Canine Cough (which is also known as Kennel Cough) – There is a viral and bacterial version of kennel cough. Signs include a sudden onset dry hacking cough. Affected dogs can be bright and active, but the cough worsens with activity.
All the diseases above are highly contagious and some potentially fatal. The good news is that you can protect your pet from these diseases by keeping their vaccinations up to date.
There is a range of vaccination types and schedules for puppies & kittens and adult dogs & cats.
We recommend that you contact us to discuss the most suitable for your furry friend.
Our vaccination appointments fill up quickly, so be sure to book well ahead of time to secure the appointment that suits you best. If you are not sure when their vaccination is due, have a chat with our friendly team.
Call us on (07) 3357 3882, email us at email@example.com or book online to organise your pet’s vaccination appointment today!
Hot-spots are a common problem amongst dogs, and some breeds like golden retrievers, labradors, and rottweilers may be more susceptible to these than others.
What is a hot spot?
A hot-spot can otherwise be known as a ‘moist skin rash,’ acute moist dermatitis, or pyotraumatic dermatitis. It is an area of skin or lesion that looks red, inflamed, and may have matted hair on or around it, and sometimes slimy discharge. They develop very quickly and can progress within hours.
Usually, they can be found around the dogs:
What causes hot-spots?
- Flea infestation
- Ear infections
- Warm & humid weather
- Wet fur against the skin (for long periods – i.e. under the collar after swimming)
- Underlying medical conditions
These issues promote bacterial growth, making the area very itchy and potentially sore.
While being relatively easy to spot, your pet will likely alert you to the hot-spot with excessive scratching and licking if the area is within reach.
How are hot-spots treated?
To treat a hot-spot, we will:
- Trim the fur from around the area
- Clean the area with an antiseptic
- Use antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory treatments
In some cases, ongoing use of antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory treatments may be required to treat the infection and allow the skin to heal properly. Hot-spots may be sensitive or painful to treat, and we may recommend a general anaesthetic if appropriate.
Due to the fast-moving nature of these infections, we recommend you bring your dog to see us as soon as possible if you suspect a hot-spot is forming. The quicker we can treat your dog, the less chance the hot-spot has of becoming large, difficult to treat, and painful.
If you have any questions or want to make a booking, call us on (07) 3357 3882, email us firstname.lastname@example.org, or book online today.
We all love spending quality time with our pets on a hot summer’s day. However, we need to stay vigilant in summer, as the warmer weather can expose our pets to several dangers.
One of these dangers is heatstroke. Heatstroke, or hyperthermia, occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises rapidly. It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment.
There are several causes for heatstroke, including:
- Being left in a hot car,
- Being left outdoors during extreme heat,
- Not having enough shade and water when outdoors,
- Exercising in hot weather.
It is important to know the signs of heatstroke – even if you avoid all the above.
Your pet may show some or all of the below symptoms:
- Excessive panting,
- Drooling excessively,
- Becoming unstable on their feet,
- Their gums turn a bluish-purple or bright red colour.
If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, you must take them to a vet immediately.
Make sure to cool your pet while you are on your way to see us.
The most effective way to cool your pet is by using a fan or air-conditioning. You can also use a damp towel or a spray bottle filled with water to cool them lightly. It is important not to submerge your pet in ice-cold water, as this could be detrimental to their recovery.
Other warm-weather tips:
- In hot weather, it is also essential to keep your pet’s feet in mind – if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it is too hot for your pets! Keep them inside, walk in the shade, or use pet socks/shoes if it’s not possible to keep them off hot surfaces.
- Always ensure there are plenty of cool places with shade and fresh water for your pet to access on hot days. Never leave them unattended in a car, even if the windows are down.
- Before the weather gets too warm, book your pet in for a groom to remove any unnecessary shedding hair, and a trim where suitable. Do not shave your pet’s coat yourself – some breeds require their coats to help regulate body temperature.
- Brachycephalic dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke and can develop serious health issues quickly due to their inability to pant efficiently. If you own a brachycephalic dog (a dog with a flattened face, such as a French or English bulldog, Pug, Boston terrier, Pekinese, Boxer, etc.), please be very mindful of their whereabouts on a hot day, and keep an eye out for any of these symptoms.
If you think your pet is suffering heatstroke, or you want to know more about how to prevent it, call our team today!
The silly season is an exciting time of year, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations giving us plenty of reasons to let loose and celebrate. With an increase of visitors, noises, tasty treats, shiny new toys, and interesting smells, this time of year can be overwhelming for our pets.
Here are some recommendations to make sure your furry friends are safe and happy during this festive time.
- Make sure your pet has access to a quiet, calm, and secluded spot to hide away if needed
- Exercise your pets before any guests arrive or before any particularly noisy events (i.e., fireworks displays) if you can – a pet with pent up energy can easily become anxious
- Keep Christmas decorations and wrapping items (paper, tape, ribbon, discarded plastic, etc.) out of your pet’s reach. If ingested, these items can cause serious health problems, including intestinal blockages that may require surgical removal
- Many plants and flowers used for Christmas decorations are toxic to pets – be sure to keep these out of reach
- Many foods we see at celebrations are toxic to pets and can even be fatal. Make sure your pet does not have access to:
- Salty foods (chips, pretzels, crackers, etc.)
- Lollies & artificial sweeteners
- Grapes, sultanas, raisins, and currants
- Cherry pits (and other stone fruit pits)
Fireworks can be terrifying for pets. Here is a list of tips for preparing your pet for fireworks displays:
- Keep pets indoors when possible. The walls and roof will help to soften the noise and will also contain them safely.
- Prepare your pet for loud noises during the day by putting on the TV or radio. Turn the volume up progressively throughout the day, so when the fireworks display commences, the existing noise will create a distraction
- Avoid fussing over your pet. Carry on as normal, as this will reassure your pet nothing is wrong. You can use treats and games to distract them and encourage calm behaviour.
- Ensure your pet’s microchip and identification tag details are up to date. Unfortunately, many pets escape during fireworks displays and can be found very far from home.
- Pheromone diffusers could help to calm your pet. Talk to our team about Feliway for cats or Adaptil for dogs.
- Some pet owners choose to use medications to assist in keeping particularly anxious pets calm. This is not something our team can organise for you without prior consultation, so please book in advance.
Our appointments during the festive season fill up very quickly, so be sure to organise an appointment as soon as possible.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t, has injured themselves, or you would like more advice on keeping them safe over the Christmas and New Year’s period, give our friendly team a call on (07) 3357 3882 or book online to organise an appointment.
With the sun shining and beautiful warm weather upon us – who can resist a picnic or barbecue with friends!?
It is a wonderful opportunity to spend time outdoors and the perfect chance for your pet to come along for some quality time together.
If you are taking your furry friend along to picnics and barbecues, there are many hazards to watch out for!
Barbecue and picnic foods can present several issues for our pets. Some key foods to keep your pet away from include:
- Onions(and other members of this family – garlic, shallots, scallions, etc.) are toxic for dogs when ingested and can cause serious health complications
- Sausages are very high in fat, and often, ingestion can lead to pancreatitis
- Salty foods like chips, pretzels, and crackers contain high amounts of salt that can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea
- Alcohol should not be shared with pets – their livers struggle trying to break down alcohol and can lead to damage which can be fatal
- Cooked bones such as ribs, t-bones, and chicken wings can splinter and become stuck in your pet’s throat or gut, leading to serious health problems requiring surgical intervention
- Corn cobsare not safe to be ingested as they will not be broken down in your pet’s stomach, often leading to fatal bowel obstructions
- Skewersfrom kebabs and other foods can lead to serious puncture wounds in your pet’s mouth and gut, often requiring surgical intervention
- Seafood shells(prawns, mussels, oysters, etc.) can lead to internal damage if ingested and can not be digested, which can require surgical removal
Keep your pet away from barbecues altogether to avoid burns from splattering oil or direct body to hot-plate contact! To help train your pet to stay away from the barbecue, never feed them scraps or food from the barbecue. Always ensure the barbecue is supervised, and if it has a lid, consider closing it to protect your pets. If your pet does burn themselves, cool the burn site with cool, running water and call us immediately.
Always ensure you clean up your rubbish or food scraps when you are ready to leave the picnic or barbecue site. Leftovers may cause harm if ingested by other pets or local wildlife visiting the area.
Before heading to your picnic or barbecue location, be sure to check:
- Fresh water and shade are easily accessible for your pet
- That the local council permits pets (on or off-leash) to be in this area
- Your pet is adequately socialised and will not become anxious meeting new people and potentially other pets
- Your pet’s vaccinations and parasite protection is up to date, especially if you are visiting an unfamiliar area
- Your pet is appropriately and safely restrained when being transported to your destination
If you have any questions or concerns or would like some more safety and first aid advice, give us a call on (07) 3357 3882 or book a consultation with our friendly team by emailing email@example.com or booking online.
Some pets love to get involved in fun water activities when the weather heats up.
Whether you are going to the beach, a river, a lake, on a boat, or just staying at home by the pool, these waterside safety tips will help you, and your pet enjoy the warm weather safely.
Their sharp shells can cause deep cuts to skin and paws that can be incredibly painful for your pet, requiring stitches and potentially antibiotics to ward off any nasty infections.
There are some wonderfully smelly things your pet might find by the water that can be very dangerous if ingested, including dead fish and other animals (some can be toxic!), discarded fishing items, rubbish, and more. If you see any of these items lying around, please pick them up and dispose of them properly to save other pets or native animals from finding them.
Leftover, poorly discarded bait & gutted fish can cause gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Often, these tasty morsels may also include a fishing hook or line, which has a high potential of significant medical problems if ingested. Fishhooks can become stuck in the oesophagus (food pipe) or stomach. This will usually require the hooks to be removed endoscopically or surgically.
Prevent your pet from drinking salt or stagnant water and offer them fresh water to avoid them getting sick. Excess salt will lead to dehydration and can cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Stagnant water can host all sorts of nasties, like waterborne diseases and parasites.
Do not let your pet play with or eat seaweed and kelp. Ingested seaweed and kelp can lead to intestinal blockages, which can be fatal if not surgically removed in severe cases.
There are many animals and plants that live around water – some toxic. Ingesting, licking, being bitten, or stung by one of these organisms will not only be painful but present problems for your furry friend.
Algal blooms are common in stagnant water, especially over the warmer months when the conditions are just right. Blue-green algae, and many other types, are toxic to cats and dogs when ingested.
If there is a chance your pet could end up in deep water on a day out, investing in a life jacket may prove to be very beneficial.
Make sure to wash your pet after playing in the water. Washing off salty water and river water is essential to ensure there are no nasties in your pet’s coat or irritating their skin.
Pool covers present a very serious danger – if your pet falls in, they may become trapped and could drown. Pets can often struggle to get out of the pool if they fall in, also leading to drowning. Never leave your pets unsupervised around the pool.
Speak to us if you have questions or concerns about any of the above hazards.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t or has suffered an injury by the water, give our team a call right away for help!
Spring is the perfect time show off our green-thumbs, by filling our homes and gardens with luscious flowers and plants! As beautiful as they can look, some of these can pose a threat to our furry friends.
Cats, dogs, birds and pocket-pets alike can become curious and easily tempted for a nibble of your new plant. Some pets can become itchy or even unwell, just by sniffing or brushing against these troublesome plants.
Here are some of the more common, more toxic plants and flowers that could cause problems for your pet:
- Daffodils & jonquils
- Devil’s ivy (pothos)
- Diffenbachia (dumb cane)
- Lillies (including Asiatic, day, Easter, Japanese show, stargazer, tiger, red, western and wood lillies)
- Philodendrons (including swiss cheese plant, heart leaf and fiddle leaf philodendrons)
- Sage palm
- Yesterday, today, tomorrow
Of course, there are many other types of plants that can upset your pet.
Some of the more common symptoms these plants can cause if ingested include:
- Itchy or red skin
- Itchy and irritated eyes
- Excessive and unusual drooling
- Excessive or unusual thirst
- Disorientation or a lack of coordination
- Pain around the abdomen area
- Difficulty or rapid breathing
- Lack of appetite
These symptoms can vary greatly depending on which plant your pet may have come into contact with, so you may only notice one or two – it is important to be diligent and act fast.
If you are concerned your pet may have ingested a toxic plant, be sure to give us a call right away so we can commence diagnosis and treatment. If you can, take a photo of the plant, or take a snippet so we can identify what it is causing the issue.
If you have any questions or are worried about your pets interacting with any of the plants in your home or garden, give our friendly team a call on 07 3357 3882 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.