Winter means the start of colder weather, and for many older pets, that can mean the start of trouble with arthritis.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a disease condition that affects the joints, either individually or generally.  The smooth cartilage lining the joints wears down and the production of the lubricating 'oil' (synovial fluid) is less than it should be.  In dogs, arthritis is particularly common in the hips and knees especially in older dogs of the larger breeds.

What are the signs of Arthritis?

  • Pain or stiffness when getting up, especially after a rest.
  • Difficulty in climbing steps, getting into the car or even just jumping up on you!
  • Laziness and no interest in playing or walks.
  • Pain is worse in the morning and after sleeping or resting.

Can Arthritis be treated?

Yes!! The good news is that we can help our pets.  There are basic things you can do like keeping your pets warm in winter and not allowing them to sleep on cold concrete.  A fit pet is better able to cope than an overweight pet as well.

There are a number of treatments that can be used to alleviate pain in dogs.

In this article we will cover :

  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Cartrophen
  • Dietry Additives

 

 

Pet insurance is becoming more and more popular in Australia. It offers you peace of mind as it covers some or all of the treatment costs if you pet was ever involved in an accident or suffers a sudden serious illness. There is no equivalent of Medicare for pets so often treatment costs exceed what an equivalent problem would cost for a human patient.

Some surgeries such as repair of fractures, or exploratory surgery (particularly if it's after hours) can add up to thousands of dollars and that does not even include the recovery and aftercare treatment. It is a heartbreaking situation to have to choose between the health of your pet and financial constraints. So for peace of mind we strongly recommend your pet is insured.

There are now many companies that offer pet insurance so it is worth doing your research and selecting a package that suits you and your pets individual situation. You need to consider the claim excess amount, proportion of treatment costs covered, annual claim limit, age restrictions, pre-existing illness exclusions and policy costs.

We highly recommend pet insurance and encourage you to discuss it with us at your next visit.

Easter should be a time for celebration, but unfortunately every Easter we see at least one or two dogs suffering from chocolate toxicity- (in fact, we even had one last Halloween!). Mind you, it's often due to accidental ingestion.

Just like us, dogs love the taste of chocolate and dogs seem to have a particularly keen nose for finding chocolate in the house if left unguarded. Kids are particularly good at leaving their Easter eggs where they can easily be scavenged out.

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffine, both of which are toxic to dogs. The dogs most commonly affected are usually puppies and young adults, as they are most likely to indulge and rapidly consume large amounts. Also, the effects of chocolate are dose related, so the smaller the dog the less he needs to eat to be affected.

It is safe to say that chocolate as a whole is not recommended for pets, however cooking or dark chocolate contain higher levels of theobromine and so are proportionally more toxic.

Signs may not be seen for a few hours and death can occur within 12- 36 hours of an overdose.

There is no antidote for chocolate toxicity, however if we see your dog within the first two hours after eating the chocolate we can induce vomiting to reduce the amount absorbed into the body.

So all family members can enjoy a safe and happy holiday, please refrain from giving your dog chocolate eggs this Easter. What about a nice meaty bone instead?

While you, "Slip, Slop, Slap" and seek shade this summer, make sure the family's favourite tail wagger is sun-safe too!  Dogs are the pets most at risk of heat exhaustion, because summer can make their natural cooling system less effective.

As Rover pants to cool down, his fluids should evaporate into the surrounding air.  But if humidity is high, then evaporation is less and so this system works less effectively.  This causes body temerature to rise quickly and heat exhaustion sets in.

A dog can die or become severely brain damaged from heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion (or heat stroke) happens quickly.  Signs include: excessive panting and drooling, a staring expression, constant moving and progressive muscular weakness and lack of co-ordination.

You can prevent heat exhaustion in your dog by following these rules:

 

Spring is often the time when we see the most Canine Cough and this year it seems to be particularly prevalent.

 

Canine Cough (or Kennel Cough as it was previously known) is primarily caused by two organisms, Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parinfluenza virus. Various other viruses, especially Canine Adenovirus type 2, and various species of bacteria may also be involved. It is a highly contagious disease that usually infects dogs in areas where they socialise, such as parks, obedience classes, dog shows and kennels.

The classical symptom of Canine Cough is a harsh hacking cough that often finishes with gagging. The coughing is usually made worse by exercise, excitement or pressure on the throat region. Severely affected dogs may also have fever, lethargy and reduced appetite. Coughing may persist for many weeks or months despite treatment. To protect dogs against Canine Cough, they should be vaccinated against the important causative organisms of Canine Cough.

Vaccination against Canine Cough is usually commenced at 12 weeks of age. Adult dogs should receive yearly boosters for Canine Cough.

Ugly little creatures that hop around the back garden at night may not be interesting to humans but they are very interesting to our dogs and this summer there are more than ever.  The unusually wet summer we are having has meant the conditions have been perfect for toads to breed and we are seeing a population explosion in our surburban gardens.  This is bad news for our inquisitive canine friends because toads are poisonous and possibly fatal.  Toads have poison glands on their backs which are used for their defence and when mouthed or bitten by a dog the toad squirts the poison into the mouth or eyes of the dog.

The poison is very irritant and causes a burning sensation of tongue and gums which leads to extensive salivation and frothing at the mouth.

If the dog gets a lot of poison then other signs can quickly develop such as muscle weakness, collapse, seizuring and finally death as the toad poison affects the heart muscle.

If your dog is unlucky enough to be affected by a toad the first thing to do is wash out the dogs mouth using running water from the hose or tap.  A good rinsing for 5 minutes will, in 90% of cases, relieve all signs and nothing else will be necessary.

The dog should however be closely observed for the next hour and if the frothing continues or if other signs develop then you should contact us immediately.

 

Does your dog behave strangely during a thunderstorm, perhaps start shaking, barking, become hyperactive or seem terrified?  Thunderstorms are a very common phobia in dogs which often develops early in life and worsens as the dogs get older.

The origin of this behavior is fear towards the noise made by the thunder (we see a similar condition with fireworks).  Lightening will not initially cause any response, however in time many dogs associate the crack of thunder with the preceding flash of lightening and even the associated pre storm weather conditions as they seem to sense the changes in atmospheric pressure leading up to a storm.

This means a storm phobic dog will be anxious, restless and distressed, hours before a storm begins.

This can be a serious problem if your dogs howls constantly or panics and escapes from the yard and disappears, often at risk of being hit by a car or becoming lost. (What about a microchip?)

There are several ways of helping your dog adapt to its fear.