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.

The scratching dog is a complicated problem that involves many factors, but the starting point is almost always an allergy.

What are allergies?

An allergy is an abnormal reaction to common substances such as dust, pollens, fleas, grasses or certain foods.  The allergic reation in dogs is triggered by exposure to these agents through inhalation. contact with the skin or via ingestion.  After becoming sensitized to an offending allergen, the dog is likely to remain so for the rest of its life.  Thus allergy control is the answer rather than cure.

Do all dogs develop allergies?

It is possible for all dogs to exhibit allergies.  Statistics show that 15-20% of dogs experience allergy disorders.  Certain breeds however have been reported to be more likely to develop them.

What are the signs?

Dogs rarely experience the sneezing and watery eyes associated with allergies in humans.  Instead the most common allergic signs in dogs include repetitive scratching, licking or biting of a localized area of the body.  This may lead to hair loss, scaly skin and even open sores. 

What types of treatment are available?

Of all the reasons a cat or dog requires a visit to the Veterinary Surgery, an ear problem is among the most common.  Their deep, curved ear canals make it difficult for air to get in and moisture to get out and moisture retained in ear after swimming or bathing can often lead to infections.  Spring and summer when it is hot and particularly when it is humid is the worst time of the year for ear infections.  Not only are ear infections likely to occur but quite often they are difficult to cure.  Bacterial infections, fungal infections, ear mites and foreign bodies such as grass seeds are the most common causes of ear infections.

Ten Important signs

It is important to know what early signs might indicate an infection so treatment can be started.

  1. Odour - bad odour coming from the ears
  2. Scratching at the ears
  3. Excessive discharge (usually yellow, brown or black)
  4. Inflammation - redness of the ear flap or canal
  5. Shaking the head or ears
  6. Obvious pain when touched around the head or ears
  7. Head tilted to one side or held down
  8. Stumbling or circling to one side
  9. Lethargy or depression
  10. Marked swelling of the ear flaps

If your dog or cat is showing any of these signs then a visit to the veterinarian is necessary, as there is a high likelihood an ear problem is present.

Feline Aids is a viral infection, commonly known as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), and is spread by cats fighting. FIV in cats is similar to that of the human variety (although not contagious to humans), being a viral disease that interferes with the immune system of the cat. Just like the human HIV (AIDS), cats infected with FIV have a reduced ability to fight off even the simpliest of infections.

Cats are mostly infected through fighting and biting, as the virus is present in the saliva. This means that older male outdoor cats are most at risk but often new cats to an area are simply attacked by territorial neighbouring cats thus potentially infecting them.


It seems common these days to hear stories and see statistics about the growing level of obesity in our population, especially our children. What we don’t hear about as much, is the same thing happening to our pet population.

Obesity is becoming a major problem in our pets and is leading to an insurgence of disease conditions such as; Heart Disease, Pancreatitis and Diabetes.

Most obesity is caused by over eating. About 5% of overweight animals are overweight due to a medical condition, but the rest are simply eating too many calories and not getting enough exercise.

The best approach to this problem is to avoid it by controlling an animal’s intake when they are young. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but remember, a dog over 12 months old does not require more than one meal a day. Due to different metabolic rates dogs and cats are adequately fed on what seems to us to be a very small amount of food. To determine the amount suitable for your pet simply watch their body condition and cut back if they are gaining weight.

If your pet is already too heavy, then it is very important you bring them back to a normal weight. Here are a few tips to help: