Pet Sitter Vet Care

Who takes care of Your Pets while you’re on Holidays?

Tips to keep Your Pet Safe while You’re Away – Pet Sitter Care

When you’re a pet parent you know all too well that when planning your holiday you also need to make arrangements for your pets to be taken care of while you’re away.

Most of you will probably book your pets into a boarding facility however some of you will make other arrangements such as having them stay with friends or family or hire a pet sitter.

While their food, water and exercise and social needs are taken care of – have you made arrangements for any Veterinary Care they might need while you’re away?

Boarding Kennels

Boarding Kennels have firm polices around providing veterinary care should your pet need it. Their check in documents will require you to leave your contact details so they can get in touch if needed.

They will also have some arrangements in place that authorise them to have your pet seen by a vet if he or she becomes ill during that time.

Pet Sitter Care

If you choose to employ a private pet sitter that comes to your house or have your pet board with them – it’s up to you to make those firm veterinary care arrangements with them.

Because if something happens to your pet while you are away they need to know exactly what to do.

This includes:

  1. Which vet to take your pet to
  2. How the vet can get in touch with you to discuss your pet’s condition and gain consent for treatment
  3. How any fees incurred for their treatment will be paid.
  4. Who is responsible for any aftercare if needed?Pet Sitter Care

With end of year holidays coming up we know for a fact that there will be many pets being looked after by private pet sitters which may be family or friends and most people will have put no such arrangements in place.

Tips for making Veterinary Care arrangements for when You are on Holidays

 

1: Make sure your pet is Microchipped and your registered details are up to date

If your pet accidentally escapes from your sitter’s care and ends up at a pound or vet clinic then these people will need to be able to contact you. Just as important is checking that your contact details with the Animal Database Register are still correct. Have you changed address or phone contact numbers since you registered your pet?

There is no point in having your pet microchipped if YOUR registered contact details are wrong!

Are Your Pet’s Microchip Details Up to Date

2: Provide clear instructions to your pet Sitter about what to do if your pet becomes sick or is injured

Create a written plan for your pet Sitter or carer. This should contain all the following information:

  1. Your Pet’s Microchip number
  2. Contact details of your pet’s vet where your pet’s records are kept. Also their opening hours.
  3. Instructions for care if something happens outside of your vets opening hours.
  4. How to contact you while you are away. Give as many options as possible that include both phone as well as alternatives should phone contact not be possible. This could be via Facebook – Messenger – Email or any other Social Media or internet contact app. Email contact alone is not recommended unless you check your emails several times a day. In urgent situations your vet or carer may need to contact you urgently for a immediate response.
  5. Treatment Authorisation. Who can authorise treatment. Only you? Your carer? If so what decisions can they make on your behalf? What can they or your vet do if they can’t get in touch with you? You need to make this VERY clear AND it must be in writing! Your vet will not proceed with any treatments without clear and documented consent from you. Or they will be forced into making decisions that you may not be happy with. But that – is up to you.
  6. Payment arrangements. How will any veterinary fees be paid while you are away? Do you have an account with your vet? If so – what is the limit and payment terms? Have you left your carer with access to funds if needed? Do you have a separate credit card for your pet’s expenses that is specifically for situations like these?
  7. Plan B. What if something happens in the carer’s life and they can’t take care of your pet for a while? Can they reach you and what should they do if that happens?

3: Notify Your Vet of your Arrangements

Once you have created your Sitters Care Document – make sure you email a copy to your vet – several days before you leave. Let them know the period you’ll be away and any further instructions you want to give. This will give your vet enough time to ask for further information if needed before you leave. Also make sure you have clear contact – consent & payment arrangements in place with your vet.

While we all hope that nothing will happen to your pet while you’re away – we know that it can. Sadly most people who have left their pets in private carer’s hands have no veterinary care arrangements in place.

This causes enormous stress on the carers and vets alike who are powerless to make any decisions. So – for your peace of mind – make sure your pet sitter and vet know what to do.

Emergency Pet Care

What is a Pet Emergency on Weekends and Public Holidays?

I’m worried about my Pet but is it an Emergency?

With most vets being closed or offering only “Emergency Consultations” or “Urgent Veterinary Care” on weekends and Public Holidays – what exactly does that mean for me?

As a pet owner if I am worried about my pet and it’s a Sunday, how do I know whether it’s urgent or not?

The answer is – you don’t.

While we can all recognise a true Emergency such as Snake Bite – Bloat – Trauma from an accident – collapse etc – there are also a lot of other less obvious symptoms while not considered true emergencies that benefit from being treated sooner rather than later.

For this reason – we’d rather put this message out there

If you are worried about your pet at ANY time – get veterinary help. Don’t hold off calling just because you’re not sure whether it is a true emergency or not.

For your peace of mind – have your pet seen. While it will cost you more to see a vet on those days – you could actually save money in the long term by addressing the problem sooner rather than later. Some conditions can deteriorate quickly so leaving them untreated for even 24 hours can risk making your pet sicker therefore requiring more intensive treatment.

Emergency Veterinary Care “Lucy’s” Story

One of our Public Holiday patients that comes to mind is a lovely middle aged labrador. Let’s just call her “Lucy.”

The owner’s noticed she wasn’t quite right on that morning. Nothing too alarming. She was still bright and responsive – but just didn’t want to eat breakfast.

They called up and just wanted her checked over for peace of mind. Little did they know the lifesaving decision they just made.

It turns out that the reason why Lucy didn’t tuck into breakfast as normal was that she was bleeding internally from a ruptured tumour that had been growing silently and causing no outward symptoms until now.

This was a serious situation that could not have waited until the next day. Thankfully Lucy had emergency surgery and made a full recovery.

The chances of this happening of course are slim. Not every dog that goes off their food for one day has a condition as serious as this.

Sometimes some medication is all that’s needed to stop something from becoming worse.

If you’re worried about your pet – just give us a call. We’re available 24/7 for that very reason. Our full hospital facilities also mean we can carry out any diagnostics and treatments your pet needs so you won’t need to be referred elsewhere.

Of course if you are not local to us – contact your nearest Animal Emergency Centre for advice.

Please note our services on Weekends and Public Holidays are limited to in clinic consultations only. We can’t provide home visits or ambulatory calls for large animals.

Our 24/7 Veterinary Care

roundworm infection

How to avoid this senseless Death in Puppies

If it’s one thing that always deeply gets to us it’s the suffering or death of any animal that could have been so easily avoided.

This story reflects just one of these situations that we see – more often that we should. Hopefully, by publishing this story we can help avoid further unnecessary suffering and death in other puppies and kittens out there.

How simple Deworming could have saved this Puppy’s life

Just a few days ago we saw a 5 week old puppy – severely lethargic, dehydrated and had not been eating for days!

The owners sought some over the phone advice from “somewhere” and were told as long as the puppy was willing to lick a little food from their finger – it should be O.K.

Really?

Well – Puppy was NOT O.K. In fact in addition to all the above symptoms this little girl showed stunted growth a high temperature and severe malnutrition – all clearly indicating she was one sick little puppy.

And what else did we find on examination?

Yep – Roundworms – lots of them. Alive, Nicely matured and clearly sucking all vital nutrients from her intestines. Explains her poor state of health, stunted growth and deterioration over time.

Roundworms are most threatening to Puppies. And if left untreated can cause death! Click To Tweet

The most common consequence of Roundworm infection is stunted growth!

At this stage – this little girl needed intensive treatment is she was to have any chance of survival. Her owners elected not to proceed and chose instead to euthanase.

How to Avoid Risk of Worming Infection in Your Puppy (or Kitten)

Worming is so darn easy using the available syrup formulas so there’s absolutely no excuse for these babies suffering or even dying from worm infestation.

All puppies and kittens should be wormed from 2 weeks of age with a quality de-worming product.

Continue to worm every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age. Then monthly until 6 months of age.

Roundworm Facts

Roundworm are particularly dangerous for puppies and kittens because they are already likely present at birth. This is because the larvae present in the mother can pass through the placenta into the unborn puppies or kittens.

They can also be passed through the mother’s milk after birth.

Worm Prevention Starts with Mum!

If you are planning to breed from your Bitch or Queen – make sure you deworm both before and during pregnancy to minimise the risk of Roundworm larvae being transmitted to the newborns.

Quality worm products are extremely safe for both pregnant and nursing Mums. Stick with a quality product over a cheap generic to be absolutely sure of the best protection.

We personally recommend Drontal Puppy Suspension (An allwormer product that protects against all 4 intestinal worms, Hookworm, Whipworm, Tapeworm and Roundworm) or Troy Puppy and Kitten Worm syrup which protects against Roundworm only. Since the main threat to newborns in the early weeks is Roundworm a “Roundworm Only” product is adequate for the first 6-8 weeks of life.

There are of course course other similar quality products out there but these 2 are an easy option and available from most veterinarians and pet stores.

Pet Dentistry No Anaesthetic

Anaesthesia Free Dentistry vs Professional Veterinary Dental

Is Anaesthesia – Free Dentistry the Right choice for Your Pet?

Since being introduced in Australia – Anaesthesia Free Dentals are becoming a popular option for people who don’t want their pet going under Anaesthesia.

That being said – there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information out there comparing AFD’s with Professional Veterinary Dentistry performed under General Anaesthesia other than AFD’s sounding so much more appealing than their Veterinary equivalent.

Is there a difference?

Yes there is. These are two entirely different procedures approached in entirely different ways.

AFD’s are approached from the Cosmetic angle. Ugly brown tartar which leads to periodontal disease is scraped off pet’s teeth to clean and restore the “above the gum line” parts of the teeth surface to make them nice and white again.

  • During an Anaesthesia Free Dental procedure the surface of your pet’s teeth are scaled using a hand instrument that scrapes away the accumulated tartar. This leaves grooves on the tooth surface making it easy for more food and bacteria to stick to after the procedure.
  • Your pet is likely to feel uncomfortable during the procedure. Think of your pet as a young child having it’s mouth held open while a sharp instrument scrapes and pokes along the teeth. And then – what if your pet reacts to a painful sensation and moves its head? There is a risk of doing some serious damage to the mouth and gums with that sharp instrument.
  • It is impossible to clean beneath the gumline where periodontal disease starts. Gently probing below the gum line looking for pockets of disease and cleaning these areas is painful. No AWAKE human or pet will tolerate this. For this reason – Anaesthesia Free Dental procedures do NOT address issues that may be hidden under the gumline.
  • This means Anaesthesia Free Dentals’s are superficial only and create a false sense of security. Just because your pet’s teeth are nice and white again does not mean there’s no serious dental disease lurking below the surface.
  • It is impossible to do a complete oral exam which includes looking at all surfaces of your pet’s teeth inside and out – front and back – in an awake pet.
  • It is impossible to see what’s happening to the parts of teeth that sit below the gumline without Dental X-rays. For all you know – with AFD’s – damaged teeth that should be pulled are being cleaned instead.
  • You can’t extract damaged, misaligned teeth without General Anaesthesia!Pet Dentistry No Anaesthetic

Summing up AFD’s

Your pet’s teeth are nice and white and that doggy breath is gone – for now!

As for any below the gumline tooth and jaw damage – that’s ignored and left until further symptoms develop and you’ll be referred back to your vet for the expensive treatment.

Veterinary Dentals

Are performed under full general Anaesthesia so we can properly examine ALL parts of your pet’s oral cavity including all parts of all teeth while your pet sleeps peacefully throughout.

Where we suspect any below the gumline issues – we take full dental X-Rays just like your Dentist would. Dental X-Rays give us valuable information about all the structures we can’t see. This allows us to identify bone loss – teeth that look normal on the surface but are damaged at the roots and need removing, impacted or resorbed teeth and any other bone pathology that might indicate developing disease.

Preventative Dentals (Scale & Polish)

Veterinary Dentals falls into two categories:

  1. Preventative Dentals – This is like visiting your Dentist on a regular basis to have your teeth professionally cleaned with modern Ultrasonic equipment. While your Dentist does this – he or she will be looking out for any developing problems and make recommendations based on what they see while examining and cleaning all your pearly whites. Regular dentals throughout your pet’s lifetime will slow down the progression of Dental Disease and keep them healthier for longer. In terms of costs – these are hardly more expensive than AFD’s.
  2. Treatment Dentals – where dental disease is already present. This is you visiting your dentist because you are experiencing Dental pain or discomfort. Usually this will mean a filling or some other form of dental treatment. Your Dentist will take X-rays to reveal the real cause of the problem so the right treatment can be prescribed.

Any treatment your Dentist does will likely involve some pain control. While humans don’t need a General Anaesthetic for most procedures – we do have the benefit of local anaesthesia for the uncomfortable or more painful procedures. Local anesthesia works just fine for us because as long as we don’t feel the pain – we’re happy to keep our mouth wide open and still to allow the dentist to do the work.

Animals aren’t so compliant which is why they need Full Anaesthesia.

Fear of Anaesthesia

There seems to be an unhealthy fear of Anaesthesia which is what makes AFD’s so appealing despite their clear limitations.

“But I don’t want my pet to have a General Anaesthetic” is a common reason for declining a Dental procedure.

In terms of risk – let’s put it this way. The risk of your Pet becoming very sick and being in a lot of pain due to Dental Disease is much much greater than the risk of Modern Day Anaesthesia.

This should never be the reason for withholding proper dental care from your pet.

In our Practice – we take a great deal of care to ensure ALL anaesthetics we deliver are done with your pet’s utmost safety in mind.Dog Anaesthesia Free Dentistry

This is why we do pre- anaesthetic screening blood tests as well as put your pet on fluids before or throughout the procedure as necessary.

Here’s a picture showing a patient sleeping peacefully through what would be considered a painful procedure.

Please note the Breathing tube inserted. This means we can administer Oxygen at any any time should there be complications.

It also prevents all that bacteria ridden tartar from being swallowed or worst still being inhaled into the lungs!

(Keep in mind – anaesthesia protocols vary between clinics. Here we’ve described what we do in our practice)

Home Visit Dental Check limitations

During a home visit (mobile vet services) we can perform basic dental checks however this cannot replace the full oral examination required for a professional diagnosis and treatment of Dental Disease. All pets that need dental treatment will be referred back to our Hospital.

Dental Disease is Serious Disease

Many people think that Dental Disease only ever affects the mouth so it’s O.K to ignore. Actually – it’s no less serious than any other medical condition you are prepared to visit your vet for. If left untreated – Dental Disease eventually affects other organs – mainly kidneys and heart as the infectious bacteria from the mouth circulate around the bloodstream.

But my Dog / Cat is still eating. It Can’t be that bad

Animal have strong survival instincts. They will continue to eat despite pain in preference to starvation. Once an animal has stopped eating – it’s a sign that death by starvation is now preferable to dealing with the pain associated with eating.

Breed Awareness

Some breeds of cats and dogs are more prone to developing dental disease. e.g Dogs with short faces like French Bulldogs, Shih-tzus, Pugs and their mixes often have overcrowded teeth making it more difficult to keep teeth and gums clean – even with preventative care.

These breeds of animals will need regular professional dentals on top of daily home dental care.

 

Lost Pet has Microchip

Are Your Pet’s Microchip Records Up to Date?

 If Your Pet is Lost – Can we Find You?

Faces like these staring out of cages are commonplace across pet shelters, pounds and Vet Clinics across our community.

It is not unusual for people to bring wandering pets into local vet clinics to keep them safe while staff try and identify who they belong to. The only accurate way to do this is by scanning for a microchip which hopefully links the pet to its registered owner.

Lost Pet has MicrochipUnfortunately this is not always the case.

Sometimes the lost pet is not microchipped so we have no way to identify where it has come from or who the owner is.

The only thing we can do is hope that someone will miss this face and call us pretty quickly.

If this doesn’t happen – we are required by law to send these unidentified pets to the local pound.

If Your Pet Has a Microchip – we can probably Find You

The best way to make sure your lost pet can always be returned to you is through Microchipping. This tiny identification chip is smaller than a grain of rice but holds the necessary details to help us connect your pet with you.

By law – all cats and dogs need to be microchipped for local Council registration however there are still many pets which are not.

Each Microchip has a unique number which then becomes your pet’s unique ID. This unique number is linked to your contact details which include your name, current address and phone number.

We can scan any lost pet for this unique number and then search relevant databases for your contact details.

Once we find this, we can contact you and let you know your pet is safe with us and waiting for you to come and take her home. A Happy Ending for everyone!

When Microchipping Does Not Work

In order for this very simple and effective system to work however means you need to keep your contact details up to date.

If you move address or change your phone contact details – and you have a microchipped pet registered with your previous details – please make sure you notify the relevant organisation through which your pet’s microchip is registered.

If you don’t do this – anyone finding your pet may not be able to contact you.

How to Check Where Your Pet is Registered

Shortly after your pet has been microchipped you will receive identification acknowledgement from that provider in the mail.Microchip Registration

We use Central Animal Records as our Database so the document should look like this.

If you do not receive this document within a few weeks of microchipping your pet with us – please let us know immediately.

Moving House? New Mobile? Updating Your Pet’s Records

If you have changed any of your important contact details – please contact your relevant database provider for information on how to update your contact details.

Not Sure Which Database Your Pet is Registered With?

If you don’t know where your pet is registered – go to Pet Address and type in your pet’s microchip number.

If your pet is registered on a database, the search engine function will be able to tell you. Once you know where your pet is registered – you can contast them directly and update your details.

Central Animal Records has a very helpful FAQ page which gives you all the information you need about microchip registrations to include:

  • Updating Your contact details
  • Transferring ownership
  • Deceased Pet Notification
  • Breeder Litter Microchipping and lots more

Check Your Pet’s Microchip Records Today

Add this important task to your planner this week. If your pet is Not Microchipped – make an appointment to have this done.

If your pet is Microchipped – check your pet’s registration details and update if needed.

Why Dental Checks in Consultations Can’t Give us the Full Picture

Our Patients are Reluctant

Have you ever tried opening your cat or dog’s mouth and being able to examine every single tooth without them squirming, pulling away or taking a swipe at you?

We’re guessing you can’t. And neither can we.

Unfortunately – pets just aren’t co-operative when it comes to looking inside their mouths – particularly if their mouth is sore.

That’s why we can only ever give you limited information about the true state of your pet’s oral health when we examine them in a consultation. We might be able to partially evaluate some of the front teeth but rarely can we see deep into their mouths at the teeth and gums down the back without stressing them out.

Cat and Dog DentalsWe can’t  just say “Open wide – sit still” – while we probe each tooth and look at them with the mirror like Human Dentists can.

All we can do in this situation is give you an idea of your pet’s oral health status which generally means applying special numbers called Dental Grades.

Dental Disease Grading

Dental Disease is a progressive disease which is classified according to severity. These stages are based on what we can see while examining your pet’s mouth in a consultation and are simplistically explained as follows:

Grade 0-1 – No Evidence of Dental Disease

No visible signs of dental disease. Generally found only in young pets or those having regular preventative dentals to keep them this way. To keep your pets oral health at this stage – regular Preventative “Scale and Polish” dentals are recommended.

Grade 2 – Mild Gingivitis – Early Stage Periodontal Disease

Here we see evidence of the beginning signs of developing disease. Slightly inflamed gums, plaque and some hardened plaque. (Tartar) A Dental will be recommended to remove this dangerous build up thereby halting further progression of dental disease.

This is the Good Stage – no permanent damage to teeth and gums seems to be present. We call this the “reversible” stage – You can still do something to return your pet’s mouth to good health.

Book your pet in for a Dental as soon as possible – otherwise you’ll risk progressing to the irreversible stages.

Grade 3 Dental Disease -Mild Gingivitis, Established Periodontal Disease

Ouch! This is already getting more serious and will be causing your pet pain. Gums are red, inflamed and swollen. Your pet’s mouth is smelly (due to bacteria build up) Moderate amounts of hard brown tartar is present. Some teeth may already be damaged and need to be removed. A professional dental is urgently needed if your pet has reached this stage.

Grade 4+ Severe Gingivitis – Advanced Periodontal Disease

Your pet’s gums are damaged by dangerous bacteria and Tartar. Your pet’s mouth is incredibly sore and her breath smells badly. Chronic infection is destroying the gums, teeth and bone. Severe Dental Disease in Pets

Bacteria are circulating in the bloodstream threatening the liver, kidneys and heart. Teeth will have to be removed and the gums stitched. A dental procedure is needed urgently – with no exceptions or alternative options possible.

Fee Estimations for Dental Procedures

Given the difficulty in making accurate assessment of your pet’s mouth while awake – the best we can do is provide a fee estimation that ranges between best case scenario and worst case scenario for any stage greater than Grade 1 Preventative Dental Scale and Polish.

Your pet’s dental health best assessed while fast asleep under General Anaesthesia where we have the opportunity to examine each tooth individually as well as visualise the whole oral cavity.

This is why we provide free dental assessments for all patients undergoing general anaesthesia in our practice.

We can contact you if we feel your pet would benefit from a dental at the same time as their other procedure.

By combining the dental procedure with the existing procedure saves you money in the long term because you are not paying for each procedure individually.

Please be aware -the longer you ignore developing dental disease – the more costly it will be treat in the latter stages – not to mention the pain this causes to your pet.

Admitting Your Pet for Surgery

Be prepared for our staff to inform you that we will be performing a free dental examination while your pet is under anaesthesia. We will contact you if we find that your pet would benefit from having a dental performed with the procedure and you can then decide from there.

Pet Dentals

Is Fear of Anaesthesia Causing Your Pet Dental Pain?

Why Dental Disease is more Dangerous to Your Pet’s Health than Anaesthesia

As vets we get really concerned when people deny their pets necessary dental care. Especially when it’s obvious by the state of their teeth and gums that it’s causing them a great deal of pain.

But pain or no pain, the preferred option is to do anything but subject their pet to the perceived dangers of anaesthesia. Yes we agree that no anaestheisa is risk free regardless of whether you’re a human or an animal.

However – today’s modern anaesthesia is extremely safe.

We now have a variety of proven and safe drugs to choose from which allow us to tailor an anaesthetic protocol to your pet’s individual health status.

So regardless of whether your pet is old, very young or has an existing health problem, there are steps we can take to make anaesthesia as safe as possible.

Compare this with …

Normal healthy gums provide a tight seal around the teeth to prevent any food or debris from getting stuck between the teeth and gums. As plaque and bacteria build up Calcium salts accumulate which then develop into the ugly brown and gritty “Tartar”. If left untreated infection will set in causing a conditon called Gingivitis. This is where the gums become red and inflamed and painful.Pet Dental Procedure

At this stage – the condition is reversible however if left untreated further swelling of the gums allows dangerous bacteria to enter the normally unexposed base of the teeth ultimately causing tooth loss. This is called Periodontitis and it is not reversible.

Bad Teeth Can Cause Organ Damage

Having made an entry into the delicate structures of the base of the teeth, dangerous bacteria can now enter the bloodstream and circulate to vital organs such as the heart, liver, lungs and kidney where they can cause irreversible and even fatal damage.

This includes – kidney disease – infections of the heart and other organs.

Weigh this tragedy up against relatively safe anaesthesia and the choice should become very clear.

Risk of anaesthesia < Risk of serious disease

So please – don’t let the fear of anaesthesia stop you from booking in for a dental procedure. However if you still have concerns, ask your vet to explain their anaesthesia protocols to you and how they minimise the risk for your pet.

Steps we take to ensure Safe Anaesthesia for Your Pet

  1. Pre- Anaesthetic Blood Tests – to ensure that the organs responsible for metabolising the anaesthetic drugs are healthy enough to do so.
  2. Provision of Fluid Therapy throughout the procedure to maintain blood pressure and hydration as well as assist in helping the kidneys to flush out the toxic by – products of the anaesthesia drugs as quickly as possible
  3. Use Gold standard techniques for the provision of anaesthesia in Veterinary Practice

The Gold Standard for anaesthesia is gaseous anaesthesia (isofluorane) with a trained assistant and special equipment monitoring your pet for the duration of the procedure. Pain relief is also provided as part of Best Practice medicine so your pet won’t feel a thing.

How Often should my pet’s teeth be checked?

Your pet’s teeth should be checked at each veterinary visit. At a minimum – this should be once a year during their annual check up.

Avoiding Dental Disease

Your pet needs to have regular professional dentals throughout their lifetime. Find out more about our Preventative Dentistry for Dogs and Cats.

Dog and Cat Food Allergies. What’s the Culprit?

What is a Cat or Dog Food Allergy?

A food allergy is an adverse immunological response to a specific ingredient in your pet’s food. Tell tale symptoms usually include patches of reddened itchy skin – particularly around the belly and groin area, under the armpits, smelly ears and skin and in a percentage of cases, bowel irritations.

Food allergies can develop at any time and can affect pets of all ages and breeds, even if your pet has eaten the same foods for years without any adverse reactions.

How is a Food Allergy Diagnosed?

There is a test available that can differentiate between a food sensitivity and a food allergy in dogs and cats. The only other way to find out whether your dog is reacting to an ingredient in their food is to conduct a food elimination trial.

People often assume that the offending allergen (allergy causing ingredient) has to be a grain such as corn or wheat but this isn’t always true. It can also be it a reaction to a specific protein found in meats such as chicken or beef.

Will Switching Pet Food Brands Help?

No. Simply switching from one pet food brand to another won’t work as they often share common ingredients. For example – if your pet becomes allergic to the specific protein found in chicken then any food brands containing chicken must be avoided.

Also – labels on commercially prepared foods can be confusing. Products could contain offending allergens which may not be clearly indicated on the product packaging.

How Does a Food elimination Trial Work?

A food elimination diet involve feeding your pet food which contains only ONE meat protein and a single carbohydrate source which your pet has not been previously exposed to.

Less common meat proteins found in commercially prepared pet foods include Duck, Fish, Rabbit and sometimes Lamb. Similarly, the carbohydrate should also be new to your pet’s diet and could include carbs like peas, brown rice or potato. Of course all artificial preservatives, colourings and flavourings must also be avoided during a food elimination trial.

This means strictly – no commercial treats or flavoured medications such as heartworm or worming chews are to be given during the trial period.

You can prepare your pet’s own special diet at home using select ingredients or buy a commercial diet which is specifically formulated for this purpose.

How long Does a Food Trial Last?

Food trials are generally run over an 8 – 12 week period during which time all other potential allergens must be avoided.

If your pet’s symptoms settle down over the course of the food trial then it’s most likely that it is a specific allergen in her food which is causing the adverse symptoms.

After the symptoms have settled you can try to slowly add ONE additional ingredient to the diet at a time and observe whether your pet reacts to it. If the symptoms reappear then it’s clear that this is an offending allergen. If not, we can assume it’s safe to be included in the diet.

This process is then repeated if you wish to test the tolerance of other meat proteins and grains. But remember – introduce just ONE of these at a time.

Can Cats get Food Allergies?

Yes cats can also develop food allergies with skin lesions most commonly appearing on their face although other parts of the body can also be affected.

What Should I do if I Think my Pet has a Food Allergy?

The first thing to do is have your pet examined by your vet to rule out possible other causes of your pet’s symptoms. It’s always important to avoid jumping to conclusions about any symptoms your pet may have as many conditions can share similar observable clinical signs.

The Simple Urine Test that Catches Feline Kidney Disease Early

Kidney Disease – A Common Killer for Cats

Chronic kidney disease is one of the most undiagnosed conditions we see in practice. The main reason is that it’s hard to detect just through an external examination unless of course it’s already quite advanced.

The danger of chronic kidney disease is that there are very few observable symptoms for a very long time. In fact it’s not until about 3/4 of the kidney tissue is damaged that symptoms of renal failure start to become obvious to most cat owners. Little wonder it’s called the silent killer of cats.

Once the disease has become too advanced – there’s little that can be done to provide quality of life for your cat.

What’s so sad about this common scenario is how easily this disease could have been detected in it’s early stages just by running a simple urine test.

How to Detect Feline Kidney Disease Early

The main function of kidneys in the body is to reabsorb water from food and metabolic processes to maintain the body’s hydration. As kidney function is progessively lost, they lose their ability to conserve water therefore causing your cat to lose more water than it can replace through eating and drinking.

A cat with kidney damage will consequently have more dilute urine than a cat with normal kidney function.

Age is no barrier to chronic kidney disease. Some cats are affected early in their life, maybe through a congenital defect and in others it develops over time. We’ve seen cats as young as 6 months of age already showing evidence of impaired kidney function.

Thankfully, if detected in the early stages many things can be done to slow down further progression of the disease and provide your cat with quality of life for many years to come.

To test the state of health of your cat’s kidneys we can run a simple urine test called a Urine Specific Gravity Test (USG Test). This means looking at a sample of your cat’s urine through a special instrument called a Refractometer.

This instrument can often pick up kidney dysfunction earlier than a blood test can.

It’s a relatively quick and inexpensive test that can be done during any normal consultation with on the spot results.

All we need is a fresh sample of your cat’s urine for you to bring along.

The main reason why this test is often overlooked is because people find it difficult to collect a urine sample from their cat. If your cat is an indoor cat, and uses a litter tray, then a sample obtained from a clean tray filled with a non absorbent litter is quite suitable.

Refer to our Senior Pet Page for further information on how to collect a urine sample from your cat.

If this is not possible then we can extract a sample of your cat’s urine either by gently pressing on the bladder to encourage urination into a sample dish or by a method called Cystocentesis whereby a small sterile needle is insterted directly into your cat’s bladder.

Help Your Cat Live for Longer through Regular Testing

Since chronic kidney disease is such a common killer of cats, we recommend all cats be tested at least ONCE a YEAR with their annual vaccination or health check – or twice yearly for older cats (7 Years Plus)

Is The Test Expensive?

No – you’ll pay only an extra $16.50 for the test in addition to the consultation or vaccination fee if you bring a sample with you. Naturally if we have to extract the sample via other methods described above the fee will be more due to the additional time involved.

Please don’t wait until your cat starts to show symptoms of kidney disease as by then it’s already reached the advanced stage and there’s little we can do to provide extended quality of life,

Make an appointment to have your cat’s kidney function tested soon and avoid the heartache of a late diagnosis.

How Cats Avoid Trips to The Vet

Cats and Dogs – Different Animals

If you own both a cat and a dog then you know how different these two beings actually are.

When you come home from work, you’re likely to be met at the door by your excitable tail wagging canine friend while your cat happliy sleeps through the daily reunion in some quiet corner somewhere in the house.

If you go for a drive in the car, your dog is probably itching to go along with you while your cat can think of nothing worse than being cooped up in a cage in a moving vehicle and would protest loudly.

Unfortunately however, our interpretations of these behaviours often become the biggest influencer in deciding whether or not to seek veterinary care for our cats.

The Great Pain Cover Up

Most animals will generally try and cover up any pain they might be experiencing. This is an innate response aimed at protecting their status within the pack or from predators which prey on the vulnerable.

While dogs are very good at covering up signs of pain – especially chronic pain, cats are even better. The fact that they’re quieter and tend to sleep and hide more than dogs, allows them to mask their discomfort for longer.

This is one of the reasons why we often see cats at the more serious end of a disease process – like Kidney disease for example and there’s often little we can do when a disease has advanced past a certain point – regardless of age.

Most Cats Hate Travel

We know for a fact that many of you avoid taking your cat to the vet because you know how stressed they become during the trip. It’s true they don’t enjoy travel as much as dogs do however, it should not be a reason to deny them the veterinary care they need.

We hear this all the time from concerned cat owners who prefer to try anything other than something that requires a trip in the car. Another great way cats avoid routine veterinary care.

Now, while you’ll never convince a cat that travelling in the car is fun, there are things you can do to make their trip less stressful.

Buy a sturdy transport cage – like the one whown in the picture and make sure your cat become familar with it before you need to transport her in it. Allow her to have a look inside and even place some treats or food in there. Place her in it a few times without going anywhere. This will reinforce it’s a safe place to be.

Surviving the Waiting Room Experience

Waiting rooms can often be noisy with phones ringing and other activities taking place. In addition – there are likely to be a few dogs there too. Having your cat safely enclosed in a familar carrier helps provide the safe hiding place she craves. Some clinics have the benefit of separate waiting ares for dogs and cats which is even better.

You could also ask to schedule your appointment during less busy times to reduce waiting time and avoid crowded waiting rooms.

Be Aware of the ‘Sixth Sense’

We don’t know why it’s so but there’s a distinct pattern surrounding cat consultations – namely “apologetic cancellations.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry …… we have to cancel ‘Fluffy’s’ appointment …. she’s disappeared and we can’t find her.”

As stange as it may seem, we’ve seen this happen for as long as we’ve been in practice. Cats just seem to have an uncanny knack for knowing when they’re going to be packed off to see a vet and they make sure they can’t be found.

By the time they reveal themselves again, other things have taken priority and the appointment is rarely ever rescheduled.

Bingo. Your cat has successfully avoided the trip to the vet – again!

You can avoid this scenario by keeping your cat indoors and restricted to a specific room or area for a few hours before the time of the appointment.

What’s Love got to Do With It?

You might think that people are more attached to their dog than their cat therefore prefer to spend less on veterinary care for the cat than the dog but this is not always the case.

Most cat owners are terribly upset when they discover their cat has been sick for some time and they either simply didn’t notice OR – if they did – the reasons for not addressing their suspicions sooner are usually the same. “We didn’t want to stress her out in the car” …. “She hates the car and howls the whole way” …….. “I had to cancel the appointment a few months ago because she disappeared” and so on.

A Final Point

Because we know most of you love your cat and we don’t always want to be the bearer of “bad” news, we encourage you to overcome the temptations of avoiding stress for your cat and have her checked over regularly – just like you do with your travel happy dog.

A simple blood test and a clinical exam every year or so can often help avoid a potential life threatening condition and a whole lot of regret down the track.

So if it’s been a while since your cat has had a checkup – go on, make an appointment soon.