Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Preventable Australian Summer Diseases of Dogs and Cats

As the year rolls around to another Aussie summer, vets all over the country are inundated with sick pets.

What makes it sad is that many of these conditions can be prevented or the risks of being affected reduced.

Whilst we all love our animals, and many of us would spend whatever we needed to so our pets can get well again, no one likes forking over money unnecessarily.  As a vet, I hate seeing any animal sick, but especially if it was avoidable.  

Pancreatitis, vomiting and diarrhoea 

Not suprising for us vets, but it does surprise many owners that feeding your pet leftovers from the BBQ and Christmas party can make our pets very very sick.  Most of the cases of pancreatitis I see, the pet has eaten sausages or BBq steak before, with no visible signs of illness, so their pet owner does not see a problem with it during the festive season.

Your pet probably did have a problem with it, but didn't show it.  We know that Diabetes Mellitus is often the end stage of Chronic Pancreatitis, and that Diabetes Mellitus (sugar diabetes) is on the increase. 

Sometimes it is the well meaning Grandma or Uncle - not realising that that a little sausage can cost the pet owner hundreds if not thousands of dollars, and days of intensive hospitalisation of a very sick, very painful vomiting pet. 

"Dietary indiscretion" is the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhoea in our dogs and cats - which means eating foods that are different to what their digestive system is used to. So in these guys, it isn't just the fat in the saussie that gets them going, but the low fat turkey or even getting into the rubbish (filled with such yumminess from a dog's perspective)

What can you do to prevent it? 
  •  Keep your pet's diet constant (and preferably lowish on the fat scale).
  •  Tell your mates to not feed your pet leftover BBQ sausies, unless they are prepared to pay a potentially hefty vet bill
  •  Make sure your pet does not have access to rubbish bins or people's dinner plates. 


When the weather heats up, our pets often cannot drink enough to keep their poos in the normal spectrum of consistency.  Coupled with feeding of raw bones, warmer weather is the perfect recipe for a dog that is straining to pass a poo.
Sorry to be gross - but this is a normal dog poo!

What can you do to prevent it? 
  • Ensure your pet has plenty of access to fresh water in multiple water bowls.
  • Feed semi moist foods instead of dry foods. 
  • Do not feed bones on hot days (and our preference is no bones at all )
  • Add Psyllium husks or other forms of soluble fibre (promotes bowel contraction)

Tick Poisoning 
Australia is home to the Ixodes Holocyclus tick - aka the Paralysis tick.  As if we didn't have enough creatures that could kill us!  This greyish coloured tick attaches onto any living being - whether it be birds, possums, dogs, cats, kangaroos - you name it!  It sucks their blood.

In the process of a blood feed, it releases up to 19 different toxins, which cause heart damage and neuromuscular paralysis (and death)

The paralysis usually starts in the back legs, working its way up to the front legs, to then affect the muscles of breathing and swallowing.  Ticks can be devious - they can just present with a slight wobbliness for a week or two or heavy breathing. We can see the local effects of the tick poisoning especially if it is around the eyes (the eyelids cannot close) or throat (there is more gagging as the muscles of swallowing and vocal cords can't move)
The Aussie Paralysis tick

What can you do to prevent it? 
  • Daily tick searches
  • Keep your lawns trimmed short
  • Quality tick preventatives are available for our dogs (not so much for our cats but it is a work in progress).

Why not ask us (or your favourite vet) on the best tick preventatives for your pet. There are new products and options available all of the time.

Rat Bait and Snail Bait Poisonings 

There are now new rat and snail baits which are non toxic to our animals, so I do not understand why Pet Produce,  gardening and hardware stores still stock and sell those which non can kill non target animals.

The traditional rat baits cause uncontrollable bleeding, and the snail baits, usually vomiting, diarrhoea and death via seizures.
The traditional Warfarin based rat bait - tastes yummy for dogs too!

What can you do to prevent it? 
  • Simple - do not buy these products in the first place.
  • Avoidance - dogs will climb shelves to get to them (they are attracted to the grains in them - the same thing that makes them attractive to rats and snails), so really, they need to behind lock and key cupboards.

Sunburn and Footpad burns

You are at the park or at home, you are throwing the frisbee or ball for your best mate, and they are running back and forth.  They are only crossing a small section of decking or paving, but before you know, the friction and repetition can cause abrasions and lesions on your pets feet.

What about those pets who are already pink skinned? Our animals get skin cancer as well as sunburn.

Piper's abrasion from too much running on pavers - yes, we learnt the hard way too!
What can you do to prevent it? 
  • Keep an eye on the UV scale - if it is hot or high UV index, keep your pet OUT of the sun. Peak danger times are between 10 and 4. 
  • Pet sunscreen is available - so use it (avoid the zinc ones as zinc is toxic to pets) 
  • Do not walk your pet on pavements, sand, concrete on warm days, and especially watch out for the constantly running over pavers even though it is quick, it can still be hot enough to burn. 

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi.  Any questions, just sing out and let us know.

 As we are heading into the Christmas season of 2016, all of us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic wish you and yours a safe, healthy and happy Christmas and New Years.

Dr Liz, Dirk, Tegan, Haiden, Sean, Paige
and all of our animals
Pandora (the boss), Pumpkin (the ginger ninja), Dash, Stone, Piper (our problem child), Ned (our budgie) and  Peaches (our rabbit)