FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

Dandenong Ranges Veterinary Centre

General

Here are some tips for cutting the cost of veterinary care for your pets and horses:
  • Ask us to calculate cheaper alternatives eg if your dog is currently on heartguard heartworm prevention we may suggest that interceptor tablets or the yearly injection plus allwormer tablets would be more cost effective over 12 months.
  • If you have multiple animals have them all vaccinated in one visit. There is a discount for every pet if done during the same appointment.
  • If you are a pensioner or full time student or have a health care card, receive 10% discount on everything except over the counter items and food.
  • Take out pet insurance- beginning at around $5 per week, it could save you thousands off veterinary surgery or treatment costs. (Call Vets Own 1300 668 890, Petsecure 1800 621 672 or GIO 13 10 10). Particularly recommended if you have a large breed dog.
  • Stay up to date with preventative medication and vaccinations eg preventatively treating for fleas will save costs of treating flea allergy dermatitis and not missing heartworm treatments will save on the cost of a blood test beofre restarting prevention.
  • Worm your horse at the change of every season and an extra worming during summer and change to a new paddock each time to prevent extra feed bills, colic and anaemia.
  • Buy bigger bags of dog and cat food. Premium foods particularly, compare favourably with supermarket foods when bought in bulk. Ask for our breeder bags of science diet and get up to 4kg for free.
  • Buy your pet accessories (leads, collars, dog jackets, toys etc) from us instead of the pet shop, we do not rely on mark up of these itms as our mainincome source.
  • Lobby the federal government or our MP to take GST off veterinary products, services and medication (and receive an instant 10% discount off your veterinary bill).
  • Use your loyalty rewards for credit against veterinary purchases from DRVC.
White-tailed and Wolf spiders

White-tailed spiders and Wolf spiders have long been blamed for necrotizing arachnidism. This is a condition where ulcerative lesions around a bite sitre can eat away at the tissue until bone is exposed. Recent studies suggest that the white tailed spider may have been wrongly accused.

Bites from the white-tailed spiders are common because they inhabit houses and are frequently found in living areas and bedrooms. They can bite readily if threatened but the venom is weak (on biochemical analysis) and any undesirable effects are short lived. The wolf spider, however, lives in the soil outside and has been responsible for bites that have developed into necrotizing arachnidism.

The culprit is not actually the spiders venom but a bacterium on the spiders fangs called mycobacterium ulcerans. The bacterium can be found in the soil and infects people when they are bitten by the spider. So, the spider is actually just a mode of transport carrying the nasty bacteria into the flesh of victims. Any spider living in the soil could, therefore be a vector of transmission. White-tailed and huntsmen spiders are found mainly indoors but can be found outdoors under the bark of trees and under rocks.

Funnel Webs

There is a species of funnel web spider found only in the dandenong ranges. Fortunately, it is not as deadly as its Sydney relative. However, it may pose problems for cats, dogs and infants. Symptoms of evenomation include intense pain at the bite site, swelling, headaches, nausea and dizziness. Sometimes, muscle tremors and vomiting can occur. Funnel webs build funnel shaped covered webs over visible holes in the ground. They have large fangs and large black bodies. Their ground holes are commonly seen but the spider itself is rarely sighted.

For comprehensive advice about a whole range of medical conditions, pet tips & some fun trivia, download the FREE iPhone (& Android phone) & iPad app from the App Store or Google Play or via the vetcheck app website (http://www.vetcheckapp.com).


Dogs

Urine test kits are available for dogs and cats to detect very early damage to kidneys.

Using less than 2ml of urine, trace quantities of blood product (microalbumin) can be detected. This is an indicator of kidney damage, long before there are elevations of kidney enzymes in the blood. Positive results can also be an indicator of other systemic diseases.

This test is particularly useful in cats and dogs that are at risk of kidney diseaseThese include animals over 7yrs of age, as well as young purebred long-haired or Burmese cats (at risk of inherited cystic kidney disease).

It is also a useful screening test for any animal prior to having an anaesthetic or suffering from other illnesses, such as pancreatitis and liver disease.

If early kidney damage is detected, preventative measures can be ins
tigated to minimise the deterioration of the kidneys or reverse the effects of minor damage. This includes the use of special low phosphorus/protein or prescription diets, antibiotics, phosphorus binding medications, diuretics, anabolics, etc.

These tests can be done in the clinic and only take 5 min. For more information, please contact the clinic or ask one of our staff at your next visit.

Dental disease is extremely common in dogs, cats and horses. As many of 70% of cats are estimated to have dental problems and nearly as much in dogs. The disease process in dogs and cats begins with bacteria in the mouth laying a template for plaque to form. Layers of plaque become cement like (tartar) and appear as yellow-brown or black deposits (which are painful) on the surface of the teeth. If this is left untreated, tartar can progress to gum retraction, loose teeth and abcessation.

Other major complications that can arise from dental health include heart valve plaques, septicaemia, pneumonia, kidney, liver and brain disease.

Daily brushing

Special pet toothpaste must be used but normal tooth brushes or finger brushes can be used. (We do it for our own teeth so why not do it for our pets?

Raw bones

If your pet can tolerate them (not recommended for some small breed dogs prone to pancreatitis or gastroenteritis). The Australian Veterinary Association after an extensive review of pet dietary requirements, recommends feeding RAW bones at least 3 times a week (in conjunction with a nutritionally complete diet like a premium pet food).

Abrasive dry food

Prescription food like Hills t/d is a nutritionally complete premium dry food that has all the nutritional parts on the outside with a hard core inside. Since the kibbles are quite large, the dog/cat must chew them up to swallow and in the process cleans its teeth. Recommended for uncooperative pets that wont allow brushing of the teeth and those pets that can’t tolerate bones.

What if my dog already has tartar?

Ultrasonic scaling and polishing of the teeth under general anaesthetic is required to return good oral health and prevention of recurrence can begin. For those pets that have a particular recurring problem we have introduced low cost dentals. Only for those pets with first stage dental disease (minor plaque & tartar) - starting from $150 all inclusive of the anesthetic, hospitalization, antibiotic & pain killer injections for small dogs).

If you are planning on travelling with your puppy, keep in mind these handy hints for preventing car sickness:
  • Place a drop of essential peppermint oil onto the puppy’s collar or air freshener of the car. (No more than one drop though, as the smell can be very strong.)
  • Feed your puppy a small meal about an hour before the car trip. Add to the meal a pinch - tsp of ground or fresh ginger (depending on the size of your puppy) and 1/4 - 1 cup of strong chamomile tea.

The ticks commonly found around the Dandenong Ranges are related to the paralysis tick found in coastal areas but don’t seem to cause any life threatening paralysis. Mostly, it is the tiny larval stage ticks that cause intense irritation to small dogs and cats.

The areas where the larval ticks usually attach are inside the front legs, under the belly and under the armpit regions. They appear as small scabs where the ticks have left craters in the skin.

Adult ticks can be removed with special tick hooks or killed with methylated spirits or medicated washes and spot-ons. Ask our trained vet nurses for the right treatment products or for advice on removal.

Some snail baits, esp older ones contain a severe toxin called metaldehyde. This poison acts on the brain, central nervous system, liver and respiratory system. Unlike rat bait poisonings, signs of toxicity occur immediately after eating the poison or can be delayed up to 3-4 hours.

Symptoms of poisoning include excess drooling, wobbliness, muscle tremors, convulsions and increased sensitivity to touch, sight and sounds. Coma and death follow within 4-24 hours after eating the bait if treatment is not given immediately.

Diagnosis is usually made by seeing the blue/green granules in the animals mouth or vomit, clinical signs and extremely high liver enzymes on our blood analyser.

Unlike rat bait poisoning, there is no antidote. Treatment is aimed at getting the poison out of the system as quickly as possible before permanent damage is done or death occurs. This is done by giving an anaesthetic and pumping out the gut contents and by enemas and i/v fluids/diuretics and liver protectants. Unlike rat bait toxin, once the animal recovers, there is usually no ongoing treatemtn unless the liver is severely damaged.

Animals can still die days after ingestion of poison from liver failure.

Often people will ask us if it is safe to feed chocolate to dogs. Generally it is NOT recommended to feed chocolate to dogs and cats. The poisonous chemical in chocolate is called theobromine and its toxicity depends on the type of chocolate and the size of the dog that eats it.

The type of chocolate that is most dangerous is unsweetened baking chocolate and cocoa powder. Other types containing high levels of theobromine are dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Lower levels of the toxin are found in sweetened milk chocolate, other candy/lollies and rarelyin landscaping containing cacao shells. White chocolate contains negligible amounts of theobromine.

The symptoms of toxicity include increased blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm interference, nervousness, excitability, tremors, panting seizures, urinary incontinence, coma and death.

Treatment is supportive and the goal is to remove the chocolate from the body as soon as possible to reduce the toxic effects. This involves induction of vomiting then rigorous lavage of the stomach and intestines under general anaesthesia. Activated charcoal will help reduce absorption in the gut and intravenous fluid therapy can help dilute the toxin in the body and help promote excretion of it. There is no antidote. Heart drugs may be needed to prevent life-threatening dysrhythmias.

Certain breeds are more susceptible than others. Those breeds with short noses and squashed upper airways like bulldogs, pugs and boxers are most at risk. There has been a report of a british bulldog in england that collpased and died within minutes of eating only spilt crumbs from the owners chocolate energy bar.

Most pet poisonings are the result of careless placement of baits, overuse of baits or failure to dispose of posoned rodents or old baits.

There are 2 types of baits but both have a similar action ie to destroy/inhibit clotting factors in the blood. The result is that the poisoned animal bleeds to death, usually over a period of a few days to 2 weeks.

Dogs and cats can seem fine for days before the liver reserve of clotting factors(vitamin K) becomes depleted. After this just normal activities like running, playing, eating or sneezing /coughing can cause minor bleeds that continues unchecked until the animal starts to run out of blood.

Initially signs of coughing, mouth bleeds or dark coloured faeces may be present. This progresses to pale gums, lethargy and eventually collapse and death. Sometimes an owner may find an animal dead aithout noticing any signs of apparent illness.

Treatment consists of vitamin K supplementation for a period of 1-8 weeks or longer depending on the type of bait. It is very improtant if possible to let the vet know what type of bait was eaten (eg talon, talon G, ratsak etc) as this will give us an indication of how long treatment must continue. A huge misconception is that once the pet survives the initial insult that they should be OK.

Pets can still die as long as 4-6 weeks after eating the poison eps. If treatment is stopped because the pet seems to be running around like normal. Blood clotting test will need to be done once treatment stops to ensure that the pet is able to produce their own clotting factors again. In severe cases, whole blood transfusions, treatment for shock, oxygen and hospitalisation may be needed.

Arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) is a progressive and permanent deterioration of the articular cartilage in joints.

Just like humans, dogs commonly suffer from arthritis. This condition can affect more than one in five dogs and occurs due to the cumulative effect of abnormal stressors placed on the joints. These abnormal stressors are usually due to abnormal alignment of the bones, trauma, ageing or obesity as the joint must carry a larger load than it is supposed to.

Clinical signs of arthritis may include any of the following: reluctance to walk, climb stairs, jump or play, limping, lagging behind on walks, difficulty rising from a rest position, yelping in pain when touched, personality changes, appetite change (inappetant or obsessed with food).

In order to correctly make a diagnosis of arthritis a full musculoskeletal examination must first be done to rule out any other causes of lameness or lethargy (eg. pancreatitis, liver disease, infections or fractures). This includes palpation of all muscles, bones and joints as well as specific tests to look for laxity of tendons and ligaments.

X-rays should also be done and these can give important information about which joints are effected and how far the disease has progressed. From this information, we know what treatments should be instituted to give the best results.

There are several treatment options available for arthritis, these include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (to reduce pain & inflammation & slow down the progression of the joint degradation), pentosan / cartrophen / synovan / zydax injections (increase joint fluid production & help restore cartilage within the joint), natural supplements such as glucosamines & chondroitin (Sasha's Blend, Seaflex treats, PAW Osteosupport treats, Joint Guard, Pernease powder, etc), weight loss (one of the MOST important factors to regulate to help treat arthritis), padded but supportive bedding and regular, gentle exercise. A fantastic diet is available called Hills j/d. This is a prescription diet containing a unique fatty acid (EPA) that modifies the genes to block the enzyme causing cartilage degradation. Many dogs experience significant pain relief whilst on this diet. In-clinic use of STEM CELLS can sometimes be used as another treatment option for dogs with advanced arthritis. This involves harvesting stem cells from the dog's own body fat then activatinig them & injecting them into the affected arthritic joints. The draw back is the long anaesthetic required for these patients (particularly in older pets). Long term improvement hasn't always been seen with this method of treatment.

Class 4 laser therapy is a new treatment modality that has been showing promising outcomes / relief against the pain of arthritis with regular treatments. The laser penetrates deep into tissue to stimulate blood supply & help repair tissue & reduce scarring. It can be used post operatively around wounds or as regular therapy for osteoarthritis. It is also shows promising results when used to treat ear infections & non-healing wounds.

Shorter, more regular exercise / walks are advised for arthritic animals. Avoid ball chasing, stairs & jumping as this can lead to very sore joints later after the exercise has completed & the dog is resting. Ramps or stategically positioned furniture may be needed to help arthritic cats get up high onto surfaces. Putting the food & water bowls onto a step or raised platform can help reduce pain in pets that have arthritis in their spine / neck. Swimming is great exercise for arthritic pets but don't overdo it & ensure your pet can get into & out of the water easily.

Tips on preventing thunderstorm and fireworks phobias:

  • Don’t pamper or praise your dog when it is scared. This will only reinforce its belief that there is something to be feared. This may also lead to more attention seeking behaviour.
  • Keep your pet in a dark secure area. The greatest number of lost dogs at the pound is always after a storm or fireworks. Dogs are more reaxed and less likely to panic if they are confined to a quiet restful place.
  • Try distracting your dog. If they love playing ball then try playing catch with them during stressful times.
  • Train your dog to be in control under stressful situations. Call us for a referral to a professional dog training centre.
  • Use complimentary therapies. A new environment product has been developed that helps to calm and reassure dogs. Ask us about DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) to help with anxiety and phobias. Its very simple to use, just plug it in to a powerpoint and forget about it! No prescription needed, buy it over the counter.
  • Try densensitization by hiring a CD of loud noises from us. Start at low volume and gradually condition your dog so that when actual noisy events occur, it wont seem unusual.
  • If you have tried the above techniques without success, arrange a consultation with one of our vets for a behavioural modification program. This may involve the use of calming or prozac-like agents for short periods and will discover if there is a hormonal or medical reason for the phobia.

Vaccinations

All dogs should be vaccinated against Parvovirus, Hepatitis and Distemper. Puppies need a program to minimise the risk of them contracting these potentially fatal viruses as well as the less deadly Canine Cough. At D.R.V.C. we also vaccinate puppies against Coronavirus (a serious diarrhoea virus) and Leptospirosis (C2 vaccine). The recommended vaccination program is:

  • At 6-8 weeks C3
  • At 12-14 weeks C5 and C2
  • At 16-18 weeks C5 and C2

An annual booster is required every year thereafter. A C5 is the advised adult vaccination as it offers protection against Canine Cough (Parainfluenza and Bordatella.) which is highly infectious.

Worming

Dogs need to be wormed regularly to remove intestinal worms. These include whipworm, round worm, hookworm and tapeworm. Worming should be done from:

  • 0 to 12 weeks - every 2 weeks
  • 12 weeks to 6 months - monthly
  • 6 months and over - every 3 months

Supermarket wormers are not 100% effective

Heartworm

Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes and is present in many areas of Australia. Your puppy should begin heartworm prevention by 6 months of age. If your puppy is overdue for a dose by 6 weeks then a blood test is advised before resuming prevention. Most heartworm products are administered monthly, however there is now a convenient yearly injection for adults.

Fleas

It is important to de-flea your pup. Fleas carry tapeworm, and can even cause anaemia. Most flea treatments are administered monthly by topical application. There are a variety of extremely safe products that can incorporate heartworm, flea, mange and ticks.

Most people are aware that we shouldn’t feed our dogs chocolate, but did you also know that grapes can be poisonous to dogs? Of course, we all know that rat bait and snail bait is very dangerous, but were you aware that some lilies can cause damage to a cat’s kidneys? Here is a list of some common household toxins that pet owners should be aware of:

Chocolate

Toxic component is Theobromine (found at highest levels in cooking chocolate and dark chocolate).

Symptoms: Vomiting, restlessness, anxiety, fast heart rate. Can progress to seizures and heart problems. Large amounts are usually required to cause toxicity (e.g. a family block / 5kg dog)

Grapes/Raisons

Toxic component is unknown and not all dogs are affected.

Symptoms: Causes acute kidney failure. Dogs will often vomit after eating them.

Macadamia nuts

Approximately 1 nut/kg is considered a toxic dose.

Symptoms: Hindlimb weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, abdominal pain and fever.

Salt water

Ingestion of sea water while swimming is the most common cause.

Symptoms: Vomiting and diarrhea, can progress to more severe abnormalities such as depression and seizures, especially if access to fresh water is limited.

Plants
  • Holly can cause excessive salivation and irritation to the stomach and intestines.
  • Lilies are toxic to cats (Easter lily, tiger lily, day lily, Japanese showy lily and Asiatic lily). The Peace lily and Calla lilies are not known to cause problems. Causes acute kidney failure in cats.
  • Poinsettia can cause mouth and gut irritation when ingested and may also cause skin irritation. Symptoms are often mild and resolve with time.
Essential Oils

Toxicity can occur after oral intake or skin exposure.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhoea, depression (following oral intake). Weakness, muscle tremors, depression, walking and behavioural abnormalities (following skin exposure).

Of course there are other more well-known toxins that can harm our pets as well (e.g. snailbait, anti-freeze, rat bait). Being aware of toxins and preventing access by your pet will help to avoid any potential problems. If your pet does happen to ingest anything that may be toxic, please call 9751 2999 (24hrs) so that our vets can advise you on the best treatment for your pet.

Information kindly supplied by Sarah Haldane, BVSc MACVSc (Emergency and Critical Care) Diplomate, ACVECC.

Springtime heralds the start of itching, scratching, biting & licking for a lot of dogs and cats.

The most common causes of these symptoms at this time of year are flea bites, flea allergies, contact allergies, inhaled allergens & larval ticks. Food allergies can cause itching all year round as can allergies to dust mites & sarcoptes mange mites. Some dogs are allergic to numerous things & have a condition called atopy.

There are many treatments that can alleviate allergic itching but the only cure is to establish the exact cause of the allergy & prevent access to it completely. Treatments include cortisone, anit-histamines, omega fatty acids, alpha keri oil, cyclosporin, antibiotics, special flea/tick treatments, topical creams, de-sensitising vaccines and special sensitive skin diet foods. If your dog, cat, horse or other pet has persistent itchiness or recurrent ear/eye/skin infections call us for a step by step plan to recovery.

Dogs love a good run off the lead. The following areas are approved for dogs off-lead:

For further information, contact the Shire of Yarra Ranges or call into a Shire office to collect a free brochure.


Cats

Urine test kits are available for dogs and cats to detect very early damage to kidneys.

Using less than 2ml of urine, trace quantities of blood product (microalbumin) can be detected. This is an indicator of kidney damage, long before there are elevations of kidney enzymes in the blood. Positive results can also be an indicator of other systemic diseases.

This test is particularly useful in cats and dogs that are at risk of kidney diseaseThese include animals over 7yrs of age, as well as young purebred long-haired or Burmese cats (at risk of inherited cystic kidney disease).

It is also a useful screening test for any animal prior to having an anaesthetic or suffering from other illnesses, such as pancreatitis and liver disease.

If early kidney damage is detected, preventative measures can be instigated to minimise the deterioration of the kidneys or reverse the effects of minor damage. This includes the use of special low phosphorus/protein or prescription diets, antibiotics, phosphorus binding medications, diuretics, anabolics, etc.

These tests can be done in the clinic and only take 5 min. For more information, please contact the clinic or ask one of our staff at your next visit.

Dental disease is extremely common in dogs, cats and horses. As many of 70% of cats are estimated to have dental problems and nearly as much in dogs. The disease process in dogs and cats begins with bacteria in the mouth laying a template for plaque to form. Layers of plaque become cement like (tartar) and appear as yellow-brown or black deposits (which are painful) on the surface of the teeth. If this is left untreated, tartar can progress to gum retraction, loose teeth and abcessation.

Other major complications that can arise from dental health include heart valve plaques, septicaemia, pneumonia, kidney, liver and brain disease.

Daily brushing

Special pet toothpaste must be used but normal tooth brushes or finger brushes can be used. (We do it for our own teeth so why not do it for our pets?

Raw bones

If your pet can tolerate them (not recommended for some small breed dogs prone to pancreatitis or gastroenteritis). The Australian Veterinary Association after an extensive review of pet dietary requirements, recommends feeding RAW bones at least 3 times a week (in conjunction with a nutritionally complete diet like a premium pet food).

Abrasive dry food

Prescription food like Hills t/d is a nutritionally complete premium dry food that has all the nutritional parts on the outside with a hard core inside. Since the kibbles are quite large, the dog/cat must chew them up to swallow and in the process cleans its teeth. Recommended for uncooperative pets that wont allow brushing of the teeth and those pets that can’t tolerate bones.

What if my cat already has tartar?

Ultrasonic scaling and polishing of the teeth under general anaesthetic is required to return good oral health and prevention of recurrence can begin. For those pets that have a particular recurring problem we have introduced low cost dentals. Only for those pets with first stage dental disease (minor plaque & tartar) - starting from $150 all inclusive of the anesthetic, hospitalization, antibiotic & pain killer injections for cats).

Some snail baits, especially older ones contain a severe toxin called metaldehyde. This poison acts on the brain, central nervous system, liver and respiratory system. Unlike rat bait poisonings, signs of toxicity occur immediately after eating the poison or can be delayed up to 3-4 hours.

Symptoms of poisoning include excess drooling, wobbliness, muscle tremors, convulsions and increased sensitivity to touch, sight and sounds. Coma and death follow within 4-24 hours after eating the bait if treatment is not given immediately.

Diagnosis is usually made by seeing the blue/green granules in the animals mouth or vomit, clinical signs and extremely high liver enzymes on our blood analyser.

Unlike rat bait poisoning, there is no antidote. Treatment is aimed at getting the poison out of the system as quickly as possible before permanent damage is done or death occurs. This is done by giving an anaesthetic and pumping out the gut contents and by enemas and i/v fluids/diuretics and liver protectants. Unlike rat bait toxin, once the animal recovers, there is usually no ongoing treatemtn unless the liver is severely damaged.

Animals can still die days after ingestion of poison from liver failure.

Most pet poisonings are the result of careless placement of baits, overuse of baits or failure to dispose of posoned rodents or old baits.

There are 2 types of baits but both have a similar action ie to destroy/inhibit clotting factors in the blood. The result is that the poisoned animal bleeds to death, usually over a period of a few days to 2 weeks.

Dogs and cats can seem fine for days before the liver reserve of clotting factors(vitamin K) becomes depleted. After this just normal activities like running, playing, eating or sneezing /coughing can cause minor bleeds that continues unchecked until the animal starts to run out of blood.

Initially signs of coughing, mouth bleeds or dark coloured faeces may be present. This progresses to pale gums, lethargy and eventually collapse and death. Sometimes an owner may find an animal dead aithout noticing any signs of apparent illness.

Treatment consists of vitamin K supplementation for a period of 1-8 weeks or longer depending on the type of bait. It is very improtant if possible to let the vet know what type of bait was eaten (eg talon, talon G, ratsak etc) as this will give us an indication of how long treatment must continue. A huge misconception is that once the pet survives the initial insult that they should be OK.

Pets can still die as long as 4-6 weeks after eating the poison eps. If treatment is stopped because the pet seems to be running around like normal. Blood clotting test will need to be done once treatment stops to ensure that the pet is able to produce their own clotting factors again. In severe cases, whole blood transfusions, treatment for shock, oxygen and hospitalisation may be needed.

Feline AIDS is a virus caused by infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). This virus, like the human form (HIV), interferes with the immune system of the cat, making it unable to fight harmful infections.

How is it spread?

FIV is most commonly spread by biting, as the virus is shed in high levels in saliva. The spread of FIV through grooming, sharing water bowls, or from a mother to her unborn foetus is extremely unlikely.

What are the signs?

Cats infected with FIV may remain healthy for up to 10 years. While some infected cats will show no signs of FIV, others may have symptoms such as:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • weight loss
  • sores around eyes and in mouth
  • chronic infections
  • poor coat
How prevalent is FIV?
.

In Victoria research has shown that approximately 26% of cats test positive to FIV.

What can I do to prevent FIV?

Vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of FIV as there is no cure or treatment. Cats require 3 initial doses of the FIV vaccine (at 2-4 weekly intervals), then an annual booster. FIV vaccine can be given to kittens from 8 weeks of age, this can be done with their normal vaccinations for feline respiratory diseases and feline enteritis.

Although feline immunodeficiency virus is related to the human form (HIV), no human has ever been reported to be infected with FIV.


Horses

Urine test kits are available for dogs and cats to detect very early damage to kidneys.

Using less than 2ml of urine, trace quantities of blood product (microalbumin) can be detected. This is an indicator of kidney damage, long before there are elevations of kidney enzymes in the blood. Positive results can also be an indicator of other systemic diseases.

This test is particularly useful in cats and dogs that are at risk of kidney diseaseThese include animals over 7yrs of age, as well as young purebred long-haired or Burmese cats (at risk of inherited cystic kidney disease).

It is also a useful screening test for any animal prior to having an anaesthetic or suffering from other illnesses, such as pancreatitis and liver disease.

If early kidney damage is detected, preventative measures can be instigated to minimise the deterioration of the kidneys or reverse the effects of minor damage. This includes the use of special low phosphorus/protein or prescription diets, antibiotics, phosphorus binding medications, diuretics, anabolics, etc.

These tests can be done in the clinic and only take 5 min. For more information, please contact the clinic or ask one of our staff at your next visit.

Laminitis, or "founder" as it is more commonly known, is a distressing and potentially crippling disease which affects the sensitive support of "laminar" tissues within the hooves of horses. Although the disease most commonly affects overweight, "cresty" ponies grazing on lush pastures during the spring months, all horses are at risk of developing laminitis and the condition has affected many champion performance horses at the peak of their career.

There are a number of predisposing causes of laminitis, but studies have shown that up to 80% of cases are caused by complications resulting from excess carbohydrate intake, leading to hindgut carbohydrate overload.

How does carbohydrate overload occur?

Carbohydrates, particularly soluble starches and sugars are feed components found in concentrated amounts in cereal grains, lush grasses and legumes, such as clover and luceme. When these feeds are eaten in large quantities they are unable to be digested in the small bowel in the normal 8-10 hour period. Exess amounts of undigested carbohydrates are passed into the large bowel or hindgut. In the normal diet, certain bacteria in the hindgut ferment and break down residual carbohydrates in the food mass. Where excess starches and sugars are "dumped" into the hindgut, these bacteria rapidly multiply to ferment the carbohydrates, and in doing so, produce large quantities of d-lactic acid. The high hindgut lactic acid level not only supresses other bacterial action on fibre and protein, but they die in large numbers, releasing toxens that are absorbed into the blood.

The toxins have a direct affect on the basement and bonding membrane of the laminae, and are thought to trigger changes in blood flow to the feet. This results in the devitalisation of the laminae bonds and loss of structural support of the pedal bone within the hoof. When bearing heavy shoulders and cresty neck, or exercising, the devitalised laminae tear, resulting in loss of pedal bone support, allowing it to rotate downward as occurs in "founder".

Which horses are most at risk of carbohydrate-induced laminitis?

Any horse that is on a high grain diet, lush pasture, or a hungry or greedy eater is prone to overloading carbohydrates into the hindgut.

  • Performance horses such as gallopers, pacers, eventers, etc. receiving very high levels of grain to provide energy for training and competition.
  • Young horses being prepared for yearling sales often receive high grain rations and inadequate amounts of exercise.
  • Hacks and ponies in show condition are often overweight and receive grain levels in excess of their exercise requirements.
  • Horses and ponies grazing on lush spring or autumn pasture, particularly if they are overweight or cresty, and receive insufficient or infrequent exercise.
  • Horses which undergo sudden changes in their diet such as when horses are brought in from the paddock and put straight onto hard feed, or a horse unaccustomed to grain.
  • A greedy eater or feed bolter that gorges on hard food containing grains, or a hungry pony turned out on spring pasture.
  • Intake of rapidly growing spring pasture with a high soluble sugar content, often about 2-3 weeks after break of the season rains, or within 7-10 days of slashing or topping a fast growing spring pasture, can increase the risk of carbohydrate overload and laminitis.
  • Horses with a previous history of laminitis from any cause appear to be more sensitive to feed-induced attacks of founder.
How can I prevent Laminitis and Founder?

There are a number of feeding and management hints that can be adopted to reduce and prevent the risk of laminitis and founder.

The most effective way is to provide a daily dose of the product Founderguard. Founderguard prevents feed related laminitis by controlling the bacteria that multiply rapidly to ferment excess carbohydrates dumped into the hindgut. Founderguard prevents a build-up of lactic acid, and the resulting release of endotoxins. Founderguard has proven very successful in reducing the risk of laminitis in horses on high grain diets, and in horses which are known to be sensitive to grain. Studies in ponies and horses grazing lush spring pastures suggest that Founderguard suppresses lactic acid producing bacteria in a similar way.

In order for Founderguard to work it must be fed daily for at least 3 days prior to an increase in the carbohydrate content of the diet. It should be started at half the recommended daily dose initially, and increased in a step-wise manner to the full dose with a 3-4 day period. It must then be continued daily throughout the high risk period.

Founderguard is economical - costing about 30 cents per day for ponies, and up to 50-60 cents daily for a large horse.

The use of Founderguard as the primary preventative supplement should also be complimented by good feeding management.

Some hints include:
  • Feed only to the level of exercise, cut grain back on rest days, which will also help to avoid "tying-up" as well.
  • In a greedy eater, dilute grain 50:50 with chaff to slow intake, and if necessary, place a piece of weldmesh (50mm x 75mm mesh) through the top of the feed bin to fit snugly into the feeder - it slows them down so that they cannot overload their small bowels and dump more undigested carbohydrates into their hindgut which can encourage uncontrolled fermentation and lactic acid carbohydrates build-up.
  • In most cases, it takes about 10-14 days for improved pasture to increase its soluble sugar content after a good opening rain, or 5-7 days after a week of wet warm spring weather.
  • Grass that has been grazed off, topped or slashed and regrows quickly under these conditions, can be a problem within 5-7 days. Preventative management and treatment should be started within 5 days after rain where ideal growing conditions exist and maintained daily whilst the grass is lush and plentiful, particularly regrowth after topping or resting a pasture from grazing.
  • Turn susceptible ponies only out for short periods of 1-2hours during the day time - never leave them out overnight on lush pasture - a common mistake! At night, the daylight photosynthesis is converted to sugar storage, and combined with daytime wilting and moisture loss, the sugar content increases. At night horses and ponies often graze for longer uninterrupted periods and risk overloading the gut with lots of carbohydrates - especially if it is a cool night and they are hungry.
  • If you are turning a susceptible horse or pony out - give it some hay or chaff - dampened with molasses (no worries with small amounts of molasses as they absorbed readily from the small bowel and will not overload sugars) to fill it up before it gleefully rushes into the pasture to "pig out" on lush grass. The animal will already be fairly full, and dry hay and chaff slows the rate of bowel movement and reduces the risk of dumping excess soluble sugars into the hindgut.
  • Ensure that you do not allow horses to become too fat and cresty - grey ponies appear more susceptible - restrict their intake to a little feed often - but do not completely withdraw food and starve pony breeds as there is a risk of inducing a type of fatty liver disease (hyperlipaemia) and death in 7-10 days.
  • Exercise susceptible horses regularly to maintain their energy-exercise-appetite equilibrium, and hopefully avoid excess weight gain and risk of laminitis. If they develop "ouchy feet" due to low grade laminitis - do not exercise them - call your vet for advice.
  • Remember, thin horses can still have founder if stressed, or suffering from severe disease, infection or diarrhoea.
  • Keep the toes on the front hooves trimmed regularly every 4 weeks - this helps reduce the risk of mechanical tearing of weakened laminae by the lever action of long toes and low heels in susceptible horses.

Colic is a term referring to gut pain in a horse and can be mild or severe.

Some of the signs include:

  • Turning the head towards the flank
  • Pawing at the ground
  • Kicking at the abdomen
  • Rolling
  • Lying down then getting up again repeatedly
  • Sweating heavily
  • Off food
  • Trying to urinate frequently
  • Depression
  • Laboured breathing

Colic signs should NEVER be ignored because the condition can become life threatening very quickly. If you notice the signs of colic, always call the vet, even if mild. Sometimes when the horse tries to roll on the ground, the gut contents can twist, exacerbating the problem.

If you suspect colic in your horse, I suggest:

  • Remove all food and water.
  • Call your vet immediately.
  • Keep the horse as calm and as comfortable as possible, and keep it on its feet.
  • Attempt to walk the horse slowly.
  • Do not give any medication unless instructed to do so by your vet, especially not PBZ, Bute satchets, Equipalazone, Penicillin, herbs, beer or tranquilisers.
  • Note exactly what symptoms the horse is displaying and try to remember any feed changes, what the faeces have been like recently, how old the horse is, whether the mare is pregnant, and any medications given recently including the type and dose of worming preparations. Have this information ready for when the vet arrives.

A world-first vaccine developed in Australia provides a new way to manage difficult mares and fillies.

Does your mare change from being an easy-to-handle angel into a cranky, temperamental and unmanageable witch over spring and summer? Does her behaviour get worse when she’s in season, or at other times in her breeding cycle?

Temperament and behaviour problems in mares and fillies related to the breeding cycle - also known as the oestrous cycle - are a common source of complaint from owners, riders, trainers and everyone else involved with handling horses.

A new treatment for this problem has recently become available. Your veterinarian can now prescribe a vaccine for managing behaviour in mares and fillies associated with the breeding cycle. Common signs of ‘marey’ behaviour

The commonly observed behaviour problems associated with the breeding cycle in mares and fillies may include some or all of the following:

  • Tail raising, frequent urination, wet tail and hind end
  • Squatting down, dropping hips, adopting breeding posture
  • Vulval ‘winking’ or ‘showing’
  • Squealing, aggression, kicking, ears back
  • Increased interest in nearby stallions and geldings
  • Difficulty in handling or riding
  • Decreased co-operation or concentration during riding or training
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Unpredictable behaviour

These types of undesirable behaviour do not only affect the rider or trainer of the mare; they can also influence the behaviour and concentration of other horses nearby. This can be a particular problem at horse shows, events, equestrian centres, pony clubs, riding schools, training stables and racetracks. It may only take one cycling mare to create a major scene!

Why does my mare behave in this way?

The breeding cycle of most mares is regulated by day-length, with nutrition and climate also playing their part. Mares in temperate regions generally start cycling regularly in spring as the day-length and temperature increase, and then continue cycling throughout summer to the following autumn. Many mares stop cycling during the winter months as the days get shorter, and then start cycling again the following spring. Some mares, however, appear to cycle all year round - especially in northern parts of Australia.

The average length of the breeding cycle in mares is 3 weeks (19-22 days), which can be divided into two distinct phases. The period when mares are ‘on heat’ and receptive to a stallion is called the oestrous phase, which usually lasts 5-7 days. The hormone oestrogen is at a high level during this phase. The period between each heat is called the dioestrous phase, which usually lasts 14-15 days. The hormone progesterone is high during this phase, and mares are generally not receptive to a stallion.

The two female sex hormones - oestrogen and progesterone - strongly influence behaviour patterns seen in mares and fillies during the breeding season.

The length of the breeding cycle (as well as the oestrous and dioestrous phases) can vary between mares, and even at different times during the breeding season in the same mare. Likewise, behaviour problems can vary at different stages of the breeding cycle - some mares are worse during the oestrous phase (i.e. when they’re on heat), some are worse during the dioestrous phase, and some mares are difficult to manage throughout the whole cycle or are simply unpredictable in their cycling behaviour.

Could this problem be something else?

It is important to remember that behaviour in horses (and all animals) is made up of several components, including innate (genetic), learned (environmental) and sexual (hormonal). Some behaviour problems in horses are the result of genetics, poor training and/or past experiences, which can lead to bad habits.

In addition, some diseases can result in behaviour that may appear similar to what is observed during the breeding cycle. For example, a tumour in one of the ovaries can produce high levels of oestrogen, which may cause the mare to be constantly in-season; an infection in the bladder can result in the mare raising her tail and urinating frequently; and arthritis in the spine or hind legs can result in a mare frequently squatting down - signs that are also typical of a mare in season.

As with any other problem, it is important for your vet to establish a correct diagnosis before attempting to control or prevent a mare’s difficult behaviour - it may not be a behavioural problem at all, and treatment may be required for a different disease or condition.

How can I manage my difficult mare?

There is now an Australian vaccine that provides a new way to manage behaviour associated with the breeding cycle.

In the past, vets and horse owners have tried a variety of treatments and remedies in an attempt to control the breeding cycle in mares and fillies and to prevent problem behaviour. These treatments have generally involved hormone injections, oral hormones (given daily), herbal remedies and acupuncture.

The new Australian vaccine, like all vaccines, works via the horse’s own natural immune system and does not involve giving hormone treatments.

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