Senior Pets

Aging is an unavoidable part of life, and when it comes to our pets, some will age without any major issues, and some will need a little extra TLC. It is important to know what age-related changes look like and how to manage them appropriately, so we can ensure our pets are comfortable.

When does my pet become a senior?
This can vary between individuals and can be greatly influenced by breed, size, pre-existing health conditions and living situations, but typically:

  • Small dogs – six to seven years old
  • Large dogs – five to six years old
  • Cats – eight to ten years old

You might notice some physical and behavioural changes, such as:

  • Greying or whitening fur around the nose and mouth or throughout the coat
  • A general ‘slowing down’ or a slightly less bouncy personality
  • Longer and more frequent naps throughout the day
  • More frequent urination, and perhaps the odd ‘accident’
  • Increased vocalisation – this can be caused by increased anxiety, confusion or frustration

Common Senior Pet Ailments
Some of the age-related changes our pets may experience may be uncomfortable and impact their daily lives a little more than a greying moustache. If you notice any of the below it is important to have your vet check them out to determine a plan to help your pet

  • Arthritis (inflammation of the joints, making it uncomfortable to stand up and move around).
  • Loss of eyesight –caused by a clouding of the eyes, cataracts or other eye diseases.
  • Loss of hearing.
  • Incontinence – this is common in older pets but there are plenty of treatment plans your vet can recommend. Incontinence can also indicate urinary tract infections, kidney disease or hormonal changes.
  • Weight changes – due to reduced physical activity and/or changes in hormones as they age, older pets can gain weight. You may also find that they lose weight due to a changed appetite, reduced nutrient absorption, reduced muscle mass or even a digestive illness. Weight gain or loss as a pet ages isn’t normal and should be investigated by your vet.
  • Lumps and bumps are definitely more common as our pets age! It is always recommended to get them checked by a vet to rule out possible nasties.
  • Smelly breath – just like us, our pet’s immune systems weaken with age, so their bodies can’t fight off germs as easily as they once did. We can see this as gum disease, tooth decay, or other infections in the mouth, leading to smelly breath. Smelly breath can mean a painful mouth for your pet (not to mention offensive to us!) so check in with our team if you notice this.

How can I make my senior pet more comfortable?
There are plenty of ways to manage your pet’s aging, and these tips are very easy to implement:

  • Talk to your vet about your pet’s diet – they may need more nutritious food for nurturing specific conditions and even the inclusion of dietary supplements.
  • Let your senior pet sleep inside in winter – keeping them comfy and warm will keep them feeling safe and secure, as well as help to alleviate any arthritis symptoms.
  • Provide them with soft and easily accessible (not too high or low) bedding.
  • Add extra water bowls around the house (and closer to their bed area) so they do not need to move around unnecessarily.
  • Raise food and water bowls to prevent your pet needing to hunch to access the contents.
  • Offer extra litter trays or make sure their toileting area is easily accessible.
  • Keep your senior pet active with simple, low impact activities and exercises.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature. As pets age they may struggle with regulating their body temperature – in winter keep your pet indoors where possible, move their bedding inside and investigate pet jackets or jumpers for some breeds.

If you have a senior pet, we invite you to come into the clinic for a health check to make sure your best friend is in tip-top shape, especially ahead of the winter months where the cooler temperatures can slow everyone down. Call us on (07 ) 3807 4113 or email info@jstvet.com.au to book your consultation today.

 

Obesity & Weight loss

The internet is full of cute, funny photos and videos of ‘chonky’ pets – but a fat cat or pudgy pup is no laughing matter. Much the same as humans, overweight and obese animals are susceptible to a range of dangerous and uncomfortable health conditions, and ultimately can lead to a shortened life.

Obesity is one of the most common nutritional disorders our vets see in cats and dogs. In Australia and New Zealand, nearly half of all pet dogs and approximately a third of pet cats are overweight!
Some common ailments caused by being overweight include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease)
  • Degenerative joint and orthopedic disease (including arthritis)
  • Joint stress or musculoskeletal pain
  • Respiratory problems
  • Cancer and tumours
  • Skin problems
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Shorter life expectancy

What causes pets to become overweight?

There are a few ways our pets can gain excess weight, and whilst some breeds are more susceptible to weight-gain than others, most reasons come down to our willpower as a responsible pet parent! These causes can include:

  • Feeding extra treats
  • Feeding unhealthy treats
  • Feeding an unbalanced diet
  • Lack of exercise

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

Your pet might be overweight if:

  • You experience difficulty when trying to feel their ribs
  • You cannot see a defined ‘waist’
  • You can see obvious fat deposits and rolls
  • They are no longer grooming themselves efficiently, if at all
  • They are reluctant to exercise or are disinterested
  • They quickly become tired and refuse to continue exercise
  • They have a ‘waddle’ to their walk – or other abnormal movement
  • They are at a weight dramatically different from breed guidelines
  • They are often panting – even without movement or exercise

Healthy treats and fun exercise

Avoid feeding your pet ‘junk food’ treats like jerky type strips and highly processed snacks that might be purchased in the supermarket. Human treats are also a big no-no – no matter how cute those begging eyes are. It is also important not to feed your pet treats here and there ‘just because’. Use treats as a reward for positive behaviours and training.
Some healthier reward treats include:

  • A small percentage of your pet’s daily feed allowance (kibble)
  • Fresh foods like carrots, zucchini, berries, or beans for dogs
  • Small amounts of cooked fish, catnip, or cat grass for cats

Some simple ways to include fun exercise in your pet’s day include:

  • A walk
  • Playing with your pet – inside or in the backyard
  • Fetch (for cats and dogs!)
  • Tug-o-war
  • Swimming
  • Climbing toys and spaces for cats
  • Chasing laser toys
  • Socialising with other animals your pet is comfortable with
  • Nose-works – get your cat or dog moving by hiding healthy treats or interesting smells for them to sniff out

What can I do if I think my pet is overweight?

If you suspect your pet is overweight, it is important not to change their diet or exercise schedule drastically or quickly – this could exacerbate the problem. Book an appointment to see our team, and together we will create a plan to help your pet reach their optimal weight in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Urinary Blockages in Cats

What is a urinary blockage? 

Urinary blockages in cats are often referred to as ‘blocked bladders’ and ‘urethral obstructions’.

This is a common, potentially life-threatening condition, especially amongst neutered male adult cats and overweight cats.

 

A urinary blockage can completely prevent your cat from urinating, causing damage to the urinary tract, a back-up of urine in the bladder which can lead to a build-up of toxins in the bloodstream and cause kidney failure. In severe cases, the cat’s bladder can eventually rupture.

A cat with a urethral obstruction can become critically ill very quickly.

How does it happen? 

There are several different causes for a urethral obstruction:

  • The formation of urethral plugs (a build-up of sludge-like material caused by excess protein and minerals)
  • Urinary stones or crystals
  • Narrowing of the urinary tract (from scar tissue or a tumour)
  • Lower urinary tract disease (leading to swelling or involuntary spasms)

What are the symptoms? 

It is vital to act quickly if you suspect your cat is suffering from a urinary blockage. Some key symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Frequent trips to the litter box
  • More frequent grooming of the rear-end
  • Difficulty urinating (very little urine being excreted)
  • Vocalisation during attempted urination (pain)
  • Swollen/firm abdomen that is painful to touch
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Inability to stand

How is a blocked bladder treated? 

Depending on the severity of the urinary blockage, your vet may treat your cat with intravenous fluids, medication to prevent urethral spasms, and pain management medication. Your cat may need to stay in hospital to be treated. If the blockage is  severe, it will need to be physically relieved through catheterisation under general anaesthesia. The bladder will then be flushed to remove excess urine and any crystalline material.

Your vet may also run a number of tests to determine the cause of the  urinary blockage, using ultrasound, x-rays, and specific blood tests.

 

If your cat displays any of the above symptoms, make sure to call us straight away on (07 ) 3807 4113 as this condition is very serious and patients can quickly deteriorate.

The Importance of Dental Care for Your Pet

Did you know that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over three years of age have some form of dental disease? Dental disease can not only be painful and uncomfortable for pets, but the procedure to clean and remove teeth becomes more complicated and often more costly to treat the longer it is left untreated. Just as you look after your teeth to prevent plaque and dental disease, you must also care for your pet’s teeth too!

What is dental disease?

Dental disease or periodontal disease is caused by bacterial infection that builds up in a substance called plaque. Plaque is made up of food particles and saliva. It sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed will calcify into tartar. Over time the infection in tartar causes irreversible changes to occur which include the destruction of supportive tissues and bone, resulting in sore red gums, bad breath, and the loosening of teeth.

How do you know if your pet has dental disease?

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Bleeding or redness of the gums
  • Discoloured or plaque build-up on teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Reluctance to chew or eat
  • Pawing of the mouth

How do you treat dental disease?

Treating dental disease involves thorough scaling and flushing to remove tartar, plaque and infection from above and below the gum line. The teeth are then polished to help reduce future plaque build-up. Any loose or badly infected teeth will need to be removed. These procedures are carried out under a general anaesthetic for the safety of your pet and our team. Local anaesthetic and pain relief are given as necessary.

 

Best for Pet members enjoy $250 off a dental procedure for their pet every year. Why not take advantage of your offer during our Dental Month promotion before 31 August, and go in the draw to win your pet’s next one year Best for Pet membership FREE! (Valued at $498)
Not a member? No problems! Sign up today at
https://bestforpet.com.au/ / https://bestforpet.co.nz/

Hurry, appointments are limited, call our team today on (07 ) 3807 4113 or book online!

 

*Competition terms and conditions apply. Click here for more information.

Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

You’ve likely been spending lots of time at home during the pandemic, and no doubt your dog has enjoyed this quality time with you. If like many, you’ve welcomed a new furry family member into your home during this period, they’ll be very used to having you around most of the time. This poses a challenge for our pets when they start spending more time alone. Some dogs may take these new changes to their routine fine. But for other pets, it could bring about separation anxiety, which can be very distressing for dogs and owners alike.

 

Separation anxiety is one of the most common yet most underdiagnosed behavioural problems in dogs. The clinical signs of excessive barking, howling, destruction, self-mutilation, urination, and defecation can significantly affect both dogs and owners. Luckily, veterinarians understand separation anxiety, and there are treatment options available to manage this condition and improve the quality of life for your special furry family member.

 

Separation anxiety is distress experienced on separation from you as the owner(s). Anxiety is the “anticipation of future danger or misfortune” – Dr K Seksel. Dogs are social animals, and it is normal for a puppy to become attached to their litter and then subsequently to the human family that becomes their home. Some dogs do not adjust to being without their owners and develop separation distress. Some dogs may become destructive or vocalise if under-stimulated and not provided with the appropriate physical exercise and mental stimulation. However, signs of separation anxiety become apparent when they are linked to the owner’s departures or absence, when they cannot gain access to them and when they cannot adjust to their absences over time. These dogs are anxious and are not “acting out” or trying to spite their owners; they are having a difficult time and need help.

 

Pay attention to your dog’s behaviour before you leave the house. Some possible signs to look for are:

  • Signs of distress, especially when your dog sees cues that you are leaving like picking up keys, putting on shoes or applying make-up
  • Following you around unusually
  • Pacing
  • Try desperately to go with you
  • Reacting to noises unusually
  • House soiling
  • Panting and drooling
  • Freezing
  • Barking
  • Scratching
  • Other signs of distress

 

Some possible signs of separation anxiety while you’re away from your dog include coming home to:

  • Digging in the garden
  • Destructive behaviours around the house
  • Trying to escape
  • Reports from neighbours of repetitive barking, whining or howling
  • House soiling

 

If you notice any of these signs of separation anxiety, please speak to your veterinarian. Depending on the case, they may refer you to a veterinarian with further qualifications in behaviour or a veterinary behaviour specialist.

 

Come prepared for your Vet consult with a thorough understanding of your dog’s history, routine, and any changes to their routine that could be causing the anxiety.

 

Things your Vet may recommend to address your pet’s separation anxiety:

  • The use of calming pheromones, like Adaptil diffusers, sprays or collars
  • Encouraging independence through positive reinforcement exercises
  • Creating a structured and predictable routine for your dog
  • Make departures and arrivals low-key (calmly speaking to your dog, but not ignoring them completely)
  • Offering your dog food puzzles, long-lasting chews, and feeding devices to give your dog something to enjoy while you’re away
  • A focus on physical exercise and mental stimulation – a tired dog will be more likely to relax while when you’re gone
  • Desensitisation and counterconditioning to cues that hint you are leaving the home
  • Enriching their environment – leave the radio on to make the house feel less quiet and empty. Make sure they have access to their favourite bed and toys.
  • Medication or supplements to address the underlying anxiety

 

It is essential that a puppy or dog can cope with being left alone. In our busy lives, it’s unrealistic to be with them 24/7, so separation anxiety needs to be addressed with your veterinarian. It may be a journey to help your distressed friend to find comfort on their own, but there are options available to help. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from separation anxiety, please give our team a call.

Arthitis Awareness

Arthitis Awareness

Ouch! Do you ever experience sore joints on a chilly morning?
Like humans, our furry best friends can experience aches and pains caused by arthritis. These pains can become more intense over the cooler months – let us teach you a little about this common condition, so you can keep an eye out for symptoms and how to look after your pet before they become too uncomfortable.

What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a broad term that relates to inflammation of the joints (knees, elbows, shoulders etc.).
It is known for causing discomfort, stiffness, pain and can often worsen as your pet grows older. Arthritis can affect all sorts of pets – from a tiny mouse to a 1.8m tall horse!
Many different kinds of arthritis can affect your pet; some of the most common types we see are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What causes arthritis?
Depending on the type of arthritis your pet may be experiencing, the cause can vary greatly. Some of the more common causes we see include:

  • General’ wear and tear’ – as your pet ages, their cartilage (a spongey, rubber-like material that covers the end of a bone, acting as a cushion) can start to break down.
  • Genetic – unfortunately, some types of arthritis can be passed down through family lines. It is important to be aware of this or talk to your Vet about genetic conditions if you are not sure!
  • Weight-gain – Carrying a few extra kilos can put additional stress on your pet’s joints, especially when they are walking, running and jumping!

 

Arthritis symptoms to look out for
Arthritis affects every pet in different ways.
Some of the most tell-tale signs your pet might be suffering are:

  • Limping or an unusual posture/stance when moving about
  • Stiffness, especially after exercise
  • A reluctance to move or stand up
  • Changed behaviour, such as a lack of interest in playing as usual or increased sleep
  • The inability to jump on furniture, climb stairs or jump into the car
  • Irritability or depression (lack of interest)
  • Growling or biting when touched
  • Visibly deformed or swollen joints

What to do if your pet is suffering from arthritis:
Come and see us! There are so many treatments available today, thanks to modern medicine.
Depending on the severity and type of arthritis your pet is suffering, our team will tailor a treatment plan just to them! It is also important to check that your pet’s arthritis isn’t an indicator of a more sinister illness.

Treatments we can suggest range from dietary supplements, special diets, weight reduction plans for overweight pets, muscle massages, specialised strengthening exercises, laser treatments, acupuncture, anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical treatments and other pain relief. We can also give you some excellent advice about making your home more comfortable for your pet (think comfy bedding, stopping cold drafts, non-skid flooring and ramps!).

Arthritis can be efficiently managed with the help of your Vet – let’s work together to make sure your best friend is enjoying life to the fullest! If you’re worried about your pet or think they are showing signs of arthritis discomfort, BOOK ONLINE, give us a call today on (07) 3807 4113 or email us at info@jstvet.com.au to organise a consultation.

Easter Hazards

Easter Hazards

Easter can be an exciting time for both adults and children. While we prepare for Easter, it is essential to keep an eye on potential dangers for your furry friend.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine (a chemical compound found in the cacao plant), which can be fatal to our pets. It is important to keep chocolate out of reach this Easter. If you are hiding chocolate eggs, keep your pets in a safe location away from the hunt and record where you have hidden the eggs.

If you do suspect your pet may have eaten some chocolate, call us straight away, as symptoms can take up to three hours to show.

Some symptoms to look out for include:

  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhoea,
  • Increased urination,
  • Restlessness,
  • Hyperactivity,
  • Twitching,
  • And in severe cases, seizures.

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns are another treat to keep out of reach of our furry friends. Some hot cross buns contain chocolate which can be fatal to our pets. They can also contain raisins. Raisins, grapes, sultanas and currants have been shown to cause acute kidney failure in dogs. The exact reason is still not identified; therefore, we cannot determine how much is toxic or which pets will be affected. Some pets can eat a few grapes with no ill effects, whereas others may become severely ill with the same amount.

It is always better to be on the safe side; if you suspect your pet has eaten any, please call us immediately.

Initial signs can include:

  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhoea.

 

Noises and crowds

New visitors, noises and smells can sometimes cause anxiety for your pet. To help minimise your pet’s stress;

  • Create a calm, quiet spot for your pet away from the noise.
  • Exercise your pet before any guests arrive.

Decorations

Small and cute Easter decorations could become choking hazards for your pet or, if broken, can cause cuts to their mouths. Ensure all decorations are out of your pet’s reach or too big for them to fit in their mouths. If your pet has swallowed or eaten any decorations, please call our team.

Flowers

Some flowers are toxic to our pets. If you decorate with flowers or receive them as gifts, place them in a location your pet can’t get to. Some flowers and plants to look out for include:

Common Poisonous House Plants
 
Common Name Botanical Name Poisonous Part
Bird of Paradise Strelizia regirae Fruit, seeds
Boston Ivy Parthenocissus quinquefolia All parts
Caladium Caladium All parts
Creeping Charlie Glecoma hederacea All parts
Dumbcane Dieffenbachia All parts
Emerald Duke Philodendron hastatum All parts
Glacier Ivy Hedera glacier Leaves, berries
Heartleaf Philadendron cordatum All parts
English Ivy Hedera helix Leaves, berries
Lily/Liliaceae Family Lilium All parts
Marble Queen Scindapsus aureus All parts
Majesty Philodendron hastatum All parts
Nephthytis, Arrowhead Vine Synogonium podophyllum albolineatum All parts
Parlor Ivy Philodendron cordatum All parts
Pothos Scindapsus aureus All parts
Red Princess Philodendron hastatum All parts
Saddleleaf Philodendron selloum All parts
Split leaf Philodendron Monstera deliciosa All parts
Umbrella Plant Cyperus alternifolius All parts

 

Common Poisonous Outdoor Plants
Common Name Botanical Name Poisonous Part
Apricot Prunus ameniaca Stem, bark, seed pits
Azalea Rhododendron occidentale All parts
Baneberry Actaea Spicata Berries, roots, foliage
Buchberry Lantana All parts
Castor Bean Ricinus communis Seeds, if chewed
Choke Cherry Prunus virginica Leaves, seed pits, stems, bark
Daffodil Narcissus Bulbs
Daphne Daphne mezereum Berries, bark, leaves
Foxglove Digitalis purpura Leaves, seeds, flowers
Hemlock Conium maculatum All parts, root and root stalk
Hens-and-Chicks Lantana All parts
Hyacinth Hyacinthus orientalis Bulbs, leaves, flowers
Hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla Leaves, buds
Jerusalem Cherry Solanim pseudocapscium All parts, unripe fruit
Jimson Weed Datura stramonium All parts
Jonquil Narcissus Bulbs
Lily-of-the-Valley Convallaria majalis All parts
Mandrake Podophyllum peltatum Roots, foliage, unripe fruit
Mistletoe Phoradendron Flavescens Berries
Morning Glory Ipomoea violaces Seeds
Nightshade Atropa belladonna All parts
Oleander Norium Oleander All parts, including dried leaves
Poinsettia Euphorbia pulcherrima Leaves, flowers
Pokeweed, Inkberry Phytolacca americana All parts
Red Sage Lantana camara Green berries
Rhododendron Rhododendron All parts
Rhubarb Rheum raponticum Leaves
Sweet Pea Lathyrus odoratus Seeds, pods
Tulip Tulipa Bulbs
Wisteria Wisteria Seeds, pods
Yew Taxus Needles, bark, seeds

 

If your pet has nibbled on any of your plants, please take a photo of the plant for later identification and reference, and call our team immediately.

For more Easter tips, please call us on (07) 3807 4113 or book an appointment online! We hope you enjoy a lovely long weekend.

Hot Weather & Heatstroke

Separation Anxiety

You’ve likely been spending lots of time at home during the pandemic, and no doubt your dog has enjoyed this quality time with you. If like many, you’ve welcomed a new furry family member into your home during this period, they’ll be very used to having you around most of the time. This poses a challenge for our pets when they start spending more time alone. Some dogs may take these new changes to their routine fine. But for other pets, it could bring about separation anxiety, which can be very distressing for dogs and owners alike.

 

Separation anxiety is one of the most common yet most underdiagnosed behavioural problems in dogs. The clinical signs of excessive barking, howling, destruction, self-mutilation, urination, and defecation can significantly affect both dogs and owners. Luckily, veterinarians understand separation anxiety, and there are treatment options available to manage this condition and improve the quality of life for your special furry family member.

 

Separation anxiety is distress experienced on separation from you as the owner(s). Anxiety is the “anticipation of future danger or misfortune” – Dr K Seksel. Dogs are social animals, and it is normal for a puppy to become attached to their litter and then subsequently to the human family that becomes their home. Some dogs do not adjust to being without their owners and develop separation distress. Some dogs may become destructive or vocalise if under-stimulated and not provided with the appropriate physical exercise and mental stimulation. However, signs of separation anxiety become apparent when they are linked to the owner’s departures or absence, when they cannot gain access to them and when they cannot adjust to their absences over time. These dogs are anxious and are not “acting out” or trying to spite their owners; they are having a difficult time and need help.

 

Pay attention to your dog’s behaviour before you leave the house. Some possible signs to look for are:

  • Signs of distress, especially when your dog sees cues that you are leaving like picking up keys, putting on shoes or applying make-up
  • Following you around unusually
  • Pacing
  • Try desperately to go with you
  • Reacting to noises unusually
  • House soiling
  • Panting and drooling
  • Freezing
  • Barking
  • Scratching
  • Other signs of distress

 

Some possible signs of separation anxiety while you’re away from your dog include coming home to:

  • Digging in the garden
  • Destructive behaviours around the house
  • Trying to escape
  • Reports from neighbours of repetitive barking, whining or howling
  • House soiling

 

If you notice any of these signs of separation anxiety, please speak to your veterinarian. Depending on the case, they may refer you to a veterinarian with further qualifications in behaviour or a veterinary behaviour specialist.

 

Come prepared for your Vet consult with a thorough understanding of your dog’s history, routine, and any changes to their routine that could be causing the anxiety.

 

Things your Vet may recommend to address your pet’s separation anxiety:

  • The use of calming pheromones, like Adaptil diffusers, sprays or collars
  • Encouraging independence through positive reinforcement exercises
  • Creating a structured and predictable routine for your dog
  • Make departures and arrivals low-key (calmly speaking to your dog, but not ignoring them completely)
  • Offering your dog food puzzles, long-lasting chews, and feeding devices to give your dog something to enjoy while you’re away
  • A focus on physical exercise and mental stimulation – a tired dog will be more likely to relax while when you’re gone
  • Desensitisation and counterconditioning to cues that hint you are leaving the home
  • Enriching their environment – leave the radio on to make the house feel less quiet and empty. Make sure they have access to their favourite bed and toys.
  • Medication or supplements to address the underlying anxiety

 

It is essential that a puppy or dog can cope with being left alone. In our busy lives, it’s unrealistic to be with them 24/7, so separation anxiety needs to be addressed with your veterinarian. It may be a journey to help your distressed friend to find comfort on their own, but there are options available to help. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from separation anxiety, please give our team a call.

 

Tick Paralysis Treatment

Introduction to Paralysis Ticks

The Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) injects a potentially fatal paralysing toxin when the female tick feeds off your pet. Ticks are commonly picked up in bushland or around waterways on the eastern coast of Australia. Native animals are not affected by paralysis ticks. Tick Paralysis is more common through the warmer, wetter months but can occur year-round.

The picture above demonstrates the change in size between an unengorged female tick compared to a fully engorged female tick.

Symptoms of Tick Parlysis

The tick toxin prevents nerves from activating muscles. This produces the “paralysis” that we see in affected pets. Once they start to become affected, pets can die from the toxin paralysing their breathing muscles if not treated.

The three major muscle groups the tick toxin paralyses are:

  • Leg muscles: difficulty walking, wobbly or drunken gait, an inability to stand that gets worse over time;
  • Chest muscles: difficulty breathing, increased breathing effort;
  • Throat muscles: difficulty or inability to swallow, increased drooling, vomiting or regurgitating and an unusual sounding bark or meow.

Treatment

Treatment for tick paralysis involves the following:

  • Sedative drugs, to keep your pet calm during their treatment. Tick paralysis patients are often much more stressed than normal which worsens their breathing.
  • Premedication drugs such as atropine, to dry up saliva secretions and also reduce the risk of reaction to the tick antiserum.
  • Placement of an intravenous catheter, to deliver the tick antiserum. Tick antiserum mops up tick toxin that has not already bound. Tick antiserum cannot remove toxin that has already attached to nerves. Your pet’s body will break it down in their own time. Tick antiserum does not provide immunity to further ticks.
  • Every effort must be made to find all possible ticks as they will continue to intoxicate your pet whilst still attached. This is why a full body clip is necessary for all pets with hair longer than a Greyhound’s.
  • A bath in an anti-tick solution to kill any ticks we cannot locate- becasue ticks are very small when they first attach, and may not be found before they cause further paralysis.
  • Intravenous fluids – because your pet can’t eat or drink whilst their throat is paralysed and they cannot swallow properly.
  • We intensively monitor your pet whilst they are hospitalised, this may include blood tests to monitor various factors such as their lung function, hydration status and electrolyte levels.
  • We may need to provide oxygen therapy if your pet is having difficulty breathing (like the dog in the picture below).
  • Aspiration pneumonia, caused by fluid from the stomach being regurgitated up and going into the lungs (if your pet can’t swallow) is one of the biggest complications of tick paralysis.
  • Medications to prevent vomiting and regurgitation reduce the risk of them developing aspiration pneumonia but do not eliminate the risk completely.
  • If your pet develops aspiration pneumonia then further medication and treatment will be required.
  • Seriously affected patients sometimes require a ventilator machine to keep them breathing until their body can remove the tick toxin themselves.
  • Pets can go home once they are able to eat properly, walk normally and urinate by themselves.

Tick antiserum is a blood product, which means allergic reactions can occur to the transfusion. Please notify us if your pet has ever had a blood transfusion, plasma transfusion, tick antiserum, or snake antivenom treatment before.

Outcomes

Tick paralysis manifests differently in each patient. Complications can develop quickly regardless of initial severity, even after the tick antiserum has been administered, and these can change both the treatment and the outcome.

Therefore, treatment can be unpredictable, possibly difficult and costs can escalate unexpectedly. Many cases are uncomplicated – they receive treatment, remain hospitalised for a short time and go home. The average stay in hospital for tick paralysis is 3 days.

However, other patients can develop complications such as pneumonia, and require days of intensive care. We consider every pet affected by a tick to be critical until they have fully recovered.

Hot Weather & Heatstroke

Hot Weather & Heatstroke

 

We all love spending quality time with our pets on a hot summer’s day. However, we need to stay vigilant in summer, as the warmer weather can expose our pets to several dangers.

One of these dangers is heatstroke. Heatstroke, or hyperthermia, occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises rapidly. It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment.

There are several causes for heatstroke, including:

  • – Being left in a hot car,
  • – Being left outdoors during extreme heat,
  • – Not having enough shade and water when outdoors,
  • – Exercising in hot weather.

 

It is important to know the signs of heatstroke – even if you avoid all the above.

Your pet may show some or all of the below symptoms:

  • – Excessive panting,
  • – Restlessness,
  • – Drooling excessively,
  • – Becoming unstable on their feet,
  • – Their gums turn a bluish-purple or bright red colour.

If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, you must take them to a vet immediately.

Make sure to cool your pet while you are on your way to see us.

The most effective way to cool your pet is by using a fan or air-conditioning. You can also use a damp towel or a spray bottle filled with water to cool them lightly. It is important not to submerge your pet in ice-cold water, as this could be detrimental to their recovery.

Other warm-weather tips: 

  • – In hot weather, it is also essential to keep your pet’s feet in mind – if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it is too hot for your pets! Keep them inside, walk in the shade, or use pet socks/shoes if it’s not possible to keep them off hot surfaces.
  • – Always ensure there are plenty of cool places with shade and fresh water for your pet to access on hot days. Never leave them unattended in a car, even if the windows are down.
  • – Before the weather gets too warm, book your pet in for a groom to remove any unnecessary shedding hair, and a trim where suitable. Do not shave your pet’s coat yourself – some breeds require their coats to help regulate body temperature.
  • – Brachycephalic dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke and can develop serious health issues quickly due to their inability to pant efficiently. If you own a brachycephalic dog (a dog with a flattened face, such as a French or English bulldog, Pug, Boston terrier, Pekinese, Boxer, etc.), please be very mindful of their whereabouts on a hot day, and keep an eye out for any of these symptoms.

 

If you think your pet is suffering heatstroke, or you want to know more about how to prevent it, call our team today!