DogTime Blogs

Friday, May 29, 2009

Grass Seeds or Foxtails

Grass seeds, although small, can be fatal to our pets. These small seeds can bury their way through skin and organs and usually enter through the toes and ears.

Prevention tips:
• Avoid walking in long grass
• Check your pet around the ears and toes after every walk
• Remove any with tweezers gently
• Keep your pet groomed – short haired pets are less likely to trap grass seeds in
their coat.

If you suspect your pet has a grass seed, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gastrointestinal Foreign Bodies

Some animals have a tendency to eat non food items or "foreign bodies". Sometimes the foreign bodies may pass through the gut without causing a problem but frequently they become lodged in the stomach or small intestines creating an obstruction. An obstruction is a surgical emergency!

Some of the common foreign bodies removed from animal gastrointestinal tracts include:
  • corn cobs
  • stones from fruit such as nectarines and peaches
  • plastic and string packaging around meat products
  • fish hooks
  • string/wool (cats)
The common symptoms of obstruction include:
  • poor appetite
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • weight loss
  • pain

If you are concerned your pet may have eaten a foreign body or is displaying any of these symptoms, seek veterinary advice immediately as surgery may be required.

Aerosols and Pets

Unfortunately I saw a case recently of fatal pneumonia in a cat after a pair of shoes were sprayed with a water repellant aerosol in the same room as the cat.

Aerosols may contain substances that can be toxic to your pets when inhaled. Domestic pets are likely to be more severely affected than people due to their smaller body sizes and lung volumes.

Here's some simple tips to follow if you are unsure if your aerosol may be harmful:

  • Try to use the aerosol outdoors if possible
  • Never use the aerosol in the same room as your pet
  • Ventilate the room well before allowing your pets back into the room

Is My Cat Pregnant?

If your cat is an outdoor cat and is not desexed, it has a very high chance of becoming pregnant.

Signs that could indicate your cat is pregnant:
• Swollen nipples: pregnant cat nipples are enlarged and pink
• Increased appetite: appetite increases about 1.5 times during pregnancy
• Weight gain: the abdominal area enlarges with pregnancy
• Mood change: pregnant cats can become quiet and friendlier

If your cat is showing these signs, book her in to see the veterinarian for a pregnancy test.

If it is not pregnant, you should consider booking her in for desexing ASAP.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Avoiding Heatstroke

As the weather warms up and we start traveling with our pets, it’s important to know the signs of early heatstroke to avoid serious injury.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke
• Increased respiratory rate – panting
• Bright red tongue and gums
• Thick saliva
• Lethargy
• Weakness
• Instability
• Vomiting

• Never leave your pet in the car.
• Never leave your pet in the sun. Always provide a shaded area.
• If your pet is showing early signs of heatstroke, wet your pet with cool water and place cool wet towels for your pet to lie on (change the towel every few minutes with fresh cool water)
• Seek veterinary care immediately if you pet continues to show symptoms

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Finding the Perfect Pet for your Children

Research has shown that pets are extremely beneficial in the social development of a child. Having a family pet is a wonderful experience for call. There are many things to consider when choosing a pet. I have listed a few of those things:

• Temperament: Always choose a breed or a breed mix that is known for their great interaction with children.

• Energy Levels: For families that lead active lifestyles, choose a dog that is able to participate in outdoor activities. For families that tend to stay home a lot, choose a pet that does not require as much exercise.

• Size: How much room will your pet have at the home? Smaller areas will require smaller dogs or dogs with low energy

• Grooming: Some breeds require a lot of grooming. Who will be devoted to grooming your pet or taking your pet to the groomer regularly?

• Age: Puppies require a lot of training whilst older dogs may have already been exposed to children. Determine how much time and who will be responsible for training.

• Health: Your pet will requires frequent visits to the veterinarian at the start. Some breeds have hereditary problems that may develop over time. Will you be able to look after an unhealthy pet?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Caring for a Rabbit

Rabbits are small mammals that can make great pets if give the right amount of care and attention. They can range from 2 pounds to 16 pounds depending on the breed. And they live to 8-12 years.

Routine Care:
• Need fresh water and food every day
• Need supervised play every day
• Brushed every day
• Litter box cleaned daily
• Once a week they need their cage cleaned and disinfected
• Annual vet check
• Toys
• Fresh bedding regularly

Friday, May 22, 2009


Dandruff or seborrhea occurs commonly in Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, West Highland White Terries, Dobermans, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Daschunds.

Common Causes:
• Allergies e.g. atopy, food, flea, contact
• Parasites e.g. flea, mites, lice
• Endocrine disorders e.g. hypothyroidism
• Autoimmune disease
• Neoplastic disorders
• Environmental factors e.g. low humidity

Treatment can vary depending on the cause. Antibacterial and antifungal shampoos can help where they are allowed to soak the skin for 10 to 15 minutes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lick Granulomas

Does your dog lick excessively at one spot on its leg?

Lick Granulomas or Acral Lick Dermatitis is a common condition that affects a single area on a limb. It is thought to be most commonly caused by boredom, separation anxiety or confinement. Other noted causes include allergies, trauma, parasites or pain (e.g. arthritis). The area is often moist due to the excessive licking, raised and inflamed.

Depending on the underlying cause, treatment can vary. Resolution can vary between dogs. The smaller the lesion and the quicker the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.

Commonly Affected Breeds:
• Boxer
• Doberman
• German Shepherd
• Golden Retriever
• Great Dane
• Labrador Retriever

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to Reduce Shedding

The following tips are for pets that shed hair regularly and evenly. For those pets that have suddenly had a loss of hair in a particular area or have become thin in the coat all over, seek medical attention.

1. Stop Hair at the Source
Brushing daily means that you will remove most of the hair before it has the chance of falling into the environment or onto you. Natural-bristle brushes are often the most effective. If your pet will allow it, brush in all directions. Regular bathing no more frequent that every two weeks will also help to reduce the shedding.

2. Environmental Cleaning
Vacuuming regularly will also reduce the environmental clumps of hair. Roller brushes will also help to remove hair off clothing and furniture.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

5 Most Common Causes of Skin Diseases

1. Parasites
• e.g. fleas, mites
• Diagnosis: on history, skin scrapings, treatment trial
• Treatment: effective parasite control, regular treatment, medication

2. Food
• e.g. soy, beef
• Diagnosis: history, 8-week diet trial
• Treatment: hypoallergenic diet, removal of all other food sources, medication

3. Environmental agents
• e.g. wandering dew, pollen
• Diagnosis: history, specific allergen testing
• Treatment: allergen-specific immunotherapy, environmental modification, medication

4. Bacteria
• e.g. staph
• Diagnosis: cytology, culture and sensitivity
• Treatment: antibiotics and topical treatment

5. Yeast
• e.g. malassezia
• Diagnosis: cytology
• Treatment: antifungals, medication

Monday, May 18, 2009


The tapeworm is an intestinal parasite that affects cats and dogs when an infected flea is ingested. The prevalence is up at 60% in some areas. Signs of tapeworms in your pet include segments on the hair coat or bedding, excessive licking at the backend or scooting. Treatment from your veterinarian will help the situation but will not prevent it from happening again. So, prevention is important.

• Effective flea control used regularly
• Pest control (rodents can act as intermediate hosts)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ever Considered a Pet Pig?

The thought of a pet pig does seem quite novel and they are so cute. However, there is a lot to think about before owning a pig. Every year, many pet pigs are abandoned to shelters because their owners did not fully understand what they were getting into. Pet pigs are very high maintenance, plus, your council may not even allow them.

Pigs will be pigs. Just as in the wild, pet pigs will explore everything with their snout. Your home or yard can be turned upside down in a short period of time. Being omnivores they will eat almost anything but a special diet is needed in order for them to remain healthy. They need to be taken to a veterinarian regularly for vaccines and health checks. And, you need to find a veterinarian who is experienced in treating a pet pig.

Pet pigs can be trained on the leash and to go to the toilet in the right area like a dog. But, they tend to be territorial so training and discipline is key.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What happens during a bird exam?

Like cats and dogs, birds should be checked by the veterinarian every year. If possible, it’s always a good idea to bring the bird to the veterinarian’s in its cage. Do not clean the cage before bringing it in as the cage will say a lot about the bird's health.

The veterinarian can learn a lot about your bird by it’s home environment. They will be looking at the:
- environment,
- food,
- feeding arrangement
- droppings on the bottom of the cage

The bird will then be securely restrained to prevent injury to person or pet and examined in depth physically. Any abnormal changes in the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, feathers, wings, legs, vent, chest or abdomen will be noted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Common Household Medications

It’s never easy watching your pet suffer. Unfortunately, looking to our own medicine cabinet is not a good idea. Drugs commonly used for human ailments can be poisonous to pets.

If a pet is unwell, it is important that you seek veterinary attention immediately. Human medications such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatories should not be used on pets.

Common Household Medicines that can be poisonous to our pets:
- acetaminophen (PARACETAMOL, TYLENOL),
- aspirin,
- ibuprofen,
- naproxen

If your pet accidentally ingests these products, seek veterinary care immediately.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Choosing the Right Litter for Your Cat

If you have a healthy cat, but they are having toilet accidents, it could be a litter. Various studies have been done to look at a cat’s preference for litter. Here is a summary of some of the findings.
• Number of litter boxes:
- Too few litter boxes for the number of cats can cause problems
• Type of litter box
- Hooded boxes are avoided by some cats
• Size of litter box
- Larger litter boxes are preferable than medium or smaller ones
• Litter Type
- Heavily scented or deodorized litter (e.g. citrus) are often avoided by cats.
- Cedar scents tend to be more tolerated by cats.
• Odor control
- activated carbon can be found in some litter brands to help reduce odor. Studies have shown that cats may prefer litter with activated carbon.
• Recently changed litter brand
- cats hate change
• Is the litter too dusty?
• Clumping or not clumping
- studies suggest cats prefer clumping litter
• Dirty litter box
– is it dirty? Is it cleaned with chemicals that are too strong?
• Poor location
- choose a secluded area
• Litter box liners
• Litter box side height

In general, all cats have their own preference. If you have a cat that is happy with its litter, don't change it. Cats hate change!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Keep Your Pets Out of the Garbage

Our trash appears very appealing to our pets. So, it is important that the garbage is secured to prevent our pets from getting into it. Garbage contains toxic bacteria, sharp objects, food scraps and other possible foreign bodies that are not good for pets.

• Always secure the garbage and if possible keep it in an area out of reach from pets
• Keep your pet on a harness when walking to steer them away from garbage on the street or in the park
• Train your pet to "Sit" and "Stay" so they can be stopped from eating garbage

If your pets are to get into the garbage, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rats and Cowpox Virus

Europe has reported cases of coxpox virus infection in humans. The virus causes black skin lesions in humans and is suspected to come from pet rats.

This is a good reminder to ensure that even a rat should be checked frequently by a veterinarian to pick up any problems sooner than later.

The vet will:
• Check the eyes for discharge
• Listen to the breathing for sneezing, wheezing or difficulty breathing
• Nasal discharge
• Check that the claws are not overgrown
• Check the weight
• Check if the rat is alert and responsive
• Check for early lumps

Rats make great pets. They are extremely intelligent and great companions. They live for approx 2.5-4 years.

Unfortunately, rats are prone to illnesses such as respiratory disease, congestive heart failure, cancer, dental problems and sudden death.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Ringworm is a fungus that causes skin disease in our pets and can also be transmitted to humans.

• Adopt from reputable shelters or breeders
• All animals should be screened for ringworm before sending them home
• Any animals found to have ringworm should be isolated to avoid other pets from contracting it
• If you notice a itchy pet, hair loss, visit your veterinarian immediatley
• Wash your hands thoroughly after handling a pet
• Wear gloves when handling an infected pet
• Do not touch an infected pet if you have open wounds

• fungal culture
• wood's lamp - some ringworm will fluoresce under this lamp
• microscopic exam

Ringworm is usually self-limiting in short-haired pets, which means that it will resolve on its own. However, veterinary examinations should be considered to determine whether treatment is needed to help prevent it from getting worse and being spread to other pets.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Bloat can be extremely dangerous and often requires quick thinking if it occurs. It is more common in deep chested dogs such as Great Danes, Weimeraners and Mastiffs. Referred to as a Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV), it occurs when the stomach blows up like a balloon and twists.

Dietary risk factors include:
• small food particles,
• presence of oil or fat amongst the first four ingredients in dry food,
• large amount of food fed once daily,
• feeding from an elevated bowl,
• eating quickly or gulping air.

How to prevent Bloat:
• Watch for early signs such as retching, enlarged belly, restlessness, difficulty
• Feed smaller meals rather than one big meal
• Avoid exercise immediately after meals
• Avoid sudden diet changes

Seek veterinary attention immediately if you think your dog has bloat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dogs Detecting Cancer in Humans

The sense of smell is a dogs primary sense. Sniffing allows dogs to take in air quickly to specifically identify the odor several meters away. Their sense of smell is extremely sensitive with over 220 million smell-sensitive cells within their nose compared to only 5 million in humans.

For this reason, dogs readily assist us in the community to track everything from people to drugs to explosives.

It's no surprise that dogs may have a use in human medicine. It has been fairly well documented that dogs can detect low blood sugar in diabetics. A recent study by the Pine Street Foundation in California has demonstrated a dogs ability to detect lung and breast cancer in humans based on breath samples.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How to Show Appreciation For Your Pet - National Pet Week May 3-9, 2009

Pets are undoubtedly man’s best friend. They have unquestioning loyalty and are always there to cheer us up.

Benefits of Pets:
• Stress relief
• Decrease feelings of loneliness
• Increase social contact
• Positively influence child social development and self-esteem
• Assistance dogs – therapy dogs, guide dogs
• Community work – search and rescue, customs
• Stock work

This week is the time to start showing our appreciation for their unconditional companionship:
• Have your pet examined by the vet regularly to ensure your pet is healthy
• Spend more time with your pet each day
• Exercise with your pet regularly
Take your pets on holiday with you
• Socialize your pet by taking them to dog parks or dog day care
• Feed your pet the appropriate ‘complete and balanced’ diet
Avoid foods that are poisonous to pets
Safe guard your home from common poisons
Avoid toxic plants

Share ideas on how you make your pet feel special!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Waking Up Tired Every Day?

As pets continue to exist as family members, it's not all that uncommon for us to allow our pets to sleep in the bedroom. It has been well established that pets enhance human health through the reduction of stress. But, could they actually be linked to poor sleep?

John Shepard, M.D., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center in the United States, investigated the relationship between pets and sleep problems.

Out of 300 patients experiencing sleep problems, he found:
52% of patients had one or more pets
60% of patients slept with their pets in the bedroom
53% of patients were suffering sleep disruption every night
21% of patients reported snoring from their dog
7% reported snoring from their cat

He concluded that each individual needs to weigh up the pros and cons of sleeping with their pet and that it's not uncommon for people to choose to tolerate poor sleep just to be near their little companions.

Source Science Daily

Friday, May 1, 2009

ASK THE VET: Why Do Dogs Eat Poo?

The medical term for this behaviour is Coprophagia. Although the cause is unknown, puppies tend to grow out of the behaviour. Faeces can be bad source of disease including worms and other parasites.

Tips to prevent your puppy from eating its stools:
• Clean up all dog stools immediately
• Have your veterinarian examine your pet for any health problems
• Feed your puppy a fully balanced diet. Ensure the diet you are using has the terms "complete and balanced" on the package
• When your dog goes to eat any feces, firmly say ‘No’
• Use bitter tasting agents to discourage your pet from eating stools.

This week the 'Ask the Vet' question came from Melinda.