Dogs and cats age on average, five to eight times faster than humans. By age two, most pets have already reached adulthood. At age four, many are entering middle age. By age seven, many cats and dogs, particularly larger breed dogs, are entering their senior years.
Because pets age so rapidly, major health changes can occur in a short amount of time. The risk of heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other serious conditions all increase with age. Early detection is important and annual health checks can help your veterinarian diagnose and treat problems early or even prevent problems occurring altogether, therefore enabling the best possible outcome for your pet.
Annual health checks also offer you a great opportunity to ask us about nutrition, behaviour or any other topics.
Health Checklist for cats & dogs
- Parasite check
- Heart check
- Dental check
- Blood & urine test
- Osteoarthritis check
- Thyroid check
- Kidney disease screen
- Blood pressure check
- Chest radiograph
Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in our pets. It is essential that all pets are adequately vaccinated to help protect the pet population as a whole.
Responsible pet care requires puppies to be given their initial course of vaccinations, but this cannot protect them for the rest of their lives.
Adult dogs require regular vaccination to maintain immunity against disease.
Please contact us to discuss a suitable vaccination regime for your pet cat or dog.
Infectious diseases for cats
|Feline Panleukopenia Virus|
|Feline Respiratory Disease (‘CatFlu’)|
|Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)|
|Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)|
Infections diseases for dogs
|Canine Infectious Hepatitis|
Fleas can be distressing for your pet, however they are more than just a nuisance. Fleas can cause skin disease and transmit infectious or parasitic diseases, some of which can be transmitted to humans too. In some dogs, fleas can also trigger an allergic condition called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), a skin disease that is intensely itchy and can result in hair loss and skin infections. In dogs with FAD, even a small number of fleas can cause intense irritation, meaning year-round flea control is essential.
The most common way pets pick up fleas is from the environment. Fleas rarely jump from pet to pet. Pets can pick up fleas from a walk, playing in the dog park, at the beach or even in the backyard.
Spotting fleas isn’t always easy – they are small and fast, and some dogs can show signs of severe itchiness and irritation when only a few fleas are present. The other thing to consider is that the adult fleas you see on your dog are only part of the problem. You may be surprised to learn that adult fleas (the ones you see) make up only about 5% of the total population. The remaining 95% (eggs, larvae and pupae) are found in carpets and bedding – in fact anywhere in your house. Each female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day so it doesn’t take long for an infestation to take hold.
The paralysis tick (Ixodesholocyclus) is one of the most dangerous parasites that can affect your pet. Tick paralysis is estimated to affect tens of thousands of dogs and cats per year in Australia, with many animals dying. The greatest risk is associated with high numbers of adult ticks in spring and summer, but disease can be seen throughout the year. Paralysis ticks are found on the east coast of Australia, from northern Queensland to Victoria. Signs of tick paralysis include loss of coordination in the hind legs (wobbly or not being able to get up) which may progress to the front legs, change in bark, retching, coughing or vomiting, loss of appetite, or laboured or rapid breathing. Any of these signs may indicate the presence of a paralysis tick.
Brown Dog & Bush Ticks:
Brown dog ticks and bush ticks do not cause tick paralysis, but they can cause skin irritation and also transmit other important diseases e.g. Babesia parasites which invade the red blood cells of dogs causing anaemia (which can be fatal).
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected under your pet’s skin, usually on their back near the shoulders. It can be done during a normal consultation. The microchip is embedded with a code unique to your pet and is the most effective form of permanent identification. This code is placed onto a national computer database, so it is particularly useful in the return of lost pets. They can also assist where the ownership of an animal is in dispute. In some states of Australia microchipping of pets is now compulsory.
If you move address or change your contact details, make sure you update your pet’s entry on the pet registry.
If a pet is ever lost and is handed in at a veterinary clinic or animal shelter a microchip scanner is passed over the animal to reveal the unique code. The vet or animal shelter can then refer to the database to identify the name, address and phone number of the owner, so they can be reunited.
If your pet is not microchipped please give us a call to make an appointment to have one inserted. If you find a lost pet please call us to arrange a scan so we can reunite microchipped pets with their worried owners.
Dentistry is a rapidly growing area of veterinary science. More and more we are understanding the significant effect dental health can have on the overall health of the animals we treat.
Dental disease typically begins with a build-up of plaque, consisting of bacteria, food particles and saliva components, on the teeth. Plaque sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed will calcify into tartar (also known as calculus). This appears as a yellow-brown material on the teeth. Over time the plaque and tartar can result in periodontal disease, which results can result in irreversible changes to the teeth and supportive structures.
Periodontal disease can result in local problems, such as red and inflamed gums, bad breath, and the loss of teeth. There is also growing evidence that periodontal disease can be associated with disease in distant organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. Ultimately, dental disease is more than just a cosmetic issue – it can be a cause of significant illness and pain in dogs and cats.
Common signs of dental disease
- Yellow-brown tar around gum line
- Inflamed red gums
- Bad breath
- Change in eating habits
- Pawing at the mouth or face
- Excessive drooling
- Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth
Our hospital is fully equipped to take radiographs (often called x-rays) and ultrasounds of your pet. Our veterinarians will discuss your pet’s case and conduct a thorough physical examination to determine if your pet requires scans. Radiographs and Ultrasounds are a very important tool to help us diagnose diseases in animals, particularly for conditions involving bones, the chest, abdomen or heart.
Most of our patients are admitted into hospital for the day to have scans taken, unless it is an emergency and we’ll take them immediately. We ask that you bring your pet in unfed on the morning of admission, as they will most likely be sedated or anaesthetised to allow us to take the best quality scan possible.
Once the scans have been taken we will give you a call or book an appointment for our veterinarians to show you the images and to discuss the diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet.
Regular nail inspection, with clipping or trimming when required, should be part of the routine care of your pet. Whilst many outdoor pets will wear their nails down naturally, elderly and indoor pets will probably need some extra help. The requirement for nail trimming can vary depending on breed, age, level of exercise and the environment in which your pet is kept. Working and herding breeds of dogs are active and generally have compact feet with well arched toes that angle the toenails downwards towards the ground. If these dogs are active on hard surfaces such as gravel, rock and concrete, their nails may not need trimming until they slow down with age and exercise less, however you will still need to attend to their dew claws (the little claws on the inside of their front legs that don’t touch the ground) regularly.
Other breeds may have nails that grow more forward than downward, and therefore no matter how much exercise they get on rough ground, it is unlikely they will wear down naturally. Some dogs may benefit from having the tips of their nails taken off once every week or two, however for most it will be longer than this, and you will have to decide what is right for your dog by inspecting its nails on a regular basis. Certainly if you notice a change in the sound of your dog’s nails on hard floors this is a pretty good indication that it is time for a trim.
Cats also require nail clipping, with the frequency depending on their lifestyle. Indoor-only cats will need more regular nail trims whereas outdoor cats may naturally wear their nails and require less frequent trimming.
What happens if my pet’s nails get too long?
If a pet’s nails are allowed to grow too long, they can split, break or bleed, causing soreness or infection in your pet’s feet and toes. Long nails can get caught and tear, or grow so long that they can curl backwards into a spiral shape that can make walking very painful for dogs (it’s a bit like walking in shoes that are too small). Cats are able to retract their claws so this is less common for them, however cats do still need to have their nails regularly clipped (especially if they don’t get much natural wear and tear).
Uncut nails may curl so far that they corkscrew all the way round and pierce the paw pad, leading to infection and debilitating pain. Nails should be inspected and/or trimmed on at least a monthly basis. If not, the quick can grow out with the nail, making it nearly impossible to cut properly. It is very important not to cut the quick of a nail as this is rich in nerve endings and very painful for the pet. If you do accidentally cut into the quick, pressing the nail into a bar of soap will effectively stop the bleeding. For pets with long quicks, in puppies and kittens with such short nails, or those with black nails which hide the quick, using a nail file can be a safer way to remove the sharp tips
We have a variety of nail clippers that suit different pets – from the very small to the very tall. Make an appointment today to have your pet’s nails checked. We can also teach you how to do it if you would prefer to cut them yourself.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease seen in all mainland states of Australia. Dogs are more susceptible to heartworm infestation than cats, and heartworm disease also tends to be more severe in dogs. Adult worms live within the heart and large blood vessels where they can grow to more than 30 cm in length. Heartworm larvae, more commonly called microfilariae, can also be found circulating in an infected dog’s blood.
Heartworms are transmitted from one dog to another by mosquitoes, which pick up the tiny microfilariae when they bite an infected dog. The microfilariae develop in the mosquito and are transmitted when the infected mosquito bites another dog. The heartworm larvae then migrate through the dog’s tissues and circulatory system, eventually reaching the heart and lungs where they grow into adult heartworms.
Heartworm may cause no clinical signs in the early stages of infestation, but as the worms grow and mature, they can interfere with the normal circulation of blood. This can result in signs of heart failure, and in some cases may lead to sudden death.
If your pet has not been on heartworm prevention we strongly recommend you speak to us about a heartworm test prior to starting a prevention program.
When an animal develops an unusual or more complex illness or injury, there is often a need for specialised expertise and equipment to properly diagnose and treat the problem. If your pet has a problem that requires this level of expertise we can refer you to a specialist that has earned our trust and confidence in order to give your pet the optimal chance of recovery.
Australian registered veterinary specialists undergo a rigorous training and examination process to obtain their qualifications, and like human specialists are considered to be the epitome of knowledge in their field. We work closely alongside the specialists and together can offer optimal care for pets that require this service.
Specialist veterinarians are independent from our clinic and set their own fees. It’s a good idea to ask them about costs when you call to make an appointment.
Our sense of responsibility doesn’t end just because you’ve taken your pet to a specialist. If you find yourself faced with difficult decisions regarding the recommended treatment, please don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll be pleased to help you evaluate your options.
Clinical pathology involves the laboratory evaluation of blood, bodily fluids or body tissues in order to identify existing disease. Common laboratory tests include blood chemistries, complete blood counts, blood clotting times, urinalysis, faecal tests, biopsy examination, cultures and infectious disease testing.
Our animal hospital is equipped with an in-house laboratory that allows our veterinarians to quickly perform many of these diagnostic tests to achieve an accurate and rapid diagnosis. This is especially important in very ill animals and those requiring immediate or emergency treatment. Some more specialised tests may need to be performed by an external veterinary laboratory.
Desexing or neutering your pet is a surgical procedure that prevents them from being able to reproduce. In male pets it is commonly referred to as “castration”, and in female pets as “spaying”.This is the most frequent surgery performed by our vets, and generally your pet is home by the evening of surgery.
The most common age to desex your pet is between 4 and 6 months, however they are never too old to be desexed.
Benefit of desexing your pet before 6 months:
- Preventing unwanted litters, which can be very costly, and may add to the already overwhelming number of stray animals that are put down each year
- Prevention of testicular cancer and prostate disease in males, and it can help prevent pyometra (infection of the uterus) and mammary tumours (breast cancer) in females
- Stopping the “heat” cycle in females
- Decreasing aggression towards humans and other animals, especially in males
- Being less prone to wander, especially in males
- Reduction of council registration fees
Common questions about desexing
|Will desexing affect my pet’s personality?||Your pet will retain their pre-operation personality, possibly with the added bonus of being calmer and less aggressive.|
|Should my female have one litter first?||Not it is actually better for her not to have any litters before being spayed. Her risk of developing breast cancer increases if she is allowed to go through her first heat.|
|Will it cause my pet to become fat?||Your pet’s metabolism may be slowed due to hormonal changes after desexing, however this is easily managed by adjusting feeding and ensuring adequate exercise.|
|Is desexing painful?||As with all surgery, there is some tenderness immediately after the procedure, but most pets will recover quickly. We administer pain relief prior to and after surgery. Your pet will be discharged with a short course of pain relief medication.|
|Will my dog lose its ‘guard dog’ instinct?||No, your dog will be just as protective of their territory as before the surgery.|
Our veterinarians’ high level of expertise and our practice’s fully equipped surgical suite allows us to perform the vast majority of soft tissue surgical procedures that your pet may require. Soft tissue surgery encompasses any surgery that is not related to bones.
A very common soft tissue surgery is the removal of lumps. Some lumps may require a biopsy prior to removal to help understand whether they are cancerous or not. This information assists us in planning the surgery accordingly to give your pet the best possible outcome. Once they have been removed we recommend sending them to our external laboratory for analysis.
Although most lumps are benign (not harmful), a minority are more serious (malignant). In the case of malignant (cancerous) tumours, early removal and an accurate diagnosis is extremely important to maximise the chances of a good outcome.
Common surgical procedures
- Exploratory Laparotomies
- Lump removals
- Wound stitch-ups
- Exploratory Laparotomies
- Lump removals
- Wound stitch-ups
- Removal of intestinal foreign bodies
Ophthalmology is the specific area of pet care involving treatment of an animal’s eyes. For certain breeds, this service also involves the examination and certification of breeding dogs to verify their eyes are in good condition.
Eye examinations require specific equipment, such as an ophthalmoscope (a magnifying light to look into the eye). Our veterinarians can also use a special dye called fluorescein which fluoresces a green/yellow colour under UV light to identify any damage to the cornea (the clear layer at the front of the eye). We may also use a tonometer to check the pressure inside your pet’s eye which is raised with a condition called glaucoma.
Many eye conditions can be treated medically, however, specific conditions may require surgery.
Eye procedures we provide
- Enucleation (removal) of the eye
- Entropion surgery to prevent ocular damage from inward pointing eyelids/eye lashes
- Ectropion surgery to correct outward facing lower eyelids
- Eyelid tumour removal
- Cherry eye surgery to correct a protruding third eyelid in dogs
- Surgery to repair corneal ulcers
Behavioural problems can be due to behavioural causes, medical causes, or both. Our veterinarians will investigate behavioural problems by obtaining a full history and conducting a full examination (sometimes your pet may require blood or urine tests to rule out underlying medical conditions) to accurately diagnose a problem. Behavioural problems are often the combined effect of many factors, including your pet’s environment and learning.
Genetics can also predispose your pet to some behaviours, however the expression of those behaviours will depend on your pet’s early socialisation and training.
Changes in the environment may contribute to the emergence of behavioural problems. For example, changes in routine, a new member of the household (pet, baby or spouse), moving house, or the loss of a family member or pet can have a dramatic impact on behaviour. Any medical or degenerative changes associated with ageing may cause the pet to be even more sensitive to these environmental changes.
Learning also plays a part in many behavioural problems. Early training and socialisation is essential to have a happy, well-adjusted pet. Punishment of behavioural problems often worsens the situation and it is very important that professional advice is obtained as soon as the problem appears to effectively resolve it. Positive reinforcement is the preferred method for changing behaviour, however this also needs to be used carefully as it can encourage undesirable behaviour if used incorrectly.
When it comes to your pet’s behaviour, it is extremely important to seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian or animal behaviour specialist. Changing problem behaviour requires commitment on behalf of the whole family, as everyone your pet interacts with will be responsible for encouraging desirable behaviour. For some problems such as barking, escaping, aggression, or separation anxiety it is beneficial to see the pet in its natural environment, thus a home visit may be appropriate. Some cases may also require medications alongside the new training techniques to get the best outcome.