Pet Health

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Pet first aid

Over the course of your pet's life you may experience the occasional ‘accident’ that will require emergency veterinary care. These situations can be extremely stressful for you and your pet.  Being prepared and knowing what to do if the situation does arise can assist you to remain calm and make the most of a bad situation. 

In most emergency situations it will be recommended that your pet be assessed by a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

It is important to have contingency plans in place for emergency situations with your pet and that all members of the family are aware of what to do should the situation arise. It is recommended to have the number of your local veterinarian programmed into your phone or on the fridge so that the number can be obtained quickly when required. It is also worthwhile knowing where your nearest 24 hour emergency clinic is located as well as their contact number for any problems that may occur out of normal working hours or on the weekend. At Northgate Vet Surgery, we recommend the Pet ER at 263 Appleby Rd Stafford Heights. They can be contacted after hours on phone 3359 5333. 

 Wounds/Trauma/Bleeding.

Be aware that any pet that has undergone trauma will likely be painful and may act differently or even aggressively when you are trying to move them. Be careful! If your pet is trying to bite, sometimes using a large blanket or towel and placing it over their head before trying to move them will help to avoid bites. A large sheet or blanket can be used as a makeshift sling to move large pets. It is important to note that most of the readily available human pain relief and anti-inflammatories available are generally toxic to pets and should be avoided at all costs. 

A basic ‘first aid kit’ for pets, containing some sterile wound dressings and bandage material is worthwhile having at home. Many of the bandaging products that you have in your own (human) first-aid-kit will be suitable to use in pets. 

If your pet has a bleeding wound, pressure should be applied to it – this could be done with a clean towel. If the wound is on an extremity like the paw or tail you may be able to place a compressive dressing using some sterile gauze and crepe bandage material (readily found in most first aid kits), to help stem bleeding prior to having the wound assessed by a veterinarian. 

All wounds, but particularly those caused by cat or dog bites, should be assessed by a veterinarian ASAP no matter how small they appear externally.  The potential for extensive trauma to underlying tissues and development of infection is high. 

  Snake bites

Summertime in Queensland is a beautiful time of the year to be outside with your pets! It is also unfortunately a time of the year that snakes and paralysis ticks like to be outside (or in some cases inside) as well. They are more prevalent in certain areas – particularly bushy areas, but also in yards where there are wood piles and large amounts of leaf litter.

Symptoms of snake envenomation include – weakness, lethargy, paralysis, discolouration of urine, tremors, leading to collapse and possible sudden death.  If you witness your pet being bitten by a snake you may attempt to apply a tourniquet to the bite site, but otherwise the pet should be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.  If you have the ability to take the snake to the vet safely (ie. if the snake has been killed by your pet) this can be useful to identify what type of antivenom is required. We do not recommend killing the snake yourself – this is actually an illegal and reportable offence.  If the snake is still alive on your property, you should call a registered ‘snake catcher’ to remove the snake and relocate it to a safe place.  

 Tick paralysis

Paralysis ticks are another inevitable pet-predator throughout the spring/summer months.  Tick season is usually from late August through to March, although some areas may see ticks almost all year round.  Symptoms of tick paralysis include – weakness, lethargy, inappetance, vomiting/retching with development of paralysis and respiratory distress.  First aid for tick-affected pets is limited to keeping the pet as calm, cool and rested as possible until such time as they can be seen by a veterinarian. Stress and vigorous exercise can exacerbate symptoms of tick paralysis. 

To avoid the potential for tick paralysis, it is recommended to have your pet regularly treated with a preventative therapy.  Bravecto and Nexgard are newer products on the market that are associated with excellent tick-kill rates. 

What to do if my pet eats something poisonous

A common emergency scenario in our pets occurs when they eat something they shouldn’t!  Chocolate, plant material, cleaning products, socks/undies, toys…you name it – we have seen them eat it!!  If we can catch them early enough we can potentially avoid any problems by getting them to vomit. 

In the case of a known indiscriminate ingestion, our best first aid advice is to speak to a veterinarian – let them know exactly what, when and how much has been eaten and how big your pet is. They will let you know if vomiting should be induced and or any other course of action required.  

There is no safe way to get your pet to vomit at home.  Syrup of ipecac, large amounts of salt, washing soda crystals or hydrogen peroxide may be associated with severe side effects and can be extremely difficult to administer. It is recommended to take your pet to a veterinarian ASAP so that a safer drug can be used to induce rapid vomiting that is reversible.

​© Copyright 2016. Northgate Veterinary Surgery, Queensland. All rights reserved.

Posted in: Pet Health at 23 October 18

Thinking of a new pet?

Choosing a new pet can be such an exciting time for the entire family! Pet ownership is extremely rewarding – the right pet in the right situation can become a valued and irreplaceable part of one’s life.    

It is important to remember before purchasing a new pet however, that pet ownership is a huge responsibility.  As a pet owner you are responsible for providing all the requirements of your pet – food, exercise, housing, grooming and veterinary care throughout its entire life. It is a sad fact that pet shelters are overflowing with animals that their previous owners could not or did not want to continue to look after for various reasons.

Purchasing a pet, therefore, should never be taken lightly or on impulse.
Some of the big things to consider include: 


1. Can I look after my pet for its whole life?

With advancements in pet health care as well as general changes to pet lifestyles in Australia, pets are living longer than ever.  The average lifespan for a dog is near to 10 years of age, although many dogs can live until their late teens and beyond.  Cats will often live even longer (and the 20+ year old cat is no longer that uncommon). 

2. Can I afford a pet?

A new pet will not only involve costs associated with the purchase of that pet but you will also be responsible for the lifelong financial care of that pet. 

New puppies or kittens will require vaccinations, microchipping, desexing and worming/flea treatments. Adult pets will require dental care, annual vaccinations, and routine heartworm/worm/flea prevention throughout their life. The cost of food for your pet should also be considered, as well as grooming for longer-haired pets. Also consider that larger pets will cost more to treat than smaller pets as treatment doses are often based on weight. 

Veterinary care can be expensive. It is strongly recommended that new pet owners consider obtaining insurance for their new pet.  Good pet insurance coverage can prove to be a massive help for any unexpected health problems or emergencies that may crop up over a pets lifetime. 

3. Do I understand how to care for my pet?

It is your responsibility, as a pet owner, to thoroughly research the basic requirements of your chosen pet. You should do this before considering purchasing your pet and prior to bringing your pet home so that you are well informed about the species-specific needs of your pet and so you're ready to take good care of it. 

Consider talking to us about your needs/wants in purchasing a new pet. It is recommended that you research any breed-specific problems you may come across. Be aware that some insurance companies will exclude breed-specific conditions. If you are considering adopting a pet from a shelter, you should talk to the staff with regards to any underlying behavioural or health issues that pet might have and what it will entail to look after them. 

4. Does my lifestyle suit the pet that I would like – Do I have enough time?

Before purchasing a pet you should consider how owning this specific type of pet may affect your lifestyle.

Puppies and kittens in particular, will require a very large time investment devoted to their training, socialisation and exercise. Adult animals will also require variable time investment, dependent on their species/size/breed that may include daily exercise/play and mental stimulation. Bored animals can develop undesirable and potentially destructive behavioural traits which can be very difficult to reverse. 

Some questions to ask yourself before purchasing a new pet include –

Are you prepared to walk your dog everyday?
Are you home often enough to keep your cat or dog company and give them attention?
Do you have time to give your puppy or kitten the basic reward-based training it needs?
Who will care for your pet when you are away from home?
Do I have suitable accommodation/space for a pet?

Before purchasing a pet consider:

Am I actually permitted to have a pet in my home? – This is particularly important for renters.
Do you have a yard? Is it secure?
Where will your pet be housed when you aren’t at home? Where will your pet toilet? 

© Copyright 2016. Northgate Vet Surgery. All rights reserved.

Posted in: Pet Health at 23 October 18

Heat stress

Heat Stroke

What is Heat Stroke?

Hyperthermia, or heat stroke, as it is commonly referred to is a term used for severe overheating and an increase in temperature above the normal range for a canine which can lead to health issues.

How can my pet get heatstroke?

Any activity which can cause an excess of overheating such as walking, running and agility training can lead to hyperthermia, however the most common reason patients are admitted for treatment is due to owners leaving their pets in hot cars or yards without shaded areas.

Symptoms:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive  salivation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blueish or brick red gums
  • Dizziness and stumbling
  • Seizure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death.

Prevention:

  • Provide plenty of water in the warmer months and increase the areas of access
  • Provide plenty of shaded areas in the backyard
  • Avoid walking your pet between the hours of 9am-3pm
  • Provide some stimulating activities such as shell pools filled with water or ice
  • Provide shade for dogs that travel in ute trays
  • NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG LOCKED IN A HOT CAR.

First aid:

  • Immerse pet in cool water (ensure the water is not cold or icy)
  • If possible check temperature and heart rate
  • For transport wrap your pet in a wet towel
  • Transport to the closest veterinary clinic as soon as possible and inform them of the situation prior to arrival
  • NEVER FORCE YOUR PET TO DRINK WATER.

What treatment will my pet receive at the vet?

Once your pet reaches the veterinary clinic, a nurse of veterinarian will check the vital signs including temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate. The patient will have an intravenous catheter placed into its forelimb and intravenous fluids will be administered to lower the patient’s temperature and rehydrate. Some oxygen may be provided if required. Other methods of cooling may be used such as wet towels and air conditioning, once the patient is deemed stable by a veterinarian a nurse will continue to monitor your pets temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate to ensure firstly, the patient is stable and secondly, the patient is not being cooled down to much which can cause hypothermia. Depending on the severity of heat stroke your patient may be discharged within a few hours, other patients may need to be kept hospitalised for a period of time deemed suitable by the veterinarian.

Written by Jessica Albertson, Veterinary Nurse 

​© Copyright 2016. Northgate Veterinary Surgery, Queensland. All rights reserved.

Posted in: Pet Health at 23 October 18

lost pets

There are few things as distressing to a pet owner as coming home to an empty house instead of being greeted by your enthusiastic four-legged friend. There are several thousand pets that go missing each year whether they’ve found a hole in the fence, the gate’s been left open or they’ve pulled out of a collar while on a walk. So what can be done to ensure you get your little friend back as soon as possible?

Microchips

It is law in Queensland that all dogs and cats older than 12 weeks need to be microchipped before being sold/given to a new owner. Why is this so important? A microchip is always with the pet – it can’t fall off! If your pet is found and taken to a vet surgery, RSPCA or other welfare organisation or collected by your council he/she can be scanned and the chip number is instantly available. The code stored on the chip is unique to your pet, and provided you keep your details up-to-date with the registry, it is very easy to contact you to get ‘Banjo’ back as quickly as possible. A microchip needs to be inserted by an authorised implanter (usually your vet) and the owner’s details sent on to the registry. The registry should send out a confirmation letter within 6 weeks to confirm your animal’s registration. If you do not receive a letter, please contact the implanter and registry to confirm your pet’s details. Remember to update any changes to address or telephone numbers if any of these should change.

Pet Collars and Identification (ID) Tags

Pets with collars and ID tags make it quick and easy for anyone to contact you if your dog or cat has gone astray. If you have up-to-date contact details with telephone numbers (try to include at least one mobile and landline) anyone can ring you to let you know where your little friend is and how you can get them home again. All dogs in Queensland must be registered with the local council. Check with your local council whether your cat must be registered. Registered pets have special tags with unique registration numbers attached to their collars. Once again, this makes an easy reference for the council to contact you should your missing pet be found. Ensure these registration details are also kept up-to-date.

Contact ‘Lost and Found’ Services

Call your local council, call your local RSPCA and any vet surgeries in the vicinity where your pet went missing. There are also specific ‘Lost and Found’ services that you can contact such as the Brisbane North Lost Pet Register who have a Facebook page and network to help locate lost pets.

Please provide the following information:

  • your name and contact details
  • your pet’s name
  • your pet’s registration number
  • a description of your pet
  • where and when your pet was last seen
  • your pet’s microchip number.

Here is a list of contact numbers:

  • Queensland RSPCA: Lost & Found / Pet D Tect 1300 363 736
  • Brisbane City Council: 07 3403 8888
  • Queensland Lost Pet Register: 0403 745 647 (8am – 2pm) or 0438 882 466 (2pm – 8pm)

You can also contact the Animal Shelters in your area to check whether they have collected your pet. In Brisbane, they are the Warra Animal Shelter in Bracken Ridge on the Northside and Willawong Animal Shelter in Willawong on the South.

New Technology:

Although it is not very widely used at this stage, there is new GPS technology which is allowing pet owners to know the precise location of their pet at any one time. These are particularly useful for pets that spend a lot of their time going bush walking and camping. One example is the TrakaPet unit available through the RSPCA.

Put up posters in your local area:

Although this is ‘old’ technology, someone walking past a poster at your local coffee shop may recognise your pet. Ensure your contact details are clearly displayed along with a recent photograph and description. Always remember to ask permission from shop and business owners first.

Please contact us on (07) 3266 9992 if you need any further help or information on microchips, ID tags and locating your lost pet – we’ll be happy to help re-unite your family!

Written by Dr Bronwen Thompson for Northgate Veterinary Surgery

Copyright 2016. Northgate Veterinary Surgery, Queensland. All rights reserved.

Posted in: Pet Health at 23 October 18

Pet Insurance

Affording the Best Veterinary Care For Your Pet

The words "bargain” and "veterinary care” really do not go together, or if they do it means cutting costs and providing substandard care to provide a cheap service. This is now more important than ever as newer technologies like MRI scans are being used, and specialist services supplied by highly trained veterinarians, in state-of- the-art hospitals are commonplace. Even your local vets like The Northgate Veterinary Surgery, which is more comparable to a regional base hospital than to your local GP, cannot provide quality treatment without charging for it, and while there are many low cost diagnostics and treatments performed, it is common for bills to become substantial even in these non-specialist clinics. See the following examples of veterinary costs for some common conditions. 

Case 1 : 8 year old female Labrador with a ruptured cruciate ligament

(Treatment over 4 month period)
Initial assessment, x-rays and pain relief $370
Referral to specialist with surgical repair $3650
Rechecks, antibiotics, additional pain relief $390
Total $4410
Outcome: Very happy dog back to full use of leg after 6 months.

Case 2 : 3 year old male cat in motor vehicle accident at 10pm at night
(treatment over 1 month)

Emergency afterhours treatment $780
X-rays, wound repair and ongoing care at regular vet $670
Tail amputation performed at local vet due to nerve paralysis 1 month later $590
Total $2040
Outcome: Alive and well, and getting used to his new look.

Case 3 : 9 year old male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with heart disease (treatment over 14 months)

Treatment for acute effects of congestive heart failure over 3 days $420
Specialist cardiac assessment $480
Ongoing medications at $170/month $2380
Regular rechecks and blood tests $594 
total $3874
Outcome: Much cherished pet living with no significant signs of disease for another 14 months from point of diagnosis of congestive heart failure. Greatly missed by devoted owner, but thankful for the substantial increase in life expectancy from new cardiac drugs.

If we take a moment to think about it, all quality medical services, be they human or veterinary, are very expensive to supply. They involve expensive equipment and medical drugs, as well as the premises to house them. There is also the human capital – the dedicated staff required to tend to sick patients. While we do not see most of the cost of human health services, thanks to heavy government funding through our taxes, many of us still use private health insurance to cover those medical expenses that we cannot get for free. 

Veterinary expenses on the other hand are all private expenses.  There are no taxpayer funded animal clinics, no bulk billing and no pet pharmaceutical benefits scheme. There is no public alternative when your pet gets sick or injured, yet rates of pet insurance uptake in Australia is still quite low.

We all hope our pets do not become ill or require treatment for accidents, but if they do, it is much easier for both the pet owner and the veterinarian, if affordability is less of an issue, so that the appropriate tests and treatments are offered. Contrast this with a situation where treatment is started without a diagnosis, or a cheaper substandard treatment is offered. In some cases, the only option is to choose no treatment at all, with the pet either living with a degree of chronic pain or sickness, or alternatively having to be euthanased if the suffering would be unacceptable without treatment. This is the very real situation which owners and vets face every day and we ask you to consider what you would do, and how you would feel if one of the examples above happened to your pet.

When discussing the financial responsibilities of a new pet, we say to owners that it is entirely possible to expect that at some time in their life, their pet will have an illness or injury which could leave them with a bill for veterinary fees of up to a few thousand dollars and quite probable that fees ranging from several hundred to just over one thousand dollars will occur. Therefore it is worth either having those funds set aside or to have their pet insured. In reality, most people don’t have enough ready cash to set up this sort of bank account for their pet, which then leaves pet insurance the only option.

While we can't tell you which health insurance is the best for your pet, we would advise to get a "stand alone” policy rather than one that adds a small amount of cover (usually about $500) to your home insurance, as we find that while cheap, the cover is often inadequate. We also advise to get a policy that covers for illness as well as injury, as many diseases are not due to accidents and you can find yourself still not covered. In general, you can get a good policy for about $10 a week for dogs and less for cats. Important things to compare include:

  • Amount of annual cover
  • Whether an excess is applicable
  • The percentage of veterinary fees that are covered (some are 100% with a small excess)
  • Whether excess or cover is affected by age of the pet or the age at which cover is first provided
  • Whether things like congenital or hereditary conditions are covered, and if there are specific exclusions such as the treatment for hip dysplasia or dental treatment.

Information on insurance policies can be found on an internet search for "Pet Insurance” and we have brochures from several companies at the clinic. The final word about Pet Insurance is that we advise that if you are thinking about it then please do not delay. You cannot get insurance after the event and there are many stories of pets getting sick or injured before an owner has had time to get cover. Also, injuries such as a anterior cruciate ligament ruptures that might cause chronic arthritis, or illnesses including diabetes which require ongoing treatment, or even chronic skin allergies that cause recurrent skin infections will often be covered, but not if they are pre-existing and have been treated before insurance is purchased.

We do not endorse any one particular insurance company but here is a list of some of the popular ones:

  • Bow Wow Meow - www.bowwowinsurance.com.au
  • Prosure - www.prosure.com.au
  • Medibank Private - www.medibank.com.au/pet-insurance
  • Pet Plan - www.petplan.com.au
  • Pet Secure - www.petsecure.com.au
  • AFS Pet Med - www.afspetmed.com.au

Written by Dr Bernie Bredhauer for Northgate Veterinary Surgery

​© Copyright 2016. Northgate Veterinary Surgery, Queensland. All rights reserved.

Posted in: Pet Health at 23 October 18

Winter pet care

During the winter months, we all rug up and keep warm inside near the heater or fire. During this time, we spend more time indoors and may forget about keeping pets' vaccinations up to date or keeping parasites under control.

In Queensland, it is especially important to ensure that we don't have gaps in treatments since our winter climate is milder than the southern states and many viruses and parasites are able to survive here or even continue multiplying. This means that come summer time, the intestinal worm, flea or tick populations can be very high and cause major problems.

Mosquitoes are also able to exist over winter here, so the threat of heartworm transmission to your pet is a year-round, life-threatening concern.

Ensure that vaccinations are always up-to-date. These dangerous diseases can be contracted at any time of the year.

If you're not sure of your pet's vaccination status or which products to use for parasite control, please pop-in or give us a call and one of the vets or nurses will give you a programme tailor-made for your pet and household.  

Written by Dr Bronwen Thompson for Northgate Veterinary Surgery

​© Copyright 2016. Northgate Veterinary Surgery, Queensland. All rights reserved.

Posted in: Pet Health at 23 October 18

Helping a baby possum

It is a common occurrence for joeys to be brought into the veterinary clinic.  When a baby possum is found alone, most of the time it is because they lost their grip from their mother. Always look around to try to find the baby’s mother. Possums are very territorial and if she is still alive she will most likely remain in the area searching for her baby. Before going near the joey, ensure that the mother is not in sight. If you see the mother, it is best to leave the baby possum where you found it. If you find a dead female possum, check the pouch to ensure there are no joeys inside. If there is a joey attached to the teat, do not pull the joey off as it may damage the joey’s palate, which will eventually kill the joey. It is best to bring the deceased mother, with the joey still inside the pouch, into the veterinary clinic.           

Identifying the Type of Possum:

Ringtail Possum (above photo)

  • Long, thin tail with a white tip
  • Small, rounded ears
  • Brown to black fur
  • Pale fur on belly

Brushtail Possum (below photo)

  • Long, furry black tail with a hairless strip
  • Large, pointed cat like ears
  • Thick grey to brown fur

What to do:

  • Remember where the joey was found
  • It is best to use gloves to pick up the possum
  • Place the baby possum in a dark pouch such as a sock
  • Place the joey inside a small box or carrier with towels to keep the joey secure
  • Do not hold the joey unless necessary
  • Use either body temperature or a hot water bottle to keep the possum warm
  • During transport, ensure the possum is safe
  • Transport to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible

What happens next?

Once the possum is brought to the veterinary clinic, the veterinarian will assess the joey, checking for injuries. If injuries are present, the veterinarian may choose to either treat the possum in clinic or transfer the patient to the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital for treatment. If the joey shows no signs of injury, a Wildlife Carer will be called to collect the possum. It is best for the Ringtail joey to be with a Wildlife Carer as they do much better in pairs or small groups. Ringtail joeys are more delicate than Brushtail joeys and require more dedication to care for. It is still best to have the Brushtail joeys in a Wildlife Carers care, as they are more familiar with the requirements the joey needs. Once the joey is at an appropriate age, they will then be released back into the wild. 

Written by Natasha Jones, Veterinary Nurse

​© Copyright 2016. Northgate Veterinary Surgery, Queensland. All rights reserved.

Posted in: Pet Health at 23 October 18