Pet Health

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Pet pop-offs!


Ever been suffocated by stinky dog or cat flatulence? Battled to breathe while you’ve imagined he gets a little grin on his face?

Flatulence occurs when there’s a build up of gas in the colon. This is a normal occurrence when bacteria in the colon break down undigested food – the gas being produced is a by-product. Whilst it can be unpleasant to experience, it’s rarely an indication of a serious health problem.

So, what causes flatulence?

The usual cause of gassy explosions is dietary. Pet foods that are high in cereal and low in good quality protein are more likely to produce gas problems. These ingredients cannot be digested and absorbed properly in the animal’s small intestine, so more is available in the colon for the bacteria to utilise, thus producing large volumes of stinky gas.

Feeding table scraps or pets getting hold of spoiled food in the bin, are other common causes of digestive upsets resulting in an imbalance of the intestinal bacteria.

Some pets have allergies and intolerances e.g. many cats and dogs are lactose intolerant. As puppies and kittens get older and they’re no longer suckling from their mums, their intestines stop producing lactase and so can no longer digest lactose in dairy products. The lactose then passes through the small intestine and into the colon where the normal bacteria utilise it and produce large amounts of gas – stinky gas! This type of scenario can occur with many different food types, so if you notice your pet has an upset tummy or has a lot of flatulence after something you’ve fed, stay away from it in future.

Another common cause is when pets eat so quickly that they swallow a lot of air in the process. This is often the case in breeds that are enthusiastic eaters e.g. Labrador and Golden Retrievers and sometimes in shelter pets with an uncertain past that are anxious about where their next meal is coming from.

Sometimes medications can cause an imbalance in the normal balance of bacteria in the intestine e.g. a pet may have had a skin wound that needed a long course of antibiotics.

Very occasionally persistent flatulence can be an indication of an underlying medical problem.

What are the signs of over-production of intestinal gas?

  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Grumbly sounds from your pet’s tummy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea.

How can flatulence be reduced or prevented?

Feeding a high quality diet consistently is the best way to reduce and prevent flatulence in pets.

Feed a highly digestible food with all the required nutrients in the correct ratios. Premium foods tend to have the correct amount of high quality protein and be low in gas-producing cereals. We are very happy to discuss a food suited to your pet according to her breed, age, activity level and other health requirements – visit us or give us a call (3266 9992).
Do not feed table scraps. A once off ‘treat’ may be enough to set-off a tummy upset that lasts for weeks.
If your pet guzzles down his food, try feeding smaller meals more frequently or use a special feeding bowl. There are some bowls with a raised centre that makes your pet take smaller mouthfuls more slowly thus reducing the amount of air they swallow.
Be aware of your pet’s intolerances and allergies, and keep them away from those foods.
Ensure your pet is not able to get hold of old or spoiled food in the garbage.
Make sure your pet gets regular exercise. This can sometimes be surprisingly important in keeping your pet’s digestive system healthy.

When is it time to see the vet?

  • If your pet has a bloated or painful abdomen. There are some life-threatening emergencies where the only sign is that your pet’s tummy is sore and bloated – they need to be seen AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
  • If your pet’s appetite seems to be decreasing, they’ve started vomiting or had a bout of diarrhoea.
  • If they’re becoming listless or lethargic.
  • If they’re scooting or scratching at their bottoms.
  • If there is blood in their stool.
  • If the flatulence persists and you haven’t changed their diet or fed them anything out of the ordinary.

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

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

Chocolate toxicity

What happens if my dog eats chocolate?

THE EASTER BUNNY IS COMING!!! HOORAY!!! Who doesn’t love chocolate? Even dogs will eat it any chance they get. However, it is recommended that you do not give chocolate to dogs in any form. Chocolate can be very harmful / poisonous to dogs. Chocolate is made from cocoa, which contains a substance called theobromine that can be poisonous to dogs, resulting in severe illness. The level of toxicity depends on the amount and type of chocolate consumed, as well as the size of the animal. Different types of chocolate contain different concentrations of theobromine. The darker and the more bitter the chocolate: the more theobromine and the more toxic for the animal. For example, high quality dark or cooking chocolate contains more theobromine than milk chocolate. White chocolate contains very little theobromine. 30g of dark cooking chocolate may potentially poison a 20kg dog; yet 225g of milk chocoate would be required to cause problems.        

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may take a number of hours to develop and include:

  • Restlessness
  • Over-excitement/agitation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nervousness 
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Increased drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Possible Death.

What to do if your dog has or is suspected of consumed chocolate:

  • Take the chocolate away ASAP ( and dont eat it yourself in this instance)
  • Try to figure out an approximate amount of chocolate consumed by your dog
  • Call Northgate Veterinary Surgery for advice and for an appointment as soon as possible
  • The sooner the chocolate is removed from your dog and your dog is stabilised, the better his/her chances of escaping serious problem.

What happens on arrival to the Vet Clinic?

  • The Veterinarian may administer medication to induce vomiting and may also administer activated charcoal to reduce further absorption of chocolate from the gut. 
  • Your dog may require admission into hospital for monitoring and supportive treatments such as intravenous fluid therapy and management of seizures, irregular heart beats or other complications if they occur. 

Written by Natasha Jones, Veterinary Nurse

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

Posted in: Pet Health at 23 October 18