Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How To Stop Your Dog From Digging

If you have a dog, chances are your canine friend has dug more than their fair share of holes in your backyard.

Dogs dig for many reasons – boredom, hunting, comfort, attention-seeking, and instinct to name a few.

To an extent, we should just accept that some amount of digging is okay, and is simply part of owning a dog.

However, to help ensure your dog’s digging doesn’t get out of hand, VetShopAustralia’s Dr. Mark has a few reliable tips to keep your pooch, your yard and you at peace.

dogs digging

Diagnose The Problem

The best way to change your dog’s behaviour is to first get to the source of the problem.

Some digging can be random and difficult to diagnose, however most of the time there will be discernible reasons for the behaviour. 

Dogs often dig holes for one or more of the following reasons: entertainment, physical comfort, attention-seeking, escape, or prey-seeking.

So to help you understand the reason why your dog digs, start off by identifying when, where and why your dog is digging.

dog sitting in grass

Give Your Dog More Attention

Alike children, canines are not all that different when it comes to getting your attention by whatever means necessary.

Your dog may have learned that digging a hole in your new veggie patch gets attention from you, even if that attention is of the negative variety.

If you believe this may be the case, ignore your dog after the digging and lavish your dog with attention for good behaviour.

Additionally, try ensure your dog has plenty of time with you on other occasions. A happy dog won’t need to find attention in all the wrong places.

Punishing your dog for digging by banishing them from your presence is only likely to exacerbate the bad behaviour.

You may even consider bringing your dog to work with you, so you can keep an eye on your fur friend – plus pets make work more fun!

If you'd like to learn about how pets in the workplace is good for your health, watch our short video here.

lady kissing dog

Reduce Your Dog’s Boredom

Often for no other reason, dogs will dig simply because they are bored.

Signs that your dog is bored may include; staring at the fence for a long period of time, whining, or engaging in playful or ‘hyperactive’ behaviour, such as, you guessed it, digging holes.

To help put a stop to your dog’s boredom, try providing entertainment with toys and playtime – try to rotate the toys every so often to keep your dog excited.

In particular, KONG Dog Toys are designed to keep your dog entertained and chewing for hours, especially when combined with KONG Stuff’N Snacks, or even a spoonful of natural peanut butter.

Another way to avoid your dog’s boredom is to provide routine and exercise with walks and runs.

Try walking your dog at least once a day and consider playing games such as fetch along the way. This will really get them tuckered out – a tired dog is not a digging dog.

And finally, let your dog socialise with other dogs. Take your dog to the local dog park or dog beach and let them sniff, saunter, and socialise to their heart’s content.

active couple with dog

Remove Temptations

The more temptations that your dog has, the harder it is for them to resist digging.

If you can create a yard that is less tempting to dig holes in, your dog’s behaviour will be much easier to keep under control.

Below is a list of the most common temptations and how to overcome them.
  • Freshly Tilled Dirt: Dogs enjoy digging in freshly tilled earth, so if you're working in the garden, try remove fresh dirt from your dog’s reach with a fence or covering. 
  • Buried Bones: Go out and dig up any bones or other items that your dog has buried. Also try avoid your dog seeing you do this, or it may be seen as part of the fun. Fill the hole back in and add discouragements such as large rocks, citrus peels or chicken wire. 
  • Gardening: If you do gardening, don't let your dog see you till or dig in the earth, as this would simply be positive reinforcement. If you can do it, why can’t I?

dog sniffing

If you have any other great tips for helping with your dog’s digging, please let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below. And if you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

6 Superfood Ingredients for a Healthy Dog

Superfoods for my dog…? That seems a little far-fetched don’t you think?

To answer the question, not at all!

We’re not talking about goji berries, or organic flaxseeds, we’re talking about affordable wholefoods that are possibly already sitting in your pantry or fridge. 

In fact, there are many superfoods that humans and dogs can share, so it won’t even cost you an extra cent.

And besides being awfully convenient and money saving, superfoods are a fantastic way to keep your dog healthy, strong and living long (plus they fight disease, boost energy and taste great)!

To make things even easier, they can be added to your dog’s specifically formulated pet food, or mixed in with their home cooked meals.

So without further ado, here are Dr Mark’s top 6 Superfood Ingredients for a Healthy Dog.

If you'd like to read more about pet nutrition, check out Dr Mark's Dog Food Safety Guide & learn what human foods are safe and unsafe for your pet. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

5 Ways to Reduce Excessive Shedding in Pets

I think we can speak for everyone here  one of the biggest nuisance’s pet owners are faced with is unwanted hair in your homes.

Nearly every dog and cat – regardless of their age or breed, sheds.

While you cannot stop them from shedding all together, there are a number of methods to help reduce the amount of loose hair on your pet.

To help you out, Dr Mark has come up with his top 5 Ways to Reduce Excessive Shedding in Pets.

1. Healthy Diet

Poor nutrition is not only a big contributor to a dull looking coat, but it also increases the amount of shedding on your pet.

Just like us, pets aren’t going to look healthy on the outside, if they’re not feeling healthy on the inside. 

Therefore, to get your pet on track for a healthy coat, it’s best to begin from the inside out. 

A great place to start is trying them on a specifically formulated food such as Hill’s Science Diet Canine Adult Sensitive Skin or Hills Feline Z/D Skin/Food Sensitivities.

And if you have the time, we suggest experimenting with homemade meals for your pet.

That way you know exactly what is going into their meals, and there will be no hidden nasties.

To find out what foods are safe and unsafe for your pet, view our helpful guide here.

2. Brush Regularly

Not only does regular brushing create time for you and your pet to bond, but it also stimulates the skin and hair follicles.

This helps to increase the natural production of skin oils, making your pet’s coat shiny, healthy and strong. 

If you can, try brush your pet every couple of days, especially if they have a medium to long coat.

The Gripsoft Rubber Curry Brush works great to remove dead and shedding hair, whilst giving your pet a massage at the same time.

3. Bathe Often

How often you bathe your pet should depend on the length of their coat, and also how dirty they are.

Bathing once a month is a good general guideline, however if they make it a regular thing to run amuck in the mud, you may have to bathe them a little more often.

It’s important to understand that although it’s nice to have a clean smelling pet, you don’t want to bathe them too regularly, as this risks stripping the coat of essential oils. 

The Aloveen Oatmeal Shampoo is a medicated shampoo formulated to soothe any dryness, reduce shedding, and promote a glowing healthy coat.

4. A Little Oil

Adding 1 tsp – 1 tbs of oil into your pet’s food can help to keep their coat strong and shiny, and their skin healthy. 

Try flaxseed, olive or coconut oil – just make sure you don’t give them too much as this can lead to diarrhea. 

Alternatively, giving them a simple supplement such as PAW Dermega Omega 3 & 6 contains a combination of oils that assists with maintaining a healthy coat.

5. Sun Protection

Pets that have limited to no shelter from the elements, and spend most of their time outdoors, will naturally have coats that shed more, and are thicker and dryer.

This is due to their coats changing to provide them with natural protection. 

The best way to avoid this if you do have an outside pet, is to ensure they have a decent sized area to reside outside of the weather, and if possible try discourage them from lying in the sun for too long. 

Also, make sure they are staying hydrated and have access to fresh, cool water at all times.

If you have any other great tips for helping with your pet’s shedding, please let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below. And if you’d like more vet approved pet health advice sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to Perform CPR on your Pet

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also known as CPR, is a life-saving procedure used to help not only humans, but pets too, that have stopped breathing and/or have no heartbeat. 

When a pet stops breathing, the oxygen levels in their bloodstream fall rapidly, and without oxygen vital organs such as the brain, liver, and kidneys will fail.

Permanent damage can occur in little as 3-4 minutes of respiratory failure, so it is SO important that you know what to do, and to act on it fast.

dog and cat

We understand that seeing your pet not breathing and unresponsive can be a very frightening experience, and something you hope to never have to see.

But as a good pet parent, take a moment to equip yourself with the knowledge to effectively recognise and take action in a life threatening situation.

Or click here to get our FREE step by step guide on How to Perform CPR on Pets. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

6 Tips for Moving House with a Cat

Even under the best circumstances, moving house is a very stressful time for everyone – particularly for our feline friends.

Different to dogs, all the packing, the routine changes, and those strange smells at your new home are reason enough for cats to stress and feel anxious. 

Not only can cats show signs of aggression, house soiling and excessive meowing or crying, cats also form definite attachments to places and often try to return to their old home.

But with our 6 tips for moving house with a cat, we ensure your move will be stress-free as possible, and guarantee your cat will accept their new address in no time. 

1. Consider Boarding

It may be useful to place your cat in boarding the day before you move and bring them home when everything is a little more settled. 

This will avoid the risk of your cat escaping and going miss, plus it allows you to get furniture set up and in place, before adding your cat into the mix. 

This will also allow for a much calmer environment to bring your cat home to and begin to become familiar with. 

cat boaring

2. Carrier Tips

Whether your cat voluntarily gets inside their carrier, or is nearly impossible to get in, bring it out a few days before your moving date.

Many cats will eventually start to explore this strange new space, and may even start sleeping in there (try putting a clean towel inside).

You can even start feeding them close to the carrier, to help them become a little more comfortable around it.

And when the moving day does come around, make sure their carrier has a nice absorbent towel base – as some cats are known to soil themselves out of fear or stress.

cat carrier

3. Feliway

Cats see and experience the world a lot differently to us.

They see things in clouds of different scents, so when we pack, move furniture and introduce them to a new environment, their whole world changes.

Their senses are practically bombarded with new stimuli.

This is quite a traumatic time for them, as cats like routine, patterns and predictability – basically they don’t like change.

So to make things a little easier for them, try using a Feliway Diffuser prior to the move and plug it in somewhere your cat spends most of their time.

A good idea is to also plug one in at your new house (ideally 24 hours prior to your cat’s arrival) and set them up in a small room of the house. 

That way they will be exposed to the pheromones in a small space, and allow them to experience the changes in a slightly better frame of mind. 

feliway diffuser

4. Before the Move

A few weeks before moving house some general things to consider include:

  • Make sure your cat is microchipped and wearing a collar with a pet tag that is up to date with correct phone numbers.
  • If they are home on the moving day, restrict them to a small and quiet space in the house (laundry, bathroom or bedroom).
  • Try to keep your cat’s routine as similar as possible and don’t forget to schedule some cuddles and playtime at the end of a long day.
  • If you’re travelling a far distance by car, consult your vet about any health concerns that could impact your cat’s well-being.
  • Avoid feeding them breakfast on the morning of the move as this may contribute to an upset tummy.

cosy cat

5. During the Move

If your cat isn’t placed in boarding during moving some general things to consider include:

  • Keep your cat safely enclosed in their carrier until you're in an enclosed room at your new place. And try not to open the carrier to ‘comfort’ them during transit as they may make a quick dash and try escape.
  • Do not leave your cat unattended in a hot car or out in the sun in their carrier. A car can heat to dangerous temperatures within 10 minutes, even on a relatively mild day.
  • Avoid putting food or water in their carrier, unless you are planning on being on the road for more than 12 hours. 
  • For lengthy journeys, ensure the carrier is big enough for a littler tray and have food bowls that ideally can be refilled from the outside, and won’t spill during transport. 

cat on leash

6. After the Movie

Once you have moved house some general things to consider include:

  • Set your cat up in a small room; the bathroom or laundry are ideal. And let them get use to this one small space where they have food, water, litter, Feliway, plus some things that smell familiar – basically set it up like a nice cosy home.
  • After a few days, let you cat suss out another room, and gradually allow them to explore their new environment. 
  • Do not let your cat outside for at least 2-4 weeks after a move. And when you do decide to let them out, make sure the initial access is supervised and ideally just let them out into a fenced area. Cats are easily startled and will often dash out into another cat’s or dog’s territory or the road. Some cats have been known to return to their old homes, so the longer you keep them inside, the better.
  • Avoid letting your pet outside after dusk and before dawn to comply with the RSPCA recommendations to not only protect your cat, but the wildlife too. 

cat in trees

Overall, you can’t help that your cat is a creature of habit, so moving can be quite stressful for them. We do hope that these tips will help to make the whole process a little easier, and smooth as possible for you and your feline friend. 

For more pet health tips, visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/pethealth

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What to do if Your Pet is Bitten by a Snake

Do you know what to do if your pet was bitten by a snake…?

We are now well and truly in the warmest months of the year, and during this season snakes become much more active.

As a pet owner, it's SO important to be aware and safeguard your pets from snake bites, and also be able to identify the signs and take appropriate action if your pet has been bitten. 

Let Dr Mark take you through all you need to know about snakes, snake bites, the action you need to take if your pet is bitten, and how you can protect your fur-family from these deadly creatures. 

lady and dog

The Snake

The tiger and brown snake are responsible for most of the snake bites in domestic pets across Australia.

Tiger snakes have a bite that can be fatal to not only pets, but humans too. They have a toxin that breaks down muscle causing damage or failure of the kidneys, muscle weakness and even paralysis.

Brown snake venom, being the most potent of them all, can damage tissues and impair many of the body’s vital functions; they attack the nervous system and interfere with the body’s clotting mechanisms. Paralysis may also occur but will not happen immediately - can sometimes take up to 18 hours. And in severe cases, immediate death from heart attack can happen, but this is very rare. 

Signs your pet has been bitten by a snake include:

  • Sudden weakness followed by collapse
  • Shaking or twitching of the muscles and difficulty blinking
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paralysis
  • Blood around bite area
  • Blood in urine

tiger snake and brown snake

The Bite

Dogs will often try chase or play with snakes, resulting in snake bites usually around the face and front legs.

Cats, being hunters, are also susceptible to snake bites and are usually bitten around the mouth and head region. 

The sort of reaction your pet has to a snake bite is determined by a number of factors; the type of snake, the amount of venom in injected, the site of the snake bite, and also what type of pet you have (approximately 90-95% of cats are known to survive snake bites if treated with anti-venom, whereas approximately 70% of dogs are known to survive if treated with anti-venom).

Generally, the closer the bite is to the heart, the quicker the venom will spread to the rest of the body.

It's also important to note that at the beginning of summer, when snakes first emerge from hiberation, their venom glands tend to be fuller and their bites at this time are much more severe. The length of time since the snake last struck can also be a contributing factor.

sad dog

The Action

If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake, it's important to remain calm and quiet and take them to the vet immediately. 

Your pet's chances of full recovery will be much greater if they're treated early – some pets have recovered within 48 hours. 

However, if a pet is left untreated they will have a much lower chance of survival.

If your vet is some distance away, if practical, you can apply a pressure bandage – a firm bandage over and around the bite site that will help slow the venom spreading to the heart. DO NOT wash the wound or apply tourniquet or ice. 

If you can identify the type of snake that is great, however do not attempt to catch or kill it.

Your vet can always do a blood or urine test that can identify whether your pet has been bitten, and also the type of snake responsible.

Once the snake has been identified, your vet can then administer antivenom.

Antivenene is administered diluted in intravenous fluids for rapid effect, however some animals with severe paralysis may need additional antivenene, oxygen therapy, antibiotics, tetanus prophylaxis and referral for breathing support.

From here the prognosis can go one of two ways:

Death may occur within the first 24 hours of a snake bite.

Or, more typically if acted upon quickly, pets will be successfully treated and able to bring home in 1-3 days.

lady hugging cat

The Protection

Antivenom and other snake bite treatments can be quite expensive, so prevention is much much better than cure.

Simple ways to keep your pet safe from snakes include:
  • Dig your fence a foot into the ground
  • Keep your yard tidy by clearing undergrowth, filling in holes in the ground, mowing regularly, clearing items that could make hiding places for snakes
  • Keep walkways clean of bush, flowers and shrubs
  • Clean up any spilled food, fruit or bird seed (this may attract rodents, and therefore snakes)
  • Store any firewood away from the house

happy family

And if you do see a snake, always seek professional help in removing it safely from your property. 

For more pet health tips, visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Pet Emergency Evacuation Plan

As we're in the middle of summer, bushfire season, floods and other natural disasters are something our country sadly cannot avoid.

If your home is located near bush, grassland or coastal areas, or in flood prone areas, it's so important that you are prepared and have an emergency survival plan in place. 

And more specifically, one that includes your pets.

So what exactly should you include in your plan?

Grab a pen and some paper, and let Dr Mark explain exactly what you need to consider. 

1. Identification

In the event you become separated from your pets, it will make the rescue crew’s efforts to reunite you a lot easier if all of your pet’s identification is up-to-date.

Make sure your pet has an ID tag attached to their collar, is registered with the council, and is micro-chipped with your current address and contact details.

Also, consider the ‘alternative contact’ on your pet’s microchip is someone who does not live in the same home as you. 

That way if you are not contactable, they might be.

emergency plan - identification

2. Emergency Evacuation Kit

Put together items that you might need if you were forced to suddenly evacuate with your pets.

Keep them gathered together and somewhere safe and easily accessible, and ensure all members of the family know where to find them.

Also check your kit periodically to ensure the contents are in date.

Your kit should include:
  • Food – at least 3 days’ worth
  • Bottled water and bowl
  • Spare collar and lead
  • Muzzle (if required)
  • Pet carrier (if required)
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Bedding and woollen blanket
  • Toys
  • Your pet’s medications/supplements
  • A written list of your pet’s medications/supplements
  • Your vet’s contact details
  • Current veterinary records
  • A photo of each of your pet’s
  • Towels
  • Plastic bags
  • A litter tray for cats

emergency plan - evacuation kit

3. Code Red Plan

Plan ahead.

It’s important to decide ahead of time if you wish to keep you pets with you or move them to a separate, safe location.

Keep in mind, many evacuation centres do not allow animals, including family pets.

If you intend to move them to a friend or family members home, discuss with them now.

Alternatively, if you plan to place them in a kennel or cattery, make a list of available facilities in your area and include their contact details. 

Also, don’t forget that all vaccinations must be up to date and you have the records available, as many boarding facilities will not take animals without proof of current vaccination status.

If you want to keep your pets with you, ensure you have a confined and secure space for them.
Ensure they’re on a lead or in a carrier, and make sure you have available wet towels and woollen blankets to protect them with. 

And of course, ensure they have access to plenty of water.

emergency plan - code red

4. Keep Neighbours Informed

Discuss with your neighbours about protecting your pets if you are not home during an emergency. 

Keeping in regular contact with your neighbours during this season will ensure nobody gets left behind in an emergency situation. 

emergency plan - neighbours

5. Practice

Now you’re probably thinking, oh we’ll be fine we don’t need to practice.

But like any emergency drill, your evacuation NEEDS to be well practiced and should not be taken lightly. 

Things don’t always go to plan, and can take longer than expected.

However, if you go through the motions a few times a year, you can feel confident that you will be ready to act and protect your family if a real situation ever did occur. 

To assist with your practice emergency evacuation, follow the steps listed below.
  1. Find your pet and secure with a lead or confine in a pet carrier
  2. Check your pets collar with identification attached
  3. Locate your pet evacuation kit
  4. Load your pets and evacuation kit into your vehicle
  5. Go for a drive and practice the route you would take in an emergency

emergency plan - practice

Overall, remember that evacuating your home is stressful for everyone involved, including your pets.

Opportunities to become comfortable with carriers and transport, coupled with lots of positive reinforcement can help immensely.

When away from home ensure plenty of opportunities for toilet breaks, leg stretching and access to food and water.

Stay safe everyone!

For more pet health tips, visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.