Monday, March 20, 2017

How to Take the Perfect Photo of Your Pet in 5 Simple Steps

Can we all agree we’ve tried to take that perfect picture of our pet to share across social media, but failed miserably?

Fido sit, stay, don’t move ah! 

Taking a good photo of your cat or dog can be tricky; as most pets are not natural born posers… 

Not to worry, let us help you capture that Kodak moment with our 5-step guide to taking the perfect picture of your pet.

Step One: Work with Your Pet’s Personality


Some dogs are gentle, slow moving and calm; while others jump, lick and run laps of the yard. 

Consider what makes your pet unique and work on these qualities. 

For example, photograph your playful pooch during a game of fetch, or your cat that enjoys snoozing for hours, on a cosy blanket next to the fireplace. 

And try avoid encouraging your pet into unnatural situations; as showing their true personality always looks best.



Step Two: Ensure a Relaxed Atmosphere


Getting your pet to pose in a studio is not only difficult, but they probably won’t enjoy it either. 

In fact, most pets are more likely to relax and be their best selves in a familiar environment; at home, in the garden, or even the beach. 

Try make your little photo shoot fun for everyone, and ensure there is plenty of interaction and breaks. 



Step Three: Natural Lighting Works Best


For the most desirable lighting, try photographing your pet during the day and preferably outside. 

Also avoid using a flash, as this will not look as effective and can also frighten your pet. 

In additional to good lighting, you also want to consider the surroundings. 

An adventurous dog against the backdrop of a crystal clear beach makes for a pretty amazing shot.



Step Four: Get On Your Pet’s Level


Our best tip to you, is to get on your pet’s level. 

Kneeling down when photographing animals really does make a huge difference. 

Photos taken from a low camera angle will help make your pet the central focus in the final image.

Aim for the eyes and you’ll capture your pet’s unique personality. 

And if your pet is acting calm or a little sleepy, this is a great chance to get up close and personal. 

Most importantly, experiment! Try a close-up portrait or a fun action shot.

Another great tip is to take your photos with your subject off-centre, and have something interesting in the background.

Not only will this look nicely balanced, but your friends will think you’re a pro!



Step 5: The Winning Shot


Keep things simple, stay relaxed, and just have fun with it!

Encourage plenty of action with a selection of toys and treats, as this will allow for a range of different shots.

And most importantly, aim to harness your pet’s natural spontaneity and instinct. Your dog might suddenly do something funny, so be alert and ready to capture the moment. 

Overall, your little photo shoot most likely won’t turn out quite as you imagined, but you’ll soon see that this makes for some super cute photos, and some memorable moments shared with your best friend.

Happy snapping!



We’d love to see our tips put to use. Share your perfect pet photos on our Facebook page and they could be featured in monthly newsletter that's sent out to over 40,000 pet families!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Every Man and His Dogs

A children’s book on how dogs that nobody wanted became the most amazing dogs of all was launched last week at the Noosa Festival of Surfing.


In collaboration with Sup Dog OZ, VetshopAustralia and Growl Towel, the children’s book about surfing dogs was well received by families who had copies signed by surfer and dog trainer Chris De Aboitiz.


Every Man and His Dogs is a true story on how Chris De Aboitiz has turned unwanted dogs into the most famous surfing dogs in the world. The book is now available for sale for $24.95, postage included.


Click here to order your copy!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Everything you Need to Know if Your Dog Eats Chocolate

As most pet owners are aware, chocolate can be extremely toxic to dogs.

If your dog does consume chocolate, depending on the type, amount consumed, and your dog’s weight, could make for a serious medical emergency.

That being said, no matter how much your dog has eaten, there is no need to panic.

Learn why chocolate is so toxic to dogs, the signs of chocolate poisoning, and what steps you should take if your fur-friend gets their paws on your Cadbury chocolate block.

Sad dog with chocolate

Why Chocolate is Toxic to Dogs


Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both which can speed the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system in dogs.

The risk of your dog becoming sick if they eat chocolate all comes down to the type and amount of chocolate, and also the weight of your dog.

Basically, a big dog such as a Lab is going to be able to tolerate a lot more than a small dog such as a Pug.

However, even the smallest amount of dark chocolate can be lethal to any sized dog.

A general rule to follow is the darker chocolate, the greater the risk.

To help you understand better, here is a list of common types of chocolate in the order of theobromine content and greatest risk of toxicity.

1. Straight cocoa powder
2. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
3. Dark Chocolate
4. Milk Chocolate
5. White Chocolate

To calculate the expected toxicity level in your dog if they have eaten chocolate, use the helpful guide below:


Signs Your Dog Has Chocolate Poisoning


The greatest risk about chocolate toxicity, is that the signs of poisoning usually don’t appear until 6-12 hours after they have eaten it. And at this point, can make it very expensive and difficult to treat.

That is why it’s SO important to keep any chocolate in your home out of your dog’s reach – especially when you’re not home.

In the unfortunate case that your dog steals your Cadbury block off the coffee table, in the midst of an epic battle between Harry and Voldemort during your Harry Potter movie marathon. And you only notice right after Harry finally defeats the Dark Lord. Although not ideal pooch has just devoured half the block, at least you’re able to act quickly and give your pet the best chance of survival.

In the unlikely event that you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate while you weren’t home, look for the following signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Increase urination
  • Tremors
  • Elevated or abnormal heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Collapse or death

Sick dog

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate


Regardless of how much your dog as eaten, or the type of chocolate, you should ALWAYS call your veterinarian immediately.

That way you can explain to the vet your exact circumstances, and from there they will be able to recommend to you the steps you need to take for your individual situation.

If your dog has only eaten a few squares of milk chocolate, they might just recommend that you monitor your dog for the next few hours, and call back if you notice any changes in their behaviour.

If your vet is concerned or you are worried for your dog, they will likely get you to bring your pet in and they will induce vomiting and possibly give them a few doses of activated charcoal. This works to move the toxins out of the body, without being absorbed into the bloodstream.

And for more severe cases, your vet may provide supplemental treatment, such as medications or IV fluids, to resolve the effects of the poisoning, and may need to monitor your pet at the clinic overnight.


Vet and dog

Overall, if your dog does eat chocolate the most important thing to remember is not to panic.

Remain calm and ensure your dog is comfortable first and foremost, before taking any further steps.

And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your vet and they will happily guide you through.

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, March 7, 2017

Can My Cat Eat That? Dr Mark's Cat Food Safety Guide

A little while ago we posted 'Dr Mark's Dog Food Safety Guide', which contained a bunch of foods that are safe and unsafe for your dogs.

Now for all the cat owners out there we haven't forgotten about you.

In fact, cats are very interesting creatures when it comes to what foods are safe and unsafe for them.

Although both dogs and cats are members of the Order Carnivora, only cats are considered “obligate” carnivores. 

This term indicates that cats must eat some animal-derived protein to remain healthy or receive dietary supplements to supply them with crucial nutrients. 

Overall, approximately one-third of a healthy, adult cat’s diet should consist of protein, although not all of it needs to be supplied in the form of meat.

So to give you a helping paw and take the guess work out for you, Dr Mark has created the ultimate Cat Food Safety Guide.

But first, as always, let's start with a little quiz...

Which three foods pictured below are a great addition to your cat's diet?


Find out the answers plus access the complete guide here.

Monday, March 6, 2017

SURFING DOG SPECTACULAR WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT


Sending a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Caitlin Jones and Indi from Team IndiAnna on taking out the Best Wave Title for the 2017 Surfing Dog Spectacular πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰! PLUS a massive thank you to all our other competitors for putting on a super amazing show for everyone πŸŒŠπŸΆπŸ‘

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How to Deal with Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

One of the most common problems pet parents are faced with is their dog partaking in disruptive or destructive behaviour when left alone. 

Digging, chewing, destruction, barking, howling, urinating, pacing, escaping… sound familiar?

Now to an extent these actions are normal, and often simply indicate that perhaps your dog may just need another lesson in polite house manners, however they could also be signs of a much bigger problem.  

When your dog’s strange behaviours are accompanied by other distress indicators, such as drooling or panting, signs of stress/anxiety when you’re getting ready to leave the house, difficult to house train, or doesn’t know which toys are theirs to chew, are very strong indicators that your dog may have separation anxiety. 

If you fear that your dog may have separation anxiety, or you want to ensure your pooch is never faced with this heart-breaking problem, read on and understand how it begins, the symptoms, and how you can put an end to separation anxiety in your dog for good.

sad pug

How Separation Anxiety in Dogs Starts


There is no conclusive evidence that shows exactly why dogs develop separation anxiety. However, there has been noted some convincing patterns, amongst dogs with separation anxiety symptoms, for the many reasons this problem could have been triggered. The following is a list of situations that have been associated with development of separation anxiety.

Change of Owner/Relinquishment

Being abandoned or surrendered to a shelter, or given to a new owner can be a very upsetting and traumatic time for a dog. Due to the fear of it happening again, dogs who didn’t cope well during the change-over process will often develop separation anxiety. 

Change in Schedule

An abrupt change in schedule that results in a dog being left alone can trigger the development of separation anxiety. For example, if they are use to their owner being home most of the day and spend a lot of time together, to suddenly change where they are left home along for six or more hours at a time. 

Change in Residence

Moving home or visiting unfamiliar places can trigger the development of separation anxiety. Most dogs prefer routine and comfort, and don’t always cope well when faced with a significant and sudden change.

Change in Household Membership

Dogs very quickly come to realise who’s going to be there when they wake up in the mornings, and go to sleep at night. So, if a sudden absence of a resident member of their home, either due to death or moving away, or even a new addition to their space, can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

sad dog


Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs


All dogs throughout their lives can get up to a bit of mischief, and do some pretty strange things. However, when these abnormal activities are done on a consistent basis, and more importantly when you’re not around, is a strong indication that their behaviours are due to a much more serious problem. The following is a list of symptoms that may indicate your dog has separation anxiety:

Chewing, Digging & Destruction

Some dogs with separation anxiety will chew on objects they know aren’t theirs to chew, such as door frames, bench tops, furniture etc. They may also dig at, jump on or destroy household objects. (See images below that have been used across social media as humours memes, however should be indicating a much more serious message). What’s worse is that these behaviours can result in injury, such as broken teeth, cut paws or damaged nails. Generally, if their destructive behaviours are done when you’re not home, it’s a result of separation anxiety.

dogs with anxiety

Barking & Howling

A dog who has separation anxiety might bark or howl when left alone, or when separated from their owner. This kind of barking and howling is persistent and doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything in particular, e.g. another animal, seeing a stranger etc., but simply because they are left alone. 

Urinating & Defecating

If a dog urinates or defecates in an unusual spot in front of their owner, this probably isn’t caused by separation anxiety, but more so for attention, or not yet house trained. However, if they are doing so when you’re not home, in places they know very well are a pee and poop free zone, is a strong indication that they are doing so due to separation anxiety. 

Pacing

Now this may be a bit more difficult to determine, as if they are pacing, it’s got to be done when you’re not around to be considered a symptom of separation anxiety. Some dogs walk or trot along a specific path in a fixed pattern when left alone. And some may even move around in circular patterns, while others walk back and forth in straight lines. If you’re concerned your dog is doing this, ask your neighbour to pop their head over your fence while you’re out and see what they’re up to.

Escaping

If you’re not home and your dog is escaping from an area that is confined or secure, this is most likely a result of separation anxiety. It’s also important to note the state of the area of escape, if it appears desperation and urgency has occurred to break-free, this is also another strong indication they are escaping due to separation anxiety, oppose to boredom or fun.

scared dog

How to Overcome Separation Anxiety in Dogs


At the end of the day, a big part of pet ownership is being able to overcome hurdles and make changes to ensure that everyone in the family is living a happy and healthy life. If you think your pet has separation anxiety or your vet has diagnosed them officially, the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone, and there are many simple changed and things you can do help your beloved fur-friend. The following is a list of things you can do to not only help and overcome your dog’s separation anxiety, but also prevent it from happening in the first place. 

Routine & Training

Routine and discipline isn’t something that can happen overnight, nor is it something that will stick if only done a handful of times. Show your dog what you want from them in and around the house, and during daily routines. Taking them on a morning or afternoon walk is great, but also try include training as you go, such as sitting at curb sides before crossing the road. Teach them to sit before you give them their food, or lie down at the door when you go outside to wash the car. Encourage them to sit and wait to be greeted by guests, sit in bed while the family is eating dinner, and go to the toilet when they first wake up and just before bed. In general, any little bit of routine and discipline is a step in showing your dog how to be respectful and have confidence in themselves.  

Entertainment & Mental Stimulation

Providing your dog plenty of physical and mental stimulation is a vital part of treating many behavioural problems, especially those involving anxiety. Exercising their body and mind can greatly enrich their life, help decrease stress and anxiety, and provide an outlet for normal dog behaviours. To keep your dog busy and happy, try the following suggestions:

  • Give them at least 30 mins of aerobic activity and if possible do it close to when you are going to leave them by themselves
  • When you’re home, play games, cuddle and hang out with them
  • Take them on daily outings and let them visit new places with new people
  • Take them to dog parks and let them run free of the leash with their canine friends
  • Provide them with toys and activities that keep them busy (a KONG Classic filled with bit of natural peanut butter will have them chewing for hours)
  • Encourage them to ‘hunt’ around your yard with hiding treats when you leave

lady and dog

Change Your Routine

In order to change your dog’s habits, you may need to change a few of your own. For example, when you leave, use a different door, reorder the way you do things, or put your bag in a different place. And when you’re at home, things like watching TV or working on the computer where your dog sits at your feet and follows your every move, stop this. If you stand up and they get up every time you do, simply sit back down again. Your dog does not need to and should not be following you everywhere. Overall, you’re changing your habits to create a different picture and eliminate any predictably, which will help teach them to have the self-confidence they need to handle being alone.

Crate Training

Crate training can be really helpful for some dogs if they learn that the crate is their safe place to go to when left alone. Please note that for some dogs this can be the complete opposite and cause even more stress and anxiety. The best way to know if your dog would benefit from a crate is to monitor their behaviour during crate training, and how they act around the crate while you are at home. If they voluntarily hop in, a crate may be the way to go, and if they show signs of distress (heavy panting, excessive salivation, frantic escape attempts, or barking, a crate is not the option for them. Alternatively, you can also try confining them to a small room behind a baby gate.

crate training

Medication 

Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your pet any type of medication for a behavioural problem. The use of medications can be very helpful, especially for severe cases of separation anxiety. The benefit of implementing medication will help your dog to tolerate some level of isolation, as well as help to make the treatment process as quick as possible. If you’re after a simple alternative for helping your dog’s anxiety, try Canine Tranquil Formula Tabs or an Adaptil Diffuser Kit, and if you’ve been to your vet and your pet has been prescribed with a prescription medication, visit PetScripts.com.au for discount pet prescriptions delivered straight to your door.

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, 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.