Heartworm...it's serious

Heartworm is a potentially serious and deadly disease but fortunately is also a completely preventable disease.

 Keep your dog healthy and happy and free from worms: see your team @ The Pines Vet

Keep your dog healthy and happy and free from worms: see your team @ The Pines Vet

We show you what the signs to look out for if your pet has worms, and how they can be treated:

Heart worm disease is caused by parasitic worms that transmitted to primarily dogs, but also cats, by the bite of an infected mosquito. It takes these parasitic worms 6-7 months to mature and migrate to the major vessels of the heart and lungs. The adult worms then breed and produce their offspring, known as microfilaria, which can be found in the blood stream. A mosquito then bites the infected dog or cat and becomes infected with the microfilaria. The heart worm requires an incubation period in the mosquito before being able to infect other animals and thus continuing the cycle.

It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause heartworm infection and there is no other way for dogs to contract the disease.  Unfortunately even completely indoor pets are at risk as there is no full proof way to keep these pesky critters out of ours houses and homes, even with fly screens.  Hence why prevention is so important. Heartworm is a specific parasite that affects dogs, less frequently cats and a few other small mammals. In very rare cases, it has been reported in people causing lesions in the lung but it can’t complete its life cycle and produce microfilaria. 

Initially, there are few signs of infection in dogs. However as the heartworm/s grow and mature they crowd the heart and lungs and disease results from predominately the obstruction of the flow of blood due to their presence.  Most dogs develop a persistent dry cough and typically this occurs when half the lung capacity is affected. Over time dogs become less tolerant to exercise, become listless and weak, can start to lose weight and there coat condition changes. Advanced cases often present in heart failure with difficulty breathing, distended abdomens, major organ destruction has occurred and when left untreated is almost always fatal. 

Cats are a little different in that they show very few signs of disease. This is because disease predominately arises due to an inflammatory reaction generated by the presence of the worms. On occasions they may be vaguely unwell or present in heart failure but typically the main sign is sudden death. This is because a very low burden of just 1 or 2 worms can be fatal.

Screening for heartworm disease in dogs is relatively easy but can be more challenging in cats. In dogs a very accurate blood test can be performed at the vet clinic with results available before the end of a visit. A second blood test however maybe required 6 months later to ensure that your pooch is heartworm negative (this is due to the long development period to an adult heartworm). In cats the blood test isn’t as accurate as often disease can be the result of just one worm. False negatives are common, so further imaging (radiographs and ultrasounds) maybe required when the disease is suspected.

There is certainly treatment for dogs with heartworm infection but it’s not without its risk and potential complications. It is often a lengthy process which requires regularly rechecks at the vets and can become quite expensive in comparison to prevention. Cats can be very difficult to manage as they can’t receive the same treatment as dogs as this can be fatal, in some cases very invasive risky lifesaving surgery is required.


Heartworm disease is completely preventable. Dogs, ranging from 5-50kg, can be protected against heartworm for 12 months with a once a year injection for a little less than the average weekly cup of coffee. There are also monthly tablets and spot on treatments available but your pets are at risk of infection if even just 1 month is missed. If you’re unsure on your pet’s heartworm prevention status come in and see us to discuss your pet’s options at The Pines Vet.

Avoid an emergency trip to the vet this Chrissie...

Holiday Hazards!

It can be a difficult task to keep our furry companions safe over the Christmas holidays. Here's a few simple tips to help avoid an emergency visit to the Vet!

Firstly, the Christmas tree!

Decorated in sparkling stringy tinsel, twinkling lights and shiny ornaments which are all very inviting to our pets.  Whilst most of these items aren’t toxic in their own right if ingested they pose serious risk of gastrointestinal blockages.  Christmas tree lights go hand in hand with hazardous electric cords which are often confused by our pets as great chewing toys. Then there are the presents…. although wrapped and disguised from our eyes some with more pleasant aromas, like chocolates, are easily sort out by our furry friends. Ensuring our Christmas trees are pet proof is a must. By choosing a room that can be closed off, installing a baby gate to close off a doorway or placing low lattice work around the tree can prevent access and keep a tree secure. Also avoid placing objects and lights on the lower branches making a tree less inviting. 

Secondly, Christmas foods!

Many of the foods we consume over the Christmas period can be potentially hazardous and life threatening. Foods causing toxicities include chocolates, grapes and raisins found in Christmas puddings and mince pies, onions/garlic/leeks found in stuffing’s and sauces, foods containing artificial sweetener Xylitol and of course alcohol.  Avoid feeding cooked bones from turkeys and hams. These can easily splinter and aren’t easily digested pose a serious gastrointestinal risk. High fat foods, including fat trimmed from meats can cause inflammation of the pancreas a very painful and life threatening condition.

Thirdly, Christmas plants!

During the festive period it is common to decorate homes with Christmas plants or arrangements or be given flowers from guests. Poinsettia are very common Christmas plant and although are not particularly toxic can cause irritation to oral mucous and stomach, from being chewed upon, resulting in drooling and vomiting. Lilies are often very common to see in flower arrangements and are toxic/potentially fatal to cats.  Although real Mistletoe and Holly plants aren’t common in Australia it is worth noting that they can cause gastrointestinal upsets in our pets.

And lastly, don’t forget your pets!

Christmas time often means getting together with family and/or friends with people often coming in and out of your home. Guests often take away from the normal routine of everyday life.  As much as possible try to keep to regular feeding and exercise schedules and take time out to give your pets attention. Some animals can become overwhelmed with all the festivities so ensure they have access to safe, stress free, quiet environments with readily available water and litter trays for cats.  It can be easy for a pet to sneak out with all the action going on. So make sure your pets are microchipped and/or their microchip details are up to date.

And if you have any concerns - please don't wait until it's too late. If you're worried about the health of your pet, call the clinic on 5665 7116 we are closed 25, 26, 27 of December and January 1 but open in between! Safe Holidays - from Dr Mel & the team at The Pines Vet :)

 

Does your dog have itchy yucky skin? It could be more serious than you think...?

Demodex mange mite in dogs

Demodex mites are a normal part of the fauna of the dogs’ skin that live within the hair follicle and are present in very small numbers in healthy dogs.  Mites spread from mother to pup during the first few days of life whilst they are nursing. The mite lives in harmony with most dogs not causing any problems however on occasion we see them in high numbers. This usually occurs when the natural equilibrium has been upset, such as with an underlying genetic and/or immune dysfunction.  There are specific breeds, where there is thought to be a hereditary component, such as the American Staffordshire terrier and Sharpei. Therefore in dogs that show generalised disease, breeding is not recommended.  Demodex mange is not a contagious condition and therefore affected dogs do not need to be isolated.

When present in high numbers they cause an inflammatory parasitic disease and often have a secondary bacterial infection component.  Typical signs of Demodex mange is hair loss, scabbing, scaling and redness of the affected skin which becomes itchier with secondary bacterial infections. Diagnosis is made by identifying the mite under the microscope from a skin scraping and/or hair pluck.  However, in some cases they can be difficult to find and skin biopsies maybe required to make a diagnosis.  In all cases of generalised Demodex manage treatment requires miticidal therapy, addressing any underlying systemic or immunosuppression and management of secondary bacterial infection.  

If you've got any concerns with the health of your dog, especially in relation to their skin, book an appointment with The Pines Vet to find out if there are any serious underlying issues that can easily be treated.

 if left untreated for a long period, your dog could end up very ill.

if left untreated for a long period, your dog could end up very ill.

 

 

AUGUST IS NATIONAL PET DENTAL MONTH!

Pet dental health month kicks off on the 1st of August being a nationwide event to promote the importance of dental care in our pets as it is an essential part of good health.  Dental disease is frequent problem seen in both our pet dogs and cats.

dentalbeforeandafter.jpg

Bacteria, saliva and food debris form a film, called plaque, on the surface of our pets teeth.  If plaque is not mechanically removed (e.g. teeth brushing) it accumulates and results in irritation of the gum margin and inflammation, gingivitis.  If plaque remains on the tooth surface for long enough it mineralises and forms tartar.  Tartar allows a snowball effect to occur as more bacteria and debris attach to the tooth surface exacerbating the problem.  Eventually plaque and tartar build up leads to periodontal disease where the tissues and supporting structures of the tooth are affected. Dental disease also has implications on other organs in the body.  Infection within the mouth can be picked up by the blood stream and carried to organs such as heart, liver and kidneys which can lead to other health problems.

Dental disease can present a number of different clinical signs including bad breathe, pets seeking out softer foods or dramatic increase in appetite,  chewing on a particular side of the mouth, increase salivation, pain associated the mouth, pawing at faces,  and/or a yellow discolouration to a brown crust build up of tartar on the tooth and around gum line.

Dental disease can be a source of misery for our pets which they often deal with for months on end.   As a part of pet dental health month, in the month of August we are offering free dental checks.  These provide clients with appropriate dental care advice tailored to suit your individual pet. 

We want all our furry friends at The Pines Vet to lead healthy and long lives...yearly dentals are just one step in keeping your pet's health at the optimum level.

 



Why Do cats do that...?

 


Why do cats ‘knead’ people with their paws?

Cats often place themselves upon their favourite lap or soft surface and use their paws in a distinct trampling /kneading action conveying pure pleasure.  Kneading, also referred to as milk treading, is an instinctive behaviour originating from kitten hood.  This action is used to stimulate the mother cat’s milk flow.  For an adult cat perhaps they find comfort in mimicking this action as they are taken back to these warm, snugly moments as a kitten which were sheer bliss.


Why do cats eat grass?

There are many theories as to why cats eat grass and here are a few of the more common accepted ones and perhaps all have truth to them.  Cats are commonly reported to eat grass to induce vomiting, such as when a hairball is brought up, but are also thought to eat grass when feeling nauseated which may be indicative of other health problems.  Grass also happens to have natural vitamin B levels and perhaps they munch away on it to gain some nutritional requirements.  Possibly the simplest answer to the question would be that they purely enjoy the taste (people often enjoy their fresh salad greens). 


Why cats do tails whop, wave and quiver?

Although cats display variety actions with their tails there are a few movements to which we think we have deciphered the meaning too.  A tall quivering tail, from the base upwards, is potentially a sign that our cat is bursting with excitement of anticipation.  A whopping tail is thought to be a sign of growing discontent which could potentially lead to anger or a kind of excited indecision such as when playing.  A slow and gently waving tail that moves back and forth is thought to mean that the cat is happy, relaxed and pleased such as when they are responding to a great chin rub or scratch behind the ears.  Sometimes a tail can whop and wave simultaneously potentially indicating that their feelings at this point in time are quite complex.


Why do cats purr?

There are many reasons as to why cats might purr but mostly cats will purr due to utter contentment. However, cats have mastered this alluring sound and may use it to get our attention, smooth over a wrong, to get their own way or make you give into what they want.  Cats also may purr when approaching another cat that they have no intention of fighting, a friendly greeting as such.  A sick or defenceless cat will purr when approached by a potential threat in an effort to calm any aggression that might arise.  A female cat in labour often purrs and a mother will continue to use this purr to let her newly born blind and deaf offspring that it is only mum approaching.  Kittens will often then reply in a purr to signal that they are receiving their mother’s milk. 


Why do cats make a funny chattering sound?

This chattering sound that is created when a cat opens its mouth slightly pulls its lips back and then opens and closes its jaw very rapidly.  This sound is often produced by a cat when they can see prey that can’t be reached due to some obstacle in there away such as a glass window.  It is thought that this is occurs due to pure frustration of not being about to catch the desired prey and instead the cat sits there practicing a killer bite movement and pondering the thought of how the catch would be.


Why do cats make that strange grimace?

This is the funny look cats do with their mouths when they stumble upon some exceptional scent also known as the ‘flehmen’ response.  A cat will be going about its daily business sniffing smells of the world when something interesting scent strikes their fancy. The cat tends to stop abruptly lift their head slightly, ease back there upper lip and open there mouth a little.  The opened mouth allows the scent they are interested in to pass though and be studied by the Jacobsen’s organ.  This organ is situated in the roof of the mouth and is a smell-taste organ which allows the cat to analyse interesting smells they stumble upon.  This experience is one we can only theorise at but we have to assume it to be enjoyable as often cats become completely captivated and lost in thought.

Check out the size of these bladder stones...!

 

Marley is a four-year-old Poodle-cross who came in to the clinic with a history of increased urination and straining but otherwise appeared okay. We gave her a full physical examination, where I discovered she was uncomfortable in her abdomen and I could also feel a firm mass in her bladder. We then took some x-rays which confirmed some pretty large stones were stuck inside her bladder.

 The size of these stones was causing major discomfort

The size of these stones was causing major discomfort

Given the size of the bladder stones and the abdominal discomfort, the best option was to remove them surgically - The following day, Marley was anesthetised and we had to surgically open the bladder and remove the two stones. Her bladder was also seriously infected and quite twisted so it was lucky that we got them out when we did! We then sent the stones off to the lab for evaluation to ensure there is nothing else of concern going on with Marley.

A number of factors like diet, breed predisposition, activity level and infection can affect the mineral precipitation which then causes bladder stones. Marley has made a full recovery and everything has returned to normal. She had suffered a serious urinary tract infection which is being treated with antibiotics. While we wait for the bladder stone analysis, we've put Marley on a prescription urinary diet which will help to reduce the concentration of minerals and help to stop any of these re-occurring.

 Marley's made a full recovery

Marley's made a full recovery

If your dog or cat is showing signs of straining when they urinate, it's a good idea to get them checked out, come in and see us any time...!

Dr Mel :)