Image courtesy of www.assistancedogs.org.au

Image courtesy of www.assistancedogs.org.au

Dogs are not only fantastic companions and man’s best friend but some dogs have an even more important role to play. Some dogs save lives.

Medical Alert Dogs are specially trained dogs that can alert their owner to health dangers such as seizures and hypoglycemia. These amazing dogs can provide people that suffer from potentially life threatening conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes and seizure disorders with some independence by acting as an early warning system and supporting or helping them through an episode.

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Lilly's eye - the green stain shows the corneal ulcer.

Lilly’s eye.
The green stain shows the corneal ulcer.

My dog Lilly has suffered from many ailments over her 12 years but one that has always been a concern is her eyes.  Lilly has suffered from Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca) since she was three years old, which we have managed with Optimmune eye ointment. This means that Lilly does not produce enough tears to lubricate her eyes properly.  Unfortunately there is no cure for Dry Eye, the disease has to be managed with the application of artificial tears, sometimes daily, to maintain eye lubrication and a healthy eye.  There is also the possibility of secondary complications due to Dry Eye, even when it is being treated, like corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis, inflammation, pain and even blindness.  Unfortunately this is what happened with Lilly.

About 6 months ago Lilly developed a corneal ulcer in her left eye, most likely due to the dry eye, as occasionally overtime the Optimmune can begin to have a reduced effect.  I took Lilly to her vet for an examination, where he stained the eye to determine the size or the ulcer, (see image).  He prescribed an antibacterial drop as well as continued use of the Optimmune drops, at an increased frequency and pain relief medication to reduce the inflammation and pain in the eye.  We re-visited the vet 10 days later for a check up only to find there had been no improvement, so we continued on the same line of treatment for another four days.  After those four days were up I took Lilly back to the vet as the eye was definitely still painful.  There was still no improvement, so the vet decided to add visco tears (artificial tears) to help lubricate the eye even more.  He also started her on Atropine eye ointment to dilate the pupil and protect against secondary glaucoma.  We followed this course of treatment for another week but unfortunately it was just not improving so we had to try a more drastic approach.

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doberman-1443758_77030795Vaccinating your dog is an essential part of their preventative health program. There are a number of highly infectious and life threatening diseases out there but you can vaccinate against some of them. For these diseases vaccination and prevention is always better for your dog as well as cheaper than trying to treat the diseases if your dog was to contract them.

All dogs should be vaccinated regardless of whether or not they visit kennels, play in parks or even if they don’t come in direct contact with other dogs. Dogs are generally social animals and it is very easy for them to contract diseases. Highly contagious diseases can be transmitted from dog to dog by coming into contact with an infected dog, an infected dogs faeces or urine or they can even pick it up just walking and sniffing in an area that an infected dog has been. It is also possible for people to transfer diseases to their dogs by walking through an infected area or patting an infected animal and then going home to their own dogs. This is why it is necessary to vaccinate your dog even if your dog does not come in direct contact with other dogs.

Vaccinations are available to protect dogs from some of the most contagious and life threatening illnesses that they may come in contact with. Following are the illnesses that your dog should be vaccinated against.

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lilly2This hot and humid weather is definitely doesn’t agree with my dear Lilly. You see, Lilly has congestive heart failure so apart from her just not liking the hot weather she is finding it more difficult to breathe on the hot and humid days.

Congestive heart failure is when the heart is unable to function properly and efficiently pump adequate blood around the body. Diseases like mitral valve insufficiency or dilated cardiomyopathy are common causes of heart failure as well as heartworm, irregular heart rhythms or weakened heart muscles. Congestive heart failure and other heart disease can be either congenital, can develop due to other health issues or just happen due to old age. Some breeds of dogs are also more likely to develop heart failure like the giant dog breeds.

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QLD_CM_LIFESTYLE_TOADS_10DEC13(3)

Image courtesy of www.couriermail.com.au

In the last month it seems that as soon as the sun goes down our yard is taken over by cane toads.  The little bit of recent rain has brought these toads out of hibernation and they are ready to breed during the wet season.

These rather unattractive amphibians are a common cause of poisoning to dogs and less commonly cats.  When toads feel threatened they ooze a milky poison through the glands in the skin.  If a dog or cat is to lick, bite or eat a cane toad the poison can make them quite sick and can have a hallucinogenic effect on them.  Just recently I was reading an article in the Courier Mail that said that some dogs were possibly becoming addicted to the “high” or the effect that the cane toad poison was having on them and were then repeatedly seeking out cane toads.

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dog-cat-fireworksIt’s almost time to bring in the New Year which means celebrating, parties and fantastic firework displays.

For most people fireworks are exciting but for pets they can be very scary.   This is understandable as pets don’t understand that the fireworks won’t hurt them, all they see is bright colourful embers of fire falling from the sky and loud noises.  Therefore New Years Eve can be a very stressful and scary night for many animals, not only dogs and cats but also horses and farm animals.  The fireworks is what causes more pets to go missing on New Years Eve than any other day of the year.

Here are some tips to keep your pets safe and calm during fireworks.

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When it comes to feeding your dog or cat it can get a little confusing with so many brands and different diets available.  So what do all these different diets mean?  Here are a few of the different varieties of food available, what they mean and when they are suitable to feed.

Veterinary or Prescription Diets
These Veterinary or Prescription Diets are specially formulated for dogs and cats that have a diagnosed medical condition and require a special diet.  Within the food description it will usually say VD, Veterinary, Vet or Prescription Diet to differentiate it from other feeds.    Although these diets are available from a number of outlets, not only vets, these diets should only be fed when prescribed or advised by a veterinarian.  You should never change the veterinary or prescription diet that your pet is on, even from one brand to another that is for the same conditions, without consulting your vet.  The animal should be under continual care and receive regular vet check ups to ensure that the diet is correct for the animal and it is not affecting their health in any other way.

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LisaWith Christmas just around the corner you might be thinking of going on a holiday, but what will you do with your pets?

There are a few options for how and where your pets can spend their time while you are away.  Here are some pros and cons of each to help you make the right decision for your pet.

Staying at Home Alone
This, in general, is not a good idea and I would not recommend it.  Perhaps for one night they might be ok, more so cats than dogs, but I would not leave them for more than 24 hours without someone checking in on them.  If you do have to leave them alone overnight make sure that they have access to a number of different water bowls, in shady cool locations.  If they are staying in the house, make sure that all poisonous, dangerous and breakable objects are well locked up and secure.  Preferably, even if it is only for one night, let your neighbours know that you will be away and have them check in on your pets for you.

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Engorged Paralysis Tick

Engorged Paralysis Tick

Spring is here and so are the ticks!!!

Over the last week I have heard two radio shows discussing ticks and how they are out and in high numbers already.  My daughter even had one on her arm last week.  So I thought that I would remind everyone of the dangers of ticks, tick paralysis in pets and prevention methods.

The tick season, when their are higher numbers of adult ticks present, is from August to February.  There are a number of tick species in Australia including the Brown Dog Tick, Bush Tick, Cattle Tick and the most dangerous the Paralysis Tick.  So as we are heading into the most dangerous time of year for ticks it is important that your pets tick prevention is up to date.  There are a few different tick preventative products available that work either by repelling ticks or killing them once they make contact with or attach to the animal.

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http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-french-bulldog-grey-kitten-image15578303August is the Australian Veterinary Associations Pet Dental Month with this year’s theme being quality dental care is good medicine.  The idea of Pet Dental Month is to raise awareness of the importance of good dental health in pets, how to care for your pets teeth and to encourage people to take their pets to a veterinary clinic for a dental check up.

It is important for pets to have at least an annual dental examination.  If an animal has bad or unhealthy teeth or underlying dental problems it can have a detrimental effect on their overall health and wellbeing.  Poor dental health can lead to a number of serious conditions including liver, kidney and heart disease.  It can also be responsible for other problems like bad breath, excessive drooling, inflamed gums, pain or discomfort, chewing of different objects and changes in eating habits.  By having an annual dental check up it means that any dental problems can be detected early and promptly dealt with before it leads to any further health complications.

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