How often do I need to vaccinate my dog?

Resized vax reminderHow often do I need to vaccinate my dog?

After last weeks post about parvo, we have found a lot of people are unclear as to how often their pet needs to be vaccinated against parvovirus.

We have based our recommendations on AVA and WSAVA guidelines.

Puppies:

Puppies should be vaccinated at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks and 14-16 week of age. It is important that dogs have at least two vaccinations over 10 weeks of age to ensure adequate protection. If your puppy has been exposed to parvo, such as having a litter mate infected, it may be worth vaccinating every two weeks until 16 weeks of age.

Puppies can be socialised 14 days after their 10-12 week vaccination. Although there is still a very small risk of them picking up parvo before their final vaccination, we need to balance the need for puppies to be socialised while young.

Adults: dogs should receive a booster vaccination at around 15 months of age, then every three years against parvo, distemper and hepatitis. If they receive vaccinations against Canine Cough, they will need annual boosters for this.

What do you do if you’re worried about your dog having a vaccination? Although vaccinations are very safe, there are some pets we don’t recommend routine boosters for. These include dogs that have had a reaction to previous vaccines, or pets with some autoimmune conditions. For these dogs (and for any other dogs where the owners are worried), we can do a blood test to check for antibodies against parvo and distemper. A positive blood test means your dog is protected, and we recommend rechecking again after 12 months.

Some vets still use annual parvo, distemper and hepatitis vaccines, so please follow the recommendations of your vet. Also remember that annual health checks are critical for keeping your pet in the best possible health, so you should still take your pet to see your vet at least once each year.

What does it cost to desex my pet?

Many people are surprised that the price of desexing a pet can vary quite a lot between vets. After all, don’t they all give the same result?

While it’s true that your pet will end up desexed regardless of where you go, what is included in the “package” can greatly influence the speed of recovery for your pet, the safety of the procedure, and the chance of complications occurring.

For a start, it is important to realise that for almost all vet clinics, desexing is done as a discounted procedure. We do these procedures at a discount to make the procedure more affordable to the majority of pet owners.

So, where do the differences come from?

  1. Firstly, vet clinics need to be financially viable. As much as we would love to be able to treat everything for free, if we don’t charge adequately for our services we can’t buy new equipment, staff our clinics, and keep helping animals. If a procedure is heavily discounted, prices may need to be raised elsewhere. You may find that a clinic’s pricing strategy is to offer cheap desexing but have higher charges on other services, such as the treatment of unwell animals. Other clinics may charge a bit more for desexing, but when an animal is unwell their prices may be lower.
  2. The “optional extras” can change the price quite dramatically. For example, some clinics do not include pain relief in their standard desexing price. It can cost $40-$70 on top of the standard price to have pain killers to go home with. Some clinics also charge extra for intravenous fluids, heat pads, etc. When comparing prices, it is important to see what is included. A clinic which includes things like pain killers and fluids as standard may have a higher headline price, but when other clinics add these in as “optional extras”, you may find the price goes up considerably.
  3. Provision of After Hours Services. When your pet is desexed, most clinics will send them home that afternoon. But what happens if you become worried about that pet overnight? Some clinics don’t provide an after-hours service, so if your pet becomes unwell following routine surgery you could end up paying hundreds or even thousands more at another clinic. It costs a clinic quite a lot to run an after hours service, but to have a vet available locally just in case is very important.
  4. Experience and qualifications of staff. Of course, experienced and highly qualified staff cost more, but tends to shorten the surgery time and reduces the risk of complications.

So, how do we do things at the Bunbury and Eaton Vet Clinics?

We have seven important points when it comes to desexing your pet with us:

  1. IMG_6694We give pain killers to every animal. We believe every animal undergoing desexing surgery needs good quality pain relief, so we include it in the price we give you. Remember that the pain from surgery lasts for more than 24 hours, so your pet will have some pain killers to take at home.
  2. resizedimage100150-IMG6658Every animal receives intravenous fluids during the surgery. With 85% of animals experiencing low blood pressure during surgery, intravenous fluids are important to help maintain blood pressure, making the surgery safer and the recovery faster. Most people are amazed how awake our patients are when leaving our clinic.
  3. Diet-&-Weight-ManagementA fully qualified vet nurse will be monitoring the anaesthetic. Although we sometimes have trainee nurses, there is always a fully qualified nurse monitoring our anaesthetics.
  4. IMG6661We monitor blood pressure, oxygen levels, breath carbon dioxide levels and temperature throughout anaesthesia. This is critical to make the anaesthetic as safe as possible. It has been shown time and again that careful anaesthetic monitoring gives you the chance to correct small problems before they become big problems.
  5. resizedimage150100-IMG6665We use a warm air machine while the animal is under anaesthetic and use heat pads when the animal is recovering. Hypothermia is one of the biggest killers of animals under anaesthetic, as well as delaying wound healing and recovery. It is also for your pets comfort. Without adequate support, an animal’s body temperature drops during anaesthesia. Since purchasing our warm air blanket, we have consistently found animals have a smoother and faster recovery from anaesthesia.
  6. We provide a collar to stop the pet being able to lick its wound. Our pets aren’t always the best behaved patients, so sometimes we need to protect them from themselves.
  7. The price you are given includes all this as standard. We believe all these things are important and should be done every time, so we include them in the price we give you.

To find our how much it costs to desex your pet, call us at the Bunbury Vet Clinic on 97215999 or Eaton Vet Clinic on 97250399. If you would like to meet us before you book your pet in, please ask our receptionist for a FREE pre-desexing check with one of our vets.

Spring Health for Dogs.

With some nice, sunny days here, it is a chance to talk about some of the more common issues we see during springtime, and what you can do to keep you pet healthy over the next few months.

Skin Problems:

Skin Itch - A lazy scratch A real problem - Facebook Tile for Clinic FB pageSpring is our busy time for allergic skin disease in dogs. This can show up as ear infections, licking paws, scratching bellies or armpits, or various other issues. I wrote about this last week, so CLICK HERE to read that article.

Poisons:

Spring is also our busy time of year for man poisonings. These include:

  • snail pelletsSnail pellets. No snail pellets are truly “pet safe”. NEVER use snail pellets where your pets can access them. If a dog eats snail pellets, the early signs include salivating and muscle twitching. If you see these signs, call your vet immediately and take the box with you to the vet so we know exactly what type of poison has been used
  • tiger snakeSnake bites. As soon as the weather starts to warm, snakes will be out and about. Most of the cases of snake bite we see are September-December, when the snakes are still a bit sluggish. If you’re worried your dog may have been bitten by a snake, don’t wait to see what happens. Take them to the vet. If they’re not showing sings of envenomation when we see them, we will normally monitor them for several hours as there can be a big delay between being bitten and showing signs.
  • dynamic lifterFertiliser and Compost. These can make your dog quite unwell, so make sure you keep your dog away from them, especially if you have a dog like a Labrador which will eat anything.
  • ratsacRat/Mouse poison. Like snail pellets, these are never “pet safe”. It takes 2-3 days before we start to see signs of poisoning once a dog has eaten these products. If we see a dog within around 1 hour of eating rat poison, we can normally make them vomit and they won’t need any further treatment (they may need a blood test two days latter to check blood clotting times). If it ahs been a bit longer, we can easily treat the dog with vitamin K to combat the toxin.
  • Blow FishBlow fish. We frequently see dogs eating blow fish when at the beach. This tend to happen because fishermen throw them on the beach rather than back in the water. Although they can be annoying when you’re fishing, throwing them on the beach won’t stop their mates from stealing your bait. All it does is makes the blow fish suffer (it’s not their fault they’re annoying), and puts dogs lives at risk. The best thing you can do is simply throw them back.

Food Related Problems:

cooked onionsWarm weather means barbeques. Great for us, not so good for dogs. We see several dogs each year become unwell from eating too much fatty food at a barbeque, or by eating onions or garlic that has been left over. As much as they make look at you with their sad eyes, be strong and resist. Make sure you don’t leave food lying around within a dog’s reach.

Also make sure you cover your barbeque once you have finished cooking. We occasionally see cats with burnt paws after they have jumped onto a hot barbeque.

Hot Cars:

Dog in ovenIt’s frustrating to have to keep raising this point, but every year we still see dogs that have been locked in hot cars. Even on a 30 degree day, the inside of a car can become dangerously hot within minutes. NEVER leave your pet in a car.

Hot Pavement:

When you take your dog for a walk on a hot day, put the back of your hand on the pavement. If it’s too hot to leave it there comfortably for 15 seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog on it.

Mosquitoes:

mosquitoThe biggest risk from mosquitoes is Heartworm disease. Although we fortunately live in a low-risk area, we still recommend using Heartworm preventatives for dogs. It’s a very easy problem to prevent, but very difficult to treat. For more information on Heartworm disease, CLICK HERE

Parvovirus:

Resized vax reminderEvery spring and summer for the last six years, we have seem multiple cases of Parvovirus infection (Parvo). PLEASE vaccinate your dog. It doesn’t matter if they don’t meet other dogs, if they’re old or if they’re young and healthy. They are all at risk, and vaccination is the only way to prevent this terrible disease. It costs just $110 dollars to cover an adult dog for 3 years against parvo, but between $3000 and $5000 to treat.

So, what does spring really mean for keeping your dog healthy? Be proactive, plan ahead and if you need advice, give us a call. Enjoy the sunshine!

Heartworm Prevention in Dogs

Heartworm

Heartworm is another one of those diseases mozzies spread, and is quite an important disease for all dog owners to be aware of.

Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a parasite that lives in the main blood vessel between the heart and the lungs. The adult worm produces infectious stages called microfilaria, which are discharged into the blood stream. These are then picked up by mosquitoes when they bite, develop a bit more in the mosquito then are injected into another dog when the mosquito bites. For heartworm to spread in a population of dogs you need two things – mosquitoes and infected dogs.

Fortunately in Bunbury we are in a lower risk area, although we do see the occasional case. We obviously have a LOT of mozzies, but few infected dogs (though those numbers can increase over summer when holiday makers from Perth bring their dogs with them). Perth, north of Perth and inland are much higher risk areas.

The main reason we recommend heartworm prevention for all dogs is the difficulty in treating the disease. The treatment takes several weeks, during which time the animal needs to be confined to a cage. The treatment also carries significant risks, as dying worms can break away and lodge in the lungs.

The first sign of heartworm disease is normally the dog coughing. This is caused by the worms creating blood clots which lodge in the lungs. The cough can be quite severe, and in some cases fatal. Infection is normally confirmed with a blood test.

We normally start using Heartworm preventing medications from around 12 weeks of age. We recommend using a long-acting heartworm prevention injection. Although other monthly products are just as effective, if they are given late or doses missed then there are gaps which allow for a possible infection.

Please ask your vet about Heartworm, or give us a call on 97215999 if you have any questions. Once again, this is a disease where prevention is much better than cure.

 

 

 

 

 

Why is my dog scratching?

Skin Itch - A lazy scratch A real problem - Facebook Tile for Clinic FB page

Does your dog get ear infections, lick their paws, or get an itchy belly each spring or summer? Do they have a bad smell about them, or drive you mad scratching?

The most common cause of skin problems over spring and summer is a pollen allergy.

Unlike people who tend to get hay fever from pollen allergies, dogs tend to get skin problems. The classic areas to be affected are the ears, paws, belly and armpits.

We used to think that pollen allergies worked systemically. That is, the pollen would be inhaled, get absorbed into the blood stream, then cause problems in the skin. We now believe the pollens cause issues directly by simply landing on the skin. This would explain why the areas most commonly affected are the hairless areas of the body.

When it comes to managing this sort of problem, we tend to look at it much like an asthmatic would look at their condition: treating the flare-ups and longer term control.

Treating the flare-ups

We quite often see secondary infections with these skin cases. Because the pollen allergy creates heat and moisture in the skin, the perfect environment for yeast and bacteria is produced. It is important to treat this infection, as this is often where a lot of the itchiness comes from. We may use medicated shampoos or antibiotics to do this.

We also need to settle down the itching. Traditionally we have used steroids to reduce the itching. In most cases, these drugs are well tolerated and very effective, though occasionally we would see some side-effects. We now have a completely new medication available which is very effective at reducing the itchiness quickly (around 4 hours) and avoids many of the side effects associated with steroids. We would recommend you ask your vet about this new treatment.

Longer term control

Ideally, we want to avoid the flare-ups as much as possible. This is often started as the same time as we treat a flare-up as many of the treatments can take some time to help.

It is important to control fleas and anything else which may contribute to skin irritation. We recommend a product called Bravecto, as it covers your dog for 3 months and can’t be washed off.

We need to improve the oils in the skin. We find most dogs with allergic skin disease have a defective oil barrier in the skin. This means more pollen contacts directly with the skin, which make the problem worse. We do this by using a zinc and fatty acid supplement, which is added to your dogs food on a daily basis.

Weekly bathing is also recommended. Depending on your dogs skin condition, it may be a medicated shampoo or we may recommend an oatmeal based shampoo. This helps control infection in your dog’s skin as well as washing away any pollen particles. We recommend following up with an oatmeal based conditioner, which is not rinsed off. A product such as PAW Nutriderm works well in most cases.

Antihistamines may also be useful in some cases. We find they are pretty hit and miss, with each antihistamine working in around 30% of cases. Talk to your vet about which antihistamines are worth trying for your dog.

Desensitisation can also be used in some cases. Testing is done to determine which pollens your dog is allergic to, then a series of injections are given containing very small amounts of the allergen. Over time, your dog’s immune system gets used to the pollen and stops overreacting.

To develop a treatment and management plan normally requires several visits. We will initially control and flare-ups and start some longer term management, then fine-tune things as we see the response.

Skin conditions can be frustrating to manage, but by working closely with your vet you’ll find a lot can be done to keep your pet comfortable.

 

Discussing the Death of a Pet with Children

FishJust the other day, disaster struck our house. One of my boys’ beloved gold fish passed away.

Now, you think as a vet I would be prepared for talking about this to my kids, but I found myself a bit lost when it came to telling the boys.

My youngest boy, Alfie, is just one and doesn’t seem to know what has happened (he still has three fish so is still happy to feed them every day) but my three year old, Jake, was quite upset.

So, what did I learn from the experience?

  1. Be honest. Don’t lie to your kids about the pets being rehomed or escaping. Death is a part of life, and at some point kids need to learn about it and how to deal with it.
  2. Avoid terms like “put to sleep”. Young kids don’t understand what we mean by this, and you could end up with a kid who won’t go to bed.
  3. Answer their questions honestly. Their developing brains are trying to figure things out, so help them with straight, honest answers. Also listen for the questions behind what they say. For example, Jake was saying things like “I’m glad Patchy has gone”, even though he was clearly upset that Patchy wasn’t there any more. I think it was his way of trying to figure out if Patchy going to a nice place in the garden was something he should somehow be happy about. Kids quite often don’t know how to ask a direct question, so it’s important to try to understand what they are trying to learn.
  4. Involve them in the process. If your pet needs euthanasia, try to discuss the reason for it before it occurs. They may fight the decision, but there are some very important life lessons which go with such a decision. Empathy, responsibility and death are all things that kids need to learn about as their minds develop.
  5. Give them a chance to say goodbye. Burying Patchy under one of our plants gave Jake a chance to say his goodbyes and move on, as well as a chance to “visit” Patchy whenever he wants.
  6. Find a way to explain what is left when a pet dies. A while ago, I heard a great explanation of what a pet’s body is once it has died. It is like the wrapper of a chocolate bar. When the pet dies, the best part, the part inside, has gone. But you can still remember the pleasure it gave you.

It is always going to be hard for a kid to understand, but they’re often tougher than we give them credit for.

Further information can be found on this fact sheet from the Trauma and Grief Network.