What are we looking for in a blood test?
Routine blood testing typically assesses haematology (red and white blood cells), biochemistry (all the blood products associated with normal bodily functions, including liver and kidney function) and electrolytes. There are blood tests which look for particular problems as they arise, such as hormonal imbalances or clotting problems. Some health conditions can only be detected by blood testing, making this a very useful part of any check-up.
Which pets should have blood tests?
Blood testing is recommended for any pet that is feeling unwell or a little off-colour. Routine monitoring is also recommended for senior animals, those on long term medications and for any pet undergoing general anaesthesia. Recent scientific research has recommended performing regular blood testing in young healthy animals. Every animal is different, so doing this allows us to get an idea of what normal values to expect for each pet as an individual. This is particularly useful for detecting early changes (for example, onset of kidney disease) and allowing prompt investigation and treatment of issues as they arise.
How is blood collected?
Most pets tolerate blood collection well. Your vet or nurse will clip a section of hair away from the neck or leg, clean the skin and collect blood with a needle and syringe. Pets who are anxious about the process often find comfort in lots of cuddles, treats and gentle handling. A small number of animals may need to be sedated for collection, but your vet will assess the pros and cons of performing the test if this is the case.
When should a blood test be performed?
For young healthy animals, the goal is to obtain 3 blood tests before becoming ‘middle aged’ (this age varies between breeds, but as a rough guide is between 6-8 years). Yearly testing is recommended for senior pets. Animals on long term medications often need 6 monthly testing but this will depend on the medication and your vet will guide you as to what is appropriate. Testing is recommended in all animals prior to general anaesthesia as in some cases we may decide to alter our anaesthetic protocol in relation to the blood results.
Where are blood tests performed?
We have state of the art in house blood machines, which allows us to run many tests on the spot with a quick turnaround time. Some tests do however need to be sent to external laboratories and may have a delay of a couple of days for results.
Your vet will advise you if your pet is due for a blood test. If you have any concerns about your pet’s general health and wellbeing, please contact us for further assistance.
Are you heading to the coast this summer? Tick protection is a MUST! Although most pets who are treated quickly for tick paralysis survive, ticks are capable of killing your pet within 3 to 4 days of attaching if your pet has not had any tick prevention.
REMEMBER: PREVENTION IS MUCH SAFER AND MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE THAN TREATMENT.
It is possible for ticks to be carried back in your luggage etc and attach to pets that haven’t travelled to the coast themselves so if you are heading to the coast and your pet is staying home they still need protection.
Protection for dogs is now more convenient than ever and is available in flavoured chews that cover for both Fleas and Ticks! Nexgard protects your dog for one month and is perfect for that one off trip to the coast for the weekend, Bravecto covers your dog from fleas for 3 months and ticks for 4 months and is perfect for those who travel to the coast more frequently.
Prevention for cats is slightly trickier (but still essential), please phone us on (02) 6230 2223 to discuss further.
Early signs of tick paralysis include tiredness, staggering, vomiting, breathing difficulty, change in the sound of their bark or breathing, progressing to paralysis, these signs may continue to worsen even after the tick is removed.
If you notice any of these symptoms your pet should be taken to the nearest Vet immediately.
Call us on (02) 6230 2223 and we can discuss the most suitable tick prevention product for you and your pet.
Desexing renders dogs and bitches unable to breed, and removes the sexual urge. Temporary or semi-permanent control can be effected by the use of certain drugs, however surgical desexing is permanent and has fewer side effects.
Desexing dogs is compulsory in the ACT unless you have a permit to keep your pet entire. If you do not intend to breed from your dog surgical desexing has undoubted advantages both in the male and the female. In the male dog it removes the sexual urge and lessens their urge to roam. Desexing the bitch means she will not come into heat and therefore will not have to be confined and deprived of her usual exercise and companionship. Heat usually occurs twice a year for at least 3 weeks each time.
Owners are often tempted to have at least one litter from a bitch as there appears to be a general misconception that having a litter will improve temperament. There is no scientific evidence to support this theory. It has however, been proven that neutering the bitch not only prevents uterine disease but also reduces the possibility of mammary cancer if desexing occurs before the first heat. Bitches on heat (oestrus) often surprise their owners with their determined and often successful attempts to escape to be mated. Once desexed the bitch will have no oestrus and will not have unwanted puppies or phantom pregnancies, which in some bitches causes as lot of distress.
Both female and male dogs are usually desexed between 6–12 months of age although the operation can be carried out at any time. In the male, desexing entails removal of the testicles. Occasionally one or both testicles have failed to descend into the scrotum, desexing these dogs is more complicated but well advised, as testicles retained within the abdomen are more vulnerable to tumour development later in life. The desexing of females is less complicated when they are not on heat, pregnant or overweight. We recommend bitches be desexed closer to six months of age, when the immaturity of the ovaries and uterus facilitates their easier removal.
The desexing procedure is done under general anesthesia so the dog must be fasted for 12 hours prior to surgery. General anaesthesia always carries a slight risk but with modern anaesthetic agents, careful monitoring by qualified nurses and intravenous fluids this risk is minimal. The dog will be examined by a veterinarian on admission to the hospital prior to receiving a premedication. This is the time to discuss any remaining questions and inform the veterinarian if your dog is not in peak health. The surgery is performed during the morning and your dog remains in hospital under observation for the afternoon. We will discuss after care and the use of post op pain relief with you at the time of discharge and call to check on your pet’s progress the following day.
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke or heat exhaustion occurs when the pet experiences a marked increase in body temperature. Normal temperature range for cats and dogs is ~38–39ºC. Other than as part of an underlying illness, pets can become overheated after being enclosed in a hot area, or due to over exertion with excessive exercise.
Heat stroke affects the entire body and can cause anything from very mild signs to very severe and life threatening illness. Those breeds with short noses like Boxers, Bulldogs and Mastiffs are at greater risk.
– body temperatures exceeding 39.5ºc
– excessive panting
– dark or bright red tongue and gums
– sticky or dry tongue and gums
– staggering, weakness, body tremors
– state of near-unconsciousness
– bloody diarrhoea or vomiting
What to do
Effectively cooling the pet is essential using cool water and a fan (NOT ice blocks in direct contact with the skin). Take your pet to the Vet immediately as your pet’s life is at risk and heatstroke can also cause long term organ damage.
The best way to prevent heat stroke is by keeping your pet cool. Never leave your pet in a hot car, keep your pet’s coat short in Summer, exercise during the cooler parts of the day, ensure your dog always has access to clean cool drinking water and shelter from the sun.
Ideas to cool pets
DOGS. Spray bottles with cool water jetted on the pet’s underside, wading pools, keeping indoors during hot times of the day, ice treats like frozen kongs.
BIRDS. Frozen watermelon treats.
RABBITS. Frozen peas for rabbits to lie next to and nibble on.
RATS. Fill a small tub or container with water and then throw in some peas. They will get into the water and (depending on how deep it is) will dive for them.
We are in the grips of what has been a rampant snake season, starting early this year with our first patient presenting in late August! Snake venom kills animals quickly so if you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, call ahead and we can get ready for you whilst you bring your pet straight to the surgery. That way we can start treatment as soon as possible. While it is helpful to know what type of snake has potentially bitten your pet, polyvalent antivenin is available that treats all the snake venoms common to the area.
Keeping yourself safe should be the number one priority.
Also be aware that a brown snake is not always brown in colour – it can vary with age, location and sub-species.
There have been many, many snake bites already this season from juvenile snakes and their bite is just a deadly as the adult snakes.
With the weather cooling down, many of our older pets are feeling the strain.
Arthritis is quite common in older animals and is exacerbated by cool, humid weather. Being overweight or having had joint surgery at some point in their life are recognised risk factors. Large breed dogs often develop arthritis at an earlier age than smaller breeds. The impact of arthritis on a pet’s quality of life can be significant, but there are management strategies available. Continue reading Arthritis in pets