All posts by AP


Hall Veterinary Surgery will be closed on the two upcoming ACT public holidays.

Family & Community Day Monday, 25 September 2017
Labour Day Monday, 2 October 2017

We’ll reopen with normal business hours on each of the following Tuesdays. Enjoy your holiday time with your pet!

Itchy Skin

Does your dog have itchy skin?itchydog

Itchy skin is a common problem for many animals. A dog with itchy skin will excessively scratch, lick or bite its skin, and the skin will become hot and lose its hair. If the scratching is severe, it might even have cuts and scabs, or a bad odour. The itching can be confined to just one area, or affect the dog’s entire body. This can make a dog absolutely miserable and understandably quite irritable.

What are the causes of itchy skin?

Itchy skin is not a condition in itself, but a sign of some other disease. The most common causes in Canberra are allergies. Atopic dermatitis is an allergy to airborne particles such as pollens, moulds or grasses, and causes itchiness of the face, armpits, groin and feet. The cause may never actually be isolated, or it may be widely dispersed in the air and therefore unavoidable.

  • Mites can also cause itchiness when they wander over the skin, bite it or burrow into it.
  • Yeasts and bacteria often compound the problem as they infect inflamed skin, increasing the itch.
  • Many dogs have itchiness due to fleas. When a flea bites a dog its saliva can sometimes trigger an allergic reaction, and just one flea bite can cause itchiness for weeks! Flea allergy dermatitis usually affects the dog’s rump.
  • Some dogs will have itchiness due to endocrine diseases like hypothyroidism.

Things to think about in itchy dogs.

  • Age. If your dog is young, it may have a congenital tendency to skin disease. If you have an older dog, it might be predisposed to another illness that could cause itchiness as a result.
  • Other animals in the environment. Whether in the house or wildlife, other animals can act as a source of fleas, mites, yeasts and other infectious agents that can cause itchiness.
  • Diet. Some animals become allergic to components of their diet, often this is the protein source for that diet.
  • Breed. Some breeds are more predisposed than others to contracting skin disease.
  • Seasonality. Some conditions are more commonly seen in certain periods of the year. For example, flea populations increase in warm and humid weather,  and atopic animals with allergies to pollens can experience an allergy flare when spring and summer grasses flower, much as we do with hay-fever.

What tests can the vet do?

The first thing the vet will do is physically examine your dog, looking for any rashes, scabs or inflamed areas. A flea comb may be used to look for fleas and other skin parasites. Smaller agents such as mites, bacteria and yeasts can only be seen under a microscope, so samples from the skin may need to be taken. This could include a swab, a sticky tape test (where the skin is gently squeezed and sticky tape is pressed against it), a skin scraping (where a scalpel blade is scraped against the superficial skin layer) or an impression smear (where a slide is pressed directly against the skin). Blood tests are required if endocrine disease is suspected.

How is itchy skin treated?Sara giving patient Bailey a medicated bath

Fleas are treated by using regular preventative flea treatments on all animals in the house at the same time and by removing fleas from the dog’s bedding and environment. Vet branded monthly top spots or tablets are proven to be more effective in removing fleas from the dog than those found elsewhere. Mite infestations require a combination of medicated shampoos and oral medication for some months. Food allergies are diagnosed by exclusion diets and treated by avoiding the offending food. Allergies are managed with medications that reduce the itch, as well as treating the secondary bacteria or yeast that colonise the inflamed skin and aggravate the irritation. Omega 3 supplements, medicated shampoos, cortisone and other medications that reduce itch are often helpful too. Endocrine diseases are treated with hormonal supplements. Recheck appointments are valuable to monitor progress and ensure your pet has maximum comfort whilst minimising the side effects of medications.

New strain of Rabbit Calicivirus found in the ACT

iStock_000004567669_SmallThere have been two recent cases of a new strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus – RHDV2 – reported in the ACT. The current vaccine available in Australia – Cylap – has partial protection against this strain.

Recommendations from the ACT and NSW Chief Veterinary Officers are:

  • vaccinate all rabbits in your household
  • vaccinate breeding animals before the breeding season to give the young some maternal antibody protection
  • vaccinate from four weeks old (this is younger than previous recommendations, as RHDV2 affects younger rabbits more than the older strains), with a booster four weeks later
  • avoid vaccination gaps and ensure all rabbits receive annual boosters (and six monthly for breeding does)

These next points will help in reducing the risk of introducing both RHDV and myxomatosis, which is also in the wild rabbit population:

  • keep cages clean and prevent wild rabbits from coming into contact with outdoor cages
  • try and maintain good insect control
  • avoid feeding grass to rabbits if it may have come into contact with wild rabbits

If you have any concerns, or wish to update your rabbit’s vaccinations, please call our Reception on 6230 2223.

Congratulations Helen!

anzcvsCongratulations to Dr Helen who passed her membership exams to the Animal Behaviour chapter of the Australian & New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists.

That was a lot of hard work!

That was an exhausting slog!


It’s Polite Pets month!

It is Polite Pets Month, which focuses on how to recognise and treat anxiety, fear and phobias in our furred and feathered friends. Up to 20% of our pets suffer from anxiety and this can result in behaviours that are unacceptable like aggression, separation and noise phobias and toileting where you would rather they didn’t!

Finding out the true cause of these behaviours is essential to managing them effectively. Jumping on the punishment wagon can worsen anxiety driven problems.
Behaviour issues are best treated sooner rather than later so that you can maintain a happy family! Dr Helen is available for behaviour consults. Call reception to arrange a time.

Dog off-lead and on-lead areas

nearbydogareasJust a reminder that we have some very handy Google maps that show where dog off-lead and dog-prohibited areas are in northern Canberra. These were based on data from the ACT Government which at the time was pretty inaccessible. Since then, they have added a Dog Exercise Areas map layer to ACTMAPi, their interactive map portal (they even have it in a format for non-Windows computers). So you can now get it straight from the source. We still prefer our Google maps, ‘cos we think they look nicer!

Note that the Government is currently reviewing all dog exercise areas. We will let you know of changes as soon as they announce them.

Beat the heat

A cocker spaniel jumping into a poolThis next week is going to be really hot, so make sure that your pets have access all day to water and shade.

Little (hard) plastic wader pools are a good idea, depending on the dog (or cat!)

If you find your dog is becoming stressed by the heat, cool them down with a hose immediately. Wet them to the skin. If they still look stressed, phone us immediately as heat stroke is potentially fatal. To learn more, check out our earlier post here.

Dog Names (2013)

nats-dogHere’s what our clients have been naming their dogs in the last three years.

Male Dogs

  1. Max
  2. Charlie
  3. Jack
  4. Oscar
  5. Billy, Buddy
  6. Barney, Sam, Teddy, Toby

Female Dogs

  1. Bella
  2. Ruby
  3. Molly
  4. Coco
  5. Pepper
  6. Daisy
  7. Rosie
  8. Nala, Zoe

Notable names include, for the lads; explosives Dynamite and Nitro; many Greek gods inc Ajax, Apollo, Zeus; Rock gods Jagger and Hendrix; some Roman heavyweights inc Jupiter, Brutus, Caesar, Maximus; and several Star Wars characters, Chewie, Chewy, Skywalker, and the eternal Yoda. For the ladies we’ve seen Anubyss, Ariel, Bellatrix Lestrange, Breadcrumb, Butter, Cadbury, Chilli, Cocoa, Butmeg, Peach, Peaches, Peanut, Schnitzel, Shiraz and Merlot.

You can compare them with a similar list from 2011.