Category Archives: Cats

Outbreak Warning: Potentially fatal cat viruses in the Canberra area

Two viruses, one a new strain and the other a resurgence of an old virus are causing concerns for our feline friends and their owners around Canberra.

Virulent strain of cat flu (feline calicivirus)

In March this year and now again in June/July, vets around Canberra have seen sick cats suffering from a particularly virulent form of a cat flu virus, FCV-VSD (Feline calicivirus – virulent systemic disease)

While typical signs of flu in cats include mouth ulcers, sneezing and perhaps lameness, the virulent strain can cause a much more severe illness. Signs are usually more severe in adult cats than in kittens and fatalities are common. Whilst the normal flu vaccination may offer some protection, even fully vaccinated cats can succumb to the virulent strain.

Affected cats show some or all of the following signs – loss of appetite, lethargy, high fever, swollen limb(s) and/or head, jaundice, difficulty breathing, mouth ulcers and sores on the nose, ear tips and skin. These signs are similar to those reported in previous outbreaks in the US and Europe.

Fortunately, most infected cats in Canberra have recovered due to prompt diagnosis and supporting treatment.

The virus can survive in the environment for around one month. It is highly contagious and spreads easily to other cats via hands, clothing, shoes, bedding, food bowls and litter trays. The greatest risk of spread occurs in multi-cat environments such as shelters and boarding catteries. Fortunately spread in the wider community has been limited and the outbreaks seem to ‘burn out’.

Researchers at Sydney Uni are investigating the virulent strain and vets have been submitting mouth swabs from any suspect cases for testing.

If your cat is showing any of the signs listed above, please call us on 62302223 to arrange an appointment. An initial assessment may be done in the car by a vet kitted out in gloves and disposable gown to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

 

Feline enteritis

The resurgence of the deadly virus, FPV (feline panleukopenia virus) which was almost eradicated 40 years ago by vaccinations, has been confirmed in various locations throughout Australia, including Melbourne and Canberra.

FPV is highly contagious and can be fatal to the affected cat.

The most common form of FPV presents as a three to four day history of high temperature, lethargy, loss of appetite and may progress to vomiting and diarrhoea. However, in cases of very severe infection, cats can die very suddenly with no apparent signs.

FPV in cats is caused by parvoviruses, which are small DNA viruses. The main one is feline panleukopenia virus but parvoviruses that infect dogs can also cause the disease in cats.

Disease control relies on strong herd immunity and that can only be achieved by keeping pets up-to-date with their vaccinations.

We recommend that kittens are vaccinated starting from 6-8 weeks of age and then every 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old.

Cats receiving their first vaccination after 16 weeks of age only need one dose with a booster at 6-12 months and then every three years thereafter.

The modified live F3 vaccine used at Hall Veterinary surgery provides highly effective protection against this virus.

PLEASE NOTE:
Strict disinfection procedures have been implemented at the surgery so please do not be offended if we ask you to leave your cat in the car and phone us when you arrive for your appointment, we have your cat’s health as our top priority.

Dreading Shedding?

Shedding is one way an animal can adapt to its environment. Changes in the amount of sunlight and the external temperature are the two of the main factors that determine when major shedding will occur.

While hair shedding is a normal process for many breeds of dogs and cats, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season —
many pets develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. However, pets who are always kept indoors are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year rather than seasonally.

When should you be concerned?
• You notice significantly more shedding than usual.
• Development of bald patches.
• Dull dry hair that falls off when touched.
• Your pet is continually itching, scratching or biting itself.

Image result for itchy dog

What can you do about it?
• Make some notes about the intensity and frequency of the shedding and discuss this with your vet.
• Groom your pet very regularly with an implement that causes no pain and pair grooming time with a great treat for your pet. This will make grooming something the pet enjoys rather than suffers through.

Aches and Pains – How Can We Tell?

Our pets can’t tell us what they are feeling in words, however through observing their body language, we can notice changes in their behaviour that may indicate pain.

Pain can occur with a vast array of chronic diseases, some not so obvious, for example dental disease, arthritis, back pain, ear infections, pancreatitis and cancer.

Image result for pain in animals

Top five signs of chronic pain are:

  1. Decreased Activity. Is your dog less enthusiastic for walks lately? Does your cat lay around more than usual or have they stopped climbing on to their favourite perch? Be careful not to assume this is normal ageing. There could be a medical condition that will improve with treatment.
  2. Changes in habits. Is your cat grooming less? Has your dog stopped jumping into the car or onto furniture? Are they interacting less with family? Reluctance to use stairs or groom can often occur with back or joint pain.
  3. Loss of toilet training. Dogs and cats might start to toilet inside if it hurts too much to walk to their usual spot, squeeze through the dog door or navigate steps. It could be painful to squat.
  4. Lameness. Is your pet stiff when getting out of bed, hunched or favouring a leg? You might see them shifting their weight or unable to stand in one place for long if their joints are aching.
  5. Aggression. Perhaps your pet is growling or snapping when petted to protect a painful area. Are they avoiding a playmate who asks for a tumble because it’s going to hurt?

Detecting chronic pain in your pet can be challenging. Body language is their only way to tell us when something is wrong, physically or emotionally.

Watch carefully for changes in their behaviour and contact the practice to arrange a check up if you notice a change in your pet’s behaviour.

5 Easy Steps to Get Your Cat to the Vet Stress Free

Regular check-ups are vital in ensuring that our cats live healthy and happy lives. Unfortunately many Cats and their owners find visits to the vet can be quite stressful. There are lots of things we can do to make the vet visit more comfortable for our cats.  It really doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.


1. Get a good Cat Carrier

A Cat Carrier is not only the safest way to transport your cat in the car, it can also be a safe haven for your cat during your vet visit. The best carriers have both a top and front opening. One like the picture below is fantastic, it is sturdy and secure and the lid clicks off making it easy to get your cat in and out of the carrier.  Most of the examination can even be performed within the carrier to help reduce stress.

 

2. Get your cat used to the carrier

Some cats only ever go in their carrier to be taken to the vet so it is natural for them to relate the carrier to the entire experience. This can leave them feeling frightened of the carrier itself, some owners even report that their cats hide as soon as they even bring the carrier out. It is very important that we make sure our cats know that their carrier is a safe and happy place, you can do this by:

  • Leaving the carrier out at home, so it becomes a familiar and less scary.
  • Feeding your cat their breakfast or dinner inside the carrier.
  • Placing treats and toys in the carrier so your cat gets used to going in and out.


3. Make the carrier a nice place to be

Using Feliway spray in the carrier will help reduce anxiety associated with travel.   Ask us for more details on Feliway.

Image result for feliway

Place soft bedding in the bottom of the carrier, this will help prevent you cat from slipping and sliding around during travel.  Using bedding or an item of clothing that has your scent on it will make your cat feel more comfortable and secure.  Covering the carrier with a towel during transport creates a safe hiding place.  


4. Make sure the carrier is safe

In the car, ensure that carrier will not slide around or be jolted by bumpy roads.  Securing it with a seat belt will help.  Once you get to the clinic place the carrier up off the ground, as being on ground level can make cats feel vulnerable and scared.   If possible, try to sit in a quieter area of the waiting room away from dogs and noise. If you don’t have a towel of your own please ask one of our friendly customer care staff who will place a Feliway sprayed towel over your cats carrier whilst you wait to be seen by the vet.

5. Talk to us

If you are still finding it challenging to bring your cat to the vet, give us a call so we can discuss ways of making it less stressful. 

Call us now on (02) 6230 2223 to book you cats next check up or book online now by heading back to the HOME PAGE.

 

A day in the life of: Trent – Kidney Disease

Meet Trent, a gorgeous and very friendly 11 year old Domestic Short Hair cat. Trent visited us a few weeks ago after his owner Hayley noticed that he had been losing weight and the quality of his coat had been lacking.

In order to investigate Hayley’s concerns Dr Jenny decided that a senior check-up was in order. A senior check-up involves a thorough history and examination with a focus on issues that our senior cats are commonly affected by.  Our comprehensive examination includes a mobility assessment, dental health check, dietary assessment, parasite control review and a vaccination review.   The senior cat check-up also includes a full blood profile, blood pressure and urine testing all run in our state of the art in house laboratory.

Trent was an angel, he let us check his blood pressure without a fuss, we used a blood pressure cuff and a Doppler ultrasound to do this.  We made sure to use headphones so that Trent didn’t notice the noise at all. Blood pressure testing is extremely important as cats with high blood pressure have no clinical signs until they develop organ damage.  Sudden onset blindness is often the first sign we see.  Early detection and treatment can help prevent this, Luckily Trent’s blood pressure was normal.

We then went on to collect blood and urine samples from Trent, the blood test we ran measured his kidney enzymes, liver enzymes, thyroid hormone, glucose, and red and white blood cells.  The urine sample was to check urine concentration allowing us to assess kidney function, and to check for urinary tract infections which are common in our older cats.

 

After running these tests we found that Trent had early stage kidney disease, and this was what caused his weight loss and other symptoms such as changes to his coat.  Kidney disease can also cause increased thirst and increased urination – this is often what owners notice first.

Because of Trent’s vigilant owner we were able to detect the kidney disease at such an early stage that all Trent needed was a diet change to a special prescription kidney diet.  Trent actually quite liked his new diet, but don’t worry we have plenty of tips and tricks for cats that are more fussy.  In a few weeks we will follow up with Trent and recheck his blood and urine tests to make sure that he is improving with his treatment.

Image result for hills k/d cat Image result for royal canin renal cat

 

If your cat is 7 years of age or older, book in for their Senior Cat Check-up today, give us a call on (02) 6230 2223 or click HERE to book online now!

That’s toxic! The top 14 foods to keep your pets away from

There are a range of substances that can cause serious harm to pets. Listed below are just a few of the common products that you need to prevent your pet gaining access to.

Grapes, sultanas & raisins: The toxic substance in grapes, sultanas and raisins is unknown, however ingestion may cause kidney failure in sensitive pets and there is no ‘safe’ dose.Image result for grapes and sultanas

Caffeine: is a stimulant and pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people. A couple of laps of tea or coffee are unlikely to do any harm, but if your pet swallows a handful of coffee beans, coffee grinds or tea bags they could be in danger.
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Chocolate: contains a stimulant called theobromine which is poisonous to pets. The darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains. Signs of theobromine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures this can lead to cardiac arrest.
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Mouldy foods: including bread, nuts and dairy products, contain lots of toxins that could make your pet very ill so keep all pets away from compost.
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Onions, garlic, and chives: eating these vegetables and herbs can cause stomach and gut irritation and potentially lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia.
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Alcohol: is significantly more toxic to pets than to humans. When consumed, even small quantities of alcoholic beverages and food products may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors,
blood changes, coma and death.
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Macadamia nuts: within 12 hours of ingestion, macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and increased body temperature.
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Yeast dough: the rising dough causes gas to accumulate in the pet’s digestive system. Not only can this be painful, but it may also cause the stomach or intestines to become blocked. So while small bits of bread can be given as a treat — never give your pet yeast dough.
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Bones: dogs regularly present to vets for emergency surgical procedures to remove intestinal obstructions after swallowing pieces of bone that become stuck. Other conditions bones frequently cause include constipation, pancreatitis, teeth fractures as well as internal injury such as bone splinters which can puncture your dog’s digestive tract.
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Corn on the cob: if your dog swallows large chunks of the cob, or even the whole cob, it can cause an intestinal blockage due to its size and shape. Signs to look out for are vomiting, loss of appetite or reduced appetite, absence of faeces or diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort.
Image result for corn on the cob

Xylitol: is an artificial sweetener found in many products that causes insulin release which can lead to potentially fatal hypoglycaemia (lowered sugar levels).
Image result for xylitol

Milk: feeding your dog milk and other milk-based products can cause diarrhoea or other digestive upsets.
Image result for milk

Blue cheese: the roquefortine C found in blue cheese may cause
vomiting and diarrhoea, can lead to tremors, twitching, seizures and
high temperature.
Image result for blue cheese

Death cap mushrooms: Are lethal to pets and humans –
no contact is safe.
Image result for death cap mushroom

If your pet ever ingests something you are unsure about please give us a call on (02) 6230 2223 straight away.

Snake Bites and Your Pet

Every year in Australia thousands of family pets are bitten by snakes, the types of snake vary depending on where in Australia the bite occurred. Here in Canberra the most common snakes we encounter are Brown Snakes followed by Tiger Snakes and less commonly Red-Bellied Black Snakes.

As snakes hibernate during the colder months the vast majority of snake bites take place in the Spring/Summer months. Snakes are commonly found in areas with long grass, rocks and other hiding holes, often near a fresh water source such as a creek or dam.

It is important to remember that most snakes will try to avoid you and your pets. However, whilst we humans may simply walk away from a snake, our pet’s are inquisitive, armed with natural hunting instincts and when given the chance, will harass snakes often resulting in snake bites.

What can I do to prevent a snake bite to my pet?

  • Avoid areas with grass any longer than ankle height
  • Always keep your dog on lead when walking
  • Do not let your dog investigate off path/in long grass
  • Keep your backyard tidy, mowed and remove any rubbish that would make a nice hiding spot for a snake
  • Consider building a cat enclosure for cats that like to venture outdoors

What are the signs of snake bites that I should be aware of?

There are several factors that may determine the reaction your pet may have to a snake bite. These can include the type of snake, where on the body your pet was bitten and how much venom was injected.

Signs and symptoms of snake bites vary but can often show some of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weakness
  • Collapse (can seem to ‘recover’ shortly after)
  • Twitching of the muscles
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Dilated pupils non-responsive to light

And in later stages:

  • Blood in urine
  • Paralysis

I think my pet has been bitten by a snake, what should I do?

If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep them as quiet/still as possible whilst seeking immediate veterinary attention. The sooner your pet is treated the better their chances of survival.

Unless you are certain the snake is dead do not put yourself at risk trying to identify it.


Variations in colour of the Eastern Brown Snake.

What will the Vet do to treat my pet?

Once you arrive at the Vet they may recommend a series of tests to determine whether a snake bite has occurred.
After receiving confirmation of a snake bite your pet will be placed on intravenous fluids and possibly oxygen depending on their current condition.
Your vet will administer the appropriate anti venom to your pet slowly whilst intensive monitoring and supportive care continues.
Subject to your pets reaction to the anti venom occasionally more than one vial is needed.
Depending on the severity of your pets condition, intensive nursing, hospitalisation and supportive care such as IV fluids and oxygen may be necessary for a number of days whilst they recover.

What is my pet’s prognosis?

Approximately 80% of pets survive snake bites if treated quickly.
The survival rate of pets that are left untreated is much, much lower.

What can I do to remove a snake from my property?

If you see a snake do not try to catch or harm it. All Australian snakes are protected and you will expose yourself to unnecessary danger.

If you need a snake removed/relocated please phone:

Access Canberra Contact Centre on 132281.
or visit their website HERE for more information.

Heatstroke Awareness

Heatstroke of pets can occur quite quickly and is a result of exposure to high environmental temperatures or strenuous exercise. It is an acute, progressive, life-threatening emergency. Immediate cooling action is required to lower the pet’s body temperature as failure to do so may result in thermal injury to the pet’s organs.

Dogs that are especially prone to heatstroke include: overweight /
obese dogs; short muzzled dogs like bulldogs and pugs; dogs with laryngeal paralysis or cardiovascular disease. Older dogs or those with a dark or dense hair coat are also prone to heatstroke.

SYMPTOMS OF HEATSTROKE

Dark or bright red tongue and gums
Heavy panting
Vomiting
Diarrhoea
Wobbly gait
Seizures
And in severe cases, coma and death.

PREVENTION OF HEATSTROKE
Pets should never be left in cars on hot days for any amount of time. For outdoor pets, access to clean water and shade at all times are essential.
Keep your pet’s coat short in Summer.
Exercise during the cooler parts of the day.

 

IDEAS TO KEEP YOUR PETS COOL
Dogs: Spray bottles with cool water jetted on the pet’s underside, paddle 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) dive for the peas.

If signs of heatstroke are present, the pet should be immediately cooled and taken to a veterinarian for treatment.

Patient Spotlight: Floyd the ‘Wonder-cat’

Floyd is an 18 year old Domestic Short Hair Cat with a lovely personality, he has lived his 18 years in the care of his dedicated owner Margaret, who has tended to all of his hunger needs!

Unfortunately, Floyd recently suffered from an Aortic Thromboembolisim. This is a serious and often fatal condition where a blood clot forms in the heart and moves down the aorta. As the clot forms it causes pain, decreasing pulses, cold limbs, loss of blood flow and hind leg paralysis. A very small 30-50% of cats will recover fully from this condition. Due to this, Floyd had become bedridden and unable to move his hind legs.

Luckily for Floyd, his lovely owner was more than dedicated to help him get through it.

Floyd was admitted to hospital every day whilst his owner was at work, each day he went through a rigorous routine of hourly massaging, physio and assisted stands. He was offered as much food as his heart desired, was brushed daily by our nurses and even had his own radio to listen to while spending his days in our cat ward!
Each night Floyd’s owner picked him up and continued his physio routine over night, turning him hourly and massaging his legs.

After 2 weeks of intensive physio we are so pleased to say that Floyd is making amazing progress!  He has regained some strength in his hind legs and is now able to stand and walk around with minimal assistance! Floyd’s road to recovery is a long one but without the wonderful dedication from Floyd’s owner Margaret, he certainly would not be where he is today.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Paralysis ticks have moved to Canberra!

Every year many companion pets die from tick paralysis. Until recently the risk of tick paralysis was confined to pets that visited the coast or contacted a tick brought back from the coast, for example in rugs or vegetation.

However, we are now seeing tick paralysis in pets whose owners have not recently travelled outside of the Canberra region.

Paralysis ticks appear to have developed the ability to survive the cooler, drier Canberra climate and whilst more prevalent from August to March and after heavy rain, ticks are a risk to pets all year round.

Paralysis ticks are capable of killing a pet within three to four days of attaching, so don’t delay.

Early signs include tiredness, staggering, vomiting, breathing difficulty, progressing to paralysis. The signs may continue to worsen even after the tick is removed.

Although most pets treated for tick paralysis survive, prevention is much safer and far less expensive. Tick prevention products vary between dogs and cats. They also vary in efficacy as well as length of protection. Please talk with our staff about the most suitable tick protection for your pet.

Not all ticks are dangerous. Bush ticks are occasionally seen locally but do not cause illness. The most effective action is, if you find a tick on your pet, bring it with you to the vet to be identified.

PREVENTION

 

TICK PREVENTATIVES

Newer products in the form of chewable tablets, such as NexGard and Bravecto are providing effective tick protection for dogs. The rinses and top spots that we previously used for dogs are less effective and can be toxic to cats that groom or have close physical contact with recently treated dog.

For cats, prevention options are more limited and we recommend Frontline® spray, although the Frontline® Plus top spot or Seresto flea collars may provide some protection.

DAILY SEARCHING

This is recommended even in pets receiving tick prevention treatment as none are 100% reliable. The ticks may attach anywhere but are more often found on the front half of the body.

 CLIPPING THE COAT

Trimming the hair assists in searching for ticks. Be prepared, if your pet has a long coat and presents to us with suspected tick toxicity, we may want to shave their entire coat to aid the tick search.

If symptoms of tick toxicity are noticed, a thorough search of the animal should be made and a veterinarian contacted immediately. Do not offer food or water to animals suffering from paralysis as their inability to swallow may cause an aspiration pneumonia.

Ticks can be very hard to find, so don’t rule out tick paralysis if you cannot find one. There may also be more than one tick on the pet. If a tick is found on a pet which is not exhibiting signs, remove the tick by firmly grasping the tick close to the skin and plucking it off. Keep searching and remove any other ticks.

So long as signs do not develop, there is the option to keep your pet quiet and cool for 24 hours. Please keep the tick in case it is required for identification.

If you are at all uncertain, call for an appointment and bring your pet in for a vet check. Depending on the case, we may recommend home monitoring, or monitoring for signs in hospital
+/- treatment with anti-serum.

TREATMENT

Veterinary treatment of tick paralysis includes:

  • Thorough searching and removal of all ticks. This may require clipping the coat.
  • Application of a tickicidal wash or spray.
  • Administration of tick anti-serum.
  • Oxygen supplementation if necessary which may require transfer to an emergency centre for overnight monitoring or ventilation.
  • Maintaining hydration using intravenous fluid treatment, until the pet is able to swallow and therefore eat and drink again.
  • Keeping the pet cool, relaxed and comfortable

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF TICK PARALYSIS?

Signs of tick paralysis vary depending on the length of time the tick has been on the animal, as well as the potency of the toxin, which can vary between ticks.

Signs include:

  • A change in vocalisation
  • Increased or laboured breathing
  • Coughing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Weakness in the hind legs, which typically progresses to involve the forelimbs

IF YOU FIND A TICK ON YOUR PET CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY

The toxin produced by paralysis ticks is very potent. Even when the tick is removed, most animals get worse before they get better. This is because the toxin already in the animal’s body continues to circulate and attaches to nerves for a period of time. Remove food and water as your pet’s ability to swallow may be compromised, putting your pet at risk of inhaling food and developing aspiration pneumonia.