Category Archives: Diseases of dogs

Spring Safety Reminders

With the change in season comes a few new safety topics for pet owners to be aware of. In this article we will be covering four Spring and Summer related health topics;
– Grass Seeds
– Heat Stress
– Snake Safety
– Paralysis Ticks

Grass Seeds

Unfortunately with the beautiful spring weather and rapid growth of vegetation comes grass seeds. These seeds have a sharp tip and barbed end, allowing them to puncture skin easily and even migrate through the body. At Hall Vet Surgery we often see patients who have these little suckers in their paws, ears, eyes, nostrils and even genitals, ouch!

The best way to avoid grass seeds is to avoid long grass, keep grass on your own property mowed and don’t allow your pet to run through long grass on walks. If your pet has long fur, trimming their fur (especially their paws) can also dramatically reduce their chances of ending up with grass seeds.

For more information and a list of symptoms to keep an eye out for, see: Grass Seeds Information.

Heat Stress

Heat Stress is extremely dangerous for our pets, in severe cases it can cause irreversible damage to internal organs and can even be fatal. Unlike us, our pets unable to sweat and are not able to cool themselves as effectively. As pets rely on panting as their primary way of eliminating excess body heat, brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds are much more at risk due to their inability to breath and pant as efficiently. Pets who are overweight, have heart disease, are very young or very old are also at increased risk.

Ensuring your pet ALWAYS has access to water, shade and a well ventilated area is the number one way to prevent heat stress. Exercising your pet at cooler times in the day and not allowing them to over exert themselves is also extremely important.

For more tips and tricks see: Preventing Heatstroke.

Snake Safety

As snakes hibernate during the colder months the vast majority of snake bites take place in Spring and Summer. 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.

The best ways to prevent snake bites are:

  • 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

Symptoms to look out for:

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

What to do if you think your pet may have been bitten by a snake:

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. Snake bite envenomation is life-threatening, 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. Never attempt to catch or harm a snake.

Additional information on prevention and treatment of snake bites can be found, here.

Paralysis Ticks

Although they are small, paralysis ticks are not to be underestimated. These critters are capable of killing an unprotected pet within 3-4 days of attaching.

Prevention is far safer (and kinder to your wallet) than treatment, and is now available in lots of convenient options such as flavoured chews and long lasting topical treatments. Whilst protection should certainly be considered Australia wide in the warmer months, it is absolutely imperative that all pets are protected before travelling to the coast or to Sydney.

It’s also worth noting, not all ticks are dangerous. Bush ticks are occasionally seen locally but do not cause illness. If you find a tick on your pet, bring it with you to the vet to be identified.

Early signs to look out for include:

  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Staggering or wobbly legs
  • Breathing difficulty, coughing or noisy breathing, changes to the sound of their bark/meow
  • Vomiting
  • In later stages. collapse and paralysis

Most pets who are treated quickly for tick paralysis will survive, so please do not delay treatment.

For more information on any of the above topics, please don’t hesitate to phone us on (02) 6230 2223.

Keeping Your Pet Safe This Christmas

Unfortunately, most veterinarians will tell you that Christmas is typically a very busy time of year at any emergency veterinary hospital. So with Christmas upon us again, here are some tips for keeping your pets safe (and out of your local emergency waiting room) as they join in the festivities.


Here are a few of the common Christmas hazards, posing a threat to your pets health:

Some human foods are just not meant for dogs:
Chocolate, plum pudding, Christmas cake, fruit platters and delicious roasts and stuffing. What could possibly be wrong with sharing that!

Unfortunately, these Christmas goodies can contain ingredients that are dangerous to dogs, including chocolate, sultanas, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts and cooked bones.

Signs will depend on the food that has been eaten and can be delayed. For example kidney damage from grapes and raisins may not become apparent until weeks down the track. If your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, please speak to a veterinarian immediately.


Alcohol
This is a no-brainer really but there is no safe amount of alcohol for your dog to have. If you suspect your pet has ingested any alcohol please contact your vet. Symptoms can range from vomiting, depression, difficulty walking, slow breathing, collapse and can even progress to coma and death in some extreme cases.

Overindulgence and Pancreatitis
Just a little bit of ham can’t hurt, right? Well, a little here and a little there adds up! Although it’s nice to give your pet a special treat occasionally, we must remember that a little to us can be a lot to them, and eating too much of something outside of their normal diet, especially if high in fat, is a very common cause of illness for them.

Overindulgence can cause stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and pancreatitis (which often requires days of treatment in hospital, and can be fatal). It’s best to avoid the risk at all by asking all guests not to share human food with your pets, despite their best puppy dog eyes.

Don’t underestimate your clever scavenger pup, barbecues should not be left unattended and leftovers/scraps should be removed from the table as soon as the meal is finished.

Noise Anxiety
Parties, fireworks and summer storms make Christmas time hard for dogs who are prone to anxiety. Nobody knows your pet better than you do, always observe your mate closely and look for the subtle signs that they are worried, and take action. Pet’s who suffer from noise or storm anxiety will often become destructive and dig under or jump over fences in order to escape the perceived threat. Not only can this result in your dog becoming lost, they could also sustain injuries whilst escaping, or worse, be hit by a car.

Avoid the stressors where possible, and make sure they always have access to a quiet, safe retreat. Some pets will benefit from medication to help them cope through this period, more details here -> https://www.hallvet.com.au/2020/11/storm-phobia/


The Christmas Tree
Though seemingly harmless, the Christmas tree is the cause for a few common Christmas Emergency Vet visits, including:
• Tummy upsets after chewing pine needles or drinking stagnant Christmas tree water.
• Obstruction or injury to the bowel after tinsel, baubles, ornaments, wrappings or ribbons are eaten.
• Electrocution is a risk if your pooch starts chewing the Christmas tree lights.

Holiday Plants
Popular Christmas plants and flowers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, lilies, hibiscus, Christmas cactus, berries, mistletoe and holly leaves are all poisonous to your pets. Make sure they are out of their reach, as consumption could result in illness or even death.

Batteries & Toys
Swallowed batteries are very dangerous for dogs, causing a range of issues from burning their gut to a life-threatening obstruction or stomach rupture! Batteries are a common addition to Christmas gifts so please ensure they are kept well out of reach of your pooch.

Many toys contain small plastic, rubber or metal parts that, if eaten by a dog, can cause choking or dangerous gastrointestinal blockage requiring immediate surgery.

With a little careful planning, you can ensure your Christmas celebrations will be free of unnecessary trips to the vet. However, if you have concerns after hours during the festive season, please call either:

Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services in Gungahlin on: 6225 7257 or,
Animal Emergency Centre Canberra in Fyshwick on: 62806344.

We wish you and your furry family a safe and happy holidays!

2020 Update – Leptospirosis Outbreak In Sydney Suburbs

The infection is often contracted when the dog is exposed to infected rodent urine in ponds or wet soil in poorly drained areas.

Sadly, as of November 2020 there have been 12 fatalities in dogs due to a sudden Leptospirosis outbreak in Sydney. Here are some facts you need to know.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis (often referred to as Lepto for short) is a bacterial infection that travels throughout the entire body via the blood stream, causing organ dysfunction/failure and internal bleeding. It can be fatal in as little as 48 hours.

What do I need to know?

In 2019 there was a sudden outbreak seeing 8 confirmed cases reported from Sydney Suburbs; Glebe, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Redfern.
In August 2020 there was another sudden outbreak with another 4 confirmed cases in Sydney Suburbs Newtown, Balmain, Crows Next and Paddington.

To our knowledge there have been a total of 12 cases, all of which have unfortunately been fatal.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be spread to humans too. 

How is it spread?

The bacteria favours warm, moist environments, ponds and stagnant water and areas exposed to flooding. The infection is often contracted when the dog is exposed to infected rodent urine in ponds or wet soil in poorly drained areas.

What can I do to minimize the risk to my dog?

Due to the fatal nature of this disease, we recommend avoiding taking your pets to these parts of Sydney where possible, however if your dog must travel there with you, there are vaccines available to cover them for Leptospirosis.
Initially your dog will require two vaccines 2-4 weeks apart and then annual re-vaccination to maintain immunity. It is not safe to travel until the vaccination is in full effect – about 10 days after the second vaccination.
Avoid any stagnant water or places where there has been flooding, keep your dog on lead when walking and DO NOT allow to swim in or drink dirty water. Again, it is advisable to arrange alternative options where possible.

If you have upcoming travel plans to Sydney with your pets please phone us on 6230 2223 for more information.

Canberra’s Kennel Cough Outbreak


Over the past few weeks we have seen a large increase in the number of dogs presenting to us with Canine Cough, also known as ‘Kennel Cough’.

Kennel Cough is a highly contagious respiratory illness which often presents with a harsh and persistent hacking cough, like your pet has something stuck in their throat. You may also notice sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy or loss of appetite.

Kennel Cough is transmitted via water droplets and can be passed on via direct contact with an infected animal as well as indirectly by coming into contact with a contaminated surface (e.g. the shared water bowl at a public dog park).

We have even seen infections occur in dogs who haven’t left their backyard, which makes the name ‘Kennel Cough’ very misleading. Whilst a boarding kennel is a popular place for an outbreak due to large gatherings of dogs in one place, infections can occur anywhere, regardless of whether your dog goes to kennels or not.

Luckily, there are vaccines available to help prevent your pet from contracting this illness. Although vaccination doesn’t guarantee immnuity from the desease, it does reduce your pet’s chances and means an infection will be less severe and easier to treat than if they didn’t receive the vaccination.

If you notice any signs that your pet may be unwell or you need to check your pet’s vaccination status, please call us on 62302223.

Leptospirosis Outbreak in Sydney Suburbs

The infection is often contracted when the dog is exposed to infected rodent urine in ponds or wet soil in poorly drained areas.

An updated version of this post has been shared November 2020, for the most up to date information please head to:
https://www.hallvet.com.au/2020/11/2020-update-leptospirosis-outbreak-in-sydney-suburbs/

Sadly, there have been multiple fatalities in dogs due to a reported Leptospirosis outbreak in Sydney recently. Here are some facts you need to know.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis (often referred to as Lepto for short) is a bacterial infection that travels throughout the entire body via the blood stream, causing organ dysfunction/failure and internal bleeding. It can be fatal in as little as 48 hours.

What do I need to know?

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection which means it can affect humans too. 
There have been seven confirmed fatal cases in dogs so far, all of which have been reported in the Inner West suburbs of Sydney (Glebe, Surry Hills etc.)

How is it spread?

The bacteria favours warm, moist environments, ponds and stagnant water and areas exposed to flooding. The infection is often contracted when the dog is exposed to infected rodent urine in ponds or wet soil in poorly drained areas.

What can I do to minimize the risk to my dog?

We recommend avoiding taking your pets to these parts of Sydney where possible, however if your dog must travel there with you, there are vaccines available to cover them for Leptospirosis. Initially your dog will require two vaccines 2-4 weeks apart and then annual re-vaccination to maintain immunity. It is not safe to travel until the vaccination is in full effect – about 10 days after the second vaccination. Avoid any stagnant water or places where there has been flooding, keep your dog on lead when walking and DO NOT allow to swim in or drink dirty water.
Again, it is advisable to arrange alternative options where possible.

If you have upcoming travel plans to Sydney with your pets please phone us on 6230 2223 for more information.

Parvovirus in Canberra and surrounds

Recently there have been multiple cases of canine Parvovirus reported by veterinarians in Canberra and it’s surrounds. Parvovirus is a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus that causes extreme vomiting and diarrhoea leading to dehydration, lethargy, septicemia and even death in severe cases.


This virus can be spread directly through contact with an infected dog or through faeces or indirectly through items like water bowls, collars and leashes or the hands or clothing of people that have touched an infected dog. Parvovirus can also remain active in infected soil for years, i.e. at ovals or dog parks where an infected dog has been.
Dogs less than 1 year of age are most at risk however older un-vaccinated dogs can also contract the disease.
Most dogs will recover with aggressive supportive treatment if started early. The main focus of treatment is intravenous fluids to replace lost fluids and re-balance electrolytes, pain relief to ensure the patient remains comfortable and medication to control vomiting and nausea. Patients may require treatment in hospital for many days before recovering.


The good news is that Parvo is a preventable virus and is covered in your dog’s normal C3/C5 vaccination. We recommend that puppies have 3 vaccinations at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks and 16 weeks of age. They also require a booster vaccination at around 15 months of age and then a booster every 3 years for life.
We’d like to take this opportunity to remind new puppy owners that your dog is not covered until 10 days after their second C3 vaccination and you should avoid taking your dog to public places like foot paths, dog parks and ovals until they have received all 3 vaccinations. If you are unsure of your puppy or adult dog’s vaccination status please give us a call on 6230 2223. If you notice decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea or lethargy in your pet please call your vet ASAP.

Patient Spotlight – Hermione the Schnauzer

Hermione came in to see us as she had been coughing for a few weeks.  We took some x-rays and found that she had a mass in her lungs.

We have outline the lung mass in yellow to make it easier to find

Luckily, there was only one mass, it was discrete, and there were no other changes – her chest wasn’t full of fluid and there was no sign of lymph node enlargement.  However, the mass was pushing down on her airways causing her to cough and if left untreated it would continue to grow and spread.  So, after careful consideration of the risks vs the benefits, Hermione went to surgery to have the affected lung lobe removed.

Prior to her surgery, she had a pre-anaesthetic check up and blood testing done to ensure she was well enough to undergo the procedure. Once she was under general anaesthesia she was prepared for surgery, the side of her chest was clipped and cleaned and because we were entering her chest cavity, one of the nurses had to use a breathing bag to breathe for her throughout the entire procedure.  Her vital signs, ECG, oxygenation and blood pressure were monitored very closely throughout the procedure.  The surgery involved careful removal of the affected lung lobe and tying off the blood vessels in the area to prevent bleeding.  She then had a chest drain placed.

Nurse Keely who monitored Hermione during and after her anaesthetic.

Hermione recovered well from her surgery, initially requiring oxygen support and intravenous pain relief.  Overnight, she was transported via the Pet Ambulance to the Animal Referral Hospital for monitoring.  She returned to us at Hall the next day and was then well enough to head home.

The mass was sent off to the lab for testing and found to be a minimally invasive lung tumour called an adenocarcinoma.  Hermione has been bright, active and well since her surgery, and is enjoying her new lease on life!

Dr Jenny and Dr Vickie with Hermione after her operation

 

 

‘Dementia’ and Age Related Changes

 

Behavioural problems in senior pets can result from medical issues like arthritic pain, loss of sight/hearing or diseases that affect the nervous system. They can also be attributed to age related deterioration of the brain known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

In mild cases the pet may sleep more, become less responsive or show less social interaction with family and other pets. More severe signs might include repetitive behaviours such as pacing, new fears and anxieties, house soiling, waking at night, confusion and disorientation or loss of recognition of training cues.

The behaviour changes may be noticed following changes to the household or environment that the pet has difficulty adapting to. Early detection provides the best opportunity to help these pets and slow cognitive decline.

Prevention: What can you do?
  • For healthy senior pets, twice-yearly wellness examinations and laboratory screening tests provide an opportunity to identify emerging problems, sometimes before there are outward signs.
  • Report changes in your pet’s health and behaviour to the vet early.
  • If you foresee changes in your pets environment or schedule, try to make these gradual so you elderly pet has time to adapt.
  • Providing mental and physical enrichment helps to maintain a healthy brain and body. If your pet begins to slow down, find new games, new toys and new ways to play to stimulate the brain and keep the body active.
  • Play and exercise help most if continued throughout life and adjusted for age related physical limitations, for example supported swimming for arthritic dogs.
  • Leash walking exercises muscles and provides mental stimulation via smell and social interactions. Use a harness, sling or pram/stroller if they can’t manage walking. Take a ‘sniff stroll’ rather trying to cover ground. Trim nails and hair under their feet for a better grip.
  • Supervise play and pick mates matched by temperament, ability and size. Redirect the new puppy play if your old pet tires. Watching play may be enough.
  • Car trips are fun for some dogs. They enjoy the tactile sensations of the breeze, the smells and company. A ramp may be needed for access and comfy padding in the vehicle to cushion old joints. Take care in warm weather to prevent overheating.
  • Be creative in seeking ways to make it easier for them. Elevate the water dish to shoulder height; warm food and add water/broth to food to increase palatability and water intake; give cats more litter trays for convenient access and cut down tray height; set up ramps to reduce the need to use stairs; cats benefit from stepped platforms leading to high perches; have the cat/dog flap at floor level; use hall runners or a paw friction product to provide grip on slippery floors; add psyllium to the diet to reduce constipation; clip heavy coats and matts for freer movement and summer comfort; provide a winter coat if they feel the winter chill.

Cats benefit from lower litter trays and ramps to their favourite places.

  • Smell provides great mental stimulation. Provide food puzzles and hidden treats. Visit unfamiliar places.
  • Hand signals or vibrating (NOT shock) collars can be used to communicate to deaf dogs. Lavender scent trails can guide the blind.
  • Practice massage and range of motion exercises for sore legs.

 

Treating problems: How can you help?
  • Medical problems need to be identified and treated, however retraining may also be required. For example, if your pet begins house soiling due to a medical issue, the problem may persist after the medical issue is resolved unless you use positive reinforcement to train the pet to return to the preferred locations and supervise access to the soiled areas.
  • For problems that cannot be completely resolved, you may need to make schedule adjustments to accommodate your pet’s needs. For example pets with kidney disease need to urinate more often so you may need to take your dog out to the toilet more frequently or reward them for using training pads. Provide extra litter trays or clean the litter tray more frequently if your cat urinates more due to kidney disease.
  • Maintain an enriched environment that stimulates your pet’s brain and body. Adjust their social play, exercise and training according to their health. Use their favourite food and toys to train new cues, practice previous training and play games of hide and find. Food release toys that provide manipulation to obtain the food or treats provide a challenge to stimulate your pet’s mind.

Veterinary treatment:
  • Medications can be prescribed to improve neurotransmitter function and brain activity or act as antioxidants. Medication that reduces physical pain, for example from arthritis, can allow your pet to enjoy more physical and mental activity.
  • A prescription veterinary diet is available containing antioxidants and fatty acids that reduce signs of cognitive decline by improving neurotransmission. It has been shown to help old dogs stay active, enjoy interactions, reduce sleep disturbances and retain house training.
  • Many natural products are touted to be effective and your vet will be able to advise you on supplements that may be useful.
If you are noticing changes in your senior pets
behaviour or would like more information on helping
your elderly pet get the most out of day to day life
please phone us on (02) 6230 2223.

Patient Spotlight – Theodore the Hungry Pug

It’s amazing the things that dogs will eat; we see dogs that eat toys, clothes, sticks, whole bones and so much more.

Theodore is one of such dogs who is quite the scavenger, he is known to eat all sorts of things that he probably shouldn’t!  He came in to see us because his owners noticed that he had been vomiting quite a lot.  Theodore is very lucky that his fantastic owners were on top of it because this little man had an unknown object or ‘foreign body’ stuck in his intestine, a life threatening condition if left untreated.

Having already known that Theodore has a tendency for eating things he shouldn’t, we knew that one of the first things we needed to do was take an x-ray of his abdomen. Sometimes x-rays will show the foreign body, other times we need to rely on gas patterns, ultrasounds, or repeat imaging to find them.

In Theodore’s x-ray below you can’t see the foreign body itself, however you can see that some of his intestine is small and narrow while other parts are wide and dilated. This shows an abnormal gas pattern, there is gas building up in parts of his intestine rather than moving through. This indicates that there is some sort of obstruction stopping the gas in its tracks.

Theodore then went straight into surgery, where we removed the offending object.  It had caused considerable bruising to the intestine, but luckily the damage was reversible.  On occasion if the damage is severe enough we have to remove part of the intestine luckily though, this wasn’t the case for Theodore.

Theodore was transferred to Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services to be monitored overnight and returned to us the following day for post operative monitoring. Theodore was bright, happy and eating and was then ready to return home to his loving family.

Unfortunately we know quite a lot of repeat offenders, some dogs (and cats) have been known to go back for seconds and even thirds so it is always important to pet proof your house!

Want more? You can read Harriet the 11 week old Cattle Dog’s story HERE.

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.