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Grass Seeds alert!

Spring and Summer encompass fun outdoor times for many Australian families and their canine companions. Unfortunately with beautiful weather and rapid growth of vegetation comes grass seeds. These little suckers can cause lots of pain and suffering to our pets and their owners, they have a sharp tip enabling them to pierce the skin easily and can migrate through the body often bringing infection with them.

At Hall Vet Surgery the most common places we find grass seeds caught are in ear canals, in between toes, up nostrils, in eyelids, underneath skin in various parts of the body and lodged in the vulva/penis.

Below are a list of symptoms, possible complications and what to do/not to do depending on the location of the grass seed.

EARS

Symptoms:
A grass seed in the ear might make your dog shake their head, cry out in pain, hold their head to one side or scratch at their ear.
Potential Complications:
Grass seeds lodged in the ear canal can cause ear infection, rupture of the ear drum, loss of hearing or balance and even death if infection reaches the brain.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible.
What not to do:
DO NOT try to remove the grass seed yourself, the ear is likely to be very painful and sensitive and if your pets moves their head suddenly you could severely damage their ear drum. Do not put any ear cleanser down the ear, if there is a grass seed present you will push it closer to the ear drum making it more difficult and hazardous to remove.

PAWS

Symptoms:
A grass seed caught in your dog’s paw may cause a red, swollen and discharging lump on the paw, your dog may limp or lick/chew at their paw constantly.
Potential Complications:
Infection, migration of the grass seed into leg and possibly in between ligaments or tendons.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment. Keep area clean with warm salty water and where possible restrain your dog from licking – this can actually push the grass seed further into the skin and cause more damage. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not try to remove the grass seed yourself.

NOSE

Symptoms:
Symptoms present when a grass seed has travelled into the nostril are often; sneezing, difficulty breathing, nasal discharge and rubbing or pawing at face.
Potential Complications:
A grass seed in the nostril can cause serious damage to airways and if the seed migrates into the lung it can become a life threatening emergency.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible. Restrict exercise. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not delay treatment.

EYES

Symptoms:
Having a grass seed caught in the eye can be extremely painful for your dog, symptoms often seen are; eyes that are swollen closed, discharge from eye, visible third eyelid and some pets may paw at their eye or rub their face on the ground/furniture.
Potential Complications:
Ulceration of the eyes surface, if damage is severe enough eye removal can be necessary.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not delay treatment.

SKIN

Symptoms:
You will often an oozing lump sometimes with a visible entry hole, you may also notice your dog constantly lick at a spot on their body.
Potential Complications:
Infection, migration of the seed through the body.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment. Keep area clean with warm salty water and where possible restrain your dog from licking – this can actually push the grass seed further into the skin and cause more damage. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not try to remove the grass seed yourself even if the tail is visible.

VULVA / PENIS

Symptoms:
Difficulty urinating, blood in urine, licking at the site and redness or swelling.
Potential Complications:
Infection, damage to structures, invasive surgery to remove.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment. If possible, try to catch a fresh urine sample and bring it with you to your appointment. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not delay treatment.

Removal

The animal’s body is not able to break down a grass seed so when a grass seed is embedded it generally requires surgical removal. In the case of surgical removal your pet will usually have a general anaesthetic whilst we extract the offending grass seeds. General Anaesthesia allows the procedure to be painless for your pet and allows your vet to thoroughly investigate the area – we usually find more than one grass seed in any given case so it is important that we are able to have a really good look. Delaying the initial vet visit may result in more invasive (and more expensive) surgeries to find and remove the seed.

Grass Seeds surgically removed from a Dog’s ear here at Hall Vet Surgery, pen for size comparison.

Prevention is the best cure

Here are some ways you can prevent the risk of grass seeds to your dog:

  • Avoiding long grass when out walking/exploring (this also helps to minimise the risk of Snake Bites)
  • Keeping the grass in your yard tidy and mowed
  • Clipping the fur of long haired dogs. If your dog is prone to grass seeds in the ears or between the toes then we recommend regular clipping of these areas to keep the hair short at all times
If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms please give us a call on (02) 62302223.

Dog Safety Tips for All of the Family

Well-adjusted dogs add so much to our lives and to our families. They provide companionship, fun times and exercise, and help us teach our children about responsibility and caring for others.

Image result for dog with family

However even the nicest, well socialised dog can use aggression to distance themselves from a threat and keep themselves safe. There are also dogs who suffer anxieties that make them more reactive to normal situations because they perceive these as threatening.

You, your family and your community can take simple steps to reduce the number of dog bites that occur. As well as the physical and emotional trauma caused to victims of dog bites, many dogs lose their homes or their lives after a bite that should never have occurred. Let’s set them up to win!

Here are some ways to keep the families and family pets in your community safe.

Safety around dogs

Dog are more likely to bite in situations that frighten them.  They want to escape the threat and aggression works for them to keep them safe. Physical discomfort or previous scary events may make them less tolerant. Try to put yourself in their paws and understand how we can prevent many incidents that result in dog bites.

Here are some tips to help dogs feel safe around people.
  • Always ask permission before petting or touching someone else’s dog. Let the dog come to you. If they don’t want to, that’s their prerogative. Leave them alone.
  • Never hug a dog. They may feel vulnerable or trapped.
  • Notice their body language. Most of the time, we encounter friendly, wiggly dogs in public but be cautious if a dog stiffens or is not wagging in a loose and friendly way.
  • Never approach a dog you don’t know. If you are approached by a strange dog, stand quietly, hands at your sides and avoid eye contact. A dog’s natural instinct is to chase, so if you turn and run, a dog may chase you.
  • Never corner a dog. All dogs have a sense of personal space, so watch their body language as you approach.
  • Do not approach dogs in cars, kennels or on a tether. They may feel vulnerable when they can’t run away so their only defence might be to lunge or bite in an effort to increase their distance from the perceived threat.
  • Don’t reach over or through fences or barriers to pet or touch a dog.
  • Never approach or startle a dog while they’re sleeping, focussed on something, or with their puppies.
  • Never yell or make loud noises around dogs. Their hearing is very sensitive. Speak to them calmly.
  • Never get between dogs who are fighting or reach towards their heads as you may get bitten.
  • Leave dogs alone when they are eating, whether the dog is eating from a bowl or chewing a treat, toy or any other high-value item. Like people, dogs don’t like it when people get between them and their food.
  • Never tease, chase or harass a dog.
  • Don’t enter a property containing a dog unless the dog’s person is with you. Dogs can be defensive of their family’s attention or their home territory.

 

The dog-safe family
  • Children should always be closely supervised around dogs, even the family dog.
  • Supervising children around dogs not only protects the children from accidents but also protects the dog from harm by children who don’t always know that touching animals in a certain way can hurt them.
  • Never leave babies unattended around dogs. Dogs may not understand about being gentle with babies or even know what a baby is.
  • If you’re expecting a baby, start early to get your dog used to the changes a baby will make to their lives.
  • Don’t attempt or allow your children to attempt to remove anything (toys, food or other objects) from your dog’s mouth. Instead, find something of equal or greater value to offer your dog as a trade.
  • Teach your children about dog safety early and promote dog-safe practices (see kids and dog safety videos below).

 

Good dog habits
  • Socialise your dog and make them a part of your family activities early on. Even after their first vaccinations, take them out to safe places so they can become comfortable through gentle exposure to the many situations of their world.
  • Take your puppy to preschool and adolescent classes that use only positive reinforcement training techniques. Learn to teach your dog appropriate behaviours in a humane, effective, and ethical way. Get the whole family involved.
  • Don’t allow children to play rough with your dog, as they can accidentally hurt the dog or encourage him to become mouthy. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play games like fetch and tug. Teaching your dog to play games using healthy rules will help them to learn self-control.
  • Avoid reprimanding or any form of physical punishment because it will make your dog fearful and increases the risk of aggression. Make your motto “Don’t do that, do this instead” and make a habit of moulding good behaviour through rewarding a desirable alternative.
  • Provide lots of exercise for your dog through play and frequent walks. Walks provide great exercise for you and your dog as well as social opportunities to meet other dog lovers. Regular activity not only enriches their lives but also reduces frustration or boredom. Interactive play increases the bond between you and your pet.
  • Make sure that your dog has lots of human interaction every day. As social animals, dogs thrive on social interaction and love to be a part of the family.
  • Avoid tethering your dog. Tethering removes a dog’s ability to flee and may make them feel vulnerable. If they can’t escape a perceived threat, the only option is to use aggression.
  • Never let your dog roam free. Letting your dog roam freely greatly increases their chance of injury from cars or other animals. A roaming dog may become confused or frightened, leading to aggressive behaviour.
  • Use caution when introducing your dog to new people, new dogs or new situations. Your goal is to provide the dog with a succession of happy experiences so their social skills will continually improve. Listen to their body language.
  • If your dog’s behaviour changes (e.g., he becomes irritable), bring him/her in for a check-up. Behaviour changes can be a symptom of a medical problem.

 

Here are some useful resources for families with fur kids.

http://stopthe77.com/.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNYM5lwaLmI

http://info.drsophiayin.com/kids-and-dogs-1

https://www.thebluedog.org/en/

 https://www.thefamilydog.com/ 

A day in the life of: dental patient Jack

Jack’s Dental Procedure

Jack came in for his medication review and senior cat check-up.  At this check-up we noticed that he had tartar build up on his teeth so Jack’s owner booked him in for a dental procedure.

This is the before photo of showing the tartar build up on Jack’s teeth.

Once Jack was anaesthetised we we’re able to have a much better look in his mouth, we soon noticed that as well as plaque and tartar build up, Jack also had a very sore tooth where there was a hole was forming.  You can see in the photo below that the dental probe is going right into a hole in the tooth.  This type of hole is called a FORL (Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion) and is very painful for the patient.

You can also see the extent of the hole on the dental x-ray we took.

 

We surgically extracted this tooth so that it won’t cause any ongoing pain.  Jack stayed in hospital with us for the rest of the day while he was recovering from his procedure.  By early afternoon Jack had already eaten 2 bowls of food as was asking for another one!

As part of our Dental Program Jack is now entitled for 6 monthly free dental check-ups so that we can make sure we pick up on any other problems and treat them early.

To find out more about what happens behind the scenes when your pet comes in for a dental procedure CLICK HERE.

To find out more about ways that you can help to keep your pets teeth clean CLICK HERE.

What can I do at home to help keep my pet’s teeth clean?

There are many preventative dental care routines to choose from. Our staff are happy to run through the various routines and then help you formulate the best plan for your pet.

Brushing teeth
Toothbrushes are very effective at keeping teeth clean in compliant pets. They are the gold standard care option. You can use a special pet toothbrush, a soft child’s toothbrush, or a finger wrapped in gauze to remove plaque from the outer surface of the teeth. There are a range of pet toothpastes or you can just wet the brush with water.

Specially formulated Dental Diets
These foods are formulated to abrade the teeth and reduce the recurrence of plaque and debris in the mouth. Pets usually find these very palatable. They can be fed as a single meal once a day to help clean their teeth. Weight management is required for a pet being fed a dental diet.

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Food and Water Additives
‘Plaque Off’ is a powder that can be mixed in with your pet’s food to help prevent tartar buildup and ‘Healthy Mouth’ is a similar product that can be added to your pets water bowl. These products are most effective when used in conjunction with mechanical cleaning like chewing or brushing.

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Chews and Toys
Chewable treats and toys are another great way to keep teeth and gums healthy. Pets get long-lasting fun and feel satisfied after gnawing on them for hours. Supervise your pet with novel treats to prevent mishaps.

Image result for greeniesImage result for kong dental toy

 

Bones
Bones are NOT recommended for dogs. They can cause fractured teeth, pancreatitis and intestinal obstructions.

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