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Altona Veterinary Clinic
97 Pier Street
Altona, Vic, 3018

info@altonavet.com.au
www.altonavet.com.au
Phone: 03 9398 3333
 
Grass Seeds

Grass Seed Season

The warmer weather this time of year brings with it the dreaded grass seed infections.

Grass seeds are shaped like an arrow and once getting caught in your pets fur, can start to burrow aggressively into your pets skin with no way of escaping. It is hard to believe that this tiny nuisance can cause so many problems, but it is unfortunately a reality.

Common areas and signs:

  • Ears – shaking head, scratching at ears, painful to touch
  • Eyes – swelling, squinting, rubbing, may or may not have discharge
  • Toes/Feet/Armpits – swelling, often a ‘weeping’ hole, licking or chewing the area

Check your pet for grass seeds daily, particularly after a walk and ensure you check between their toes, under their pads, under their arms and in their ears.  Avoid long, dry, grassy areas during the spring/summer period. It is highly recommended that you keep the longer haired dogs clipped short and even have their feet clipped right back to make grass seeds more visible.

If you suspect a grass seed in your pet, do not put off seeing your vet as the longer it is left the deeper it will burrow and the more problems it will cause. 

 
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Spring is in the air and so is itchy skin

Itchy skin can cause absolute chaos and really affect your dog's quality of life. One of the most common and frustrating 'itchy skin' conditions we see in dogs is atopic dermatitis. This inflammatory condition is caused by a reaction to allergens in the environment (a bit like the common triggers of asthma and hay fever in humans). It is particularly troublesome in spring and summer but can occur all year round. 

Allergens that might cause a problem include: grasses, trees, plant pollen, dust mites, insects, and moulds.

The signs associated with atopic dermatitis generally consist of itching, scratching, rubbing, biting, and licking. They usually appear when your dog is between 1 and 6 years of age.

Common sites your dog may be itchy:

- Ears (recurrent ear infections are common)
- The feet and in between the toes
- The armpits
- The groin and anal glands
- Around the eyes

The itching quickly leads to self-trauma of the skin which causes secondary infections that require medication.

Diagnosis and management of atopic dermatitis relies on a good history of your dog's symptoms and a thorough physical examination. It is essential that all potential parasitic causes and food allergies are ruled out. Your dog may also undergo further allergy testing and these results can be used to formulate a unique de-sensitising allergy vaccine.

The good news is that there are some exciting new immunotherapy drugs available that have minimal side effects, and can greatly improve your dog's comfort and quality of life. 

If you would like more information about skin disease and your dog you should always ask us for advice.

 
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Our top skin care tips for your pet

When it comes to managing the itchy pet, there is no magic pill. It's all about prevention of parasites and taking action before things get out of control. Here are our top tips for healthy skin:

1. Be vigilant with flea treatment all year round for all pets in your family. Fleas are THE major cause of an itchy pet and regular use of a flea treatment is easier and cheaper than trying to get rid of the itch. Ask us for the best flea treatment available for your pet, including those that provide protection for a few months at a time.

2. A premium diet balanced is essential to keep your pet's skin and coat in top shape. This will provide a good barrier against potential allergens - ask us for a recommendation.

3. Always wash your dog in pet-approved shampoo and conditioner. A product containing ceramides can help rebuild the epidermal barrier and reduce allergen exposure - ask us for more information.

4. Medication to help reduce the immune system's response to the allergen can greatly reduce an itch and these can be used during flare-ups and for ongoing management - we can provide you with more information so chat with us about what's suitable for your pet.

5. And finally, if you notice your pet is itching, licking, biting, or rubbing, you should arrange a check up with us ASAP. The sooner we settle the itch, the less likely your pet is to cause self trauma and secondary skin infections.

If you have an itchy pet at your house it is best arrange an appointment with us. We will help keep your pet happy, healthy and comfortable.

 
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Rocky's secret

Last month we introduced you to Rocky the cat, and this month we'd like to let you in on Rocky's little secret ... he's allergic to fleas!

Fleas are a number one cause of skin problems in pets. When a flea bites your pet, their saliva leads to an intense reaction. Some pets are more sensitive to flea saliva than others, and poor Rocky is one of those pets! It only takes one or two bites for him to become itchy.

Yep, these little critters cause absolute havoc for Rocky, and we think you should know what to watch out for as you don't need to see fleas on your pet for there to be a problem. 

Rocky's symptoms:

- After a flea bites Rocky he becomes intensely itchy and starts over-grooming via licking. His coat starts to thin out and he gets lots of little scabs along his back; a tell tale sign of flea allergy dermatitis.

- Rocky is an indoor cat but it is likely that a pesky visiting canine is the source of the fleas. 

- His constant licking causes trauma to the skin and a secondary bacterial infection, so treatment includes antibiotics and some medication to help break the itch cycle.

Rocky is now on regular flea treatment and will be year-round (his canine friend visits regularly). His bedding is also washed and a good vacuum of his living quarters (the couch!) is performed to pick up any residual eggs.

If your pet isn't protected against fleas, now is the time! Ask us for the best flea treatment for your pet.

 
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Anal glands issues

Have you ever seen your dog dragging his or her bottom along the ground? This peculiar act is known as 'scooting' and can indicate your dog has irritated anal glands.

The infamous anal glands are located on either side of your dog's anus. Each gland holds a small amount of a smelly brown liquid that is released as your pet does a poo. This custom scent is left on the poo and is used as a doggie calling card.

If the glands are not sufficiently expressed they can become impacted and uncomfortable. Dogs that suffer from allergies and itchy skin are also very susceptible to irritated anal glands.

Watch out for:

- Rubbing bottom on the ground especially after defecating
- A foul odour (some describe it as a 'fishy' smell)
- Licking or chewing the bottom
- Turning around suddenly
- Soft stools or diarrhoea - the glands can become impacted following a bout of diarrhoea

If you notice any of these signs, the glands need to be manually examined and expressed, so please call us for an appointment. 

 
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Keep your pet safe this spring

Spring is here and we want to keep your pet happy and healthy. Here are some spring hazards you should be aware of:

Bee and wasp stings can lead to pain and swelling at the site of the sting. Some pets can have an anaphylactic reaction to a sting and this can be life threatening. If you notice severe facial and/or neck swelling, difficulty breathing, excessive salivation, or collapse, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.

Snail and slug bait is very attractive to pets. Ingestion of small quantities can be rapidly fatal. Products that claim they are 'safe for pets' generally aren't - they have a bitter taste and this only acts as a deterrent. Some pets will still eat these highly toxic baits, so consider whether they are absolutely necessary in your garden. 

Fertiliser: Pets love the smell and taste of some fertilisers, and if eaten, they can prove rapidly toxic or even fatal. You should seek veterinary advice if ingested.

Poisonous plants: Lilies (such as the tiger, asiatic and easter variety) can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. The leaves, stems, stamen, and even the water the lilies are stored in can all be poisonous. Rhododendrons and azaleas, daffodil bulbs and daphne can also all cause a problem if they are eaten. 

Hot cars: It doesn't have to be that hot outside for a car to dramatically heat up inside. Keep this in mind as the days are getting warmer, and remember that it only takes a few minutes for a pet to begin to suffer from heatstroke. Parking in the shade or leaving the windows down doesn't help either, so don't risk it.

Parasites: With the warmer weather comes fleas, ticks and mosquitoes so it's essential your pet is up to date with their parasite prevention. You should ask us for the best prevention for your pet.

If you have any questions about your pet's health you should always ask us for advice, we're here to help!