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Altona Veterinary Clinic
97 Pier Street
Altona, Vic, 3018
Phone: 03 9398 3333
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It is very important to ensure your pets’ microchip details are correct to allow you to be contacted if you pet becomes lost and found. Below is some information on what a microchip is and how it is used. If you are needing your pet microchipped or for any further information please call the clinic directly on 9398 3333.


What is a microchip?

A microchip is a permanent method of electronic identification. The microchip is very small and is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades of your pet. This chip holds a number which is unique to each pet. The microchip registry has the ability to search that unique number and view any contact details that have been entered for that microchip.  This is why it is important to ensure you continue to update any changes to your contact details with the microchip registry throughout the life of your pet. If they have the wrong contact details, we CANNOT find you! The microchip is not a tracking device.


When to microchip your pet?

Microchipping your pet can be done at any age! Most pets are microchipped at the time or purchase or adoption. It is important to ensure that if you are getting a new pet that is already microchipped, that the previous owner signs a form to transfer ownership of the microchip to you, which can be printed online from the registry that holds your pets’ microchip. We advise you to follow this up with the previous owner and microchip registry to ensure it has been completed correctly.


Checking details on your pets’ microchip.

If you are unsure of the details allocated to your pets microchip, any vet clinic can scan your pet and give you the microchip number. The vet practice should be able to search the database to see which registry holds your details. It will be up to you to contact this registry, whether online or phone, to update your details. Unfortunately we cannot do this for you.

The microchip is scanned using a scanner which vet clinic and shelter will have available. It is important to regularly check that your pets’ microchip is scanning correctly. Sometime the microchip may become faulty or it can travel around the skin layer of your pet and may be found outside of the normal scanning area. In this situation it is recommended to implant a second microchip as backup in case the first microchip is not found if your pet becomes lost.

When the microchip is scanned, the only details that can be seen is the unique microchip number (it appears like a barcode). Your details do not automatically come up. The registry holding your pets microchip details need to be contacted to be able to get your contact information.


Microchipping and Council Registration

Council registration and microchipping your pet are two separate registrations. Microchipping your pet does not mean that your pet is registered with your local council. Legislation requires all pets to be registered with their local council and to be registered, your pet must be microchipped.  Please see your local council policies on registering your pets.


What to do if your pet becomes lost

If your pet becomes lost it is advised that you contact the registry that holds your pets microchip to inform them that they are missing. The will check your contact details are correct also. You should also contact any veterinary clinics in the area, your local council and the Lost Dogs Home as all dogs that have been picked up by the ranger are transported to the lost dogs home if the owner cannot be contacted.

Why heartworm prevention is so important

How many pesky mosquitoes have you seen this summer? Here's some food for thought: wherever there are mosquitoes, there is the risk of heartworm disease for your pet!

Heartworm is a dangerous worm, and when an infected mosquito feeds on your pet's blood, the heartworm larvae enter the bloodstream. The scary part is that these larvae mature into worms that can reach up to 30cm in length.

The worms mature in the bloodstream and eventually become lodged in your pet's heart leading to heart failure. It is at this point that the disease can be fatal. Dogs are more commonly affected by heartworm disease but cats may also be at risk.

The prevalence of heartworm in Australia has been mainly in tropical and subtropical coastal regions but in recent decades it has become increasingly prevalent in more southern areas.

The take-home point is that with changing weather patterns and subsequent alterations in the distribution of mosquito populations, heartworm disease can be unpredictable. This is why prevention is SO important as we just don't know where it might strike next.

Prevention of heartworm is far better than an attempt at a cure but it's important to realise that not all heartworm prevention is the same so it's best to ask us what is the best prevention for your pet.

Most importantly, you need to be aware that many of the intestinal 'all-wormer' tablets do not prevent against heartworm infection.

There are topical treatments, oral treatments and a yearly injection for dogs. Ask us for the most suitable prevention for your pet - we will make sure your pet is suitably protected.

Recognising a broken heart

We're not talking about a broken heart from lost love here but instead heart disease.

Most of the signs of heart disease are related to a decrease in the function of the heart. The signs can be subtle and sometimes hard to detect. Being able to recognise some of the early signs of this disease can make a big difference for your pet. It means we can initiate medical treatment and in most cases, ease the workload on the heart, meaning your pet will live a longer and healthier life.

Look out for these signs:

+ Coughing, especially at night

+ A reluctance to exercise and tiring more easily on walks

+ Laboured or fast breathing

+ Weakness or fainting associated with exercise

+ An enlarged abdomen

+ Weight loss or poor appetite

This example of why at least an annual check-up with us is important. We will always listen to your pet's heart as part of any physical exam and this allows us to detect any changes early. Sometimes we will hear a murmur (abnormal blood flow) or an arrhythmia (irregular rhythm). These may be reason for us to perform more tests such as x-rays, ultrasound and an ECG.

There are some excellent medications available to help a pet suffering from heart disease and the good news is that these can help your pet live a longer and near normal life.

If you are ever worried about your pet's health, you should call us for advice. 

This study was EPIC!

Recent groundbreaking research into canine heart disease is changing the way we treat one of the most common heart conditions.

It is estimated that one dog in ten may suffer from some type of heart disease and there it's a particular type of heart disease called mitral valve disease that can lead to congestive heart failure, reduced quality of life and an overall shortened lifespan.

The EPIC (Evaluation of Pimobendan In dogs with Cardiomegaly) Study was the largest veterinary cardiology study in history. This groundbreaking study set out to answer a key question: Can a particular drug (pimobendan) delay the onset of congestive heart failure (CHF) in dogs with mitral valve disease?

The study, which began in 2010 and ran through to 2015, included investigators at 36 study centres in 11 nations across 4 continents. Investigators were held to rigorous scientific standards, and an independent team compiled and reported the findings.

The results concluded that dogs who received pimobendan experienced a 15-month delay in onset of clinical signs of CHF, cardiac-related death, or euthanasia. Some have described these results as 'epic' (pardon the pun!)

And the best news is that with x-rays and an ultrasound of the heart, along with the guidelines from the results of this study, we are now able to determine which of our patients with mitral valve disease will benefit from medication and which can be placed on a monitoring program. This means we can help your pet live a longer and healthier life.

If you have any questions about the management of heart disease or anything to do with your pet's health, we are always here to help.

A healthy mouth equals a healthy heart

Did you know that if your pet is suffering from dental disease they may be at risk of heart disease too?

When dental disease strikes, plaque and tartar that accumulate on the teeth lead to infection of the gums. Bacteria from this infection travel in the bloodstream around the body and can cause infection in the heart. This commonly occurs in the heart's lining and valves and is known as endocarditis. 

And it's not only the heart that is affected; the kidneys, liver and lungs can all be damaged by the bacteria.

Thankfully many of these problems can be reversed if dental disease is treated and the health of your pet's mouth is improved. 

Top tips for the prevention of dental disease

1. Lift your pet's lip and have a look and a smell. If you notice any yellowing of the teeth or redness of the gums OR your pet's breath smells a bit 'off', it is time for a checkup with us.

2. Regardless of whether you think something's not quite right, get your pet's mouth checked regularly by us. The earlier we spot an issue the better the outcome. Dental checkups at least once a year should be non-negotiable. 

3. Get your pet eating the right diet. It's essential that our pets chew their food! There are some excellent dental diets available and they work really well so ask us for the best recommendation.

4. Brush your pet's teeth. This is considered gold standard but just make sure you use a pet-approved toothpaste.

Don't be tempted by offers of 'anaesthesia free dentistry." This somewhat 'shonky' form of teeth cleaning is simply cosmetic and it fails to address the root of the problem (removing the plaque and tartar and subsequent bacteria from under the gum-line). You can read more information about this here.

We recommend a dental check-up at least once a year. Call us to book your pet in for a dental check-up today as you might be improving the health of their heart too. 

If cats sent Valentine's Day cards

It's Valentine's Day this month and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, we think this take on the whole event is pretty funny. If you click here you'll find '14 Valentine's Day cards you could only get from a cat.'

And we definitely DO NOT recommend giving your cat any of the favourite toys from card #14! They are all potentially dangerous if ingested by your cat!