As we all know it can be a real struggle to get on with day to day life. It’s a much easier option to stay indoors in front of the heater on a cold winters day. If you do manage to get out its normally with multiple layers on.
Our Fur-babies feel the cold just like we do! It’s important to know how to keep them comfortable and warm during the colder months.
There are several ways to keep them warm while at home but what about when it’s time for their daily exercise or that quick trip down to the shops?
A jacket or coat is a great idea for any outside time. Especially for our Fur-babies with short hair or a slim body (like whippets, greyhounds or bulldogs just to name a few).
Some people even dress their pooches for fashion purposes (as well as warmth). And why not! It’s becoming a very common site to see Fur-babies out and about with their coats on, like one of our patients below, Reuben the whippet, who is co-ordinating coat and bandage!
So please make sure that your fur kid is “rocking” his or her own coat this Winter – it’ll ensure even more sloppy kisses for you!
Partnering with Verve Portraits, the Swan Street Vet clinic are giving away an amazing photographic experience for you and your special pet, valued at $1995.
Simply snap your stylish little or big fur-friend wearing their most fashionable winter woollies and upload this image to Instagram or Facebook.
Runner up will win an awesome jacket from Fuzzyard for this Pet Fashion Week which runs from August 27th to September 2nd. We know lots of your Fur-kids love dressing up!
We would love to see all their fashion-forward statements (as well as faux pas!) Head to our Facebook page for more information.
This blog will focus on car travel but is relevant for other forms of travel too….
These days when the family organizes a holiday, their Fur-Kid is often included as well (amazing!) There are lots of pet friendly places to choose from so why not bring your pet along for the trip!
Sitting in a car for several hours can be difficult for everyone, but is made even worse if your pet suffers from car sickness or anxiety when traveling. It is estimated that 15% of dogs suffer from motion sickness but a large number of these dogs are going undiagnosed or untreated. Thankfully there are lots of treatment options to help your Fur-Kids car trip be an enjoyable one.
Motion sickness can be caused by many things, including a disturbance with the inner ear.
If left untreated it can lead to the development of anxiety when in the car. This anxiety can then lead to your pet vomiting in anticipation of a car trip e.g. vomiting in the car before you even start moving.
Car sickness is quite common in puppies and some may grow out of this as they get older and their ear canals mature.
What signs may you see in your pet if they suffer from motion sickness?
Lip licking or excessive swallowing
These signs may occur very soon after the car starts or may take a few hours to occur. With true motion sickness, these symptoms start when the car is moving.
If you believe your pet may suffer from motion sickness we recommend you make an appointment with one of our veterinarians. During this consultation we can address your concerns and check for conditions that may be worsening the motion sickness e.g. ear infection. We will determine if your pet is suffering from true motion sickness or anxiety to travel. From there we can tailor a treatment plan.
How can you prevent motion sickness?
Avoid feeding your pet several hours prior to the car trip
Allow fresh air and ensure your pet is cool. Warmth can worsen car sickness.
Allow your pet to be able to see out of the front of the car e.g. central seat of the back and position them in the direction that the car is moving (facing forward) can help lessen motion sickness.
Always ensure your pet is well secured in a car harness or well secured carrier/crate.
Try to limit stress
Acclimatizing your pet to the car from an early age can help reduce the risk of anxiety and car sickness from developing. This means trying to make car travel a fun experience. We can show you how to do this with your pet.
Motion sickness can get worse with time and lead to anxiety. In some cases specific medication is needed to reduce nausea and vomiting. These may be needed short or long term.
All the effort you put into gently acclimatizing your pet to the car and managing their motion sickness will have massive benefits. It will make car trips to the vets, going to the beach and/or a holiday house much easier and less stressful for all involved.
Please remember never leave your Fur-Kid unattended in a car, temperatures can rise very quickly even on mild days and put your loved one at risk.
How do you feel when you go to the dentist? Is it scary? Is it uncomfortable, even painful sometimes? and we know what is happening too! Just imagine dogs and cats having to go through it without this understanding.
As you can imagine it is extremely difficult to fully asses an animal’s mouth, teeth and gums thoroughly in a fully conscious animal. A detailed examination is required to carry out the correct treatment.
Here at Swan Street Vet we perform a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT). This means your Fur-Kid needs to be motionless for procedures like oral radiographs and insensible to the discomfort of periodontal probing, which is used to measure the pocket depths around the tooth. It is also essential to scale subgingivally (under the gum).
With the animal fully conscious there is high risk of injury to the operator, any people helping and the pet as sharp dental instruments are used. Even the slightest head movement can result in serious injuries to the oral tissues often with permanent consequences.
Despite the fact many animals will be able to be restrained or held still for the procedure (often with heavy physical restraint) they will be anxious throughout the experience. This can lead to your pet being head shy, not allowing dental examinations or tooth brushing, making thorough dental care a lot more difficult.
Without an anaesthetic, all that is removed is the visible calculus and tartar. It is not possible to clean subgingivally, which allows the bacteria present to continue to lodge in the area, potentially leading to systemic disease e.g cardiac or renal (Heart and kidneys).
Anaesthetic free dentistry is purely cosmetic, masking underlying dental issues causing a delay in treatment of dental disease and further impacting the animals health. Imagine the tooth ache from having a diseased tooth being left in your mouth for years because it looks clean!
This tooth appears fine, however upon x-ray the roots were abscessed and it required removal.
These ‘cleanings’ may seem like they cost less upfront, but the consequences of putting off appropriate dental care will mean it will end up costing far more in the long term.
For more information on Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatments please contact us and speak with or book in for a Complimentary dental examination, with one of our friendly nurses.
Click here for the Australian Veterinary Associations policy on Anaesthetic-Free Dentistry
Throwing sticks at the park is considered a normal past time, however the stick can become like a spear and penetrate into the dog causing serious injuries.
We have seen many cases where surgery is needed to remove the foreign object.
Maisey ran after a stick that was being thrown away to avoid her playing with it. However she ran after it and it stabbed her in the back of throat, she spat out 50cm of stick. After bringing her to Swan Street Vet, she had X-rays performed, it was found there was part of it lodged in her neck!
Specialty surgery was required to safely and completely remove the 10cm long stick from her neck. She was extremely lucky and has recovered fully from her ordeal.
This photo shows the entry point of a stick under her tongue and the X-ray shows were it was lodged in her neck.
Another case is Oscar, where a stick was thrown, he ran after it and it went through his paw pad and got lodged in his leg. Again he was extremely lucky to not obtain any permanent damage and the stick was removed surgically.
As you can see Oscar’s left hind leg is very swollen and the X-ray again shows where the stick is.
Sticks can also cause dental issues, get lodged in between the teeth of the upper jaw, causing damage to gums and the roof of the mouth. There is also the risk of internal damage if your dog likes to chew and swallow sticks.
We encourage the use of safer toys such as the alternative options below. Rubber or rope toys are not only safer, softer but more durable and less likely to cause injury. They need to be large enough that your dog can’t swallow them and if they break, should be replaced.
We see a lot of dog breeds with squishy noses or short muzzles such as French Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Boxers and Bulldogs here in Richmond. These breeds of dogs often suffer from a condition called Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome.
What is Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome?
The word brachycephalic stems from the Greek roots brachy meaning ‘short’, and cephalic meaning ‘relating to the head’. Brachycephalic airway syndrome (BAS) is a set of abnormal physical and functional airway traits that affects short or snub-nosed breeds of dogs, causing a degree of obstruction to the breathing. Brachycephalic breeds of dog have been bred for a particular cosmetic appearance that can come with some compromises to the structure of their airways. Fortunately, most dogs do not suffer from all aspects of BAS, but you should be aware of which traits are possible in your pet.
There are several primary conformational traits present in brachycephalic pets that can impede airflow through the upper airways. These primary conditions include narrow nostrils, a long soft palate and a narrow windpipe. Although these traits are a common finding, they reduce normal airflow in the upper airways with serious consequences. With time, and without correction, these primary conditions may lead to secondary, irreversible disease, such as laryngeal collapse.
Stenotic nares are narrowed nostrils, which tend to collapse inwards during inhalation (breathing air inwards), resulting in difficulty breathing through the nose. This condition is found in 50 – 85% of dogs with BAS.
Elongated Soft Palate:
Because brachycephalic dogs have a relatively ‘squashed’ face, it can be difficult for all the soft tissues of the mouth and throat to fit in an anatomically acceptable way. As a result, the soft palate, which divides the back of the nose from the back of the mouth, can flap loosely in the throat creating snorting sounds. Excessive barking, exercise or panting may lead to inflammation and thickening of the soft palate that can irreversibly worsen over time. In humans the soft palate is the fleshy area at the back of the roof of the mouth. Approximately 90% of brachycephalic dogs will have an elongated soft palate.
Tracheal Stenosis, Hypoplastic Trachea:
The trachea is the ‘windpipe’, and can be very narrowed along certain sections, especially during inhalation. This is a congenital condition, with English Bulldogs more frequently affected. Brachycephalic breeds in general have a narrower trachea compared to other breeds.
The secondary changes found in brachycephalic airway disease develop due to the resistance to airflow when the pet breathes inward. The pressure this places overtime leads to chronic problems. The larynx and supporting structures become weakened, and the below problems can occur:
Everted Laryngeal Saccules
The above traits all contribute to upper respiratory obstructions in the brachycephalic dog, causing them to breathe and pant inefficiently. In dogs, panting is an important behaviour that helps cool the body. As they need to put in so much extra work to be able to get breathe, this can cause inflammation and swelling making it even harder to breathe. Sometimes leading to the emergency situation of respiratory distress and heat stroke – of which, brachycephalic-shaped dogs are at the highest risk.
How can we help dogs with Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome?
For all of our brachycephalic pets, we need to ensure that we are mindful about certain aspects of their lifestyle:
Minimise stress where possible.
Provide an environment that is of comfortable temperature, eg a cool environment in summer. Be extra careful during hot days so that your dog is not at risk of heat stroke. Provide plenty of water, good air flow in the room, shade, ice blocks, etc.
Allow for appropriate levels of exercise. That is, not too little to cause weight gain, yet not too much to cause excessive panting and excitement.
Ensure your pet is of ideal weight.
Be aware of the level of breathing noise that is ‘normal’ for your pet, and get in touch with your veterinarian if they worsen.
Brachycephalic Airway Surgeries
BAS is progressive if it is not prevented, corrected, or at least managed from an early age eg in puppies between 4 to 5 months of age. The two most common surgeries performed are rhinoplasty and palatoplasty.
Rhinoplasty – Nare Wedge Resection:
This is a simple surgical procedure where the goal is to increase the diameter of the nostrils to address the stenotic nares and allow for better airflow to occur during breathing. A small triangular wedge shape is snipped away from the outside tissues of each nostril, and then small temporary stitches are placed to heal the wound. The cosmetic results are very good.
Palatoplasty – Soft Palate Resection:
This is another one best performed at a young age, which is when the soft palate tissues are hopefully minimally swollen and thickened, and other secondary airway changes have not established themselves too well. The excess length of soft palate is trimmed away during this surgery. Post-operatively, 85 – 90% of dogs exhibit improvement, although some may still have breathing noises or snore during naps.
What other problems can affect brachycephalic pets?
A large proportion of dogs with brachycephalic airway disease will also suffer gastrointestinal problems. The increased effort required to breathe in these patients leads to high negative pressure in the gastrointestinal tract as well as the airways. Brachycephalic pets are also prone to some congenital and developmental abnormalities that affect the oesophagus (food pipe), stomach and intestines. These conditions include:
Oesophageal deviation – Shifting of the foodpipe from its normal position in the chest
Hiatal hernia – The stomach slides forward into the chest with breathing
Pyloric Stenosis – Narrowing of the outflow track of the stomach
Patients with gastrointestinal involvement may show signs of:
Regurgitation of food
Difficulty swallowing or eating
The gastrointestinal effects of brachycephalic disease may be managed with medical therapy, such as antacids and specialised diets. However often correcting the brachycephalic airway abnormalities can improve and even often resolve many of these gastrointestinal signs.
More specific management of BAS depends on the individual patient – their age, the severity, symptoms shown, duration, etc . The key to success is early intervention
Contact us and visit with our vets who will tailor a management plan for your Fur-kids unique needs.
The story of “Twig” the wonder kid and how pet insurance meant she could get the best care and treatment!
Twig was a six week old kitten when she was adopted by Dr Jo through a vet friend.
Dr Jo immediately feel in love with Twig (named after a David Bowie song line). Her front two legs were bowed, this is known as varus. Even though there was hope they would straighten as she grew, Twig had a consultation with Dr Guy Yates at CARE, an orthopedic specialist.
By eight weeks of age when Twig was able to be insured with Petplan, her front legs had straightened out and the specialist surgeon was happy with her progress. The thought was to re-evaluate as she continued to grow with further x-rays or even a CT.
At the age of three months, the genetic wonder that is Twig developed yet another issue. She was seen to be lame on her left hind leg after a growth spurt so off again to Dr Guy she went for another assessment. More x-rays were taken and a diagnosis of a permanently luxated left patella (knee cap) was made. It was also discovered at that time that she also had a subluxated left hip and had mild hip dysplasia. A follow up CT was performed to assess all of her growth plates, but thankfully, these were all clear apart from her left hind leg.
Given the severity of her patella issue, it was decided that Twig would benefit from surgery sooner rather than later to try to ensure a functional knee for her as she continued to grow. So at the tender age of five months, she underwent specialist surgery with the wonderful Dr Guy.
The hardest part of the surgery was the minimum three weeks of confinement for Twig and being separated from her friend, eight month old Jellybean. A large cat enclosure was set up in the lounge room for Twig so that she could still be a part of the family but not be able to run free and compromise the surgery. Play dates were had with both Jelly and Dr Jo’s oldest (16y) feline fur kid Kutut so that Twig was never lonely.
After ten weeks, Twig had her post surgery check with Dr Guy and the great news is that she has healed beautifully! Even her left hip is improved since her knee is now functional and no more surgeries or anaethestics are needed. We wilkeep an eye on her hip over the coming months.
Twig is one very lucky kitty to have landed in Dr Jo’s cat heaven where her insurance has thankfully covered everything for her stifle and hip!
(A photo from Swan Street Vets 1st Birthday Party)
It’s been five years since we first opened our doors and hearts to the Fur-kids of Richmond and beyond.
We can hardly believe how the time has flown! Wow has it been fun!
To celebrate and thank all our amazing patients and their families we are throwing a party!
There will be lots of fun to be had by all!
There is going to be face painting, competitions, a sausage sizzle, interactive displays and plenty of GIVEAWAYS! Not to mention a special visit by Xavier from Wildlife Xposure! This will be a rare opportunity to have an encounter with some weird and wonderful creatures, including Australian native reptiles, exotic birds, and even a tame dingo!
We can’t wait to see familiar faces and make new friends!
The fun starts at 10am on the 20th August at Swan Street Vet. All welcome!
Odin is a handsome Birman kitty who visited Swan Street Vet after he had been vomiting for a few days. On questioning the owners we found that Odin enjoys eating unusual objects like clothing, cushions and toys! Remember we are talking about a cat here, not a Labrador!
On physical examination he was found to have a very sore abdomen and his intestines were bunched together. Poor Odin had eaten something he shouldn’t have and this was causing a blockage in his intestines. This is known as a foreign body, causing a gastrointestinal obstruction.
Odin was placed on a drip and given pain relief before undergoing emergency surgery. It was found that he had eaten two lengths of wool, totaling one meter! Why? We suspect he wanted to knit himself a scarf.
During his surgery his whole abdomen was thoroughly examined. Both his stomach and intestines needed to be opened to remove the wool and allow his intestines to relax. Once the surgery was complete Odin’s recovery was continually monitored by the vets and nurses, ensuring he was comfortable. He recovered very well from his surgery and was able to go home the following day. He was a very lucky boy!
There are many different reasons why dogs and cats can vomit. A few causes include dietary intolerances, infections, parasites, foreign objects causing obstruction, as well as liver and kidney problems. In Odin’s case he was vomiting because he had eaten wool that was causing an obstruction in his intestines.
Other signs that could indicate a problem include, reduced appetite, weakness, diarrhoea, weight loss, or your pet generally not being themselves.
If you notice any of these signs please seek veterinarian attention immediately.
Odin is doing very well at home and has recovered completely!
It’s probably best not to let your cat play with wool or string after all!
Over the years our furry friends have become treasured members of our family. We have been adapting them to our human way of living and eating. Due to evolutionary lifestyle changes, we see different diseases advancing in them. In this blog we would like to touch on dental disease which has become a common health concern in domesticated dogs and cats.
How does dental disease present itself to you?
Early signs of dental disease often go unnoticed if we aren’t lifting our pets lips routinely, to have a look at all of their teeth. Now this can be be hard to do, so we offer complimentary six-monthly nurse dental exams. These ensure we stay on top of any changes, as prevention is better than treatment.
As dental disease progresses you may notice bad breath, yellow or brown muck on your pet’s teeth or their gums might be red and inflamed which is painful. Once dental disease is advanced, your pet may start to have trouble eating, favour chewing on one side of their mouth or they may drool. If left untreated it can decrease the general health and wellbeing of your fur friend, as it can damage the heart and kidneys, all of which could decrease the lifespan of your treasured friend. In the worst case scenarios, pets lose their teeth due to the amount of decay they have suffered from.
Canine mouth before and after COHAT.
There are many ways to combat dental disease in cats and dogs. Our aim is to capture and treat dental disease early to ensure all pets keep all of their teeth for their whole life!
The first step in combating dental disease in pets, is to focus on home care. This can be done by feeding a veterinary prescribed dental diet such as Hills T/d, treats such as Greenies, oral gels like Maxiguard, pigs ears or rawhide chews and even certain toys can also make a difference. The best way to prevent dental disease in our cats and dogs at home is to brush their teeth! Yes you heard it right, brush their teeth. Our team are experienced at teaching you how to perform this task. Check this video out for instructions from Dr Melanie
What do I do if I have noticed some of the listed symptoms above?
If you have noticed smelly breath or tartar on your pets teeth, call our friendly team to make a complimentary dental appointment with one of our nurses. Our nurse will be able to let you know the current health of your pets teeth and the best course of action.
Dental disease is graded depending on its severity. Veterinary professionals grade the amount of plaque and tartar on the teeth as well as the amount of inflammation to the gums, otherwise known as gingivitis.
Often a dental clean under anaesthetic may be required to ensure the teeth and gums have the best chance of a long and healthy life. Once a professional dental prophylaxis has been performed and the teeth are squeaky clean, we can focus on home care.
What does a dental procedure at Swan Street Veterinary and Wellness Centre include?
At Swan Street Vet we ensure your pet receives a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment or COHAT.
This begins with a conscious oral exam on your pet, we may use a dental UV torch to identify the extent of plaque formation on the surface of the teeth, as the light makes the plaque glow ‘pink’. We will gauge if there are inflamed gums, or obvious abnormalities to the mouth. As I am sure you can appreciate, not many dogs and cats are happy about their mouths being held open for too long and we do not want to put any pet under unnecessary stress. Therefore the best way to assess the health of all teeth is to have a light general anaesthetic. Dog and cat molars are often hard to see until they are asleep and these teeth commonly have health problems.
All patients requiring a COHAT under anaesthetic will undergo a full health exam and a pre-anaesthetic blood test to ensure they are well enough to proceed.
Once your pet has been granted a fit bill of health, they will be admitted to our quiet hospital. We will administer a premedication which consists of sedation and pain relief. They will be placed on an intravenous drip. The intravenous fluids help to keep your pet hydrated, maintain their blood pressure throughout the anaesthetic and ensure a smooth and quick recovery.
Each and every pet’s anaesthetic will be monitored by a dedicated veterinary nurse using advanced monitoring equipment.
Our team will take photos of your pets teeth before and after we clean them, so you can see the results.
The vet will assess each tooth, probe the gingival pockets and record their findings on a dental chart, you will also receive a copy of this.
We will then perform oral radiographs. Quite often a tooth can look healthy above the surface, but underneath the gum line the tooth roots can be unwell, causing pain and concern for you fur-kid. Without dental x-rays, conditions under the gum line can go unnoticed, especially in cats, as 60% of each tooth is below the gum. See our pictures below, which demonstrate why dental x-rays are so important.
As you can see the below teeth have tartar but otherwise look OK.
Upon x-ray we found two oral resorptive lesions on the lower teeth.
These two painful teeth were surgically removed.
Research tells us, that most dental build up begins under the gum line. Without an anaesthetic most pets will not allow us to clean under their gums. If they did but then happened to move while we were doing this, we could cause pain and trauma to the mouth and patient. Research also tells us that hand scaling teeth alone can cause scratches and damage to the tooth surface leading to further damage and build up of plaque and tartar.
We use an ultrasonic dental scaler and polisher, much the same as the one your dentist would use on your teeth. Our modern equipment means the best treatment and care for your loved one.
All pets will be given pain relief at our discretion depending on the severity of the disease. If we clean the teeth before the dental disease is too advanced, there shouldn’t be too much pain associated with the dental prophylaxis, but again we don’t want any pet to experience any discomfort at any stage.
So if you are concerned about your pets dental health or they are suffering from bad breath, tartar, drooling or eating difficulties, please give our friendly team a call to book your complimentary dental exam with a nurse. If you would like a tour of our facilities, feel free to ask. We will thoroughly care for your fur-kid and their dental health every step of the way!
Christmas and New Year are just around the corner. We all love to spend this time of year with family and friends; overindulging on goodies such as BBQ’s, roasts, chocolate and plum pudding just to name a few. We know your fur babies will be right by your side during the festivities, so we thought it was time for a reminder on potentially harmful foods, treats and hazards for your pet.
Christmas Decorations Christmas trees are a wonderful reminder of the festivities ahead and decorating them can be fun for the whole family. To keep your tree pet-friendly, try following these tips:
Secure your tree – unbalanced trees can cause injuries to your pet
Protect from soil – don’t let pets eat the soil or water around your tree
Tinsel and decorations – cats and dogs love decorations, but chewing and playing can quickly turn into swallowing. This can lead to vomiting, dehydration, gastrointestinal obstruction and in the worst case, surgery. Ensure these ornaments are always out of reach
Wires and batteries – keep these out of reach too! Chewed batteries can lead to burns of the mouth and oesophagus
Wrapped presents – any food under your tree can be sniffed out and snacked on late at night, meaning potential distress or sickness for your pet and disappointment for young children too!
What’s Off the Table? There will be lots of delicious food on the table this time of year and whilst it is tempting to give these to your pet, prevention is better than cure! Here are some common examples of household toxins.
Chocolate – containing the toxic ingredients theobromine and caffeine, eating chocolate can lead to serious illness in your pet, including vomiting diarrhoea, and even seizures, heart abnormalities and death
Anything sweet – fine for you maybe, but artificial sweeteners can lead to vomiting, depression, low blood sugar level and liver damage. Some peanut butters even contain xylitol.
Grapes, raisins and sultanas – these fruits can be toxic and lead to kidney damage. Signs may include depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, reduced appetite and kidney failure,
Macadamia nuts – can lead to weakness or paralysis of the limbs, gastrointestinal signs, lethargy, and muscle tremors
Leftovers fatty foods, bones or spicy foods – many of these foods e.g. sausages, can lead to an upset stomach or pancreatitis
Onion, garlic and chives – these can lead to stomach upset and damage to the red blood cells
Thankfully there are safe treat options to feed to your pet this Christmas. These include:
Raw hide chews
Hill’s Metabolic treats
If your pet has special dietary needs or is on a prescription diet, please ask our friendly team to discuss suitable treats for them too!
Christmas Plants to Avoid Christmas plants might look and smell wonderful to us, but for a curious pet these festive plants can be dangerous:
Mistletoe and Holly – these can lead to gastrointestinal upset and Mistletoe can also lead to heart problem
Lilies – all lilies can lead to kidney failure in cats if ingested (any part of the plant, flower, pollen, or plant water).
Poinsettia – this beautiful plant is synonymous with Christmas but it also toxic to both dogs and cats. It can lead to irritation of the mouth and stomach, sometimes leading to vomiting.
You can check plants and flowers that are safe for your pets here.