Not displaying properly? Click here to read online.
Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre
231 Frankston-Flinders Rd
Frankston, VIC, 3199
Phone: 03 5971 4888

Spring is here, and with the new growth of weeds and grasses, and trees and plants in flower, it is the time of year for allergies. While we tend to get hayfever and asthma, dogs tend to get itchy skin, and cats can get both asthma and itches. The triggers are mostly pollens but may also include flea bite, dust mite and moulds.

Luckily there are lots of things we can do at Frankston Heights to find the cause of the problem and to help ease the symptoms, so call us for an appointment if your pet has the spring itches.


Recently we have been busy learning. Lucy attended the behaviour stream of the ASAV conference and others attended a seminar on kidney and bladder conditions. We have included some articles on the ways we can use testing to help in our diagnosis of these conditions.

Most importantly, at a local trivia night recently, the senior members of staff trounced the youngsters earning significant bragging rights!

Contents of this newsletter

01  Spring skin

02  Can cats really get asthma?

03  Are you bee sting ready?

04  Wee makes us happy!

05  Monitoring your pet's blood pressure

06  Study: pet health in Australia

01 Spring skin

Spring is in the air, but with the warmer weather comes the inconvenient things that cause itchy skin! Allergy to fleas can commonly set off an attack of the itches, but pets can also be allergic to grasses, trees, plant pollen, dust mites and moulds, as well as certain foods.

What to watch out for
Itchy dogs will nibble, lick, rub or scratch with their legs. Common itchy spots include the ears (recurrent ear infections are common), base of the tail, flanks, the feet, in between the toes, the armpits, the groin and the anal area.

Cats are more likely to over-groom (constantly lick) certain areas, causing hair loss. 

The consequences of itching
Itching quickly leads to self-inflicted trauma of the skin and secondary infections. The result is an unhappy, uncomfortable and miserable pet.

What you need to know
Allergy to fleas is one of the major causes of irritation and using regular flea treatment is easier than treating an itchy pet. NOW is the time to make sure your pet is up to date with flea prevention. We will be able to recommend the best product for your pet so ask us for more information.

If your pet has other causes of allergy, the good news is, we also have some excellent drugs available to help with allergic skin disease. These drugs have minimal side effects and can really help break the itch, lick and scratch cycle so don’t sit back allow your pet to suffer, call us for advice today.

If you notice your pet is itching, licking, biting, or rubbing, you should arrange a check-up with us as soon as possible.

Dr Lucy White has a special interest in dermatology and the whole Frankston Heights team is able to provide the best advice regarding skin care products to soothe and ease the itch.

The sooner we settle the itch, the less likely your pet is to cause self-trauma and secondary skin infections. Call us if you are worried about your pet.

02 Can cats really get asthma?

Asthma can be a debilitating disease in humans but did you know that our feline friends are also susceptible to this life-changing condition?

Signs to watch out for:

- Persistent coughing or wheezing (often bouts of coughing)
- Laboured and/or fast breathing
- Open-mouthed breathing
- Squatting with shoulders hunched, neck extended and rapid breathing or gasping for breath
- Lethargy and weakness

The disease process
Asthma involves the small airways in the lungs over-reacting to the presence of an irritant or an allergen. There is a subsequent inflammatory response, an increase in mucus production and a contraction of the small muscles around the airways causing them to narrow. Both the mucus and the narrowed airway means a cat will have significant difficulty breathing.

What causes feline asthma?
Irritants such as cigarette smoke, pollens, dust from cat litter, perfume and moulds can all contribute to the condition. Parasites, heart disease and obesity may also play a role.

Diagnosis and treatment
Blood tests, x-rays, bronchoscopy (using a camera to evaluate the airways), or an airway wash to gather cells to look for inflammation or bacteria may be necessary to help diagnose the asthma. At Frankston Heights, we have the skills and equipemnt to perform these procedures.

Feline asthma can be successfully managed with medications that open up the airways or modify the inflammatory response. You may be surprised to learn that medication is often administered through a special inhaler, similar to those used in human asthma.

The most important point is that feline asthma can quickly become life-threatening, so any cat with a cough (or any of the signs mentioned above) needs to be seen by us as soon as possible.

03 Are you bee sting ready?

Have you ever wondered what you should you do if your furry friend is stung by a bee or a wasp?

In most cases, there will be some swelling and tenderness at the sting site. It’s best to try to remove the tiny stinger as quickly as possible (although they can be hard to see). Apply a cold compress (damp towel) to reduce swelling.

When do I need to seek veterinary advice?
Pets that are licking the sting area constantly, are in pain (limping is common if stung on the paw), or are a bit lethargic should be seen by us as soon as possible. We may need to give your pet an antihistamine and/or pain relief injection.

When does my pet need urgent emergency care?
It is rare but some dogs and cats are severely allergic to bee stings. They may go into anaphylactic shock (and even die) if they don’t receive immediate veterinary attention.

Seek veterinary advice immediately if your pet:

- Is having trouble breathing
- Is vomiting within 5-10 minutes post sting
- Has pale coloured gums
- Collapses

To help prevent bee stings, keep your pet away from flowering trees and plants (especially the ground cover). Always discourage your pet from playing with or chasing bees. Also remove any rotting fallen fruit from your garden, meat products, and uneaten pet food as these are all attractive to European wasps.

If you are worried about your pet you can always phone us for advice.

04 Wee makes us happy!

You might laugh at us but we love wee! Just a small amount of your pet’s urine provides us with valuable information about their internal health and can also help rule out diseases such as diabetes and kidney insufficiency. It will also help diagnose bladder stones, infections, and inflammation (cystitis)

Urine can be collected by a "free catch" or sometimes we need to take a sample direct from the bladder to avoid comtamination of the sample (this is called cystocentesis) After we have collected a sample of your pet’s urine, we will perform a few routine tests. These will include:

USG (urine specific gravity) - this helps us to determine how well the kidneys are working by measuring how effectively they are concentrating the urine. This is especially important when we are on the hunt for kidney disease as sometimes a change in USG can be an early indication of disease. This early stage of kidney disease may not be detectable with a routine blood test.

A urine dipstick also allows us to look for the presence of blood, protein and glucose  It can also indicate if a diabetic patient is severely unwell by detecting ketones.

In some cases, it may be necessary to examine the sediment of the urine under a microscope to look for particular cells that may indicate disease. White blood cells and bacteria can be detected on a sediment exam as can urinary crystals, a telltale sign of other urinary tract problems.

We often need to send urine samples to an external laboratory to run more specific tests. This may include one to determine if there is a true bacterial infection present. The laboratory will culture the bacteria and then run tests to determine what antibiotic is required to treat the infection. Another example of a laboratory test is one to measure the level of protein that is being lost by the kidneys. This can help stage kidney disease and greatly assists in determining if medication is indicated to treat the condition.

it is remakable what a little urine can tell us!

05 Monitoring your pet's blood pressure

At some point in your pet’s life, it will be necessary for us to measure their blood pressure.

An elevation in blood pressure (hypertension) can indicate an underlying disease. Hyperthyroidism in cats or Cushing's disease in dogs are just two examples. If hypertension is left undetected, the increased pressure of the blood flow can cause serious damage to organs such as the kidneys and even lead to blindness due to damage to the retinas in the eye.

Low blood pressure (hypotension) is typically something we get concerned about if your pet is undergoing anaesthesia and this can also cause damage to organs but is conversely due to reduced blood flow. This is why monitoring your pet’s blood pressure while they are under anaesthesia is so important.

Your pet's blood pressure will usually be measured using a veterinary specific monitor. However measuring blood pressure in our pets is not as straightforward as in ourselves.

Stress can sometimes affect the readings, so measuring blood pressure in a veterinary consult can sometimes be difficult! It is therefore important that we take things quietly and slowly and several measurements are taken to achieve an average reading. On occasion, we will admit a patient to hospital to allow measurements through the day.

If your pet is diagnosed with hypertension it is essential that the underlying disease is treated. Repeat blood pressure measurements may be required every 1-3 months depending on the response to treatment. In some cases, it may be necessary to give your pet medication to help lower their blood pressure and reduce any potential side effects associated with hypertension.

Ask us if you are worried or have any concerns about your pet, we are always here to help.

06 Study: pet health in Australia

How likely is my dog’s breed to go to the vet? At what age is my cat prone to hyperthyroidism? Has anyone ever named their pet ‘Prince Harry’?

The answers to all of these questions and more can be found in the newly published Pet Health Monitor. Compiled by Australia’s leading pet insurance underwriter PetSure from almost three million insurance claims over five years, the report provides a comprehensive picture of pet ownership today, as well as digging up some interesting trends. For instance, the most popular name for both female cats and dogs in the study was ‘Bella’, while ‘Charlie’ was the most popular name for both male cats and dogs. It seems the two species have more in common than previously thought!

But it’s not all light and *ahem* fluffy… being one of the largest studies of animal health trends in Australia, the report is an essential source of information on common health conditions by breed, age and gender. According to the report, the most common reason for a dog’s visit to the vet was for ear inflammation, accounting for 6.7% of all insurance claims in 2018 alone, with dermatitis a close second. Short-faced (brachycephalic) dogs such as bulldogs, pugs and boxers saw a 79% rise between 2013 and 2018 in surgery claims for obstructed airways.

The most common reason for a cat to visit a vet was for wounds (6.9%). The report also reveals a growing number of cases of hyperthyroidism in older cats, with 15% of cats 13 years of age or over afflicted by the condition, a benign growth on the thyroid glands that produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormone.

We highly recommend reading the full report for more valuable insights on pet health and the role pet insurance can play. You can download the report on the PetSure website at

Any advice is general only and may not be right for you. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider to decide if a product is right for you. Insurance products are issued by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd (ABN 78 090 584 473; AFSL 241436) and administered by PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd (ABN 95 075 949 923; AFSL 420183) through our Authorised Representatives and our distribution partners.