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Mira Mar Veterinary Hospital
58 Cockburn Rd
Albany, WA, 6330
Phone: 08 9841 5422

Hello and welcome to our August newsletter!

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who left emails, cards and Facebook messages of support for Dr Jim and Dr Renae after the loss of their beloved dog Susie.  It meant so much to us to know that our wonderful clients and friends were giving them support at such a sad time.

We have some articles on dental disease this month to tie in with the National Pet Dental Health Month, which is celebrated in August every year.  If you think your pet needs some dental care, then please give us a call!

We hope you enjoy this issue.

Thank You Note Note Thank You Thank Message 1428147
Contents of this newsletter

01  Welcome Sharon!

02  New tick-borne dog disease in WA & NT

03  How to tell if your pet has dental problems

04  What you need to know about dental procedures

05  How you can prevent dental disease at home

06  Cats are unique when it comes to dental disease

07  Animal News In Brief

08  Top tips for taking your cat to the vet

01 Welcome Sharon!

After a long search and many applicants, we are delighted to introduce Sharon McQuillan to the Mira Mar Vets team!

Sharon graduated as a veterinary nurse in 2015, and has gained extensive experience working at Denmark Vet Clinic, before a change of circumstances led her to seek a job in Albany.  Sharon is a mother of 5, as well as a pet parent of 3 dogs and a turtle!

We are sure you will love her friendly and welcoming approach, and your pets will love her caring and professional manner.  

Please feel free to pop in and say hi to our newest team member!

02 New tick-borne dog disease in WA & NT
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A new dog disease has emerged this year in the Kimberley region of WA as well as the NT.  It is present in other parts of the world, but hasn't been identified in Australia until 2020.

Ehrlichiosis is a disease in dogs which results from being bitten by a brown dog tick that is infected with the Ehrlichia canis bacteria.

The symptoms of Ehrlichiosis include:

  • fever
  • weakness
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • poor appetite
  • weight loss
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

The symptoms can arise as soon as a few weeks after the tick bite (acute phase) or take some months or even years to show up (chronic phase).  The chronic phase also makes dogs more susceptible to other infections and diseases, and is potentially fatal.

Ehrlichiosis is a notifiable disease and is diagnosed by a blood test.  The earlier appropriate treatment is started, the better chance of recovery.

The best way to prevent this disease is your dog is to use a regular and effective tick control product, ESPECIALY if you are planning on travelling with your dog to any of the known affected areas.  Please give the clinic a call if you would like to discuss the tick preventative options available for your pet.

It is also important to note that if you ARE travelling to the Kimberley with your dog, that there is a 'boundary' in place for controlled dog movement.  This means that to move your dog out of the known affected area, you need to prove your dog is currently healthy, and has had an effective tick product applied in the previous 7 days, and you must contact DPIRD before moving your dog.

03 How to tell if your pet has dental problems

Dental disease is one of the most common problems we see in veterinary practice. While a regular check-up with us will help to identify any dental issues your pet might be hiding, there are a few things you can look out for at home:

Signs of dental disease in dogs and cats:

  • Bad breath
  • Yellowing or brown stains on the teeth
  • Redness of the gums around the teeth
  • Ropey saliva or bleeding gums
  • A loss of appetite or weight loss

What causes dental disease?

When particles of food and bacteria accumulate along the gum line, they combine with saliva to form plaque. If over time, this plaque is allowed to build up, there will be a subsequent accumulation of tartar and bacteria. The presence of this tartar and bacteria leads to inflammation around the gum line, a condition known as gingivitis.

As dental disease progresses, there is a separation of the gum from the teeth and pockets of bacteria form. Once this happens, your pet will be suffering from irreversible bone loss, tissue destruction and wobbly, rotten teeth. These changes can be severely painful and can significantly affect your pet's quality of life.

What to do if you think your pet has dental disease

You should not ignore this disease. Dental disease is painful and can impact the overall health of your pet as the bacteria enter the bloodstream and make their way around your pet's body.

If we diagnose the dental disease early enough, we can implement a treatment plan and slow the progression of this condition. Correct management of dental disease means your pet will lead a happier and healthier life and, in most cases, will be less likely to need major dental procedures during their life.

We strongly recommend getting your pet in for a dental check-up if you haven't done so in the past 12 months.

04 What you need to know about dental procedures

'Dentals' are one of the most common routine procedures we perform in our day-to-day veterinary practice. It's important to understand the ins-and-outs of these procedures and why they are so involved. Here are a few things you should know:

Your pet needs a general anaesthetic

For us to accurately assess and treat dental disease, a general anaesthetic is necessary. Unfortunately, we can't ask your pet to 'open wide', and to keep us safe and negate any pain or discomfort for your pet, they must be asleep.

An anaesthetic enables us to clean every tooth thoroughly and safely remove diseased teeth. Anaesthesia-free cleaning is not ethical, and it can lead to pain and fear in your pet, and may also hide underlying problems in your pet's mouth. Without a general anaesthetic, the cause of the problem is not able to be addressed.

You should not allow anyone to perform anaesthesia-free cleaning on your pet’s teeth and you should talk to us if you have any concerns.

Sometimes extractions are necessary

When thinking about our own dental experiences and comparing them to that of our pets, extraction of a tooth or multiple teeth may sound scary. The options, however, for saving teeth in our pets are limited. A pet with severe dental disease has usually lost a significant amount of bone and soft tissue along with the roots of the tooth, and this can be very painful. Extraction is often the only way we can restore oral health, remove the source of the pain and prevent the disease from spreading to neighbouring teeth.

What happens if your pet has to have multiple teeth removed?

Adult dogs have 42 teeth, and adult cats have 30, so even after multiple extractions, there will still be enough teeth to enable chewing. Once, however, we remove a tooth, the dentition of the mouth is changed, and this can alter the chewing action and the natural cleaning action of chewing. Opposing teeth may be prone to tartar accumulation, so ongoing regular dental checks are critical.

We are always happy to answer any further questions you might have about dental procedures.

05 How you can prevent dental disease at home

Dental care for your pet starts at home, but there is not one magical tool we have to help guarantee a perfectly healthy mouth. Dental disease prevention needs to be a multi-targeted approach, and we aim to give your pet a chance at avoiding a dental procedure.

Breed, oral anatomy, diet and age have a significant impact on dental disease and sometimes, even with all the best dental prevention measures in place, your pet may still need a dental procedure at some point in their life. An excellent example of this is a dog who has perfectly clean teeth but fractures a tooth chewing on a bone! If we do not remove the fractured tooth, exposure of the nerves can be painful and lead to other issues, such as a tooth root abscess.

Did you know that brushing is best?

Brushing your pet's teeth is considered gold standard in-home care. Keep in mind that it can take a few months for your pet to get used to the idea. Daily brushing is recommended (in an ideal world) however a couple of times a week is better than no brushing at all. If you are using a dental toothpaste, make sure it is pet-friendly (human toothpaste is toxic to pets).

We will show you how best to brush your pet's teeth - ask us for a demonstration.

Make every mouthful count

Every mouthful your pet takes should be hard work, and we have excellent dental diets available designed to clean the tooth, as your pet chews.

We can also advise you on the best chews and treats available when it comes to dental care. Not every chew on the market is entirely safe for your pet, so it's best to ask us for advice.

We will give you the best advice when it comes to dental disease prevention in your pet - ask us for more information.

06 Cats are unique when it comes to dental disease

Our feline friends can, unfortunately, suffer from a painful dental condition known as feline resorptive lesions (FRL). 60% of susceptible cats will have one of these lesions present by the time they are 6-years old.

What is an FRL, and what causes them?

In an FRL, the tooth is eaten away, leading to exposure of the sensitive pulp of the tooth. They used to be referred to as 'feline cavities', but this is not really an accurate description, as they are not caused by the presence of plaque and tartar or from eating too much sugar.

The cause of FRLs is still unknown. There are several theories about what causes resorption of the tooth, but none of these theories have been conclusive.

How are FRLs diagnosed?

FRLs are sometimes visible as a little red spot on the tooth and are sensitive to touch. There may also be an erosion of the crown of the tooth. In some cases, there are no visible changes to the tooth and the only way to detect an FRL is to perform and look for changes on dental radiographs.

Why is extraction necessary and what about ongoing care?

FRLs will progress and continue to be painful if they are not extracted. They can cause considerable pain for a cat and lead to reduced appetite and lethargy. Most cats with one FRL will develop other FRLs in the future, so regular dental check-ups, dental cleans under anaesthetic, and dental radiographs are essential in these cats.

Key points:

  • Feline resorptive lesions are painful if the tooth is not removed
  • They can lead to reduced appetite and lethargy
  • Most cats will go on to develop further lesions in the future
  • Regular check-ups are essential

If your cat hasn't had a dental check-up for a while, you should call us and arrange an appointment so we can rule out any issues.

07 Animal News In Brief

Image source: Dodo

Uber for pets

Need a lift? If you don’t drive or have a car, a trip to the vet can be more of a hassle than expected, but now the ridesharing service’s no-pet rules have turned around with Uber Pet! For an additional $6-7 fee to your Uber trip cost, your best furry friend can ride backseat with you to your designated drop-off point. With Uber Pet now available in all Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Newcastle, Hobart, Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Geelong, Wollongong and Darwin, you can be sure to give this convenience a five-star rating - and have a “wheely” good time.

Find out more about Uber Pet here.


This cat would like to brush his own teeth, thank you

Meet Achilles, the curious kitto with a very organised oral hygiene routine. After a while of observing his human mum’s consistent daily routine, Achilles himself began joining in on the leisurely task of teeth-brushing. The clever kitty brushes his teeth against the bristles of the upright toothbrush for the same amount of time each day that his human mum does. Not only committed to just the daily brushing, but adamant on both a morning and nighttime schedule, Achilles takes self-care seriously.

Check out Achilles’s teeth-brushing skills here.


Benevolence for Bella

Over the last seven years, the Riehs family have conquered enormous heights in the face of their daughter’s life-altering circumstances. Smiley Bella was diagnosed with Congenital CMV at birth, a viral infection that inflicts severe seizures with long periods of unconsciousness, followed by extreme exhaustion. As Bella continues to light up with sunshine, despite all of the hardship she has withstood, she projects nothing but inspiration - and now there’s a way to lend a hand to this shining supergirl. But how, you say? Doggo powers! With a sidekick ‘seizure alert’ dog, Bella’s family can have doggy detection to predict Bella’s approaching seizures. This highly-trained pooch will not only help Bella’s family to move her into a safe position for the seizure, it will provide the Riehs family with the invaluable companionship that we love from our special pets. Lamentably, a specially-trained ‘seizure alert’ dog can cost upwards of $45k, a big ask for a family of five to spare. There are already two fund pages up and available to help give Bella the opportunity to live safer and happier with the superhero furry friend she needs by her side.

Find out more about Bella’s story here.

Support Bella’s mission here and here.

08 Top tips for taking your cat to the vet

Many people find bringing their cat in to the vet a stressful experience and, as a result, will put off the exercise altogether. It is for this reason that we don't get to see your feline friend as often as we should and, unfortunately, it means that many health problems may go undetected.

Thankfully, there are a couple of ways we can help reduce the stress associated with vet visits:

  1. Feliway pheromone spray can be used in the cat carrier to help your cat to feel more safe and secure. The pheromone spray is the same pheromone cats release when they feel happy and relaxed. We also recommend you spray it on a towel and use this to cover the cat carrier. This may help your cat feel safe and avoid them making eye contact with patients of the canine variety.
  2. Medication can be dispensed to help your cat feel more relaxed prior to their visit. We just need to have examined your cat within the previous six months - ask us for more information on how we can assist you with this. It is important to have a trial run at home at least 3 days prior to the visit to ensure the correct dose of medication.

Other tips to reduce cat carrier stress:

  • Put the cat carrier in a room with your cat a few days before you need to use it
  • Allow your cat to get used to the smell and noise of the carrier
  • Associate the carrier with ‘happy’ things - place food and treats in the carrier
  • Close the door of the carrier while your cat is inside for short periods of time so your cat doesn’t always associate it with vet visits

If you have any questions or concerns about your cat's veterinary visit you should ask us for advice.

Remember: all cats should be secured in a cat carrier when travelling in the car, not just for their safety but also yours.