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Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre
231 Frankston-Flinders Rd
Frankston, VIC, 3199
Phone: 03 5971 4888

Welcome to our Autumn update!

March brings Polite Pet Month and what better time to hold our fabulous Puppy School reunion on March 18th! We look forward to welcoming our 2017 graduates to a morning of catching up with classmates, games, giveaways and prizes. 

In addition to some helpful articles about canine and feline behaviour, with Easter just round the corner, the newsletter also focusses on the less well known risks to our pets at Eastertime.

On  Labour day and the 4 day Easter weekend, Frankston Heights will be closed, with the AEC Frankston open to provide emergency care to our patients. We hope you enjoy the holidays!

and finally....

Doc our sponsor puppy in now all grown up and ready to go into training. Isn't he beautiful!

Contents of this newsletter

01  Fear free vet visits.

02  Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety?

03  Why is my cat doing that?

04  Easter health hazards you might not know about

05  Chocolate toxicity - what to do

06  A new study links raw chicken to paralysis in dogs

01 Fear free vet visits.

For many pets a visit to the vet can cause marked anxiety. In dogs the signs of anxiety may be subtle - such as licking their lips, or more obvious - such as panting and pacing, retreating under the chairs or attempting to bite.

Cats tend to show anxiety by refusing to come out of their carrier, hiding, or hissing and scratching.

At Frankston Heights we are committed to making a visit as stress free as possible for our patients, and we are constantly working to introduce new measures to ease anxiety and manage each patient's individual needs.

For Dogs

  • Use of a canine calming pheromone in the consulting room
  • Use of bandannas sprayed with the same calming pheromone before they come into the building
  • Highly palatable treats
  • Non slip runways and table surfaces
  • Examining the dog where it is most comfortable
  • Desensitising visits - when the dog just comes in for a treat and a pat!
  • Use of anti anxiety medication prior to the visit

For cats

  • Placing the cat carrier off the floor on arrival and away from dogs.
  • Covering the carrier with a towel sprayed with a feline calming pheromone
  • Use of the same pheromone in the consulting room
  • Freedom to explore and providing a room with a view where possible.
  • Covering the cat for examination
  • Prior desensitisation to the cat carrier - leaving the cat carrier out, even feeding the cat in the carrier, to reduce transport stress.
  • Use of anti anxiety medications prior to the visit.

 If your pet is anxious about coming to the vet, please talk to us about how we can make their visit as worry free as possible!

and check out these images which may help determine if your pet is stressed....

02 Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety?
pexels photo 545017

Dogs are social creatures and they form strong bonds with humans. Most dogs cope ok with the daily separation from their owners but unfortunately some dogs will become very distressed and even destructive, a problem known as separation anxiety.

Watch out for:

  • Barking, howling
  • Excessive chewing, digging and pacing
  • Destruction and scratching of barriers - especially near doors and windows
  • House soiling

Our top tips to help reduce your dog’s anxiety:

  • Take your dog for a walk before you leave the house
  • Don’t make huge fuss when you leave your dog or when you return
  • Start small - leave your dog alone for only five minutes extending to twenty minutes then an hour, then longer
  • Leave your dog with plenty of stimulating toys, chews and mind games
  • Leave the radio or television on for company

Please don't hesitate to speak to us if you think your dog is developing separation problems. We have plenty of tools available to help you and your pet. 

03 Why is my cat doing that?

Cats are unique creatures and they will occasionally display certain behaviours that you need to watch out for as it can be an indication that something else is going on. 

Here are a couple of behaviours to be aware of: 

1. Spraying urine

The act of spraying involves a cat backing up to a vertical surface such as the wall,  a piece of furniture, or curtains (usually about 20cm from the floor). The cat will quiver his raised tail and tread with his back feet as urine is directed backwards.

Stress can bring on spraying and it is often associated with territorial or competitive behaviour.

If you notice this behaviour, a check up with us is essential. Once we've ruled out any medical problems we can help reduce your cat's anxiety and manage feline spraying. Ask us for more information.

2. Scratching the furniture

Scratching allows your cat to sharpen their claws and also helps them to leave scent markers or a "calling card."

Unfortunately, some cats will choose to sharpen their claws on furniture and think that the back of the sofa is just one giant scratching post!

What to do if your cat is damaging furniture:

  • Place a scratching post right next to the furniture the cat is currently scratching
  • Offer a variety of scratching substrates; don’t offer just one carpeted scratching post - try cardboard, logs of wood
  • Deter the cat from scratching furniture by placing double-sided sticky tape on it. Many cats find the stickiness of the tape unpleasant

If you’re worried about your cat's behaviour you should always ask us for advice.

04 Easter health hazards you might not know about

It's not only chocolate that can be an issue at Easter! There are a few other potential dangers - here's what you should watch out for:

1. Hot Cross Buns

Many people are not aware that sultanas and raisins (and grapes) may contain a toxin that can cause kidney damage in dogs. Keep these off the menu at all times and watch for any that happen to drop on the floor (a common issue if you have little kids!) Call us for advice if your dog ingests any.

2. Easter lilies

These beautiful fragrant flowers if ingested, can cause kidney failure in cats. The stems, leaves, flowers and stamen are all dangerous, as is the water the flowers are stored in. If you are worried about your cat you should call us and we will advise you on what you should do.

3. Easter toys

Those tiny fluffy baby chicken toys, plastic Easter eggs and bunny ears may be good basket stuffers for your kids, but your pet might think they look extra tasty and fun to chew on. They should all be kept away from cats and dogs as they can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction.

If your pet ingests any of the above over the Easter period call us immediately for advice. Make sure you have emergency numbers on hand if it is out of our normal opening hours.

05 Chocolate toxicity - what to do

Most dogs love chocolate and with their strong sense of smell they are very good at finding it! The problem is, dogs are not able to metabolise theobromine, a derivative of caffeine found in chocolate.

Ingestion can lead to an increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhoea, agitation, tremors, seizures and even death. Cooking and dark chocolate are the most toxic but ingestion of ANY chocolate can be a problem.

Not surprisingly, Easter is one of the busiest times for chocolate toxicities and if your dog happens to eat an Easter egg, here's what we will do:

1. We will ask you how much and what type of chocolate your dog has eaten. This helps us work out just how dangerous the ingestion might be. Remember, that cooking and dark chocolate are the most toxic, followed by milk and then white chocolate.

The toxicity is also related to the size of your dog and the amount ingested. It is important to realise that any amount of chocolate can cause a problem so veterinary advice is always advised.

2. We will most likely induce emesis (which simply means we make your dog vomit). This is usually done using injection under the skin or application of a medication in to the eye. Vomiting tends to occur quickly and can sometimes be quite spectacular (especially if the wrapping has been consumed too!).

3. If we don't feel enough chocolate has been vomited or if the symptoms are serious, a charcoal meal or enema may be given to help reduce the toxicity. Some dogs will also need further supportive care including intravenous fluid therapy and hospitalisation.

Please phone us immediately, even if you only think your dog has ingested chocolate. We will give you the best advice. 

06 A new study links raw chicken to paralysis in dogs

There has recently been a study that has linked the consumption of raw chicken with an increased risk of paralysis in dogs.

The study, conducted by the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital, found the consumption of raw chicken meat (particularly raw chicken necks) increases the risk of dogs developing acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) by more than 70 times.

APN is a rare but debilitating condition where a dog's hind legs become weak and the paralysis then progresses to the front legs, neck, head and face. Dogs can take many months to recover but in some cases, the disease can be fatal.

It is thought that the dog's immune system progressively attacks its own nerve roots, similar to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in humans. The bacteria Campylobacter is now considered a triggering agent in up to 40 percent of GBS patients. It is possible that Campylobacter (often present in raw chicken products) is likely to be a triggering agent for APN. You read more about the study here.

Ask us for more information if you are worried about your dog or have any questions about what to feed your pet.