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

Spring is in the air!  Welcome to our September newsletter.

This month's edition is all about the things to keep an eye on for your pet now that the weather is warming up, and also some interesting findings from a recent study on pet owning trends in Australia.

In some exciting staff news, we extend our warmest wishes to Dr Erin and her family after the safe arrival of her new baby boy last month.  We hear they are recovering well and that her eldest son is doing a good job of being a big brother!  Congratulations!

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Contents of this newsletter

01  Staff dental training at Mira Mar Vets

02  Study: pet health in Australia

03  Snail bait toxicity: what you need to know

04  Spring skin

05  Are you bee sting ready?

06  Can cats really get asthma?

01 Staff dental training at Mira Mar Vets
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Some of the dentistry equipment used by the vets at Mira Mar Vets when your pet has a dental procedure. Note the similarities (and differences) to human dentistry!

Last month we all had an exciting opportunity to receive some staff dental training with Dr Mike Lawley, a veterinary dentistry specialist from Murdoch University.  

We learnt about how best to use our new dental x-ray system, how to interpret the x-ray images (including looking at some very cool case studies!), examining some local cases with dental problems, and finally a wet lab where we practiced removing some of those tricky teeth using our current dental equipment, as well as using some other specialised dental equipment which we have added to our wish list!

It was a very valuable experience, and we wish to thank Dr Lawley for his time and expertise.


02 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.
03 Snail bait toxicity: what you need to know

Spring brings about a myriad of hazards and one in particular is the use of snail (and slug) bait in the garden. Would you know what to watch out for?

Signs of snail bait poisoning:

- Excessive drooling 
- Anxiety and panting
- Muscle tremors, twitching and restlessness
- Rapid heart rate & panting
- Vomiting & diarrhoea
- Seizures

The issue with snail bait is that the pellets look just like dog kibble, so dogs will often eat the pellets by mistake. As well as this, most people don’t realise that the so called “pet friendly” products can still be dangerous if ingested by your pet.

There are three types of snail bait:

1. Metaldehyde - green pellets
2. Methiocarb - blue pellets

These are the most dangerous and they act on the nervous system causing increased stimulation and can be fatal if immediate veterinary treatment is not given.

3. Iron EDTA (Multiguard) - brown/yellow pellets.

This is less toxic but can cause gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Multiguard can also cause damage to the liver, spleen, heart, kidneys or brain so we still recommend you seek veterinary advice if this is ingested.

What to do
If your pet has ingested snail bait (or even if you just think there is a slight possibility your pet has ingested snail bait) you should seek veterinary advice immediately.

Prevention is the key
It is safest to avoid the use of all slug and snail bait (particularly Metaldehyde and Methiocarb) if you have a pet. It is just not worth the risk.

And finally remember to be careful if you are visiting a friend's or neighbour’s garden with your pet as you might not realise they have used snail bait. It’s always best to keep your dog on a leash until you are confident the area is safe.

04 Spring skin

Spring is in the air, but with the warmer weather comes the inconvenient things that cause itchy skin! Fleas 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 bite, lick 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 glands.

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 this causes secondary infections. The result is an unhappy, uncomfortable and miserable pet.

What you need to know
Fleas are THE major cause of itchy skin 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.

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. 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.

05 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.

06 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 in the lungs 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.

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.