Middle Brighton Veterinary Centre
762 Hampton St
Brighton, VIC, 3186

Phone: 03 9592 9811
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Welcome to Autumn!

We have a great start to the year meeting lots of new puppies and kittens - they are so gorgeous and so much fun - we just love them. So we thought a little focus on behaviour would be in order!

We have already had two classes of star puppies graduate from Puppy Preschool - culminating in a graduation ceremony at Dendy Park last Tuesday. Check out our website for all the fun photos!

You may have noticed that we have become much busier over the last 6 months and as a consequence a few new faces will be popping up in the coming months. The first new face you will see is Lucy who is super friendly and helpful. She is in the clinic during the week except for Tuesdays when she goes to Tafe to complete her final year of her Vet Nursing course.

Dr Andy Woodward has become our regular locum vet over the last 18 months and will continue to work for us intermittently as our vets need time off for annual leave and continuing professional development. He will be back with us in May for approximately 5 weeks. Long term our plan is to expand our vet team with a permanent full time vet - someone who fits in with our team & core values and is able to deliver the level of cae that sets us apart from other practices.

A reminder to ensure that your bunny's vaccination is upto date as the Government has released a new strain of Calicivirus, kown as K5. Fortunately our current vaccine for rabbits is protective against this virus. Our recommendation for vaccination of rabbits is every 6 months. There is a naturally occuring virus, also causing bloody diarrhoea and sudden death, that even though it is not a calicivirus, our current vaccine, when given every 6 months is protective. Dont delay in getting your bunny's vaccination up to day, as word from the Australian Vet Association is that the vaccine supply from the manufacturers is limited.

We trust you will enjoy this newsletter.




Lucy with Alfie & Bertie

Contents of this newsletter

01  A Spider that we love

02  When good behaviour goes bad

03  Anxiety - the leading behaviour problem in dogs

04  Urine spraying in cats

05  Feisty cat does all he can to avoid trip to the vet

06  Common behavioural questions

01 A Spider that we love

Meet Spider a male kitty that presented to Dr Murray late one Tuesday evening not feeling the best. Nothing specific- just not doing much. He was lethargic and not eating. He had vomited a few days prior - and some blood was noted in the vomit.

Spider was not well at all - he arrived with very pale gums - not a good sign at all. After some investigation by Murray -  a blood test confirmed that he was extremely anaemic - low in red blood cells. This explained his lethargy, but then he had to work out why. Though Spider was getting on - he had just turned 10 years of age his had been really well. He had been in to see Dr Anna when he turned 10  and, as part of our Healthy Pet focus, had his 10 yr blood test and got an all clear.

After a series of xrays and emergency ultrasound at 9 o'clock at night - rat poison was suspected - he had a belly full of blood. He was started on intravenous fluids to improve his circulation and the Vit K antidote was given. A test was performed in the morning that confirmed he had a clotting problem as his blood that should clot in under 15 seconds took over 3minutes. No wonder Spider was in trouble!

Poisonings are extremely uncommon in cats due to their fastidious nature - so we were suprised to discover that Spider had somehow ingested a signifant amount of rat poison - we do not know if he ate the poison directly or ate a rat or mouse that had eaten the poison.

The great news is that Spider is back home with his owners and doing well. He is still on medication - he needs it for a number of weeks.

02 When good behaviour goes bad

Has your pet always been well behaved but all of a sudden things have changed?

Has toilet training gone out the window?

Is your dog suddenly digging up the garden or barking non stop?

Is your cat clawing at your favourite piece of furniture?

Behavioural problems in our pets are very common and they can begin at any point during your pet's life. 

This is where a medical examination with us is absolutely essential. For example, if your pet is suddenly urinating in the house, we need to rule out medical problems such as a urinary tract infection or urinary incontinence.

Perhaps your dog has started growling at you when he is picked up - have you thought that your dog might be in pain due to the onset of arthritis?

If your pet's behaviour has gone to the dogs you should arrange an appointment with us as soon as possible so we can get to the bottom of the problem. If we are able to rule out any medical problems we have plenty of tools up our sleeve to help treat and manage behavioural issues.  

If you want to improve your pet's behaviour, start by giving us a call. 

03 Anxiety - the leading behaviour problem in dogs

Anxiety disorders are probably the most common type of behaviour problem we see in dogs.

For most dogs, stress plays a key role in the development of an anxiety problem but there may also be a breed predisposition in some cases. 

It is important to understand that anxiety in dogs is a medical condition and requires veterinary attention and careful management.

Some signs of canine anxiety to watch out for include:

  • Destructive behaviour such as digging, chewing furniture, scratching at door frames
  • Pacing or trying to escape
  • Aggression - to other dogs or people
  • Yawning
  • Avoiding eye contact or looking away
  • Standing with tail tucked under

For us to accurately diagnose an anxiety problem we'll be relying on you to give us essential information about your dog's behavioural and medical history. We will ask you lots of questions and in many cases send you an email questionnaire to ask more! We will then perform a thorough physical exam and generally blood and urine tests, especially if your dog's treatment plan includes medication.

Punishment should never be used when training an anxious dog as this will only further increase anxiety and this can impair the retraining process. 

If you are worried about your dog's behaviour please call us.

04 Urine spraying in cats

If you've ever seen a cat spraying you may have been intrigued. It's a strange looking activity where the cat stands with a vertical tail (sometimes quivering at the tip) and delivers a squirt of urine against a vertical surface. 

Urine spraying is considered a normal part of a cat's scent-marking. It is thought that the spray contains information about sex, age, hormonal state and general health and it may also deter other cats from coming into a cat's territory. Both male and female cats will spray - cats that are not desexed may spray more often.

Cats will also spray when they are frustrated, upset or feel threatened by another cat. It's fascinating feline psychology and by marking with a squirt of urine and leaving a familiar smell, a cat feels a greater sense of security in his or her territory. 

Most cats won't spray indoors as they feel sufficiently comfortable in their own territory. Sometimes this can, however go out the window and simple changes may rock the boat.

Why might a cat start spraying indoors? Triggers include: 

  • The arrival (or departure) of a new cat, dog or person in the family (or next door!)  
  • Changes in the home area such as a new piece of furniture or new carpets
  • Disruptions such as building construction next door
  • An addition of a cat flap which can suddenly make the cat feel insecure indoors

Medical problems such as urinary tract infections or inflammation can also cause a cat to suddenly start spraying urine indoors. This highlights the importance of getting your cat checked with us as the treatment for a urinary tract infection will be very different to the management of behavioural spraying.

If you are concerned about your cat or have any questions relating to your cat's toileting habits please ask us for advice.

05 Feisty cat does all he can to avoid trip to the vet

Wrangling your cat and getting them into a carrier can be a very stressful event - as demonstrated in this hilarious video. This can put you off bringing your cat to us and it means they might miss out on essential health check ups, vaccinations and preventative care.

If you think about it, in your cat's mind, nothing good comes after being shoved into a carrier. While our canine friends get to leave the house for pleasurable walks and trips to the beach, most cats are invariably taken somewhere a lot less exciting!

Remember that all pets should be secured in the car, not just for their safety but also yours.

Here are our top tips for reducing cat carrier stress:

  • First up: ask us about the pheromone spray we have available to help your cat feel more secure and safe while in the carrier.
  • Bring a towel that smells like home to cover the carrier when you arrive here.
  • Try not put the carrier down near a strange dog - that instantly creates stress.
  • At home, store the carrier in a part of your house that smells familiar. Give your cat the chance to rub her scent on the carrier.
  • Try to associate the carrier with good things! Place food in the carrier or special treats (ask us for the best recommendation).

We will happily recommend the best carrier for your cat that is both safe and secure - call us today.

P.S. Don't forget to check out the video!

06 Common behavioural questions

Here are a few of the behavioural issues we talk about with our clients on a daily basis.

Dog Behaviour

Barking: It's important to understand that barking is a normal way that dogs communicate with others. Dogs might bark to get attention, during play, hunting, territorial defence, and in fearful and anxious situations. We can help you identify the reason your dog is barking and provide advice about how to control it.

Aggression: Many clients ask how to control aggressive behaviour in their dog. Remember that aggression is a normal behaviour expressed by dogs in a variety of situations. Fear is in most cases the underlying reason of why dogs show aggression. All questions about aggressive behaviour need to be dealt with professionally by us so that a full work-up can be performed and treatment plan formulated.

Destructive behaviour: Dogs do not destroy things vindictively and there are many other reasons your dog may be destructive including boredom, inadequate exercise, investigation, anxiety, fear or phobias. We'll try to determine the cause of your dog's destructive behaviour and what to do about it. 

Cat Behaviour

Scratching: Scratching is normal cat behaviour that is used to communicate or mark territory. It's something they must do and it can be easier to direct their scratching towards an acceptable surface, especially in the early stages, rather than trying to stop the damage later. Ask us for tips.

Yowling: Owners can find that this is a common problem, particularly early in the morning. This might occur because your cat is hungry, in pain, seeking attention, demanding food or defending his territory.

Spraying: This problem is frequently reported to us by cat owners. You can read more about this issue in the article below.

If you are concerned about  your pet's behaviour, give us a call today to make an appointment.