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Animal Medical Centre
266 Charles Street
Launceston, TAS, 7250
Phone: 03 6705 7009

The staff of the Animal Medical Centre would like to wish all our clients and their pets a very merry Christmas and a great New Year.  This month's newsletter has some great articles about the dangers to look out for at this time of the year- both inside and outside the home.  Remember the clinic is open every day of the year (including Christmas Day) and our vets are on call every night for emergencies.  

Contents of this newsletter

01  Leo and the Christmas ham

02  When to take your pet to the vet ASAP

03  Traveling with your pet

04  Top tips for preventing an itchy pet

05  Why does my pet lick his feet?

01 Leo and the Christmas ham
iStock 623523726

Leo the ten year old schnauzer usually loves Christmas. And it isn't because of all the new toys he finds in his stocking, it's because he usually gets some leftover ham! That was until last Christmas.

On Boxing Day last year, Leo developed a painful and potentially life threatening condition known as pancreatitis. Leo's pancreatitis came on very quickly. He was vomiting, hunched over in pain and was becoming dehydrated. He was admitted to hospital and treatment was started immediately. Blood tests would confirm that he was suffering from pancreatitis but early treatment was vital. This involved restricting food, pain relief, antibiotics and rehydration via an IV drip.

When a meal is eaten, the pancreas secretes enzymes required for digestion. In some cases, an overly fatty meal (such as leftover ham) can trigger a “leakage” of these enzymes and the pancreas starts to digest itself. This can happen either all of a sudden (acute), or over time (chronic). In both cases, a pet can end up very unwell and in some cases, the condition can be life threatening.

After a few days in hospital, Leo was discharged with strict feeding advice and a low fat diet. The likelihood of pancreatitis striking again is high so there will be no more leftover ham for Leo this Christmas. He will be getting a low fat treat and lots of toys instead!

It is not uncommon for us to see pets with pancreatitis and other gastric upsets over the festive season so please take extra care around meal times and don't let your pet overindulge!  

If you are worried about your pet you should always phone us for advice on 6331 9405

Oh and if you need a laugh you should check out these hilarious Christmas pet illustrations via We think all people with pets will be able to relate to at least one!

02 When to take your pet to the vet ASAP

The Christmas period can be a busy time for everyone. It can be easy to get swept up in the festivities and not realise your pet is unwell.

Here are ten situations when you should seek veterinary attention immediately:

  1. Trouble breathing - respiratory problems can be life threatening 
  2. Weakness and collapse - can indicate internal bleeding, heart problems, poisoning
  3. Seizures - can be caused by toxins and other conditions
  4. Panting, restless, unable to get comfortable - can indicate bloat, heat stress
  5. Profuse haemorrhage - bleeding externally is obviously an emergency but if your pet has suffered trauma such as being hit by a car, or falling from a height you should see a vet ASAP
  6. Struggling to urinate - this can be life threatening, particularly in male cats
  7. Not eating or drinking - some pets may skip a meal here or there, others may always clean up their food bowl so if they stop eating it's an indication something's not right
  8. Vomiting and diarrhoea - a one off vomit and episode of diarrhoea may not be an emergency but if it persists over the course of the day, dehydration can quickly set in so you should get your pet checked out asap
  9. Pain - if you think your pet might be in pain, you need to seek veterinary attention. Your pet might not always show a limp or vocalise when they are in pain and may simply be inactive or quieter than usual
  10. Known exposure to toxins (including snakes!) - don't wait until it's too late. See a vet ASAP if your pet has ingested something he shouldn't (think chocolate, snail bait, rat bait, grapes, raisins, human medication just to name a few)

There are many more reasons you might need to seek urgent veterinary attention. If you think something's not right with your pet you should always phone us on 6331 9405 for advice. 

03 Traveling with your pet

Are you travelling with your pet these summer holidays? It can be lots of fun and your pet will love being included in the adventure but you should consider the following before hitting the road:

  1. How healthy is your pet? You don't want to take your pet on a road trip if they are unwell. Arrange a check up with us if you are worried.

  2. Check vaccinations and parasite prevention are up to date before you leave. Are you visiting a paralysis tick area? (these ticks can be fatal). If you are travelling to the mainland speak to us about Heartworm prevention.  This disease is not present in Tasmania but is in the rest of Australia and is a fatal disease.

  3. Going to the mainland?  Make sure you get an intestinal wormer to give to your pet before travelling back to Tasmania.  Tasmanian Biosecurity requires all dogs to be wormed within 24 hours of boarding the boat or plane back to Tasmania.  Contact us for details.

  4. Pets can easily become lost in an unfamiliar area. Is your pet microchipped and are the details (appropriate phone numbers) attached to the chip up to date? It's a good idea to put a collar on your pet with your details on a tag - this allows you to be reunited ASAP if your pet becomes lost.

  5. Don't forget to make sure your pet is securely harnessed or secured in a travel crate for the trip. The laws for restraining your pet differ from state to state so check the laws before you leave. Unrestrained pets are dangerous and can cause, or be severely injured in an accident.

  6. Things to pack: food, fresh water, travel water bowl, dog lead, dog poo bags, bedding. A basic first aid kit is also a good idea - ask us for more information.

  7. If your pet gets nauseous in the car, you should ask us about the medication we have available to help reduce motion sickness. We also have a pheromone spray available for both cats and dogs that can help reduce anxiety on car trips. Ask us for all the details.

Happy travels!

04 Top tips for preventing an itchy pet

Itchiness can be excruciatingly annoying for your pet. Itching quickly leads to trauma of the skin and can lead to secondary skin infections that require antibiotic treatment.

Your dog may bite, lick or scratch at themselves with their legs. Cats on the other hand are more likely to lick at particular areas and hair loss is often the first sign of an itchy feline. 

Here are our top tips for preventing an itch:

1. Be vigilant with flea treatment all year round. Fleas are THE major cause of an itchy pet and regular use of a flea treatment is the cheaper and easier option! Ask us for the best flea treatment available as there are some new and very effective products now available.

2. Biting flies can be a real problem at this time of the year but we can help prevent them - ask us how

3. Keep your pet's skin and coat in top shape to provide a good barrier from allergens - ask us for a premium diet balanced in essential fatty acids

4. Only ever wash your dog in pet shampoo and conditioner - some products can help improve the barrier of the skin, protecting from allergens - ask us for a good recommendation

5. Some pets may find relief with an antihistamine or a medication that can help to reduce the immune system's response to the allergen - we can provide you with more information about what might be suitable for your pet

If your pet is itchy you should arrange a check up with us. 

05 Why does my pet lick his feet?

Licking and chewing of the paws is a common problem for our pets but it definitely shouldn't be considered normal! Cats tend to pull at their toes nails and dogs like to lick in between their toes. 

There can be many causes:

Allergies: This is a common cause of foot chewing. Ingestion of a food, contact with grasses or plants and inhalation of pollens are common causes of itchy skin (especially at this time of the year)

Parasites: mites can burrow into the skin and cause irritation and flea bites can cause generalised itching

Pain: licking to relieve pain caused by arthritis or the presence of a foreign body such as a grass seed

Boredom: just as people with anxiety might bite their nails, our pets can develop a physical response to psychological stress - some pets will develop an obsessive-compulsive disorder

Hormonal imbalances: thyroid disease and adrenal disease can lead to superficial skin infections and itchy skin

If your pet has itchy feet (or is itchy anywhere else) a consultation with us is essential to help improve their comfort levels - we have many things up our sleeve to help them feel better.