It has never been easier to incorporate furry friends into Christmas plans with so many great dog-friendly campsites and pet-friendly accommodation around Australia.  If you are holidaying with your pet’s, remember to pack their bags too - bedding, food, medication & bowls.  So that pets can be identified easily should they become lost while holidaying, ensure registered microchips are up to date with your personal details.  Most importantly, never leave your pet alone in a locked car, as they can die very quickly from heatstroke, even in milder weather. 

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Too many treats, especially at this time of year, can add lots of unnecessary calories to our pet’s diets.  It is these treats, not over-feeding, that is the largest contributor to the bulging bellies we are seeing more often in practice.

Dog or cat treats should be less than 10% of the daily calories our pets consume, however this is a hard concept for pet owners to understand.

To many pet owners, “Food is Love” and they do not consider or understand how many calories can be packed into a treat. 

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 A dog with itchy skin is a common problem faced by pets and their owners.

Just as in humans, itchy skin can have many causes, such as nutritional deficiencies, allergies or parasites. 

The most common allergens are environmental such as pollens, dust mites, flea saliva, weeds & grasses.  In addition to this, dogs can have food allergies, just as we would. 

Nutritional deficiencies can cause itchy, poor quality skin.  Diets lacking enough essential fatty acids will be evident with dry, flaking skin and a dull coat.  The correct balance of omega-3 & 6 fatty acids help maintain healthy skin and promote a strong immune system.

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Until we experience an issue with our pet’s teeth, owners would not be aware that 80% of dogs and 70% of cat’s overs 3 years of age have some form of dental or oral disease. 

There are many ways to help prevent dental disease:

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With the festive season almost upon us there tends to be a lot more table leftovers and scraps.  As family, we like to share this Christmas cheer with our four-legged family-members so they are not missing out.  We just need to be aware of what foods animals are unable to tolerate.

Dogs and cats differ in their ability to metabolise certain drugs and compounds compared to people, which is why animals should never be medicated with human drugs or fed certain food that people eat. 

Some foods, such as chocolates, grapes and onions are absolute poison for your pet.

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Heatstroke (hyperthermia) is the elevation of the body’s temperature and is a life threatening condition requiring immediate treatment. Dogs left in hot cars, pets exposed to extreme heat when left outdoors, lack of adequate shade or being exercised in hot weather can all lead to heatstroke.  Heatstroke is most common in dogs, especially “brachycephalic” breeds (those with short muzzles eg British Bulldogs, Pugs etc).

Other predisposing factors can be diseases of the pet’s airways or obesity. The veterinarian will look into the underlying cause once your pet is stabilised.

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Guinea pigs come in all shapes and styles from short to long coated, with spots, stripes and solid colors. Their life span is approximately 6 years. They make a great pet for children if handled frequently and gently. They do not require vaccinations or routine worming and have minimal health problems if fed and cared for correctly. 

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Rabbits are a very popular pet and are easy to look after. There are many different breeds of rabbits available. Small breeds such as the Dwarf or Dutch may look the right size for children to handle but are often rather feisty. Larger breeds including the New Zealand White and Flemish are naturally more docile; however, all can be tamed with regular gentle handling.

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With curiosity and natural hunting instincts it is not uncommon for our pets to cross paths with a snake. Here in the northern suburbs we have the Plenty and Yarra Rivers and access to many dams and parks with water. This may be where snakes have hibernated during colder weather and will now become active in Summer months.

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Just like in humans, Diabetes Mellitus is relatively common in dogs.  The disease in dogs is most like Type 1 Diabetes seen in children, where there is a lack of insulin produced in the body.

In the absence of insulin, the body’s fat and protein are broken down instead, resulting in muscle wasting and weight loss, despite the animal being ravenously hungry.

Implicating factors in Diabetes include chronic pancreatitis.  This is a condition that results in the progressive destruction of the pancreas, usually associated with a high-fat diet and obesity. 

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