News, Article & Releases2021-03-17T00:06:51+11:00

Toxic Plants

Spring is the perfect time show off our green-thumbs, by filling our homes and gardens with luscious flowers and plants! As beautiful as they can look, some of these can pose a threat to our furry friends.
Cats, dogs, birds and pocket-pets alike can become curious and easily tempted for a nibble of your new plant. Some pets can become itchy or even unwell, just by sniffing or brushing against these troublesome plants.

Here are some of the more common, more toxic plants and flowers that could cause problems for your pet:

  • Azaleas
  • Cannibis
  • Chives
  • Cycad, Sago Palm and Zamia Palm
  • Daffodils & jonquils
  • Devil’s ivy (pothos)
  • Diffenbachia (dumb cane)
  • Holly
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangeas
  • Lantana
  • Lillies (including Asiatic, day, Easter, Japanese show, stargazer, tiger, red, western and wood lillies)
  • Mistletoe
  • Moses-in-the-Cradle
  • Oleander
  • Philodendrons (including swiss cheese plant, heart leaf and fiddle leaf philodendrons)
  • Rhododendrons
  • Tulips
  • Wandering Jew
  • Yesterday, today, tomorrow

Of course, there are many other types of plants that can upset your pet.
Some of the more common symptoms these plants can cause if ingested include:

  • Lethargy
  • Itchy or red skin
  • Itchy and irritated eyes
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Excessive and unusual drooling
  • Excessive or unusual thirst
  • Disorientation or a lack of coordination
  • Pain around the abdomen area
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty or rapid breathing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness

These symptoms can vary greatly depending on which plant your pet may have come into contact with, so you may only notice one or two – it is important to be diligent and act fast.
If you are concerned your pet may have ingested a toxic plant, be sure to give us a call right away so we can commence diagnosis and treatment. If you can, take a photo of the plant, or take a snippet so we can try to identify what it is causing the issue.

If you have any questions or are worried about your pets interacting with any of the plants in your home or garden, give our friendly team a call on (02) 9351 3437 or email us at univet@sydney.edu.au.

Parasites

As the weather warms up, we start to see more parasite problems for all sorts of pets.
Here are some of the more common parasites we come across, as well as some information on the problems they cause and how to get rid of them.  Fleas and ticks are of particular concern for Sydney dogs

Fleas

Fleas can be difficult to spot and not all pets carrying fleas will be itchy! Look out for these clues:

  • Your pet might constantly be scratching or chewing and become quite irritable.
  • You might notice red, sore-looking bumps or blisters on your pet’s skin.
  • If you look close enough, you might see ‘flea dirt’ – this is a flea waste product that looks like tiny little flecks of pepper.
  • Sometimes, you can even see the fleas moving around themselves – tiny little brown or black wingless insects, with an incredible jump!

Flea bites are not only uncomfortable and frustrating for your pets, but they can also lead to serious wound infections, anaemia, tapeworms, and dermatitis.
Moving swiftly is the key to flea treatment! You will need to treat:

  • Every pet in your household
  • Pet bedding
  • Carpet
  • Furniture
  • Any other soft furnishings a flea or its eggs might be hiding

In clinic, we offer a wide range of products and tools to treat your pet for fleas, and we can offer some very helpful tips for dealing with an outbreak. Give us a call if you have any questions, or book online to organise an appointment.

Ticks

Ticks can be found in every state of Australia. There are many different species of ticks, and some pose a significant threat to the wellbeing of our pets. The most common species that affect our pets are the paralysis tick and the brown dog tick.

  • Paralysis ticks are particularly dangerous, as they deliver a neurotoxin into our pet’s bloodstream as they feed, leading to severe paralysis of the muscles – including the heart, proving fatal. They are particularly common on the eastern sea board, including Sydney, up to 20 km inland from the coast
  • Brown dog ticks are not deadly themselves but can cause dermatitis and anaemia, as well as carry some nasty diseases, including Ehrlichiosis, which has only recently been discovered in more northern parts of Australia, and is spreading to some southern parts.

The best practice is to regularly check your dog for ticks after being outside – run your fingers through their coats to feel for any unusual lumps on their skin. Be sure to check over your pets’ entire body, especially:

  • Around their head and ears
  • Inside their ears
  • In their mouths
  • Under their tail
  • Between their toes
  • Underneath their collar

Ticks are sneaky and can easily latch onto many different areas on your pet.

If you come across a tick, be sure to give us a call to organise its removal as soon as possible – it is vital to act quickly and we will ensure to remove all of the tick – even a small part leftover can continue to cause problems for your furry friend.

Keeping your dog protected year-round from ticks is key – we recommend tick prevention treatments like chewable tablets, spot-on drops or tick collars. Speak to us today for our recommendation and prevent your pet from any unnecessary discomfort and illness.

Mosquitoes

Dogs, cats, rodents. and birds make for easy targets and tasty snacks for mosquitoes. While the mosquito bite itself is more annoying than threatening, mosquitoes can spread heartworm and other potentially fatal parasites to your pets.  Cats can develop mosquito bite related skin allergies.

We recommend making sure there is no stagnant or still water around the backyard – this is where mosquito larvae grow. Cats with mosquito bite allergies should be brought indoors between dusk and dawn, or make sure they have a safe, meshed area to sleep in. Pet safe mosquito and insect repellents are available that may be used. Speak to us if you have any concerns about mosquitos in your area.

Heartworm and Intestinal worms

The prevalence of heartworm disease is thankfully now very low in the Sydney area.  However we do occasionally diagnose a positive case in dogs who have not travelled to a tropical area.  It is transmitted via mosquito bites.  We currently recommend ongoing heartworm protection in Sydney dogs to avoid an increase in prevalence of this nasty parasite.  It can cause severe lung and pulmonary artery disease

Many different intestinal  worms can affect our pets and importantly can also cause disease in humans!. Some more common worms we see are:

  • Roundworm
  • Hookworm
  • Tapeworm
  • Whipworm

Intestinal worms are more pathogenic in younger animals so it is extremely important to maintain vigilience with treatment in puppies and kittens.  However as humans can be affected by dog and cat intestinal parasites, lifelong treatment is recommended.

Prevention is the best cure – by administering regular preventatives which are available in various forms and combinations with other parasite control products. Ask our team for advice on the best preventative for your pet. If your pet is unwell, please book a consultation.

If you have any concerns about parasites and your pet, give us a call on (02) 9351 3437 to organise a consultation or book online to discuss these with your vet.

Grass Seeds

Springtime means grass seed season, and for something so tiny, they can cause a lot of big problems for your pet! The issues they can cause range from minor discomfort right through to potentially life-threatening conditions.

Grass seeds are naturally designed to travel – they are small, lightweight, come in all different shapes, and are spiky or sticky, meaning they can be easily picked up and caught in all kinds of uncomfortable places on animals – it can be tricky to know what to look for.

When checking your pet for grass seeds, make sure to inspect their coat thoroughly – the hair can become matted if the seed has been there for a longer period. Be sure to remove the seed as soon as you see it (pick or cut it out of your pet’s fur), as it can easily become lodged in another area, causing bigger issues.

Be sure to keep an eye out for grass seeds in these other areas:

  • Feet – this is the most common place for grass seeds to cause problems. Once lodged in the skin between the toes, they can track deeply into the foot itself. This can create a ‘draining sinus’ – which is a small hole in the foot, which oozes discharge. Look for persistent licking at the feet/toes, limping, swelling and discharge.
  • Eyes – your pet’s eye can become irritated, red, painful and potentially swollen if there is a seed stuck here. This can lead to ulcers on the eyes, and potentially further problems. Look for discharge or rubbing of the eye area.
  • Nose – grass seeds can easily be sucked into your pet’s nasal passages while they are sniffing around. If the seed makes it all the way to the lungs, it can cause serious infection. Look for persistent sneezing and nose bleeds.
  • Ears –. They can lead to a ruptured eardrum and chronic ear infections. Look for a sudden head tilt, persistent head shaking or ear flicking, and red, inflamed ears which may be smelly and have discharge.
  • Mouth & throat – a lodged seed could easily be pushed through tissue and move to internal organs, causing a whole new suite of problems. Look for coughing, gagging/retching, pawing at the mouth, excessive salivation/drooling, reluctance to eat or drink, or your pet appearing generally unwell.

Unfortunately, grass seeds are an unavoidable part of having fun outside in the warmer months. Try to keep your pet away from longer grass (especially if you can see the seeds!) and make brushing a regular occurrence after a walk or time outside. Always check thoroughly between every toe after a walk in grass seed prone areas.  They are definitely more prevalent in rural settings.

Keeping long hair on feet and paws trimmed short will help with preventing grass seeds being caught, and makes finding and removing them much easier.

If you cannot remove a grass seed from your pet’s coat (with your fingers, tweezers or scissors), give us a call to organise removal. If you find a seed lodged in their skin, mouth, eyes, ears, or another body part – please do not try to remove it yourself! You can inadvertently push the seed further into the tissue, making removal far more complicated as they can be very difficult to locate once they start to move through the body

If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call on (02) 9351 3437 today, or book an appointment online.

Senior Pets

Aging is an unavoidable part of life, and when it comes to our pets, some will age without any major issues, and some will need a little extra TLC. It is important to know what age-related changes look like and how to manage them appropriately, so we can ensure our pets are comfortable.

When does my pet become a senior?
This can vary between individuals and can be greatly influenced by breed, size, pre-existing health conditions and living situations, but typically:

  • Small dogs – six to seven years old
  • Large dogs – five to six years old
  • Cats – eight to ten years old

You might notice some physical and behavioural changes, such as:

  • Greying or whitening fur around the nose and mouth or throughout the coat
  • A general ‘slowing down’ or a slightly less bouncy personality
  • Longer and more frequent naps throughout the day
  • More frequent urination, and perhaps the odd ‘accident’
  • Increased vocalisation – this can be caused by increased anxiety, confusion or frustration

Common Senior Pet Ailments
Some of the age-related changes our pets may experience may be uncomfortable and impact their daily lives a little more than a greying moustache. If you notice any of the below it is important to have your vet check them out to determine a plan to help your pet

  • Arthritis (inflammation of the joints, making it uncomfortable to stand up and move around).
  • Loss of eyesight –caused by a clouding of the eyes, cataracts or other eye diseases.
  • Loss of hearing.
  • Incontinence – this is common in older pets but there are plenty of treatment plans your vet can recommend. Incontinence can also indicate urinary tract infections, kidney disease or hormonal changes.
  • Weight changes – due to reduced physical activity and/or changes in hormones as they age, older pets can gain weight. You may also find that they lose weight due to a changed appetite, reduced nutrient absorption, reduced muscle mass or even a digestive illness. Weight gain or loss as a pet ages isn’t normal and should be investigated by your vet.
  • Lumps and bumps are definitely more common as our pets age! It is always recommended to get them checked by a vet to rule out possible nasties.
  • Smelly breath – just like us, our pet’s immune systems weaken with age, so their bodies can’t fight off germs as easily as they once did. We can see this as gum disease, tooth decay, or other infections in the mouth, leading to smelly breath. Smelly breath can mean a painful mouth for your pet (not to mention offensive to us!) so check in with our team if you notice this.

How can I make my senior pet more comfortable?
There are plenty of ways to manage your pet’s aging, and these tips are very easy to implement:

  • Talk to your vet about your pet’s diet – they may need more nutritious food for nurturing specific conditions and even the inclusion of dietary supplements.
  • Let your senior pet sleep inside in winter – keeping them comfy and warm will keep them feeling safe and secure, as well as help to alleviate any arthritis symptoms.
  • Provide them with soft and easily accessible (not too high or low) bedding.
  • Add extra water bowls around the house (and closer to their bed area) so they do not need to move around unnecessarily.
  • Raise food and water bowls to prevent your pet needing to hunch to access the contents.
  • Offer extra litter trays or make sure their toileting area is easily accessible.
  • Keep your senior pet active with simple, low impact activities and exercises.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature. As pets age they may struggle with regulating their body temperature – in winter keep your pet indoors where possible, move their bedding inside and investigate pet jackets or jumpers for some breeds.

If you have a senior pet, we invite you to come into the clinic for a health check to make sure your best friend is in tip-top shape, especially ahead of the winter months where the cooler temperatures can slow everyone down. Call us on (02) 9351 3437 or email univet@sydney.edu.au to book your consultation today.

Dental disease and prevention

Dental disease is one of the most common but preventable diseases in pets. It is not only painful and uncomfortable, but the procedure to clean and remove teeth becomes more complicated and often more costly the longer it is left untreated.

What is dental disease?

Dental disease is caused by a bacterial infection that builds up in a substance called plaque. Plaque is made up of food particles and saliva. It sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed, will calcify into tartar (or calculus). Over time the bacterial infection in tartar causes irreversible changes to occur. These include the destruction of supportive tissues and bone, resulting in red gums bad breath and loosening of teeth.

How do I prevent dental disease?

Good oral hygiene is the most effective way of preventing dental disease. This can involve dental chews, teeth brushing or a special dental diet. During your dental or regular health check-up, our team will be able to offer recommendations on how to keep your pet’s pearly whites shining.

How do I know my pet has dental disease?

  • Common signs of dental disease include:
  • Bad breath
  • Painful mouth
  • Reduced appetite
  • Bleeding or receding gums
  • Discoloured teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Difficulty chewing

It is important to keep an eye on your pet’s teeth, and gums, as dental disease can progress rapidly if left untreated.

What happens if my pet has dental disease?

If your pet develops dental disease, our team will be able to discuss the most appropriate treatment options with you. This may involve teeth cleaning or removal.

If your pet is showing any signs of dental disease or has never had a dental check-up before, book an appointment with one of our vets.

Novel Efficacy Trial in Canine Lymphoma with Autologous Cancer Vaccines

Lymphoma is a very common and often an aggressive cancer in dogs. Immunotherapy is a new form of cancer treatment, aiming to target the cancer with the body’s own immune system. We have developed a treatment vaccine for lymphoma using an animal’s own cancer protein. Results of our safety clinical trial showed that the vaccines are safe, and anti-cancer effects are seen in some dogs with lymphoma.

Who is eligible?
• Dogs diagnosed with multi-centric lymphoma without severe clinical signs*
• Receive/Receiving chemotherapy or prednisolone alone

What costs will the study cover?
• Production and administration of vaccines
• Portion of diagnostic and monitoring tests

For more information, please visit
• Dr. Katrina Cheng
(katrina.cheng@sydney.edu.au)
• Associate Professor Peter Bennett
(Peter. bennett@sydney.edu.au)
• Dr. Chris Weir
(chris.weir@sydney.edu.au)

*A standard consultation with the oncology team at UVTHS is required to confirm eligibility

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