Caring For Your Pets During Winter

Posted on 15 June 2024
Caring For Your Pets During Winter

As the colder months settle in, many of us find comfort in snuggling up with warm blankets and cosy slippers. However, it's essential to remember that our furry friends also feel the effects of winter. Just like we take extra steps to stay comfortable, it's important to extend that same care to our pets. Here are some friendly tips to help you keep your pet happy and healthy during the winter season.

Providing Extra Care for Senior Pets

If you've noticed your senior pet struggling a bit more with daily activities or moving slower during walks, it's likely they're feeling the effects of colder temperatures. Just like us, older pets can experience discomfort from the drop in temperature, which can exacerbate stiffness and arthritis. It's essential to adapt their exercise routine accordingly to ensure their well-being during the winter months. Consider shorter walks, no more than 20 minutes a day, and focus on gentle exercises that promote circulation and cardiovascular health. Additionally, keeping an eye on your pet's weight is crucial, as extra pounds can intensify joint pain, especially in colder weather. By providing a little extra care and attention, you can help your senior pet stay comfortable and active throughout the winter.

Ensuring Warmth for Every Family Member

Just as we seek refuge indoors to escape the cold, it's important to prioritise the comfort and safety of our pets during the winter months. Exposure to harsh weather conditions can pose significant health risks to our furry companions, so providing them with adequate shelter is paramount. Consider these tips to create a cosy haven for your pet during winter:

  • Provide a warm, draft-free resting area elevated off cold surfaces.
  • Limit outdoor exposure for your pet, as they can be susceptible to hypothermia.
  • If outdoor time is necessary, ensure they have access to a sheltered kennel protected from wind and rain.
  • Supply plenty of warm bedding or blankets for added comfort.
  • For older pets or those with shorter fur, consider fitting them with a snug pet coat to help retain heat.
  • Keep cats indoors unless they have access to a secure outdoor enclosure.
  • Offer your dog a designated indoor sleeping area, such as a comfy bed in the laundry or a suitable crate.
  • When washing and grooming your pet, use warm water and consider using a dryer to prevent them from getting chilled with wet fur.
  • By taking these simple yet crucial steps, you can ensure that every member of your family, including your beloved pets, stays warm and safe throughout the winter season.

Prioritise Exercise Even in Cold Weather 

While the chilly temperatures may dampen our motivation to venture outdoors, maintaining regular exercise for your pet remains essential for their overall health and well-being throughout the year. Skipping exercise routines can predispose your dog to various health issues like diabetes and weight gain, or may lead to behavioural problems stemming from boredom. If the cold weather disrupts your daily walks, consider adjusting your schedule to incorporate exercise during the warmer parts of the day. If braving the cold isn't feasible, explore alternative indoor activities such as trick training or puzzle games to keep your pet mentally stimulated and content. Additionally, winter presents an opportune time to focus on teaching manners and obedience skills. Remember to use plenty of tasty treats during training sessions, and afterward, reward yourselves with a cosy cuddle session on the couch. By prioritising exercise and mental stimulation, you can ensure that your pet remains happy, healthy, and engaged, regardless of the weather outside.


Unravelling the Mystery: Understanding Canine Compulsive Disorder

Posted on 16 May 2024
Unravelling the Mystery: Understanding Canine Compulsive Disorder

What is Canine Compulsive Disorder?

Canine compulsive disorder, akin to human obsessive-compulsive disorder, leads dogs to engage in repetitive behaviours that can be detrimental to their wellbeing. While it's challenging to ascertain if dogs experience obsessive thoughts, their actions clearly indicate compulsive tendencies. These behaviours, while common in mentally healthy dogs to some extent, escalate to a disruptive level in dogs with canine compulsive disorder, impacting both their own quality of life and that of their families.

Symptoms of Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD) in dogs often involve behaviours that, in moderation, might seem commonplace. However, dogs with CCD take these actions to extremes, resulting in potential harm to themselves. Common compulsive behaviours seen in dogs with CCD include:

  • Signs of self mutilation - missing hair, raw skin, focus is commonly on the tail, forelimbs, and distal extremities
  • The dog’s behaviour intensifies over time and cannot be interrupted even with physical restraint, increases in frequency or duration, and interferes with normal functioning
  • Frequent tail chasing, especially if the tail tip is missing (however, not all dogs that tail chase will mutilate their tails)
  • May be seen in young dogs, but onset is more common during social maturity; playfulness decreases with age, OCD increases.
  • A solitary focus may have seemed to spur the behaviour (for example, chasing a mouse that the patient could not catch) - but usually no direct cause is evident
  • May see self-induced injuries and lack of condition that may be associated with increased motor activity and repetitive behaviours
  • Behaviour worsens with time

What Causes Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD)?

Pain: Chronic pain stemming from past injuries or medical conditions can drive dogs to exhibit obsessive behaviours. Dogs may compulsively gnaw at affected areas or display anxious rituals before activities that induce discomfort. Even after resolving the underlying issue, compulsive behaviours may persist, emphasising the importance of identifying triggers early for effective intervention.

Social and Environmental Stressors: Conflicts in the home or disruptions to a dog's routine can contribute to canine OCD. Dogs thrive on consistency and may develop anxious behaviours in response to changes in their environment. Minor disruptions like daily departures for work can trigger separation anxiety, leading to coping mechanisms. Traumatic events, such as car accidents, may result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and subsequent compulsive behaviours.

Ensuring proper stimulation through a balanced routine of exercise, socialisation, and alone time is crucial. Over or under-stimulation can provoke compulsive behaviours and anxiety. For instance, herding breeds may exhibit tail spinning due to insufficient outlets for their energy.

The Genetic Component: While ongoing research explores the genetic basis of canine OCD, experts note consistency in symptoms within breeds. Certain breeds exhibit specific compulsive behaviours, indicating a genetic predisposition. For example, Doberman pinschers commonly suffer from acral lick dermatitis and flank sucking, while Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known for fly snapping and shadow chasing. Some breeds may also have a predisposition for behavioural issues like separation anxiety, further triggering OCD in dogs.

Diagnosing Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD) in dogs begins with a thorough examination at the veterinary clinic, primarily aimed at ruling out other potential medical causes. Symptoms associated with CCD can overlap with various other health issues. For instance, excessive licking and chewing of the skin, particularly on the feet and joints, may indicate allergies, infections, or joint inflammation. Similarly, behaviours like compulsive circling, fly chasing, and inappropriate eating can sometimes signal neurological disorders such as Cushing’s disease, canine cognitive disorder, or even brain tumours.

Furthermore, circling and pacing behaviours might stem from liver disorders, especially if accompanied by the dog pressing their head against hard surfaces. It's important to note that head pressing is not a typical symptom of CCD and typically denotes severe distress in your pet.To arrive at a definitive diagnosis, a comprehensive approach is adopted, including a physical examination, blood tests, and imaging assessments. These diagnostic tools help differentiate between CCD and other underlying medical conditions, ensuring accurate treatment and management strategies for your pet's wellbeing.

Treating Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD) in dogs typically involves a multifaceted approach aimed at managing the behaviours and addressing underlying stress triggers. Unlike typical behaviour problems, scolding or punishing the dog for their compulsive behaviours is counterproductive, as these behaviours are often rooted in stress and anxiety.

To effectively manage CCD, focus on using destressing and distracting techniques. Ensure your dog receives adequate exercise tailored to their breed and health condition to reduce nervous tension that may trigger obsessive behaviour. Mental stimulation is also key to reinforcing positive behaviours. Engage your dog with puzzle toys, food-based toys, or create stimulating games at home by hiding treats or toys for them to find. Training exercises not only stimulate their minds but also provide them with a sense of purpose, which many dogs crave.

When your dog displays compulsive behaviours, distract them with alternative activities. Avoid using food as a distraction, as this may inadvertently reinforce the behaviour. Instead, utilise puzzle toys or training techniques to redirect their focus away from their compulsion.

In severe cases of CCD, medication may be necessary to alleviate compulsive urges and improve quality of life. Antidepressant medications are sometimes prescribed for CCD management, although they may take several weeks to show effects and require consistent daily administration to remain effective.

It's essential to work closely with our vet team to develop a tailored treatment plan for your dog, combining behavioural interventions with medication if needed. With patience, consistency, and the right approach, many dogs with CCD can lead happy, fulfilling lives.




Is your dog a bit funky? A guide to freshening up their scent!

Posted on 16 April 2024
Is your dog a bit funky? A guide to freshening up their scent!

As pet owners, we all want our furry friends to smell fresh and clean. However, sometimes our beloved dogs can develop unpleasant odours that can be indicative of underlying health issues. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the common causes of smelly ears, teeth, skin, and anal glands in dogs, what you can do at home to address these issues, and when it's time to seek professional veterinary treatment.

Smelly Ears:

One of the most common reasons for smelly ears in dogs is the buildup of wax and debris. This can lead to infections, which often produce a foul odour. Other causes include ear mites, allergies, or foreign objects lodged in the ear canal. At home, you can gently clean your dog's ears with a veterinarian-approved ear cleaner and cotton balls. Be careful not to probe too deeply into the ear canal to avoid causing damage. If the odour persists or if your dog shows signs of 

discomfort, such as scratching or shaking their head, it's essential to seek professional treatment. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat any underlying ear infections or other issues causing the odour.

Smelly Teeth:

Bad breath in dogs, also known as halitosis, is often caused by dental problems such as plaque and tartar buildup, gum disease, or infected teeth. Poor dental hygiene can lead to bacterial growth in the mouth, resulting in a foul odour. To combat smelly teeth at home, establish a regular dental care routine for your dog, including daily tooth brushing with a veterinarian-approved toothpaste and dental chews or toys. However, if your dog's bad breath persists despite proper dental care, it may be a sign of an underlying dental issue that requires professional attention. Your veterinarian can perform a thorough dental examination and recommend appropriate treatment, such as professional dental cleaning under anaesthesia.

Smelly Skin:

A variety of factors can contribute to smelly skin in dogs, including yeast or bacterial infections, allergies, hormonal imbalances, or underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism. Signs of smelly skin may include excessive scratching, redness, inflammation, or a greasy, foul-smelling coat. At home, you can help manage smelly skin by bathing your dog regularly with a gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo and ensuring they are adequately dried afterward. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet rich in essential fatty acids can promote skin health. However, if your dog's skin issues persist or worsen, it's crucial to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Your veterinarian may recommend medicated shampoos, topical treatments, or oral medications to address the underlying cause of the odour and improve your dog's skin health

Smelly Anal Glands:

Anal gland issues are a common cause of smelly odours in dogs. These small sacs located on either side of the anus contain a foul-smelling fluid that is normally expressed during bowel movements. However, if the anal glands become impacted or infected, they can produce a strong, fishy odour. Signs of anal gland problems include scooting or dragging the bottom along the ground, excessive licking or biting at the rear end, or swelling around the anus. While some dogs may naturally express their anal glands during bowel movements, others may require manual expression by a veterinarian or groomer. If your dog's anal glands become impacted or infected, professional treatment may be necessary to relieve discomfort and prevent further complications.

If you have any concerns about your dog's odour or overall health, don't hesitate to consult our friendly vet team for guidance and support.


Nurturing the Golden Years: Walking Your Older Dog with Care

Posted on 15 March 2024
Nurturing the Golden Years: Walking Your Older Dog with Care

As our four-legged friends gracefully step into their golden years, it's important to adapt and make their well-being a top priority. Let's talk about exercise, specifically the joy of a good walk. While regular walks have loads of perks, taking an older dog for a stroll needs a personalised touch, taking into account their health, age, and comfort.

Step one in figuring out if your senior dog should keep strolling is talking to our friendly vet team.

We'll look at your dog's history, check how they're doing overall, and spot any health issues that might affect their comfort during activities. After weighing everything, we can give you advice and tips for exercise routines that match your dog's one-of-a-kind needs.

Let's chat about something crucial—how ageing can affect your dog's joints and muscles. In their golden years, arthritis can make them a bit stiff and uncomfortable. To ease the impact on their joints, go for softer surfaces like grass or well-kept paths during walks. Also, consider joint supplements; they might just give your furry friend a bit more pep in their step.

Even if your older dog is still gung-ho about walks, let's be mindful of their limits. Ageing buddies might not have the same pep, so it's key to adjust. They might need shorter and less intense walks—think quality over quantity. Opt for brief, more frequent strolls to keep them happy without wearing them out.

Keeping an eye on your dog during walks is super important. If you notice any signs like limping, extra panting, or if they seem hesitant to keep going, it's a sign that the exercise plan might need tweaking. Owners who pay attention can catch these cues and make the necessary adjustments, making sure walks stay a delight for both you and your furry friend.

You also need to think about the weather for your senior dog. If it's super hot, go for walks in the cooler times, like mornings or evenings, to keep them from getting too warm. When it's cold, make sure to bundle them up in some cosy gear, especially if they have a thin coat.

When it comes to your senior dog's gear, it's not just about convenience—it really affects their well-being. Regular collars might strain their neck, especially as they get older. A comfy harness spreads the pressure better, eases stress on the neck, and makes walks safer for your seasoned furry friend.

Keep in mind, the happiness of our older pups goes beyond just their physical health. Let them explore and sniff during walks—this isn't just fun, it's like a workout for their brains. Keeping them mentally active isn't just enjoyable; it helps keep their minds sharp as they get older.

Keeping up with regular vet check-ups is key to taking great care of your senior dog. These check-ups aren't just about fixing immediate health issues; they're a chance to chat about how your dog's doing, any behaviour changes, and what tweaks we can make to boost their happiness. As dogs get older, what they eat might need adjusting too. A good vet chat ensures their diet keeps them feeling awesome and full of vitality.

Don't forget about the heartwarming stuff!

Walks aren't just about moving those legs; they're golden chances for you and your senior dog to share some love. Older dogs really soak up the company of their owners, and these moments are like emotional vitamins for them.

Going at your dog's pace and tuning into what they love during walks builds a bond that's positive and heartwarming. To wrap it up, taking your older dog for walks isn't just doable; it's a precious part of looking after them.

With careful thinking, regular vet visits, and tweaks to their exercise plan, your senior sidekick keeps soaking up the perks of walks—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

As our furry friends grow, our job as caregivers shifts, calling for flexibility and a dedication to cherishing them through every chapter of their lives.


Understanding Your Pet's Discomfort: Recognising Signs of Pain

Posted on 16 February 2024
Understanding Your Pet's Discomfort: Recognising Signs of Pain

As pet owners, we always want our furry friends to be happy and healthy. However, it can be challenging to determine if our pets are experiencing any discomfort or pain since they can't communicate with us directly. That's why it can be helpful for pet owners to educate themselves about the signs of pain in animals. By recognising these signs, we can provide our pets with the care they need and deserve. In this blog post, we will discuss the various indicators that your pet may be experiencing pain and discomfort, allowing you to better understand and address their needs. 

1. Behavioural Changes: 

One of the most apparent signs that your pet is in pain is a change in their behaviour. They may become more withdrawn, anxious, or aggressive. You may notice that your typically friendly and sociable pet is avoiding contact with you or other animals. They may also exhibit signs of restlessness or pacing, as well as an increased need for attention. Pay close attention to these changes, as they often indicate discomfort or pain. 

2. Altered Eating and Drinking Habits: 

Changes in your pet's eating and drinking habits can be a red flag for pain. If your pet suddenly loses their appetite or only eats small amounts of food, it could be an indication that they are not feeling well. Similarly, increased thirst may suggest an underlying health issue. Keep an eye on the frequency and amount of food and water your pet consumes, as any significant changes should be discussed with your veterinarian. 

3. Vocalisation: 

Just like humans, animals instinctively vocalise when they're in pain. Pay attention to any excessive whining, whimpering, or groaning that your pet may exhibit, as it could be a sign of discomfort. Cats may also meow more than usual or exhibit excessive grooming behaviour when they are in pain. While some vocalisation is normal, particularly in response to stimuli like play or hunger, persistent and unusual vocalisation should prompt further investigation. 

4. Changes in Grooming Habits: 

Pets are known for their self-grooming habits. However, if you notice a sudden decrease in your pet's grooming routine, it may indicate an underlying issue. Pets in pain often lose interest in grooming themselves, leading to a dull or unkempt appearance. Additionally, they may over-groom or excessively lick certain areas to try to alleviate their discomfort. Be vigilant of any changes in your pet's grooming habits and consult your veterinarian if you notice anything out of the ordinary. 

5. Posture and Movement:

Animals in pain may exhibit changes in their posture and movement. For example, they may have difficulty getting up, jumping, or climbing stairs. You may notice a reluctance to engage in physical activities they previously enjoyed. Additionally, they may hold their body in a hunched or tense position, protecting the affected area. Watch for any signs of limping, stiffness, or reluctance to move, as these could be indicators of pain. 

6. Changes in Sleeping Patterns:

Sleeping patterns can also provide clues about your pet's well-being. While pets do sleep more than humans, excessive sleep or restlessness during sleep can be a sign of discomfort. Changes in sleep patterns, such as difficulty settling down, sudden awakenings, or inability to find a comfortable position, should be taken seriously. Monitor your pet's sleep habits and consult with your veterinarian if you notice any significant changes. 

7. Changes in Facial Expression: 

Pet owners should pay close attention to their pet's facial expressions as they can speak volumes about their level of comfort. A pet in pain may appear tense, with a furrowed brow, squinting eyes, or a clenched jaw. They may also display rapid or shallow breathing. Additionally, dogs may lick their lips frequently or exhibit a furrowed forehead, while cats may have dilated pupils or a flattened appearance to their ears. Understanding your pet's normal facial expressions and monitoring for any changes can help you identify signs of pain. 

Recognising signs of pain in pets is a crucial aspect of responsible pet ownership. While the indicators mentioned above can be indicative of discomfort, it's important to keep in mind that pets may not always overtly express pain. Regular veterinary check-ups, open communication with your veterinarian, and a keen awareness of your pet's usual behaviours are key to identifying and addressing pain promptly.

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Blue Mountains Emergency Hospital

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