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 They may become more withdrawn, anxious, or aggressive.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.


Nurturing Your Cat's Hydration Habits

Posted on 15 January 2024
Nurturing Your Cat's Hydration Habits

Cat owners are well aware of their pet's discerning nature, particularly concerning their food and water preferences. Cats tend to adhere to their routines, making it crucial to pay attention to their water consumption habits. Even small details such as the location of their water bowl or its proximity to their food can impact their hydration levels and overall wellbeing.

While cats may not display a strong thirst drive, ensuring they stay properly hydrated is vital for their health. As desert-adapted creatures, they have evolved to require less water compared to other animals, but maintaining their hydration is still essential for optimal organ function, digestion, circulation, and urinary health.

Here's a surprising fact: Cats are not efficient drinkers, consuming only about 3% of a teaspoon of water per lap. Therefore, it's essential to provide them with accessible and appealing water sources to encourage regular hydration.

What are the signs of dehydration in cats?

  • Dry gums

  • Lethargy or depression

  • Loss of appetite

  • Decrease in skin elasticity

  • Elevated heart rate

To test for dehydration, a quick and easy technique called “skin tenting” can be used. To do this, gently pinch the skin over your cat’s shoulders. If the skin remains gathered when released, or does not return to normal immediately, then this is a sign that your cat could be dehydrated.

Dehydration is serious. If you notice or believe your cat is dehydrated, be sure to make a veterinary consultation as soon as possible.

How much water should a cat drink per day?

How much water a cat should drink per day varies based on its diet, with wet food typically comprising around 70% water. Certain conditions like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism can lead to increased water consumption. Establishing your cat's normal water intake serves as a reference point; monitor this by measuring water in bowls over 24 hours. If your cat drinks more than 50mls/kg of water within 24 hours, it might suggest excessive drinking and signal potential health issues that require attention. Keep an eye on any upward trends in water intake and consider scheduling a blood test with your vet for an early diagnosis and better prognosis.

What are some tactics to get your cat to drink more water?

As cats age, their kidneys require more water, prompting the need for encouragement from pet owners. Cats are highly sensitive to taste and presentation, making water accessibility a crucial consideration. Here are the top five tips to promote hydration in your cat:

  1. Choose the right water bowl: Opt for a wide, shallow bowl to prevent discomfort from whisker contact. Some cats even prefer drinking from a filled glass.

  2. Optimal placement: Ensure the water bowl is in a visible and easily accessible location, providing a sense of security for your cat.

  3. Keep food and water apart: Separate water from food to prevent contamination and cater to finicky felines. Having multiple water sources is recommended.

  4. Fresh water is key: Replace water daily to prevent the accumulation of dust, dirt, and hair, maintaining its appeal for your cat.

  5. Consider a water fountain: Running water can be more enticing to some cats, mimicking the freshness of water found in the wild. This alternative might be preferred over still water.

Sometimes, even if you try all the above tips and your cat still won’t drink. The fact is, that cats are actually desert species, so have developed kidneys that can concentrate urine very effectively. It is fairly normal not to see a cat drink very much at all, particularly if they are on some wet food as well as dry, because wet food is 70% water.

In older cats with chronic kidney disease, supplementing wet food with water can help avoid dehydration when their kidneys no longer function as well.

Remember - a hydrated cat is a healthy cat. Make sure your cat always has clean, fresh water in a quiet accessible location.


Your Guide to Successful First-Time Overnight Boarding for Your Furry Friend

Posted on 16 December 2023
Your Guide to Successful First-Time Overnight Boarding for Your Furry Friend

With travel and work restrictions now a thing of the past, there will likely come a time where you are faced with arranging overnight boarding for your furry companion(s). Whether it's a business trip or a holiday, proper planning can ensure a stress-free experience for both you and your pet. Recognising the anxiety that can accompany leaving your pet for the first time, this blog delves into essential tips to ensure your overnight boarding venture is a resounding success.

1. Choose the Right Boarding Facility

Sometimes, word of mouth and a personal recommendation from someone who has used the boarding facility is best. Asking other pet owners about the facilities they use can provide valuable insights. Selecting the right boarding facility is crucial for your pet's comfort and safety. Do your research and visit the facility in person if possible. Look for clean and well-maintained accommodations, friendly staff, and appropriate spaces for play and rest. Make sure the facility is equipped to handle any medical needs your pet may have. Read and compare online reviews to make an informed decision.

2. Plan Ahead

Book your pet's boarding reservation well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. This ensures that there's a spot available and allows you to communicate any specific requirements or medical conditions your pet has.

3. Familiarise Your Pet with the Facility

Before you schedule an overnight stay for your pet, take a tour of the boarding facility you want to use for their stay. You want to be familiar with the facility, what they provide, and how they handle the animals. Once you’ve done a tour, it’s time to schedule a half-day visit for your pet.  Arranging a short visit or half a day of daycare will help your pet become familiar with the environment and reduce anxiety on the boarding day.

4. Pack Familiar Items

Pack your pet's favourite toys, blanket, or bed to provide a sense of comfort in the new environment. Familiar scents can go a long way in making them feel more at ease. Items from home can help your pet feel more secure, so bring any toys, carriers, or leashes that your pet prefers from home. These items should be labelled with your pet’s name and your last name, just in case things get misplaced.

5. Provide Detailed Information

Share your pet's medical history, dietary preferences, and any specific behaviours with the boarding staff. This information helps them provide the best care possible and address any potential issues.

6. Stick to Routine

Try to maintain your pet's routine as much as possible. This includes feeding times, bathroom breaks, and exercise routines. Consistency can help reduce stress for your pet.

7. Stay Calm and Positive

Pets are incredibly perceptive and can pick up on your emotions. When dropping off your pet, remain calm and positive. Reassure them that you'll be back and that this is a temporary arrangement.

8. Bring Medications and Instructions

If your pet requires medications, provide clear instructions to the boarding staff. Ensure medications are properly labelled, and communicate the dosage and schedule.

9. Communication is Key

Find out the facility's policy for communication during your pet's stay. Some facilities offer updates and even photos of your pet enjoying their time. Leaving your pet while you’re away can be anxiety-inducing, so regular updates will help alleviate your concerns.

10. Be Prepared for the Homecoming

When picking up your pet, arrive during the facility's operating hours. Bring their belongings and any special instructions for their return home.

11. Give Your Pet Time to Adjust

When you return home, be patient with your pet. They might need some time to readjust to their regular routine.

Final words...

First-time overnight boarding can be a positive experience for both you and your pet with proper preparation. Choosing the right facility, planning ahead, and providing familiar comforts can make a world of difference. Remember that separation anxiety is normal, but by following these tips, you can ensure your pet's safety, comfort, and happiness during their stay away from home.

If you have any queries or uncertainties regarding overnight boarding or pet care, don't hesitate to reach out to our approachable team. We're dedicated to supporting your pet's wellbeing and are well-equipped to offer both guidance and assurance as you navigate the experience of leaving your pet for the first time.

Safe travels and happy adventures for both you and your furry friend!


Unearthing the Secrets Behind Why Dogs Dig

Posted on 17 November 2023
Unearthing the Secrets Behind Why Dogs Dig

If your backyard is starting to resemble an excavation site, you're not alone! Dogs have a penchant for digging, and it's important to uncover the reasons behind this behaviour. Dogs dig for several reasons including to find or bury food, to make a cool spot to lie in, for enjoyment and in some cases when they are anxious.

Here’s some tips on how you can stop your dog or puppy digging.

  • Implement a regular exercise program incorporating a walk at least once a day.

  • Freshly turned garden beds and new plants are often an attractive place for dogs to dig. Protect these areas with fencing or a barrier if possible.

  • Dogs often dig to make a cool spot to lie in, make sure your backyard provides a shady place at all times during the day. If they love playing in water, purchase a children’s plastic pool and half fill it with water. This becomes an additional water bowl and they can also play, splash, dig, sleep and have loads of fun in it!

  • If you catch them in the act, use a command such as “off” and praise them when they move away from the garden bed. Never punish him/her if you find a hole after it has been dug. They will not understand why you are punishing them.

  • If your dog is digging because he/she is bored, provide alternatives such as toys or games. Kong toys and biscuit balls are an excellent way to give your dog their breakfast. They can be stuffed with all sorts of food and treats. You can even freeze wet pet food which occupies them for even longer. Alternatively, you can make a gravy trail around the garden. Give them a scent to follow or hide treats around the garden for him/her to sniff out and eat! Unless you want a four-legged excavator, we don’t advise burying food as this only encourages digging.

  • Repellent sprays can be used to deter digging in specific situations but can have limited success.

If all else fails, you can compromise. Incorporate a children’s sandpit into your backyard. To encourage your dog to use this area, try burying their favourite toy or treats in the pit. If you have limited space, you can purchase a plastic sandpit (usually shell shaped) from a toy or discount store. Additionally if there are sections of your garden which are prize winning, install permanent barriers to keep your dog out.

Understanding Breed Characteristics: Tailoring Training to Your Dog's Instincts

Dogs come in various sizes and personalities, and each breed has unique traits and habits. Digging tendencies can vary widely among breeds, with some rarely digging while others, like terriers, are practically born with a shovel in their paws.

Why Breed Matters:

Understanding your dog's breed characteristics is essential when addressing their digging tendencies. Here's why:

Anticipate Their Instincts: Different breeds were originally bred for specific purposes, and those purposes often influence their behaviours. Terriers, for instance, were bred for hunting rodents, which required digging to flush out prey. By knowing your dog's breed, you can anticipate these instincts. If you have a terrier, for example, you won't be surprised when they start excavating your garden.

Tailor Your Training: Once you recognise your dog's breed tendencies, you can tailor your training approach accordingly. For breeds predisposed to digging, it's unrealistic to expect them to completely abandon this behaviour. Instead, focus on redirecting their digging energy to more appropriate outlets.

Training Tips for Different Breeds:

Terriers and Diggers: Terriers are renowned diggers. If you have one, consider creating a designated digging area in your yard filled with loose soil or sand. Encourage them to dig there and reward them for using that space. This satisfies their instinct without compromising your garden.

Guardian Breeds: Breeds like German Shepherds or Great Pyrenees have protective instincts. They may dig to create comfortable, cool spots to lie in while keeping an eye on their surroundings. Ensure they have shaded areas in your yard, or even better, provide a comfortable kennel or dog house where they can relax.

Sighthounds and the Chase: Sighthounds, like Greyhounds or Whippets, may dig out of frustration or boredom. Engage them in activities that mimic their hunting instincts, such as fetch or lure coursing. Mental stimulation and exercise can curb their digging tendencies.

Working Breeds: Breeds bred for work, such as Border Collies or Australian Shepherds, are intelligent and energetic. Keep them mentally and physically engaged to prevent boredom-related digging. Puzzle toys and obedience training are excellent outlets.

Remember, while breed tendencies provide insights, every dog is an individual. Some may exhibit less of their breed's typical behaviour, while others may amplify it. The key to successful training is patience, consistency, and a deep understanding of your furry friend's unique personality and needs.



Feeding Bones to Your Pets - How To Do It Right

Posted on 16 October 2023
Feeding Bones to Your Pets - How To Do It Right

The connection between dogs and bones is a familiar one, yet it's crucial to approach bone feeding with caution. While the idea of dogs and bones often go hand in paw, it's important to only give a dog a bone under certain circumstances. Our aim is to equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions that prioritise your pet's safety and well-being.

In this blog, we'll debunk misconceptions, discuss the benefits of bone feeding, and share essential tips for safe practices. Our focus is on providing you with insights that empower you to make thoughtful choices for your furry companion. Let's dive into the details that matter most:

Myth 1: All Bones Are Safe for Pets

Reality: This is a common misconception. Not all bones are safe for pets to consume. Cooked bones, in particular, are brittle and can splinter, leading to serious internal injuries. They can easily break into sharp shards that can do a lot of damage when they pass through the gastrointestinal tract. Never feed your dog cooked bones. This includes those that originate in your kitchen and those that can be purchased.

Myth 2: Raw Bones Are Always Safe

Reality: While raw bones are generally safer than cooked bones, they still carry risks. Size, type, and the individual pet's chewing habits play a significant role in determining safety. Aim to pick a bone that is approximately the size of your dog’s head. Choosing bones that are the right size for your dog lets them enjoy chewing while lowering the risk of them breaking off and swallowing a piece that could lead to health issues.

Myth 3: Bones Are an Essential Part of a Pet's Diet

Reality: While bones can offer certain nutritional benefits, they are not essential. A balanced diet that meets your pet's nutritional needs should always be the priority.

Benefits of Feeding Bones to Pets

Dental Health: Chewing on raw bones helps scrape away plaque, contributing to better oral health and fresher breath.

Mental Stimulation: Bones offer mental stimulation, particularly for pets with strong chewing instincts, reducing boredom and destructive behaviour.

Nutritional Content: Bones contain minerals like calcium and phosphorus, crucial for bone health. Remember, bones should enhance a balanced diet, not substitute it.

Addressing Potential Risks

Feeding bones has its rewards, but risks also accompany this practice. Watch out for choking hazards, splintering bones (especially cooked ones), digestive issues during introduction, and potential dental problems from excessively hard bones.

Frequency Matters

Moderation is key. Aim to offer bones once or twice a week, letting your pet chew for 15-20 minutes. This approach balances dental benefits and prevents overconsumption.

Precautions for Safe Bone Consumption

Always supervise your pet while chewing to prevent choking and avoid cooked bones. Choose raw, meaty bones suitable for your pet's size and breed.

Balanced Diet and Bone Consumption

Bones complement nutrition but shouldn't replace a balanced diet. Chat with our team to strike the right balance and ensure your pet's happiness and health.

Bone-Appetit Ensuring Pet Wellness With Safe Chewing

Observing Your Pet's Reaction

Observe your pet's reaction after bone consumption. Watch for signs of discomfort, vomiting, or digestive issues. If your pet shows any negative reactions, discontinue bone feeding and consult our team. It's essential to be attentive to their behaviour to ensure bones are a safe and suitable addition to their diet.

Signs of Trouble

Be vigilant for potential issues after your pet consumes bones. Signs of discomfort, vomiting, diarrhoea, or excessive drooling could indicate a problem. Also, observe for any difficulty in passing stools or signs of choking. If you notice these symptoms, call us at the clinic promptly. Your pet's safety and well-being are paramount, and addressing any concerning signs early can prevent complications.

What about cats?

Feeding bones to cats requires even more caution due to their unique dietary needs and smaller size. Unlike dogs, cats are carnivores, with their diets primarily consisting of meat. While some raw meaty bones can be offered to cats, it's important to note that cats may not be as accustomed to chewing bones as dogs are. Additionally, bones should always be appropriately sized and suitable for a cat's smaller frame. Supervision is crucial to prevent choking or ingestion of bone fragments. 

Consult Our Expert Team

Before introducing bones to your pet's diet, you might like to consult our knowledgeable team. We offer tailored advice based on your pet's unique needs, ensuring their safety and well-being.

Feeding bones to your pets can be both beneficial and potentially risky. Our goal is to guide you through the complexities, enabling you to make informed decisions that prioritise your pet's health and happiness. With the right approach, you can offer bones safely, enriching your pet's life while keeping them healthy and content. Remember, your pet's well-being is our top priority, and we're here to support you every step of the way.

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Blue Mountains Emergency Hospital

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