Playing it Cool in the Pool

Posted on 17 September 2023
Playing it Cool in the Pool

Water-loving dogs will have a ball playing around the pool in summer, and it’s also a great way to tire them out whilst keeping everyone cool.

However, before you and your pet dive headfirst into pool-play, it’s important to be aware of some potential hazards and prepare accordingly to stay safe.

Welcome to Pet Pool Safety 101!

Pool access

Like children, dogs should only have access to a pool area under supervision, as even athletic pets can become overtired and get into trouble.

If you have a pool on your property, ensure that it is securely fenced with the gate kept closed. Pool covers alone are not a reliable safety precaution, as pets can step onto these expecting a stable surface, and then become dangerously entangled in the soft material.

Training

To ensure they can swim safely, dogs should receive some basic pool safety training. Unless you are sure that your dog can swim well, it is recommended to start their swimming adventures with a well-fitted doggy lifejacket to keep them afloat.

It’s essential to teach your pet where the pool steps are and ensure that they can reliably locate these and exit the pool on their own, so they can take rests as needed.

Supervision

As with a child, ensure an adult is always present to supervise a pet swimming session and intervene if required.

Help your pet to exit the pool and rest if you notice them looking tired or puffed and offer them fresh water regularly so they are less tempted to drink the pool water.

Know your dog’s limits

Before embarking on an epic swim session, consider your pet’s likely swimming capabilities. This will depend on:

  • Breed - breeds such as retrievers are naturally good swimmers, whilst brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds generally have reduced aerobic capacity and may need their swimming sessions capped at a couple of minutes to prevent respiratory stress

  • Age - a younger dog will usually have more stamina than an older one

  • General fitness - a dog who participates in regular off-leash running activities will obviously have more aerobic capacity than a dog who only goes for short on-lead strolls!

As above, monitor your pet for signs of being too puffed (heavy panting), or having difficulties staying afloat or getting in or out of the pool. If you note any of these signs, enforce a minimum twenty-minute rest and recharge period.

Problems to watch out for

Apart from general water safety, you should also keep an eye out for a few other common potential pool-related problems, such as:

  • Hot pavement around the pool - you may need to buy some sturdy booties for your pet or lay down light-coloured, pool water-resistant rugs to prevent paw burns from hot concrete

  • Your pet getting dunked under the water unexpectedly - this can lead to water inhalation and either choking or pneumonia

  • Your pet drinking pool water - drinking chlorinated pool water can cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, whilst large amounts of salt water can cause gut upset, electrolyte imbalances and dehydration

After each swimming session, it’s best to rinse any chlorinated water off your pet and then dry them well, particularly in and around their ear canals (as wet skin and ears can be a predisposing factor for recurrent infections).

With the right supervision and care, dogs can have lots of fun in the pool and stay cool. Water you waiting for?

For more advice on pet summer safety, have a chat with our knowledgeable team.

 

Secrets to Picking the Right Dog Breed for Your Family and Lifestyle

Posted on 17 August 2023
Secrets to Picking the Right Dog Breed for Your Family and Lifestyle

When it comes to finding your perfect canine companion, it shouldn’t just be about love at first sight!

Whilst it makes sense to select a dog that you feel an emotional connection with, it’s also important to consider whether the breed you’ve always wanted or the adorable dog you’ve just spotted at the rescue centre is right for you. 

Here are the secrets to picking the right dog breed for your family and lifestyle.

Consider what you can offer your prospective pet

Unfortunately, picking your childhood dream dog is not always the right choice for you or the potential pet.

To select the dog that will be best for you and your family, you should first consider:

How much time can you dedicate to the pet’s exercise, socialisation and training?

Consider the time you are willing to put into your pet’s care each day. Whilst some breeds are content with a half hour daily walk, more active breeds (such as border collies or kelpies) can require one to two hours or more of focused mental and physical activity per day to prevent boredom and potentially destructive behaviours.

Are you looking for an exercise buddy or would you prefer a more sedate pet?

Are you going to jog with your pet and/or take them for off-leash ball play every day, or are you more of a “gentle walk around the block” kind of person? If you are the latter, a more sedate dog (such as a cuddly toy breed) or a middle-aged to elderly rescue pet is likely to be a better fit for your family.

Do you have young children?

Whilst no pet should ever be left unsupervised with a young child (for the safety of both child and pet), certain dog breeds such as labradors, retrievers and cavalier king charles spaniels have the reputation of being particularly family-friendly and more relaxed in the presence of suitably gentle children.

What environment can you offer the pet?

Whilst many breeds can do well in an apartment (provided they have regular walks and access to toileting facilities), more active breeds may prove difficult in a confined space. Whilst breeds like whippets generally grow into couch potatoes, without daily free running opportunities you may find your apartment becomes a parkour ground for a very lively whippet pup!

Are you willing to groom the pet regularly and/or pay for regular professional grooming?

Before committing to a breed with regular grooming requirements such as a poodle or shih tzu, consider whether you’re willing to brush your pet every couple of days and learn how to use pet clippers for necessary trims, or whether you’ll pay for professional grooming every 6-8 weeks.

What are the special care requirements for your chosen breed?

As well as regular grooming, some breeds may have particular care requirements. For instance, flat-faced breeds such as pugs or french bulldogs generally require daily cleaning to prevent painful infections in the skin folds around their faces and tails.

Is your chosen breed prone to certain health problems?

Whilst any pet can potentially develop health problems, particular breeds tend to have certain issues that they are more prone to developing. For instance, even if you have always loved dachshunds, think carefully about their predisposition towards serious spinal problems.

We recommend that all pet owners consider pet health insurance to help cover their pet for health problems or injuries during their lifetime.

Picking your best friend

Once you have determined what kind of environment and care you can offer to your prospective pet, you can then research individual breeds to see what kind of care they are likely to require. If you’re feeling very unsure, feel free to reach out to our helpful team for recommendations on potential breeds to consider.

Alternatively, if you are looking to obtain your pet from a rescue centre, you should be able to talk with the rescue centre staff about the kind of dog you are looking for, so they can make recommendations on potentially suitable candidates for you to meet.

If you will be purchasing your new canine companion from a breeder, we would recommend only considering those who allow you to inspect the breeding premises and meet their breeding dogs to ensure they are friendly, healthy, and receiving regular handling and positive socialisation. This will reduce the chances of your pup developing behavioural issues in the future.

With some careful consideration and selection of the best pup for your family, you’re helping to ensure many future years of loving canine companionship and cuddles!

For further advice on dog breed temperament and health predispositions, consult our breed-brainy team in person or over the phone on (02) 6351 3269.

 

The Paw-fect Pet

Posted on 14 July 2023
The Paw-fect Pet

Dog training and socialisation aren’t just about moulding an “obedient” canine companion. Thoughtful and consistent behavioural work with your pet will not only strengthen your bond with them, but will also help to keep them safe, ensure that others enjoy their company, and positively influence their long-term mental health and happiness.

Here's how helping your pet to become a gold star canine citizen can be beneficial for everyone.

What is socialisation and training?

 

Good socialisation involves regular general handling of your pet and exposing them to a variety of other animals, people and situations in a positive manner, so that they learn that these experiences and interactions are nothing to be feared.  Additionally, your pup should also be taught how to relax calmly around others and when they are alone.

Whilst dogs are most sensitive to socialisation experiences between 3-12 weeks of age, their ongoing experiences throughout adolescence (“teenage years”) and into adulthood will continue to shape their long-term behaviour.

Training involves working with your pet to ensure their understanding and willingness to perform desirable behaviours, such as sitting, coming back when called, and walking calmly on lead. Good training is especially important prior to and during the puppy adolescent period (around 6-9 months of age in small to medium breeds and around 12-18 months old in large to giant breeds), to ensure that behaviours that were previously cute (such as jumping up or play-biting) do not become a problem when your dog doubles, triples or even quadruples in size and strength!

The most effective long-term training is based on a positive reward system (such as consistent treats and praise) rather than punishment.

Why is it important to socialise and train consistently from puppyhood to adulthood?

 

Consistent socialisation and training provide a multitude of benefits for you and your pet, including:

  1. Reducing the chance of your pet developing behavioural problems such as anxiety, aggression or hyperactivity

  2. Improving your pet’s tolerance of grooming or veterinary procedures (including times when you may need to administer oral or topical medications to them)

  3. Supporting your pet to behave calmly and confidently in the home with visitors, so that you may feel more comfortable inviting friends and family over (note: regardless of how friendly your pet is, interactions between pets and children should always be supervised closely)

  4. Reducing problem behaviours such as jumping up or mouthing

  5. Giving your dog the social skills to enjoy safe and fun interactions and play with other friendly dogs, with less likelihood of triggering fights through hyperactive, aggressive or unintentionally “rude” canine behaviours

  6. Allowing you and your pet to enjoy outdoor activities together, with the confidence that they will walk/run calmly and return safely when called

  7. Teaching your dog that it’s OK to be alone sometimes, in order to reduce their likelihood of developing separation anxiety

  8. Strengthening the emotional bond between you and your pet for years of quality cuddles and adventures together

How can I properly train and socialise my dog?

 

Enrolling your pup in a well-run puppy preschool at around 10-12 weeks old is a great start! However, it’s just as important to continue positive socialisation and training into adulthood, as it is normal for dogs to become more independent and challenging during their adolescent period.

Please consult the Lithgow Veterinary Hospital team in the clinic or on  (02) 6351 3269 for personalised recommendations on the best socialisation and training opportunities for your pet.

 

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Flea and Tick Prevention

Posted on 16 June 2023
The Do’s and Don’ts of Flea and Tick Prevention

As a pet owner, do you stick to a strict parasite control routine for your pet, or are you sometimes a few days (or even a few weeks) late with the administration?

Whilst we understand that “life happens”, our team wants to gently remind owners about the importance of a solid external parasite control routine for dogs and cats. Here’s how to keep your pet properly protected against fleas and ticks.

Why should pets be protected against fleas?

Fleas are particularly common in warm weather but can also reproduce in warm indoor environments throughout the year.

In many cats and dogs, flea bites will cause mild to moderate skin irritation. However, for dogs and cats with an allergy to flea saliva, flea bites can lead to severe inflammation and discomfort. Additionally, pets may scratch or chew excessively at any irritated areas, potentially triggering secondary bacterial skin infections requiring veterinary treatment.

As well as causing skin problems, fleas can also transmit Dipylidium tapeworms and other infectious diseases.

Why is it important to protect your pet against ticks?

Whilst the paralysis tick season has traditionally run from early spring through summer, some areas of Queensland now see paralysis cases all year round.

Tick paralysis is caused by the toxin of the Ixodes tick, and can affect both dogs and cats. Affected pets develop progressive muscle weakness, leading to an inability to walk, vomiting or regurgitation, and severe breathing difficulties which can sadly prove fatal.

Brown dog ticks infected with Ehrlichia canis (a bacteria) have now also been detected in Queensland, as well as Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and South Australia. Erhlichiosis infection is passed to dogs via the bites of infected ticks, leading to unwellness symptoms including fever, lethargy, bleeding disorders and potential death.

Flea protection for dogs

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of flea and tick prevention

To properly protect your pet from fleas and ticks (and all their associated nasty symptoms), do:

  • Ensure you have selected the correct weight range product for your pet’s current weight (in case they’ve gained a few sneaky kg’s). If they’re sitting at the upper edge of a weight range, check with our team about potentially switching to a higher-range product (which is generally safe) to ensure protection
  • Read label instructions carefully regarding how to properly apply topical products, and how long you may need to temporarily avoid bathing your pet for
  • Have a chat with our vets regarding the best options for control if your pet has a sensitive stomach, is a breeding animal, or has a history of seizures
  • Check with our team regarding safe and effective product combinations for flea, tick, heartworm and intestinal worm prevention in your pet
  • Ask our vets about safe combinations of tick-repellent and control products if you live near bushland
  • Check your pet daily for ticks if you live in or visit areas where ticks are known to be active

To keep your pet safely protected with minimal side effects, don’t:

  • Forget to keep their protection up to date according to the product labelling. Set calendar reminders on specific dates to help you remember!
  • Use products labelled for dogs on cats, as some dog products may cause toxicity in cats
  • Stop administering the product during winter. Your pet should be protected all year round!

If you have any further questions about protecting your pet against harmful parasitic hitchhikers, consult our friendly team or phone us on (02) 6351 3269.

 

Understanding, Preventing and Treating Anxiety in Dogs

Posted on 17 May 2023
Understanding, Preventing and Treating Anxiety in Dogs

With more dogs than ever being diagnosed with symptoms of anxiety, it begs the question: is anxiety becoming more common in pets, or are we just getting better at recognising it?

With the first week of May being Dog Anxiety Awareness Week, the knowledgeable Lithgow Veterinary Hospital is here to shed some light on the topic of canine anxiety - what causes it, how to reduce your pet’s likelihood of developing it, and how it can be treated.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is when a dog anticipates danger and acts fearfully, even without an obvious cause or actual, significant threat. It may occur in specific situations (e.g. separation anxiety, where a pet becomes distressed upon being separated from its owner), or may be generalised, where a pet shows almost constant signs of anxiety regardless of the situation.

Why are we diagnosing anxiety in dogs more often than we used to?

We are likely diagnosing more pets with anxiety for two main reasons.

Firstly, our society as a whole has developed a greater understanding and awareness of anxiety as a potential mental health issue. Since many of us consider our pets as family members, it’s natural to be vigilant about similar issues in them too! Additionally, many pet owners have spent far more time at home with their pets in the last few years than ever before, so are more likely to be noticing any behavioural changes in their pets.

Secondly, it is likely that there actually are relatively more anxious pets nowadays. This may have to do with:

  • Reduced socialisation opportunities (positive experiences with new people, situations and environments) for dogs during the COVID pandemic
  • The increasing popularity of certain dog breeds that may have a tendency towards being “highly strung”
  • Changing lifestyles and behavioural expectations for dogs

What causes a dog to develop anxiety?

A dog’s temperament is a combination of their breed and individual genetics, and the influence of their early experiences and environment. Anxiety is a moderately heritable trait from parent to offspring, so anxious parent dogs are more likely to produce anxious pups. Additionally, particularly negative experiences or a lack of proper socialisation at a young age increase a puppy’s likelihood of growing into a fearful, anxious adult.

How might I recognise anxiety in my pet?

Dogs suffering from anxiety may display symptoms such as:
  • Hypervigilance (“jumpiness”)
  • Crouched body posture
  • A tucked-under tail
  • Flattened ears against the head
  • Pacing or evasive behaviour
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Shaking
  • Reduced appetite or symptoms of gut upset

If pushed, anxious dogs may enter “fight or flight” mode, involving escape attempts or aggressive behaviours (e.g. growling, snapping or biting).

Can I do anything to prevent anxiety in my new puppy?

You can improve the chances of your pet growing up to be a confident, calm adult by selecting a non-fearful puppy, and raising it thoughtfully.

If you’re buying a puppy, it’s best to inspect the breeding premises and meet the parent dogs to ensure that they have friendly, confident personalities and that the pups will be born into a situation where they’ll receive lots of positive human interactions and handling.

After you’ve welcomed your new four-legged family member into the household, ensure that you provide them with lots of calm, happy socialisation experiences, where they are exposed to new people and experiences in a positive way, without overwhelming them. This is particularly important prior to 12-16 weeks old, but can have significant effects on future behaviour even up to 6-8 months of age. Have a chat with our team regarding the safest ways to socialise your pup prior to the completion of their vaccination courses.

Can anxiety be treated?

If you suspect anxiety in your pet, it’s recommended to consult our veterinary team promptly, so we can start treatment early on to help ensure the best results.

Depending on the pet’s particular condition, we may recommend measures including:

  • Limiting exposure to any situations that are triggering the pet’s anxiety (e.g. arranging doggy daycare, day boarding, or a pet-sitter temporarily for dogs with separation anxiety that need to be left alone)
  • Creating a stable environment with predictable routines of feeding, exercise and training for the pet
  • Avoiding any punishment of the pet’s anxious behaviours
  • Starting a program of behavioural modification with a qualified behaviourist who utilises positive (fear-free) techniques to “recalibrate” the pet’s response to anxiety triggers and improve their confidence
  • Short- and/or long-term anti-anxiety medications

With the right help, many pets with anxiety can show significant long-term improvement.

For more specific advice and support regarding your pet’s behaviour, we’d recommend consulting one of our knowledgeable vets - you can do this by making a booking online or phoning us on (02) 6351 3269.

 
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