Intestinal worming
Our practice recommends a good quality all wormer be administered every 3 months orally to adult dogs and cats

Heartworm is a disease that is spread by mosquitoes and is not prevented by routine all wormer preparations. The worms can be up to 30 cm long and reside inside the heart chambers and larger blood vessels around the heart. They can be present for a period of time doing damage to these delicate structures before clinical signs of heart disease become apparent.

Although the incidence of heartworm in Melbourne is relatively low, there are some areas of Melbourne that have higher incidence than others. It is recommended to prevent this disease if at all possible. Prevention of heartworm involves administering a heartworm preventative tablet, chewable or spot on preparation once monthly. A new once yearly injection has been released recently that prevents heartworm infection for one year. This can not be used on younger puppies. Some daily tablets are available, which are cheaper, but are not as safe as the monthly preparations and are thus not recommended by our practice.

Your dog should be tested by a blood test to ensure that it is free of heartworm before preventative medications are commenced.

Cats can contract heartworm, but the incidence is about 10% of the canine incidence. Cats unfortunately do not tolerate the worms’ presence in their system for long periods and often the first symptom we see in cats with heartworm infection is sudden death. Preventative medications for cats are available from our clinic and have the added bonus of treating fleas and ear mites as well.

Fleas are small, brown or black wingless insects with flattened bodies. These blood ducking insects cause considerable irritation and distress to infested pets. Severe infestation may lead to anaemia from blood loss. Fleas spread the common tapeworm in dogs and cats. Flea bites also cause skin allergies and rashes on both pets and people.

80-90% of the life cycle of the flea is spent in the environment away from the pet. This means that you may not be able to detect an infestation if you are just looking in your pets’ coat.

Flea prevention is very easy. An easy spot on application can be applied to the back of the neck once a month to control fleas. Contact our clinic to find out that new products are on the market for flea control.

Dental care
Many of our patients suffer from dental disease thoughout their life. This is probably due to our pets not getting enough to chew in their diets, or being unwilling to chew the things that are provided.

Our practice advocates the use of raw meaty bones on a regular basis at least twice weekly can help to prevent plaque and tartar build up. Cats should have a raw chicken wing or other small raw bone and larger dogs should be given marrow bones or flap bones (always raw, never cooked).

All pets should be supervised when eating bones to make sure that they do not try to swallow them whole. This is particularly important in young puppies.

Some illnesses in pets prevent raw bones from being fed. If you are concerned about using raw bones in your pet, please check with the vet first.

Introducing bones from a young age can encourage correct chewing habits for life. Older pets can be a little more difficult to convince that chewing is good for them, but it is not impossible.

If your pet is not into raw bones, or they exhibit unwanted behaviour (such as burying the bone in your back yard!) then alternatives are available.

If your pet prefers to eat raw meat, this can be provided, but should be given in large chunks that are unable to be swallowed whole. Meat with a fair bit of gristle can help in this process. Avoid minced meats for your pets as these can stick around the teeth and encourage plaque and tartar formation.

Kongs or Buster Cubes are dog toys that can be filled with regular food and given as a treat. They encourage dogs to be creative with their food retrieval skills. They provide mental stimulation as well as dental exercise.

Some special foods are available (called Hills t/d diet) that are nutritionally complete and balanced and act a little like dental floss when they are chewed. They scrape the teeth of plaque during your pets’ regular meal.

If all else fails, special meat flavoured pet toothpastes can be used with tooth brushing on a regular basis to help prevent tartar build up. Do not use human toothpastes as these will foam up in the mouth and can cause gagging in pets and also the fluoride in human toothpaste can cause stomach upsets in domestic pets.

If excessive tartar builds up on the teeth, severe consequences can follow. Gum recession, infection in the gums and blood stream and tooth loss are just a few of the complications that can occur with poor dental hygiene control.

Remember – an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Home checks for preventative health
Examining your pet at home on a regular basis is a great way for you to learn what is normal and to locate abnormalities before they become serious.

We recommend your pet is accustomed to you examining its teeth, mouth, eyes, ears, skin and between the toes and pads at least once weekly.

Examining your pets’ feet for grass seeds after a walk in the park during summer can help you locate grass seeds (between the toes etc) before they enter the skin and cause an abscess.

Knowing your pets lumps and bumps is important. This allows you to alert your veterinarian to any changes in lumps or any new lumps that may occur in a timely fashion.

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