Pet Adoption Guide: where to start

Committing to the adoption of a pet is a huge responsibility. As vets, we know how exciting it is to get a new cat or dog, but there are a few questions to ask yourself before bringing home a new furry friend.

Picking the right family member:

Think about how your pet will fit into your life and schedule. Will it be sharing its new home with children or other pets? Do you have a large enough space and active lifestyle for an energetic pet? Will you enjoy tending to grooming needs and devoting time to training?

It’s hard not to get swayed by an adorable puppy face that needs adoption, but think about your lifestyle honestly before taking on such a big commitment; perhaps an older dog, kitten or cat, or rabbit, may be a better fit to welcome into the family.

 

Where to adopt:

The Sydney area is full of adoption options, and it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Online reviews, word of mouth, and vet recommendations are a good place to start. Ask questions about the animal’s personality, and check that trials are allowed if you have another pet at home to introduce the new one to.

A few of the rescue groups we recommend at Summer Hill Village Vet are:

Cost considerations:

The purchase price or adoption fee of a new pet is only the tip of the iceberg. The following items need to be included in your budget:

  • Food every day
  • Regular health checks (once or twice a year for most pets)
  • Dental care (dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, horses)
  • Vaccinations
  • Desexing in the first year
  • Parasite control year round
  • Grooming
  • Bedding, toys, litter, clothes, and accessories
  • Boarding or pet minding fees when you go away
  • Vet bills for accident and illness for their lifetime
  • Pet health insurance (which can reduce vet bills)

Try fostering:

Animals that enter fostering programs not only ease the limited space of most rescue organisations, but it gives you the opportunity to help an animal- even for as little as a week- while trialling if the animal is a good fit for your lifestyle.  If you decide the animal is the perfect addition to your family, you can then make the full commitment of adoption.

Lumps and Bumps: How to Check Your Pet at Home

Did you know that nearly 50% of dogs present with lumps and bumps at their annual health check? Some of the lumps are not of concern, whilst others are an indication of more serious problems. It is so important that lumps are checked early and often, so we want to give you some tips on how to check your pet at home.

Take 5-10 minutes each month to check for lumps, bumps, and swellings.

Pick the same date for each month, mark it on your calendar, and turn your check into a monthly routine. It’s simple and quick, and could be the difference in early detection, treatment, and prognosis.

Check your pet from top to tail.

Your pet will often feel like they are getting a massage from you, and are often happy to let you check. Don’t forget ears, nose, and even inside the mouth. Not sure where to start? Check out Dr Lydia’s short video to help you know where to look.

Follow up with an exam.

Book an appointment with you vet if you noticed anything suspicious. Snip a piece of hair or mark the spot with a marker if you think it will be hard to find again later.

Keep a record of growths.

Use a worksheet of your pet’s silhouette to circle with a black ink pen any suspicious lumps and bumps you’ve found. Now use this same chart the next month to circle with blue pen. Continue monthly to help you keep track of any new or increased growths, and bring the chart to your pet’s next vet visit. Print our Bumps Handout to help you keep track.

Older Pets Just Need a Little Help from Their Friends

We love our pets, and it’s been a joy being with them through the years. They are there for you and you’re noticing that perhaps now, perhaps they need a bit of help from you. As pets get older it’s hard for them to tell you what their changing needs are. I always like to point out that old age is not a disease; pets slow down not just from “getting older,” but because they’re dealing with arthritic joints, or underlying diseases that lead to muscle wastage and weakness. These are things that can be managed, or even treated, to ensure pets aren’t suffering in silence.

What was once the easiest of jumps onto their favourite sleeping spot could now be a daily chore. A ramp or small steps around the house is a good idea to get onto the bed or outside to the toilet. Even just moving their bedding, litter trays, or food and water bowls to more accessible areas in the house is the solution.

Cats especially love being warm, and their heat-seeking behaviour will increase as they get older due to loss of body fat. Pet heat mats and beds ensure your furry friend is kept as toasty as they’d like to be when sitting on you isn’t an option.

Many owners find that their pets are going to the toilet in inappropriate places. Doing a bit of investigative work could let you know that your old cat isn’t naughty, but struggling to get into the litter tray because of creaky old joints. Or your furry senior needs to go more frequently due to underlying medical issues (mainly kidney disease or hormonal disease like hyperthyroidism or diabetes), and hence wants the tray to be cleaned more frequently, or have multiple litter trays. Dogs may need to be let out more frequently. If these issues arise, your vet may recommend a urine and/or blood test to check if these problems can be fixed.

And don’t forget to give them a bit of a once over every month. Check their coats for matts, as some animals just aren’t nimble enough to groom those odd spots anymore. Check their nails as they can be very brittle and wear down more slowly, requiring them to be clipped more frequently. There has been the odd occasion where they grew so much that it curled back into the animal. This is obviously painful for the animal and completely avoidable. And check them all over for lumps and bumps so we can deal with them early if needed.

So, just like our bodies get a bit of wear and tear and needs a bit of extra TLC as we age, so do our beloved pets. It can be so rewarding to see them living full and pain free lives.

My Microchip saved me!

It was a dark and stormy night in mid-August……no, wait, that’s another story.

One evening in mid August, not long before closing time, we received a call from a member of the public who had found a stray dog and wanted to bring him down so we could scan him for a microchip and perhaps locate his owner.

When they arrived, the dog (a Shih Tzu cross) was scanned and did have a microchip.  Given the time, we couldn’t contact the council rangers to collect him so our vet looked up his details on the Companion Animal Register.  He was registered but the contact number was one that blocked incoming calls.  I sent a text message in the hope that would get through and also sent an email to the address on the CAR.  No text came back in response by the time we closed and left for the night, so he had to stay in the clinic overnight to be collected by the council rangers the next day.

When our morning receptionist arrived the next day we had received a response to the email.  The lady sounded very excited and surprised.  She then called us to let us know she would be coming to pick him up and said that he had been missing for two years!!!  The dog (whose name is “QQ”) had obviously been looked after by somebody during that time as he was in good condition.  At least he hadn’t been roaming the streets for two years.

Later that day, a lady walked through the door and I didn’t even need to ask why she was there.  She was literally vibrating with excitement.  As I went out the dog room to get him, I wondered how he would respond to his owner, given that so much time had passed since they last saw each other.

When I led him out to the waiting area, the lady had squatted down and he walked up to her.  He didn’t do anything for a few seconds and then he stood up on his back legs and excitedly started licking her face.  He very obviously recognised her.  Such a great moment.  The lady was crying and if a client hadn’t walked in right at that moment, I would have been having a cry with with her.

The lesson to be taken from this story is the importance of microchipping your pet so if they go missing, they can be reunited with you (hopefully it wouldn’t take two years to happen).  It also highlights the importance of making sure any changes to your contact details are updated on the Companion Animal Register.

 

Toni our Receptionist was thrilled to be able to write this good news post