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Food Allergies in Dogs

Did you know that 6-20% dogs have food allergies?

You may be one of the excellent pet owners who feeds your dogs premium food and keeps them up to date with flea and tick treatment – so why is it that your furry friend is still experiencing itchy skin and diarrhoea?

What is food allergy in dogs?

Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to certain kinds of foods.  Food allergy is a common cause of skin disease in dogs, it is an immune-mediated hypersensitivity reaction which reacts to a specific food protein.  Dogs affected by food allergy will usually show dermatological signs without a seasonal pattern and some may also have gastrointestinal signs at the same time.

What are the clinical signs of food allergies in dogs?

Dermatological/skin:

– Red, swollen, itchy skin

– Licking and chewing of paws

– Skin problems localised to paws, face, ears, abdomen or genital area

– Chronic infection can lead to self-induced hair loss and recurrent ear infection

Gastrointestinal:

– Irregular bowel movement

– Halitosis (bad breath)

– Soft stool/ diarrhoea

– Nausea

– Excessive gas

What food is my dog allergic to?

The most common food allergen for dogs is animal based protein (usually beef, chicken, lamb or dairy products).  While less common, dogs can also be allergic to plant-based proteins such as wheat, soy, rice and corn. Unfortunately most pet foods, regardless of the advertised flavour, will contain traces of these ingredients so it is best to consult with your vet to determine what food are safe when undergoing a food elimination trial.

How is a food allergy confirmed? Are there any straightforward diagnostic tests available?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.  Due to the fact that the clinical signs of food allergies are non-specific and overlap with other common skin conditions, it is often difficult to confirm food allergy in the first place. If vets are suspecting food allergy in your dog, they will often suggest conducting a food elimination trial.

 

 

Food elimination trial involves three steps:

1. Eliminate the suspected proteins

2. Replace diet with a novel/ hydrolysed protein. Discuss with a vet the best type of food and length of time for trial.

3. Re-introduce the eliminated proteins one by one and observe for recurrence of clinical signs.

What do I have to do if my dog is diagnosed with a food allergy?

The answer is very simple, stop feeding the food that causes a reaction!  There are commercial pet diets that are made with novel proteins such as fish, kangaroo and crocodile.  Otherwise, there are prescription diets available made with hydrolysed protein – which is when the protein is broken down into tiny pieces that the immune system does not detect and react to.

One study showed that after eliminating the suspected food allergen- 82% of dogs with dermatological signs improved within 3 months and 61% of dogs with gastrointestinal signs improved within a month.¹

For more information on food allergy or other skin diseases, please make an appointment to speak with one of our vets (02 9797 2555/ contact@summerhillvillagevet.com)


References:

  1. Tiffany, S, Parr, JM, Templeman, J, Shoveller, AK, Manjos, R, Yu, A, & Verbrugghe, A 2019, ‘Assessment of dog owners’ knowledge relating to the diagnosis and treatment of canine food allergies.’ The Canadian Veterinary Journal = La Revue Vétérinaire Canadienne., vol. 60, no. 3, pp. 268–274.

How to keep your indoor cat happy

A common misconception with pet owners is that cats are low maintenance and anti-social – this could not be further from the truth! They may have a different way of expressing their needs to their canine counterparts but cats thrive on social interaction.

These days more and more people are choosing to keep their cats indoor to protect them from fighting, decrease risk of injury and getting hit by a car, and to protect them from infectious disease such as FIV. There is nothing wrong with keeping your cat indoors, especially if you live in a high traffic area- however, the challenge of doing such is to ensure they receive the environmental stimulation they need to avoid getting bored.

Cats have a need to exhibit hunting behaviour- to play and to explore. When necessary they should also be able to find a place where they can retreat and hide.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you keep your indoor cat stimulated:

Play time:

Cat owners should dedicate time daily to play with their cats. A variety of toys are needed, with different textures, colours and shapes. Using different toys each time you play can also help motivate your cat. This is a great way to get your furry friend using their natural instincts in a safe environment!

You can also encourage movement by installing climbing shelves to give your cat the option to get up high and survey their domain 🙂 There is a Facebook group dedicated to people sharing their DIY indoor cat projects if you need some inspiration

Scratching:

Who could forget a scratching post? This is a necessity for all cats, especially indoor cats. Scratching is a natural instinct for our furry friends and it is very important that your cat can do this regularly. This also protects your carpets and furniture from any possible damage. You can use catnip spray on these areas to encourage use.

Hunting:

The feline desire to hunt is natural and instinctive. Regardless of how much food you feed them, your cat will always have a hunting instinct. If something moves rapidly or squeaks with a high pitch noise, this will trigger a reaction. You can purchase toys that imitate real prey through size, texture, colour and sound. This helps to fulfil the social and natural needs that are essential to our furry family members.

Make food time fun:

While cats do not find any benefit in specific meal times, fun puzzle feeders or feeder toys can be a great way to keep portion sizes in control and promote their natural scavenging behaviour. It is beneficial to make your cat work for their food through these toys or by scattering food bowls around the house for them to find.

Getting some fresh air:

For the owners who like to offer their cat some time outside, there are the lead and harness options. However, it can be difficult for cats to enjoy or learn to walk on a lead. It is best to introduce this type of walking early on when they are kittens so that they can get used to this approach. You can also purchase outdoor cat enclosures, ideally a pen, that keeps them outdoors and safe. Remember that if your cat is having outdoor access even if on a lead, it is important to stay up to date with flea and worming preventatives.

 

These are only some of the ways you can keep your furry family member active and happy whilst staying indoors. If you notice a change in your cat or they are struggling with the transition from outdoors to being inside, please contact us. We can provide behavioural assistance and advice to help your cat enjoy life indoors.

How To Make Leaving Your Dog Alone a Stress-Free Experience!

Even the bravest of pooches can experience a little stress when their best friend (you!) has to go away – even if you’re only going out for a short while.

It’s no fun if your dog reacts badly to you going away. A stressed dog will be unhappy, may display destructive behaviours, and could even develop more serious fear but with practice and training, you can encourage your dog to keep calm when you leave. The tips below can support that, and make leaving your dog a stress-free experience!

7 Tips To Stop the Stress Of Leaving Your Dog Home Alone

Before You Leave

1. Create A Safe Doggy Space

If your dog has a comfortable space or safe doggy haven where they can go to hide or relax at any time, they’ll feel much happier when faced with some alone time. A perfect pooch safe space should have comfy bedding, blankets to burrow under and their favourite toys (try food puzzles if you’ll be gone for a while) to distract and entertain them. If your dog has some extra special or favourite toys that they love, try saving these for times when you’ll be leaving. The excitement of playing with the toy can turn leaving into a positive, stress-free time.

Turning on the radio or playing some soothing music can also add some extra comfort for your dog while you’re away. A comfy, calm and relaxed dog will be able to sit, relax and even sleep in their safe space until you return.

2. Take Your Dog For A Tiring Walk

A walk, or energetic play a little while before you leave may be just enough to encourage your pooch to relax and sleep while you’re away. Giving your pet a chance to go to the toilet before you leave will also help them to relax without the stress of needing to go outside.

 

When You Leave

3. Don’t Make A Fuss When Leaving

When it’s time for you to leave, don’t turn it into a big event! All that’s needed is a simple cue to help your dog understand that you’re going – and that you will come back! You can work with your dog to establish a ‘leaving’ cue during training – it may help to have two different cues; one for shorter amounts of time, and one for longer durations (over 4 hours). If your dog seems stressed, try not to give them lots of attention – rewarding your pet with fuss can reinforce anxious behaviours. Just as in their training, only pay them attention when they’re calm.

4. Try A Dog Camera While You’re Away

Want to see how your pet reacts when you’re away? A dog camera, set up in the room where your pet spends most of their time, can be a good way to see how they get on – and can be a great support tool for training. For example, many cameras allow you to see and hear your dog and to speak to them from a remote location, and even dispense treats. So, you could comfort them – say by asking them to sit – then dispense a rewarding treat.

5. Leave Tasty Puzzles and Soothing Toys For Your Pet

For your pooch, licking is a self-soothing activity. For this reason, food toys such as frozen treats, chew toys or toys filled with dog-safe peanut butter can keep them distracted and relaxed until you come home. Food puzzles are another great way to entertain and stop your dog from worrying about being alone.

 

6. Arrange A Visitor For Your Pooch!

Do you have a neighbour, friend or family member who gets along well with your dog, and could drop in to check on your pooch ? A familiar face can be a welcome way to break up the day, add some excitement – and even tire your dog out if your visitor (or a professional dog walker) can take your dog for a walk! If you need to go away for a longer period of time, having a visitor drop by to let your dog out for toilet breaks is important. It can also make their alone time less stressful. Just make sure your pooch is familiar with anyone who might drop by – your dog should be calm and happy around this person before you invite them to visit alone.

 

When You Come Home

 7. Greet Your Pet Calmly

A calm, relaxed demeanor is as important when you return to your pooch as it is when you leave, so while both you and your dog will be excited to see each other, try to keep the greeting relaxed and positive. Always wait for your dog to be calm before you interact with them. If your dog seems distressed, try a simple command, such as a ‘sit’ and reward them. Always reward positive reactions to your absence, and never punish your dog for negative behaviours. Punishments will only confuse your pet, and may cause them to be more stressed or anxious.

 

Use ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuserto Create A Comforting Environment

Creating a positive, supporting and comforting home environment is one of the best ways to relax and reassure your dog; helping them to feel safe whatever the situation. ADAPTIL is clinically proven to support a comfortable environment for your dog and help them stay calm in situations such as staying alone, being around loud noises, or visitors.

 

Introducing Anti-Anxiety Packages for your Cats and Dogs!

After working-from-home for the past few months it can be a stressful transition for your pets having to deal with you returning to work.

We have come up with our very own Anti Anxiety Pet Packages to help your pet through this change.

What do these Anti-Anxiety Packages include?

For Dogs:

  • An Adaptil Collar suited to your dogs size
  • A dose of pre-consult anxiety medications tailored to your dog’s needs
  • A course of 3 x Canine Massage Therapy sessions with our trained Nurse Jessica
  • A behaviour consult with one of our vets
  • An Adaptil bandana (you can spray this with Adaptil and tie it around your dog’s collar so they can smell the anxiety-relieving pheromones)
  • A Frank Green Keep Cup for yourself! (limited stock)
  • A package of yummy dog treats

For Cats:

  • A Feliway spray bottle or diffuser refill if you already have the plug-in at home
  • A dose of pre-consult anxiety medications tailored to your cat’s needs
  • A weekend of boarding at our clinic (including feliway)
  • A behaviour consult with one of our vets
  • A Feliway blanket to bring to consults over your cat’s carrier
  • A Frank Green Keep Cup for yourself! (limited stock)
  • A package of yummy cat treats

To celebrate the launch of these packages we are currently running a competition through Instagram or Facebook to give away 3 x Free Anti-Anxiety Packages to three lucky winners!

How do I enter?

If you have an Instagram account make sure to follow us and post a photo of your pet ‘working from home’ with the hashtag
#SHVVrelax and a short 50 word explanation of how your pet would benefit from one of our anti-anxiety packages.

If you do not have an Instagram account then just message our Facebook page with your entry.

We will be posting our own staff’s pets working from home regularly to give you inspiration.

Deadline for entries is Sunday the 19th of July 2020 so get snapping 🙂

 

 

Embarrassing Bodies- The Pet Edition, Free Health Checks!

Cats and dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes what’s normal for one pet may be abnormal for another depending on things like breed, age, lifestyle and etc. For example- the skin and coat needs of a Sphynx cat to that of a Ragdoll’s will vary immensely!

Pets come in all different shapes, sizes and hair styles! As such their health needs are very individualistic.

Pets come in all different shapes, sizes and hair styles! As such their health needs are very individualistic.

In order to help you as a pet owner decide what is best for your cat or dog, the team at Summer Hill Village Vet have developed a complimentary 5-point Health Check that covers the basic individual care needs for your pet. These 5-point Health Checks are part of our Embarrassing Bodies- The Pet Edition and will run until the end of November 2018.

What do these 5-Point Health Checks include?

Embarrassing Bodies: Pet Edition Promo Poster

Book your cat or dog in for their FREE 5-Point Health Check before the end of November 2018.

Our 5-Point Health Checks aim to cover the following areas of your pet’s health with one of our trained vet nurses:

  1. Body Condition Scoring What may be healthy weight for a greyhound would be unhealthy for a german shepherd! Our trained nurses will score your cat or dog’s body condition (based on weight and appearance), then compare it to their breed and lifestyle recommendations. The nurses will work with you to develop a plan for how to get your pet into their healthy weight range (whether it’s through diet changes or new exercise routines).
  2. Dental Health One of our nurses will give your cat or dog a dental grading from 0 to 5 (0- being perfect teeth and 5 being the opposite…). They will also give you advice on how to manage your pet’s dental health from recommending treats such as Greenies Dental Treats or teaching you home care tips.
  3. Skin and Coat Needs Certain breeds may require a more intensive grooming routine than others. This depends on more than hair length. Skin allergies can come into play when deciding what products to bathe them in and how often they should be bathed.
  4. Vaccination Needs Your pet’s lifestyle determines what sort of vaccinations they need. Our nurses can help you decide if your cat or dog is getting the protection they need by discussing with you their routine (i.e. outdoor vs. indoor, do they visit beaches or bush a lot? do they come in contact with other animals?).
  5. Parasite Protection (fleas + ticks and intestinal worms)We can all agree that  fleas, ticks and worms are all nasty and best to be avoided all together! Similar to vaccination needs, the type of parasite prevention product you use on your cat and dog is largely based on lifestyle. However, other things to consider include whether your pet is easy to give oral medication to and also how good you are as an owner at remembering to give them their treatment on time (monthly options vs. 3 monthly options).

How do I book my cat or dog in for this?

Simply call our clinic (02 9797 2555) before the end of November 2018 and let us know that you would like to book your pet in for a Free-5-Point-Health-Chek 🙂

Blue Tongue Lizard – WIRES Wildlife

One of our most recent WIRES wildlife case was a young blue tongue lizard. It was brought into our care after a member of public’s cat had gotten hold of it… When the blue tongue lizard first came in it was in poor shape and it was a struggle for us to get it to eat ANYTHING (despite being provided with an ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffet of strawberries, cucumbers, insectivore mixes and what not…).

blue tongue lizard feeding

Bluey enjoying a buffet of strawberries and blueberries

After two weeks of TLC from our vets and nurses we are happy to report that Ol Bluey has definitely gotten his appetite back and is well on his way to recovery.

We treat quite a number of injured wildlife day in day out, but blue tongue lizards are uncommon for us so we were all pretty excited! He is now under the care of a WIRES Wildlife Volunteer who will continue to look after it till release.

How can you help out?

These WIRES volunteers do not get paid for their efforts in rehabilitating injured wildlife and hence pay for all the food and care equipment from their own pocket. For this reason, we as a clinic have been inspired to raise money for WIRES by participating in this years Tough Mudder 18km obstacle course. All the funds we raise will go directly towards WIRES Wildlife.

If you’d like to make a donation or simply find out more you can via our fundraising page.

We’d like to extend a big thank-you to everyone who has donated so far, we and WIRES wouldn’t be able to do the work we do on injured wildlife without your ongoing generosity and support!

 

 

 

Inner-West Wildlife Warriors

Australia is a country renowned for its unique wildlife. As an inner-west veterinary clinic we consider ourselves lucky to have the extensive wildlife experience of Dr. Lydia and Dr. Sandra.  All our vets have proven time and time again to be more than capable of looking after the odd ring-tailed possum or bearded dragon!

What is WIRES?

WIRES (NSW Wild life Information and Rescue Information Service) is a volunteer run organisation. They have been working to rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife since 1986.

We share a close relationship with WIRES carers and as such we get a large volume of wildlife coming through our doors. To put it into perspective, in this year alone our vets have treated a total of 83 rainbow lorikeets!

How can you help?

WIRES relies on volunteers and donations to do the great work that they do. As such, it can be a demanding job for the volunteers with many of the animals requiring round the clock care and long-term rehabilitation.

Dr. Sandra having a squawk with a galah

One of two 6month old baby ring tailed possums found in an Innerwest canal along with their mother.

There are a variety of ways you can get involved including:

 

 

 

 

Of course, another way you can contribute is by simply contacting WIRES.  Should you happen across an injured wildlife creature all you need to do is call their Rescue Line on 1300 094 737.

Muddy Paws! Summer Hill Village Vet do Tough Mudder

In November our team will be participating in the Tough Mudder 18km Obstacle course with the aim of raising funds for WIRES. Dr. Sandra, Dr. Lydia, Dr. Kate and the rest of the team will be crawling through mud, swimming and generally putting their fitness to the ultimate test in support of all the work WIRES do (and to prove to ourselves that we are mad fit…). Donations can be made online (read more about our mission statement + make a donation) and we are immensely appreciative for your generosity!

 

 

 

 

ADVOCATE 25% Off Parasite Protection!

From September the 3rd 2018, we are offering 25% off ALL Advocate 6-pack products purchased from our clinic. So now is a better time than any to brush up on your pet’s flea, tick and worm protection.

Prevention is always better (and cheaper!) than treatment especially when it comes to parasites. Take for example a simple flea infestation- fleas can easily transmit worms to your pet which can then snowball into a range of serious health issues. As an inner-west veterinary clinic we find that a lot of pet owners have the common misconception that they don’t need to worry about parasite control because of the urban environment. Your dog or cat can easily get fleas whilst they are out on walks, visiting the park or from coming into contact with other animals.

How do I know which product is best for my pet?

With the massive range of parasite prevention products available, it can be hard to decide which product is
appropriate for your furry friend. The type of parasite protection your pet needs depends on a lot of factors- living conditions, holiday trips, contact with other animals, method of dispensing (oral vs topical) and etc. Our vets are more than happy to have a chat with you and help you find out what kind of coverage best suits your pet’s lifestyle.

If you’d like to do a little research first here are some helpful handouts

How will my pet and I benefit from the 25% off Advocate promo?

The promotion we are running is only for the Advocate Topical parasite treatment when purchased in a 6-pack. The tables below show the range of parasites covered by Advocate Spot-On in cats and dogs. After discussing your pet’s situation with your vet you can decide based on the below charts whether Advocate is the best choice for your cat or dog.

Advocate Topical Dog coverage chart

Advocate Topical Cat coverage chart