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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 🙂

 

 

Help! My dog doesn’t want to stay home alone. What can I do?

Everyone loves a little alone time but we are social animals at heart and don’t like being on our own for too long – and you may have noticed this is exactly the same with your paw friend. You can tell they aren’t happy when you leave the house and how madly excited they are on your return. So we’ve put together some top tips for spotting if your pooch is uneasy being left alone and how to help them cope when you leave the house.

1. Don’t Leave Me This Way!

By their nature your dog is a pack animal, it loves family and guess what…you’re their family! That’s why they come running up to you with such enthusiasm whenever you’re around. When your dog is just a puppy they learn things very quickly, and if they had an unpleasant experience being alone as a puppy this will carry on into their adult life.

Similar to people, often our fears come from something that happened when we were very young and hence we didn’t understand. So if your dog was left alone as a puppy and they didn’t have access to a comforting place, they will worry this is going to happen again. There’s also worry they won’t know where their next meal will be coming from – it’s why you might find little treats like bones, hidden in strange places around the house.

 

2. Body Talks

Barking, whining and howling are the strongest indicators that your dog can’t bear to see you leave them alone! Similarly, being that little bit naughty such as scratching at the doors and attempting to escape, are your dog’s way of communicating their anxiety towards being left alone. We’re all naturally skilled at knowing how to pull on our loved one’s heart strings and your canine companion is no different; acting ‘upset’ by hiding and giving the cold shoulder is one of the ways your dog is trying to stop you from leaving.

 

3. How can I help my dog stay home alone?

There is no better feeling than returning to a safe space when life gets a bit too much. Our canine companions have the same needs; it could be a dog crate, a certain room in the house or their dog bed. Imagine a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign around this safe space for whenever your dog is spending time in their comfort zone. ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser is the perfect helping hand, making your dog’s safe place that bit more relaxing. Plugging the diffuser into this room gives off ‘comforting messages’ in your absence, making them feel even more secure in their environment when home alone.

 

4. Tips to Help My Dog Keep Calm

Like the super nanny of dogs, one of the most well known tricks is to avoid making a fuss about your departure.This goes hand in hand with tiring your fluffy friend to before leaving because what could be more perfect than leaving your dog in the mood for an afternoon nap whilst you’re away!

No one likes to be left with nothing to do, so for times when your dog just wants to keep playing be sure to leave them with fun toys or food puzzles to keep their mind occupied.

Crucial to this is also not to make a big deal when you return. Your pooch will naturally be over the moon to see you, but try not to make it into a big deal. By playing it cool upon your return your dog will begin to realise that time alone is part of the normal way of life. So give it a few minutes, let yourself settle in, your dog will no doubt be demanding attention, and then once they’ve calmed down a little bit you can shower them with love.

 

So there you have it, some top tips on how to help your dog stay home alone. Remember – the best thing about being away from your pooch is you get all the love in the world when you return ! Just, you know, play it cool 🙂

For any serious behavioural issues please feel free to book a behavioural consult with one of our vets (Ph: 02 9797 2555 E: contact@summerhillvillagevet.com)

Update on Covid-19 and Pets

At Summer Hill Village Vet we are constantly monitoring the Covid-19 situation with respect to our pets and to keep you accurately informed.

Our information is primarily sourced from:

  • World Health Organisation,
  • Australian Government Department of Health,
  • NSW Veterinary Practitioners Board and
  • Australian Veterinary Association.

To date there have been NO CASES of transmission of virus from animals to humans.

WHO reports that the primary source of SARS-COV-2 transmission remains human-to-human contact.

This does not mean however that the virus cannot be found living on animals.

There have been a few cases of humans transmitting the virus to an animal: it has been reported in a dog, in cats, in ferrets and even a tiger!


What does that mean for us as pet owners?

It means we need take some common-sense precautions which we have summarised below:

  1. Keep your pets in your “isolation bubble” to prevent other people from transferring the virus on to their bodies.

Avoid letting other people pat your dog in public.

We want to prevent your pets from acting the same as any other surface you might touch in public.

Don’t panic if someone does touch your dog for some reason…you can always just give them a bath (soap kills coronavirus).

You will see us maintaining the integrity of your “bubble” in the clinic by using masks, hand washing, alcohol based hand rubs and sometimes gloves.

  1. Contact your vet if you are diagnosed with coronavirus and we will advise you on the current recommendations for your pet.

At this point we would advise you to keep your pet isolated in your home, and minimise close contact (such as smooching with your face, etc).

We recommend good hand hygiene before and after handling your pet and their food/water bowls.

If there are non-infected members of the household it would be better if they looked after the pet.

We would also advise you to make a care plan for your pet in the unfortunate event that you are hospitalised.


Please feel free to call us with any questions or concerns you may have.

If you have a specific situation you would like to discuss please reach out by calling

02 9797 2555 or email us contact@summerhillvillagevet.com.

We are happy to provide more detailed information on any topic if needed.

Emergency boarding is available for cats if required.

We have protocols and procedures in place for dealing with folks who are self-isolating because they are at risk, as well as for folks who are unfortunate enough to become infected with coronavirus.

Always call us first and we will advise on best way forward to treat your pet under your individual circumstances.

FAQs about the Coronavirus

Corona FAQs

Q: What is SHVV doing to make their hospital as safe as possible for me and my pet?

A: We are monitoring AVA, NSW Government & WHO guidelines & updating our practice protocols constantly. We are asking clients who are unwell to stay at home, keeping employees home if they are unwell, cleaning surfaces within the clinic & maintaining distance as much as possible. Please help us by following our requests to stand back from reception, use hand-sanitisers etc.

Q: What can I do to help keep SHVV a safe place?

A: We need to minimise contact time between people so please

  • Limit the number of people presenting your pet to just one owner if possible
  • When arriving for your appointment, please wait in your car
  • Please phone us from your car on arrival and we can return the phone call to welcome you into the clinic when we are ready to see your pet.
  • Please use hand sanitisers located in the clinic.
  • Please phone ahead to order required prescription medicine repeats or food, worming and flea control in advance so we can arrange to have them ready for you without the need to wait.

Q: My pet needs to be seen by a Vet but I’m in self-isolation (maybe I have tested positive to COVID-19). What can I do?

A: Call us! We will discuss options – rest assured we will find a way to care for your pet. Please do not break quarantine and put other people at risk.

Q: I need to come to the Vet hospital but I don’t want to (because I’m elderly or immunocompromised). What can I do?

A: Call us! We will discuss options – rest assured we will find a way to care for your pet. Options include dropping-off medications, house-calls or collecting your pet to be examined at the hospital.

Q: How does COVID-19 spread?

A: The World Health Organisation states: People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

Q: Can I catch Covid-19 from my pet?

A: The World Health Organisation states: While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.

Q: Can humans catch COVID-19 from animals?

A: The World Health Organisation states: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in animals. Occasionally, people get infected with these viruses which may then spread to other people. For example, SARS-CoV was associated with civet cats and MERS-CoV is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed.

To protect yourself, such as when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.

Useful links:

Coronavirus: Information for looking after your pets

Update on taking care of your pets during the coronavirus epidemic

We know this is an anxious time for everyone and you may be concerned how best to look after your pet in this current situation.

Until advised otherwise, we are open as normal – here are some guidelines to help both humans and animals stay safe and healthy.

If your pet needs veterinary attention and:

  • You have been overseas within the last 14days
  • You’re experiencing symptoms
  • Need to self-isolate

Please phone us for advice and we will make a plan together with you.

In line with social distancing recommendations, we are keeping waiting times to a minimum.

We ask you to:

  • Limit the number of people presenting your pet to just one owner if possible
  • When arriving for your appointment, don’t come straight in, take a look through the window and if there is no clear space to sit away from other people, stay outside if possible
  • Please phone us if you are waiting outside or in your car, and we can return the phone call to let you know when the waiting room is fairly empty or to welcome you into the clinic when we are ready to see your pet.

Please use hand sanitisers located in the clinic.

Please phone ahead to order required prescription medicine repeats or food, worming and flea control in advance so we can arrange to have them ready for you without the need to wait.

Call or email us with questions and check our web site for updates.

We are working hard to ensure we can continue to provide complete veterinary care.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. This situation is rapidly evolving, and we will provide updates as required.

Note that this is a rapidly evolving situation and advice provided here is reflective of the evidence at hand. For up to date information on the COVID-19 situation in Australia go to health.gov.au

 

Information about the dog in Hong Kong who tested positive:

Puppy’s First Vet Visit

Congratulations on your new family member! A new puppy is always an exciting time for the entire family.

Who can resist the wagging tail, puppy kisses and all too big paws of a growing pup

Whether you are a veteran puppy parent or not, it is always a good idea to bring your new little friend for a vet check – even if they are completely healthy and up to date with vaccinations.

The reason that we encourage a first vet check for your puppy is so that we can check for any health conditions that are not always obvious (for example heart murmurs or funny knees).

Another good reason for a first puppy check is that you can ask our vets any questions you have concerning your puppies health, training and future plans (this can range from discussions about diet, pet insurance, vaccination frequency, appropriate parasite prevention, dental health, toilet training and etc.)

We have complementary puppy packs for your pups first visit which gives you all the information you need to give your little friend the best start in life, you can access one of the puppy care plans here.

Make looking after your new puppy easier with our Pet Wellness Plans!

Lastly, we have Pet Wellness Plans that allow you spread the costs of your new puppies health needs as well saving you time and money.

These plans mean you never have to pay for your puppies vaccinations up front and also mean all their necessary parasite protection is delivered automatically to your front door whenever they are due.

We also include 20% off your puppies’ desexing, free microchipping and four free standard vet consults on these plans!

Read more about our Wellness Plans or Sign up directly here. 

What to expect for your puppies’ first vet visit and vaccination

 

Santa Paws 2019!