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22 December, 2013
Christmas Dangers - Keep your pet safe this festive season!

Who doesn’t love Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations? There is lots of good food and spending time with all your loved ones (especially the furry ones)! However with all the fun and happenings at this time of the year there are a few extra dangers that might confront your pet. 

  • Grapes, Raisins and Sultanas
    Did you know that grapes, raisins and sultanas can be toxic to your pet? They can cause renal failure, which can show up as vomiting, increased thirst and urination. So make sure you keep your fruitcake, pudding and mince pies out of your dog’s reach.
  • Chocolate
    Chocolate is a big no no for pets, especially dark chocolate. Caffeine, as well as a compound called Theobromine, can cause tummy upsets and neurological and heart problems. So it’s essential that all chocolates are safely stored away. Also be cautious of boxes of chocolates as gifts as they can be placed under trees where dogs may find them!
  • Human foods and Bones
    Don’t feed your pet human foods especially the fat off roasts or bones as they can lead to pancreatitis (a very painful tummy upset) or obstructions from the bone shards.  Other human foods that can be toxic to pets include avocado, macadamia nuts, onion, garlic and dairy products. Ensure any guests or children know not to feed your pets any tidbits!
  • Alcohol
    All alcoholic drinks are very toxic to dogs and cats, so ensure all beverages are kept on a high table and packed away at the end of the evening. Signs you may see include vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. In the worst cases it can lead to coma, seizures and death.  
  • Decorations
    Christmas decorations such as tinsel, baubles and ribbon are such fun to play with pets (kitty cats particularly think so), but create a high risk for choking or being swallowed and causing intestinal obstruction. Ensure that your pet is supervised when playing around the Christmas tree and don’t put tinsel on your pet without strict supervision. Ensure that the cords for lights on your Christmas tree are out of your dog’s reach. Puppies in particular are always looking for something to chew and can be electrocuted if they chew through a cable. Christmas trees can also be dangerous as cats can climb and may fall or knock glass decorations down. Boisterous dogs have also been known to knock trees over, so ensure your tree is secure. If you have a live tree ensure your pet doesn’t drink any of the water in the pot as chemical additives and tree saps can be toxic.
  • Presents
    Any presents left under the tree can be interesting for an inquisitive dog or cat so it’s important to keep them out of their reach! Don’t put ANY food presents under trees and be aware that many things can be chewed up before you even realise.
  • Hot weather 
    Heat stress and stroke are much more likely as the temperature rises. Give your pet access to multiple water bowls (weigh them down with a brick if they like to paddle in them). Only exercise your pet in the early morning and late afternoon/evening; if it’s too hot for you to go for a run, it’s too hot for your dog. This is particularly important for brachycephalic breeds (i.e. pugs, bulldogs etc.). You can even consider getting a paddling pool for your pooch to sit in and cool off. Or you can make doggie ice-blocks by mixing some dog treats or food in water and freezing in an ice cream container. Never leave your dog in a car unsupervised even with the windows down as temperatures rise rapidly.
  • Lily toxicity
    Cat owners be careful if giving or receiving flowers, as lilies are toxic to cats and can lead to acute renal failure even after nibbling on a tiny piece of leaf. It is essential that cats never have access to these plants. If you suspect that your cat may have eaten any part of a lily then early treatment is essential to prevent permanent damage or death.
  • Fireworks
    Fireworks can be particularly frightening for dogs, if you are leaving your dog home alone over New Year’s Eve there are a few things that can help ease their stress. Give them lots of exercise prior to leaving so they are worn out and sleepy. Leave them with a chew treat or stuffed Kong to distract them. Ensure they are well confined in a safe familiar space – preferably indoors. And make sure that their microchip and collar tag details are up to date (so if they do escape you can be contacted).
  • Guests
    Christmas and the holiday period can cause a lot of upheaval to pets. New people, boisterous children and lots of family members visiting can lead to anxiety in some animals. Try and keep their normal routine as much as possible, especially in regards to exercise and walks.  Give your pets a place to escape away from everyone if they are feeling overwhelmed. Supervise children very closely when playing with pets. Some children are unfamiliar with how to act – teach them to pat gently and calmly, never go near a dog who is eating or has a toy, teach them the signals that a dog is uncomfortable (backing away, whites of eyes showing, yawning, lip licking, growling) and finally ensure they let the dog be if they move away and don’t chase or follow the dog.
10 December, 2013

Saturday 14th December - 9:00am to 12:00pm

Help us celebrate our very first Christmas - with Santa Paws!
Straight from the North Pawl, Santa and his elf companion Daphne, have come to give your special little friend a Christmas to remember!

  • Pet Pawtraits with Santa - Naughty or Nice, it doesn't matter. Everyone is cute to Santa Paws! (we hear his beard tastes like chicken, and his pockets are a bottomless pit of treats and yum-yums!)

    Compawtitions - Guessing Games, Colouring in for the kiddies (Norman themed, of course!), Raffles and more

    WIN! - Tickets to Queensland Ballet's 2014 Production of Coppelia - A comic ballet originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Leon, this production by Greg Horsman is set in the small South Australian town of Hahndorf in the late 19th Century, with the original music by Leo Delibes. Tickets are available on the day!

    Best Dressed - Theme: Red, Green & Purple! Have your little one dress up and join the holiday spirit for the chance to win their very own Pet Prize! Either arrive on the day in festive fashion, or post a photo of your little one to our Facebook page to enter. 
    So come along and join in the fun! We want to celebrate this fun and happy time with those we get the joy of spending each and every day with... YOU!

    Proceeds go to supporting Guide Dogs Queensland, and all the work they do with the cute and cuddly puppies that one day, will be the eyes for their vision impaired human friends and companions.

6 November, 2013
FLEAS: Know your Enemy!
3 November, 2013

As we come into the beautiful Queensland spring one problem always pops up in lots of pets at this time on the year – Fleas! On top of making your pet itchy, flea infestation can also lead to a range of other problems.

  • Flea Allergic Dermatitis
  • Flea Burden Anaemia
  • Feline Infectious Anaemia
  • Tapeworm Infection


There are over 1900 flea species in the world. In our pets there is only one species of concern: Ctenocephalides felis, the cat flea. This is the flea that we find on our pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, and other species) in 99% of cases. By understanding a little more about this parasite and the conditions it can cause, you can help your pet to live a flea-free life!

The Flea Life Cycle

Once you understand the flea life cycle the easier it is to control any infestation. There are four life stages of the flea and it is important to know how to break this life cycle in more than one place.

The Egg

At any given time about one third of the flea population in your home is in the egg stage. The adult female flea lays up to 40 eggs daily. The eggs are laid on your pet where they fall off to hatch in the environment.

The Larvae

At any given time about 57% of the fleas in someone’s home are in the larval stage. Larvae are like little caterpillars crawling around grazing on the flea dirt (faeces) that is generally in their vicinity. Flea eggs and flea dirt both fall off the host. When the eggs hatch, there is a bounty of food prepared lovingly by all the host’s fleas waiting for the hatchlings.

The Pupae.

Only 8% of fleas make it to the pupal stage but once they have spun cocoons they are nearly invincible. Inside the developing cocoon, the pupa is turning into the flea that we are familiar with. They are especially protected under carpet, which is why carpet has developed such a reputation as a shelter for fleas. The pupa can remain dormant in its cocoon for many months, maybe even up to a year as it waits for the right time to emerge.

The Adult Flea

After the pupa develops, it does not automatically emerge from its cocoon. Instead, it is able to remain in the cocoon until it detects a nearby host. When the mature pupa feels the time is right, he emerges from the cocoon, hungry and eager to find a host. An unfed flea is able to live for months without a blood meal.  After the adult flea finds a host and takes its first blood meal, the cycle begins again. The female flea begins to produce eggs within 24 to 48 hours of her first blood meal and will lay eggs continually until she dies. The average life span of the adult flea is 4 to 6 weeks.

Problems caused by flea infestation

Flea Allergy
Flea allergic dermatitis is the most common skin disease in dogs and cats. It occurs due to the pet’s immune system over-reacting to the saliva from flea bites. This leads to intense itchiness, scabs, open sores and hair loss, often seen around the base of the tail.   For the flea allergic patient, 100% flea control is essential for the pet to remain symptom-free. 

Flea Burden Anaemia

Did you know that the female flea consumes 15 times her own body weight in blood daily! A very large burden of fleas in small, young, the very elderly or debilitated pets can lead to a severe and life threatening anaemia. Often late in the disease the only successful treatment is a blood transfusion and rapid treatment with flea control.

Feline Infectious Anaemia

Feline infectious anaemia is a bacterial parasite called Mycoplasma haemofelis that is spread to cats by fleas. A cat becomes infected from a bite from an infected flea and soon the cat’s red blood cells are covered with free-loading mycoplasma organisms. The cat’s immune system eventually detects the foreign bacteria and mounts an attack which leads to the red blood cells removal and destruction. The problem is that if many red blood cells are destroyed that the cat becomes anaemic. The infected sick cat is pale and weak, and they will sometimes have a fever. Treatment generally involves antibiotics, flea control and sometimes a blood transfusion and medication to decrease the attack on the red blood cells.

Tapeworm Infestation

There are many species of tapeworm but the one most of us are familiar with is the common tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. This parasite is commonly spread to cats and dogs by fleas. Humans, especially children can also become infected!  Tapeworms usually do not cause clinical signs unless the tapeworms are present in large numbers. Diarrhoea may occur in this situation. Proglottids (white segments of the tapeworm) may be seen in the faeces and these may cause an irritation which causes the dog to drag its bottom (scoot) on the ground or floor.

Common myths about fleas

• My pet cannot have fleas because he lives entirely indoors.

Fleas thrive particularly well in the warm, humid, well-regulated temperatures in the home.

• My pet cannot have fleas because if there were any fleas they would be biting the people in the household.

Fleas prefer animals as their feeding source, humans are the last choice on the menu and humans tend not to be bitten unless flea population numbers are high.

• We do not have fleas because we have only hard wood floors.

Fleas love to develop in the cracks between the boards of hard wood floors.

• My pet cannot have fleas because I would see them.

You’d be surprised how frequently this is heard, but alas particularly when there is only a small population of fleas they can be surprisingly easy to miss!

Flea control and prevention

Prevention is always better than a cure, so it is imperative to keep your pets covered with regular flea prevention. This is generally a monthly product given as a tablet or top spot (liquid applied between the animal’s shoulders). For dogs, Toowong Family Vet recommends the use of monthly Comfortis for flea control, or for a combined flea and tick preventative, Advantix fortnightly. For Cats we recommend the use of Advocate or Revolution monthly, there are also other options available that you can discuss with your veterinarian.

In combination with preventatives for your pets, it is advisable to use environmental control and regular vacuuming to limit the number of fleas in the environment. Fencing off sandy areas, particularly under houses, can be very advantageous in limiting nesting places for fleas on your outdoor pets.

The truth is this: fleas are always going to be around. You can however, help your pet be as flea free as possible. Know as much about this pest as you do about the dogs and cats that it feeds upon. One thing's for sure - you can't know too much when it comes to flea control!Please feel free to contact us on 3613 9644 or if you have any questions or would like more information.

YOUR PET'S DENTAL HEALTH - What's it all about?
1 September, 2013

In our pets, dirty teeth and gums can lead to periodontal disease. This is a disease of the supporting structures of the tooth, gingiva (gum), periodontal ligaments (the ligaments holding the teeth in place) and alveolar bone (in which the teeth sit). Periodontal disease is irreversible and results in the extraction of effected teeth.

So how do our pets’ teeth get to this stage and what can we do to prevent it?

A new layer of plaque accumulates on teeth every 12 to 24 hours. Due to its biofilm mechanics, plaque can only be removed mechanically. If this plaque is not removed, it becomes mineralised to form calculus. The surface of calculus if very rough, which in turn facilitates further plaque build-up.

This layer of plaque is not just present on the visible surfaces of the teeth, but develops in the gingival sulcus (i.e. just under the gum line). The plaque is filled with billions of bacteria. Subsequently our pets get red, swollen gums, which is the inflammation brought about by the presence of the bacterial plaque. This is called gingivitis and it is reversible with a dental scale and polish procedure. Once gingivitis is present, we know that subgingival plaque exists and that the only way to remove this is with subgingival debridement (i.e. manually removing the plaque from under the gum line). This cannot be performed on a cat or a dog without a general anaesthesia as the sharp instruments that are used are a danger to a wriggly animal who would not understand what is being done to him or her.

If a dental scale and polish is not performed at this stage, then the reversible gingivitis progresses to irreversible periodontal disease, where the subginigival inflammation from the plaque and bacteria leads to loss of gingival attachment and ligamentous support for the tooth. Eventually this will lead to bone destruction. Once the teeth have reached this stage, they usually require extraction.

Chronic periodontal disease is not just a problem for the oral cavity. With so much bacteria present under the gum, the cat or dog will experience intermittent bacteraemia (i.e. bacteria in the blood stream) which can affect the heart and the kidneys, which are the body’s two main blood-receiving organs.

If a cat or dog already has good teeth or the teeth have just been cleaned in a dental procedure, then a prevention protocol can be put in place. It involves the following:


Daily brushing is ideal. Plaque forms within 12 to 24 hours, so if you brush your cat or dog’s teeth once a day, then you will be giving them a good chance of avoiding the development of plaque. Finger brushes or a coarse face washer or gauze over the finger are best. A special pet toothpaste is required as human toothpaste contains fluoride, which should not be swallowed. Please never use human toothpaste on animals.


Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D or Royal Canin Dental

Presciption dental foods are dry biscuits where the kibble is prepared in large pieces with a fibre matrix that resists crumbling. This way the kibble works its way over the tooth before it breaks up and therefore cleans the surface of the tooth. For most cats and dogs, Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D or Royal Canin Dental can be fed as a sole maintenance food (there are exceptions for patients that are on other prescription diets for specific conditions).


For cats and dogs that definitely will not allow brushing, their teeth can be rinsed twice a week with Hexarinse, which is a 0.2% chlorhexidine solution. This helps reduce the bacterial load on the teeth.


We do not recommend bones as a component in homecare oral health. They do not work as well as brushing and dental food, and in many cases make teeth worse. We see many fractures and worn teeth from bone chewers and therefore we end up performing dental procedure because of bones. As well as this, we also see flatulence, constipation or diarrhoea, and occasional obstruction when animals are given bones. They are not worth it.

FOR DENTAL MONTH – Our first 10 pets booked for a dental in Dental Month will receive HALF-PRICE pre-anaesthetic blood testing! Normally priced at $96.50, this test is not only important prior to an anaesthetic in order to assess organ function, but it is important to get baseline values for your pet in order to monitor them for any future or ongoing medical conditions.