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Lynwood Veterinary Clinic
568 Metcalfe Rd
Ferndale, WA, 6148
Phone: 08 9451 3575

Welcome to March's newsletter. We hope everyone gets time off over Easter to celebrate with family and friends. Just make sure all those Easter eggs are well hidden and out of reach of pets so you don't have any unexpected trips to the emergency vet over the long weekend.

We will be closed for the public holidays (Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday) though open as usual for consultations on Saturday 31st March. 

In March we will be saying farewell to Nurse Ana who is off to a nursing position in a country vet practice in order to fulfill sponsorship requirements to achieve her goal of becoming a permanent resident in Oz. We will miss Ana's bright cheery smile and hope one day she will return to the Lynwood Vet family.  

We want all of our clients and  patients to feel part of the Lynwood Vet family and our goal is to make each and every vet visit as stress free as possible.

Please read the article below with handy hints to make vet visits less stressful. Our pet's mental health is an important part of their overall well being and behavioural disorders need to be treated just as seriously as any other illness. 

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Contents of this newsletter

01  Handy Hints to Reduce Stress at the Vet

02  Why is my cat doing that?

03  Chocolate toxicity - what to do

04  Easter health hazards you might not know about

05  Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety?

06  A new study links raw chicken to paralysis in dogs

01 Handy Hints to Reduce Stress at the Vet

Taking your pet to the vet can be a stressful experience for both you and your pet. There are some things you can do to help make the vet visits less stressful for all involved. 

1. Consider bringing your dog in for social calls, to have treats and receive some love from the staff, that way your pet is less likely to associate the vet clinic with unpleasant experiences such as being unwell and having injections. Social visits are best done during quiet times in the middle of the day rather than during busy morning or evening consult sessions.

Puppy preschool is definitely recommended to develop your pup's confidence in the clinic - puppy school graduates are generally very happy to visit, often pulling their owners in to see us. 

2. Place your cat's carrier out a few days before your visit or even keep it out in the house so it becomes part of the furniture. Help your cat to associate it with nice experiences by feeding treats or favourite foods nearby and then encourage them to explore the carrier at home without closing them in. Keep a familiar blanket or towel in the bottom so it smells like home and also to make it less slippery when travelling. 

3. Book one of the first appointments in the morning or afternoon consulting times if possible as the waiting room is generally quieter during these times.

4. Spraying a calming pheromone in your pet's carrier, or for dogs on their harness or a bandana, can also be of benefit. Adaptil is suitable for dogs, and Feliway for cats. Both can easily be purchased over the counter at our clinic. Using catnip in your cat's carrier is another option, however please take care, as some cats may react negatively to it, therefore try a few days before your visit if you have not used it before.

5. Try and leave home on time for your appointment. Firstly this will reduce your stress. Secondly this will also give you time to ensure a smooth drive to the clinic, time to go slow around corners and reduce your pets stress and possible car sickness during the drive. Playing classical or other soothing music on the drive can also be of benefit for your pet.

6. Ensure your pet is safely restrained for the car trip. This is safety issue as loose pets can cause accidents by distracting the driver, may escape an open window, and can be injured in the event of an accident. It will also help your pet feel more secure therefore reduce anxiety. If your dog is used to a crate at home, and this fits in the car, travelling in this is a good idea, or a harness that connects to the seatbelt can be worn. Draping the crate or cat carrier with a towel will reduce visual stress.

Try and keep your own nerves under control if you are feeling worried as your pet will be affected by subtle signs that you are anxious too - remind yourself to breathe slowly and speak quietly. Sometimes both the owner and the pet are less stressed with the owner not being present for procedures such as taking blood or nail clipping. Consider leaving the room or asking the vet team to take your pet out to the treatment room. Even our own staff can find it difficult when their own pets are unwell and stressed so don't feel embarassed if you feel this way. 

If your pet is still severely stressed despite trying all these strategies, pre visit medication may be indicated. You will need to speak to us about this prior to your visit, but medications may not be suitable for every situation.

02 Why is my cat doing that?

Cats are unique creatures and they will occasionally display certain behaviours that you need to watch out for as it can be an indication that something else is going on. 

Here are a couple of behaviours to be aware of: 

1. Spraying urine

The act of spraying involves a cat backing up to a vertical surface such as the wall,  a piece of furniture, or curtains (usually about 20cm from the floor). The cat will quiver his raised tail and tread with his back feet as urine is directed backwards.

Stress can bring on spraying and it is often associated with territorial or competitive behaviour.

If you notice this behaviour, a check up with us is essential. Once we've ruled out any medical problems we can help reduce your cat's anxiety and manage feline spraying. Ask us for more information.

2. Scratching the furniture

Scratching allows your cat to sharpen their claws and also helps them to leave scent markers or a "calling card."

Unfortunately, some cats will choose to sharpen their claws on furniture and think that the back of the sofa is just one giant scratching post!

What to do if your cat is damaging furniture:

  • Place a scratching post right next to the furniture the cat is currently scratching
  • Offer a variety of scratching substrates; don’t offer just one carpeted scratching post - try cardboard, logs of wood
  • Deter the cat from scratching furniture by placing double-sided sticky tape on it. Many cats find the stickiness of the tape unpleasant
  • There will be a new Feliway product called Feliscratch available in Australia very soon to help redirect unwanted scratching to your desired location. 

If you’re worried about your cat's behaviour you should always ask us for advice.

03 Chocolate toxicity - what to do

Most dogs love chocolate and with their strong sense of smell they are very good at finding it! The problem is, dogs are not able to metabolise theobromine, a derivative of caffeine found in chocolate.

Ingestion can lead to an increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhoea, agitation, tremors, seizures and even death. Cooking and dark chocolate are the most toxic but ingestion of ANY chocolate can be a problem.

Not surprisingly, Easter is one of the busiest times for chocolate toxicities and if your dog happens to eat an Easter egg, here's what we will do:

1. We will ask you how much and what type of chocolate your dog has eaten. This helps us work out just how dangerous the ingestion might be. Remember, that cooking and dark chocolate are the most toxic, followed by milk and then white chocolate.

The toxicity is also related to the size of your dog and the amount ingested. It is important to realise that any amount of chocolate can cause a problem so veterinary advice is always advised.

2. We will most likely induce emesis (which simply means we make your dog vomit). This is usually done using injection under the skin or application of a medication in to the eye. Vomiting tends to occur quickly and can sometimes be quite spectacular (especially if the wrapping has been consumed too!).

3. If we don't feel enough chocolate has been vomited or if the symptoms are serious, a charcoal meal or enema may be given to help reduce the toxicity. Some dogs will also need further supportive care including intravenous fluid therapy and hospitalisation.

Please phone us immediately, even if you only think your dog has ingested chocolate. We will give you the best advice. 

04 Easter health hazards you might not know about

It's not only chocolate that can be an issue at Easter! There are a few other potential dangers - here's what you should watch out for:

1. Hot Cross Buns

Many people are not aware that sultanas and raisins (and grapes) may contain a toxin that can cause kidney damage in dogs. Keep these off the menu at all times and watch for any that happen to drop on the floor (a common issue if you have little kids!) Call us for advice if your dog ingests any.

2. Easter lilies

These beautiful fragrant flowers if ingested, can cause kidney failure in cats. The stems, leaves, flowers and stamen are all dangerous, as is the water the flowers are stored in. If you are worried about your cat you should call us and we will advise you on what you should do.

3. Easter toys

Those tiny fluffy baby chicken toys, plastic Easter eggs and bunny ears may be good basket stuffers for your kids, but your pet might think they look extra tasty and fun to chew on. They should all be kept away from cats and dogs as they can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction.

If your pet ingests any of the above over the Easter period call us immediately for advice. Make sure you have emergency numbers on hand if it is out of our normal opening hours.

05 Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety?
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Dogs are social creatures and they form strong bonds with humans. Most dogs cope ok with the daily separation from their owners but unfortunately some dogs will become very distressed and even destructive, a problem known as separation anxiety.

Watch out for:

  • Barking, howling
  • Excessive chewing, digging and pacing
  • Destruction and scratching of barriers - especially near doors and windows
  • House soiling

Our top tips to help reduce your dog’s anxiety:

  • Take your dog for a walk before you leave the house
  • Don’t make huge fuss when you leave your dog or when you return
  • Start small - leave your dog alone for only five minutes extending to twenty minutes then an hour, then longer
  • Leave your dog with plenty of stimulating toys, chews and mind games
  • Leave the radio or television on for company

Please don't hesitate to speak to us if you think your dog is developing separation problems. We have plenty of tools available to help you and your pet. 

06 A new study links raw chicken to paralysis in dogs

There has recently been a study that has linked the consumption of raw chicken with an increased risk of paralysis in dogs.

The study, conducted by the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital, found the consumption of raw chicken meat (particularly raw chicken necks) increases the risk of dogs developing acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) by more than 70 times.

APN is a rare but debilitating condition where a dog's hind legs become weak and the paralysis then progresses to the front legs, neck, head and face. Dogs can take many months to recover but in some cases, the disease can be fatal.

It is thought that the dog's immune system progressively attacks its own nerve roots, similar to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in humans. The bacteria Campylobacter is now considered a triggering agent in up to 40 percent of GBS patients. It is possible that Campylobacter (often present in raw chicken products) is likely to be a triggering agent for APN. You read more about the study here.

Ask us for more information if you are worried about your dog or have any questions about what to feed your pet.