Enfield Veterinary Hospital
94 Coronation Parade
Enfield, NSW, 2136

enfieldvet@bigpond.com.au
Phone: 02 9747 3999
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To All the Friends of Enfield Vet and their Pets,

The December newsletter focuses on the problem of itchy pets. The start of summer is when this issue becomes really apparent in our pets - a combination of hot/humid weather (and sticky skin), more fleas and more allergens and pollen in the air.

The first thing to check when your pet is scratching is whether flea treatment is up to date. If flea control is not current then treating your pet is the first step in the prevention of itch. Many dogs and cats will scratch excessively with as little as 1 or 2 fleas if they are allergic to the flea salive (as many, many pets are). If you need advice on which flea treatment is best please call the hospital to discuss - there are many new flea treatments available with much improved efficacy compared to some of the older ones.

At Enfield Vet, we are all very experienced in treating dermatological issues so if things don't settle down after use of a flea treatment then give us a call to make an appointment and to have your pet's skin assessed. There are plenty of medications available to give a reprieve from the itching.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you (and your pets) a very merry Christmas. We hope the New Year brings good health to both you and your pets.

The Team at Enfield Vet Hospital

Contents of this newsletter

01  Ditch the itch this Christmas

02  Charlie's itchy ears

03  Scratchy bottom

04  Prevent a crisis this Christmas

05  AIDS - is your cat protected?

01 Ditch the itch this Christmas
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Without doubt, the best gift you can give your pet this Christmas is comfort. And we don't mean a king sized bed or a back massage! The most simple way to make sure your pet is comfy is to prevent itchy skin. 

Allergies to fleas, grasses, trees, plant pollen, dust mites and moulds as well as certain foods can all set off an attack of the itches. 

Itchy dogs will bite, lick or scratch with their legs whereas a cat will constantly lick at particular areas, causing hair loss. 

Itching quickly leads to self-trauma of the skin and this causes secondary infections that require (expensive) antibiotic treatment.

Top tips for preventing an itch: 

  • Be absolutely vigilant with flea treatment all year round. Fleas are THE major cause of an itchy pet and regular use of a flea treatment is cheaper and easier than repairing the damage. Ask us for the best flea treatment available
  • Keep your pet's skin and coat in top shape to provide a good barrier from allergens - ask us for a premium diet balanced in essential fatty acids 
  • Wash your dog in pet approved shampoo and conditioner - ask us for a recommendation
  • Some pets may find relief with an antihistamine or a medication to help reduce the immune system's response to the allergen - we can provide you with more information so enquire now

If you have an itchy pet at your house call us for advice. We will make sure your pet is as comfortable and itch free as can be! 

02 Charlie's itchy ears
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Charlie the chocolate labrador was shaking his head and using his foot to have a old good scratch around his head. He was wearing a new collar and his owners thought this was the culprit, but when he started to smell a bit funny he came in for a check up. 

An examination revealed hot, red and itchy ears. There was black 'muck' at the opening of his ear canals and his ears smelt terrible!

Using an otoscope (a fancy tool with a light) the canal was examined all the way to the ear drum. There was no sign of a foreign body (such as a grass seed) but the ear canals were very inflamed.

A sample was taken from the canal and examined under the microscope revealing a yeast infection. This was causing the horrible smell!

Ear infections are very common at this time of the year. We like to think of the ear as a 'mini environment'. If this environment is upset in any way (such as moisture from swimming or itchiness from an allergy) bacteria and yeast start to have a party in there! The result is a very unhappy ear canal and an uncomfortable pet. 

Charlie was treated with ear ointment for a week and a recheck revealed the infection and inflammation had cleared. 

If you think your pet might have itchy or smelly ears arrange a check up with us ASAP. The longer you leave an ear infection, the harder (and more expensive) it becomes to treat.

If your pet suffers from recurrent ear infections you should ask us about some of the new medications we have available to help prevent ongoing problems. 

03 Scratchy bottom
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Have you ever witnessed your dog dragging his bottom along the ground? This strange doggy dance is known as 'scooting' and it is an indication that your dog has irritated anal glands.

The anal glands are located on either side of your dog's anus. Each gland holds a small amount of a foul smelling brown liquid that is released as your pet does a poo. This custom scent is left on the poo and this is used as a doggie calling card.

Most dogs won’t have a problem but if the glands are not sufficiently expressed they become impacted and uncomfortable. Your dog will try to relieve the irritation by rubbing his bottom along the ground. 

Dogs that suffer from allergies and itchy skin are very susceptible to irritated anal glands. 

Warning signs to watch out for:

  • Licking or chewing the bottom, turning around suddenly
  • Rubbing bottom on the ground especially after defecating
  • A foul odour (some describe it as a 'fishy' smell)
  • Soft stools or diarrhoea - the glands can become impacted following a bout of diarrhoea

If you notice any of these signs, the glands need to be manually checked and expressed by us to check infection is not present. A premium diet can also help reduce anal gland problems so ask us for a recommendation.  

04 Prevent a crisis this Christmas
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Here are our top tips to help prevent a Christmas catastrophe and keep your pet healthy and happy this Christmas.

Keep leftovers off the menu!

Don't be tempted to feed your pet leftovers. Christmas dinner is notorious for causing upset tummies and nasty episodes of painful pancreatitis in our pets. Never feed cooked bones and watch out for skewered meat that falls from the BBQ - we don't want to have to remove one of those from your dog's stomach!

Be on hazard watch

Be on the look out for hazardous things your pet might find interesting. Cats love Christmas ornaments, electrical wires, ribbon, string and wrapping paper but all of these can cause major problems if ingested. Candles and burning oils are also dangerous. Remember that ingestion of stems, stamen or the flowers of Christmas lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.

Make festive plans for your pet

Give your pet plenty of love and attention over Christmas - it is a busy time of year and your pet will pick up on this. Make sure you plan out some fun for your pet on Christmas Day and remember to keep them safe and secure during festive fireworks.

Don't forget: We have some great treats and presents available to help stuff your pet's Christmas stocking so drop by to check them out!

05 AIDS - is your cat protected?
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It's World AIDS Day on 1st December so now is as good a time as ever to alert you to the fact that your feline friend can also develop the disease. 

What causes Feline AIDS?

Feline AIDS is caused by the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) which affects the immune system of cats. FIV acts in the same way as the human form of HIV, destroying the immune system and leaving a cat susceptible to infections, disease and cancers. Once a cat has been infected, FIV can then progress to feline acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, also known as Feline AIDS.

How is FIV spread?

The virus is most commonly spread from cat to cat through saliva (via a bite wound) but can also be transmitted by a mother cat to her kittens across the placenta or through her milk. Close to 30% of cats in Australia are thought to be FIV positive. Any cat that ventures outside and has contact with an infected cat is at risk. Thankfully FIV cannot be transferred to humans. 

Can I prevent the disease? 

There is good news for cats and cat lovers as there is a vaccine available to help prevent FIV infection - ask us about the vaccination program available to help protect your cat. Given that a successful vaccine has been developed against FIV, there is hope that an effective vaccine against HIV will be developed in the future.