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A partner in maintaining
your pet's health!

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St Bernards Road Vet

The most common questions we get asked!

Why should I de-sex my dog or cat? 

There are many reasons to have your dog or cat spayed or castrated.

If a female is in season, it is advisable to wait 6-8 weeks post season before desexing. This is because the blood vessels supplying the uterus and ovaries enlarge and become more friable (easier to rupture), due to hormonal changes. The surgery takes longer and is more dangerous for your dog at this time due to increased risk of bleeding. Due to this, there is also an additional cost surcharge added if your pet is desexed whilst in season.

For females the most obvious reason is so they don’t accidentally become pregnant. While it may be nice for your family to experience your pet having puppies or kittens, don’t forget you then have the responsibility to find them homes, get them vaccinated, microchipped and wormed along with all the extra vet visits. Then, if there are complications with the birth, it can cost thousands of dollars for medical procedures to save your beloved pet. Having your dog spayed, especially before her first season, also decreases the chances of her getting mammary tumours (breast cancer), and eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers. Unspayed female dogs and cats may also develop an infection of the uterus, known as a pyometra, which can be life threatening and requires major surgery.

For male pets, castration can reduce behavioural problems such as aggression and roaming. It also decreases the risk of prostate diseases and some tumours. For male cats castration will greatly decrease the strong odour of their urine and reduce urine marking around your home and property.

For both males and females the cost of registering your pet is greatly reduced if they are desexed.

What is desexing?
Desexing your dog or cat is a surgical day procedure for both females and males.

For females the surgery is called a spay, or ovario-hysterectomy. During this surgery we remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus to the level of the cervix.
In males the surgery is called castration. During this procedure both the testes are removed so they are unable to produce sperm and breed.

When should I have my dog or cat desexed?
We recommend desexing dogs and cats between 4 and 6 months of age although the procedure can be performed any time after this age.

Will my pet gain weight if it is desexed?
It is a common myth that getting your pet spayed or castrated will cause weight gain. This is not true and daily exercise combined with feeding a controlled amount of a complete diet without excessive treats will control any problems of obesity, just as it does in an undesexed animal.

How do I prevent fleas on my pet? 

There are many types of products available that can prevent and kill fleas on your pet. These include spot on liquids that can be placed on the back of the neck or tablets.

Some of our best selling products are Frontline, Comfortis, Revolution, Advantage and Sentinel Spectrum.

Prices vary significantly between products so please come in and see us or call us and one of our team members will gladly assist you with advice on the product best suited to your pet. We will happily source any product you require should we not stock it.

Why is my pet itchy? 

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (atopy) is a condition where the dog is allergic to common environmental allergens such as pollens, moulds and dust mites. This condition often becomes apparent in the first 1-3 years of life and is characterised by seasonal or non-seasonal itching, scratching and chewing of multiple body parts. Saliva staining is often observed in the areas most affected, e.g. feet and groin. The ears are a continuation of the skin so ear infections are also very common in dogs with atopic dermatitis. Self trauma such as scratching and licking causes inflammation and the skin becomes prone to secondary infections with bacteria and yeast. In chronic (long term) disease the skin may become hairless, thickened, scaly and black. The coat may also feel greasy and have an offensive odour.

It is important to rule out any other causes of itchiness before assuming the cause is atopy. These include flea allergies, food allergies, infection, contact allergies, other parasitic infections and possible hormonal imbalances. These causes also often complicate atopic dermatitis, needing identification and treatment before any underlying atopy can be recognised. It is important to be aware that atopic dermatitis is a life long condition that often requires management with continuous treatment by a committed and motivated owner.

Methods of diagnosis

Food allergy is an uncommon cause of allergic skin disease, but if identified is easy to treat long term and the dog can live an easy itch-free life without the use of any drugs! A food allergy trial (elimination diet) is the method used to identify any food allergies. The dog should be fed a diet consisting of a completely novel (new) protein for at least 8 to 12 weeks and nothing else. In some dogs food allergy may coexist with other allergies, so a full or partial response may be noted. Home made diets that are best for trials must contain both a novel protein that your dog has not eaten before (e.g. kangaroo, venison) and a carbohydrate (e.g. sweet potato). This home cooked diet is not fully balanced so if your dog improves on the new diet we will consult with you to determine the best balanced hypo-allergenic diet for long term use. Commercial hypo-allergenic diets can be fed as a sole food source as it is a complete balanced diet.


Intra-dermal skin testing allows us to diagnose atopy and identify specific allergens (environmental substances that the dog is allergic to). Once identified, allergen avoidance may be the best and easiest treatment, but in most cases dogs are allergic to multiple allergens, or they are unavoidable (e.g. dust mites). In these cases we are able to create an allergy vaccine for life long treatment.


Allergen specific immuno-therapy (ASIT) involves injecting doses of specific allergens over a period of time. This is to help reduce the immune system “over reaction” so that the dog no longer reacts to the environmental stimulus to such an extent and is therefore less itchy. 70% of dogs have a good response and 25% can be controlled by ASIT alone, others need additional supportive treatment such as topical medication or antihistamines.


Blood tests and skin biopsies are occasionally needed to determine if there are any underlying hormonal imbalances or problems that may be causing immuno-suppression or dermatitis.

Medical therapy

Cyclosporin
This is the first choice treatment for allergic dermatitis. It is often as effective and has mild and often reversible side effects when compared to corticosteroids. Resolution of itchiness is usually seen within 2-4 weeks. In many cases Cyclosporin can be used at a tapering dose to every other day or twice weekly and still maintain patient comfort and control of atopy.


Prednisolone
This is a corticosteroid which suppresses the immune system, meaning it stops the immune system “over reacting” to allergens. It is not uncommon to trial corticosteroids (once infection has been ruled out) either as a diagnostic tool to see if there is a response, or as a control. Many dogs are well controlled on low dose Prednisolone, but this medication does have side effects such as increased appetite (and resultant weight gain) and increased thirst and urination.


Antihistamines
These are commonly used in the management of allergic dermatitis, but are a lot less effective in dogs with success in only 10-20% of cases. Beneficial effects should be observed in the first 7-14 days of treatment and there are few side effects. Importantly, they are mostly used in conjunction with other treatments to help reduce the dose or frequency of other drugs e.g. corticosteroids.


Essential Fatty Acids
(EFAs) have been found to be beneficial in the management of atopy, specifically omega 3 and omega 6. EFAs help inhibit the inflammation process at the skin layer as well as improving the skin barrier. Omega 3 is present in fish oils while omega 6 is in evening primrose oil. There is a formulation available from vets that contain both omega 3&6. Adding these to the diet may help with symptoms and can be used in conjunction with any of the above treatments.


Topical medications
Shampoos – There are a wide range of medicated shampoos conditioners and washes. When infection is present we recommend a shampoo that has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. If the skin is dry and itchy with no signs of infection then an oatmeal shampoo and conditioner is recommended as it helps to sooth the itch and moisturise dry flaky skin.

Creams – Topical creams may also help sooth itchy skin. Most contain an antibiotic, an anti-fungal and a corticosteroid that works as a local anti-inflammatory without the systemic side effects. Applied to localised areas these can help reduce the inflammation and associated reaction.

Sprays – There is a topical corticosteroid spray available that is also useful for small localised areas of inflammation.

Why should I Microchip my pet? 

Microchipping is the best way to permanently identify your pet. For dogs and cats this involves implanting the microchip under the skin on their back between the shoulder blades.

Your details are then registered on a national database so that if your pet is lost anywhere in Australia the microchip can be scanned, your pet identified and you can be contacted.

This process is a quick and easy procedure in dogs and cats that can be done at any age over 6 weeks in a consultation or at the same time as desexing or other surgery.

What vaccinations do my cats need? 

At St. Bernards Road Veterinary Clinic we recommend cats receive a F3 + Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) + FIV vaccination. Kittens should be vaccinated with a F3 vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks, then with the F3 + FeLV + FIV vaccination at 12 and 16 weeks of age and an additional FIV vaccine at 14 weeks of age. After the kitten vaccinations we recommend annual boosters. Please refer to our kitten health schedule for more information.Kittens are not fully protected until 2 weeks after their final (16 week) vaccination. We recommend keeping your kitten indoors and away from unvaccinated cats during this time.

The F3 vaccination protects against cat flu (Calicivirus and Rhinotracheitis Virus) and Feline Panleukopaenia. Cat flu is a very common disease and is spread through contact with infected oral and nasal secretions from other cats. Unvaccinated cats, if infected, can develop severe flu symptoms and mouth ulcers and may require aggressive medical treatment in hospital. Infected cats can also become long term carriers for cat flu and have recurrent flu symptoms (sneezing, nasal discharge, watery eyes) and eye ulcers. Feline Panleukopaenia is less common but may cause life threatening gastroenteritis.

Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) is spread through cat fights and close contact with infected cats through grooming, shared food and water bowls, etc. Infected cats may develop some types of cancer as well as life threatening damage to your cat’s immune system. FeLV cannot be cured once the cat is infected.

Feline Immunodefiency Virus (FIV), also referred to as ‘Cat Aids’, is spread mostly by cat bites. Infected cats may not show symptoms for years but instead be carriers for the virus. However, in the long term the virus will cause severe immunosuppression and the infected cat will not be able to fight other infections. Some of the symptoms include severe mouth infections, non-healing abscesses or wounds and respiratory infections. FIV cannot be cured once the cat is infected.

What vaccinations do my dogs need? 

We recommend dogs receive a C5 vaccination. Puppies should be vaccinated with a C3 vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks, then with the C5 vaccine at 12 and 16 weeks of age. After the puppy vaccinations, the C5 vaccine is given annually. Please refer to our puppy health schedule for more information.

Puppies are not fully protected until 2 weeks after their last (16 week) vaccination. We recommend socialising your puppy through puppy preschool classes and with vaccinated dogs only.

The C5 vaccination is a combination of the C3 and Kennel Cough vaccines. The C3 vaccine covers three deadly viruses: Parvovirus; Distemper; and Hepatitis. The kennel cough vaccine covers Parainfluenza virus and Bordatella bronchiseptica. Dogs going into boarding kennels and daycare must be vaccinated with the C5 vaccine.

What is heartworm and how can I prevent it? 

Heartworm is a worm found throughout mainland Australia that can cause potentially fatal disease in dogs. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes so any dog can be infected if they are not given regular preventative treatment. Heartworms can grow up to 30cm long and live in the heart and the surrounding blood vessels. This can lead to heart failure and severe lung disease if left untreated. Treatment for heartworm disease is also quite risky so PREVENTION is best.

How can my dog be infected with heartworm?
Your dog can be infected with heartworm through a mosquito bite.

How is heartworm prevented?
There are a number of excellent products available to prevent heartworm in dogs. These include a yearly injection and/or monthly tablets. It is essential that heartworm prevention is given on time and regularly.

What symptoms would my dog show if infected?
The main symptoms of an established heartworm infection are exercise intolerance and a cough. Some dogs may also lose weight and become quite lethargic or tired. Collapse, difficulty breathing, pulmonary embolism and heart failure can occur as the heartworm infestation becomes more severe.

Symptoms usually do not appear for a long time after your pet is infected, due to worms initially being microscopic, and then continuing to grow. It can take up to a year post infection before your dog starts showing signs and by then the damage sustained may be permanent.

How is heartworm infection diagnosed?
Heartworm infection is first detected through a blood test that can be run in house while you wait. This test only detects adult heartworm. If the result is negative we recommend repeating the test six months later which will pick up any juvenile heartworm that may have been unable to be detected at the time of the first test.

If your dog is showing symptoms of heartworm disease or the blood test is positive, we may recommend performing more blood tests, chest xrays or other diagnostics.

Can heartworm infection be treated?
Heartworm infection can be treated. The recommended treatment does depend on how severe the infection is. In severe cases the treatment is long and unfortunately not all dogs survive. Because treatment is not always successful we strongly recommend regular prevention.

Can my cat be infected with heartworm?
Cats can be infected with heartworm although it is very rare compared to dogs. We do not routinely recommend heartworm prevention in cats but there are several products available for prevention. However, heartworm has been reported more frequently in cats in the last 12 months so please contact us if you would like any further information.

What are pre-anaesthetic blood tests and intra-operative intravenous fluids? 

Anaesthesia

The risk of a general anaesthetic is very low, but to minimise the risk even further we routinely recommend pre-anaesthetic blood testing. Although these measures cannot guarantee the absence of complications they do reduce your pet’s risk during and after anaesthesia.

Pre-anaesthetic Blood Testing
This can help diagnose diseases that may not be detected with physical examination alone. This test is done before any sedation is given. In dogs and cats we perform a pre-anaesthetic biochemistry panel. This test can detect early kidney failure, liver disease and diabetes. If the blood test is normal we will proceed with the anaesthetic as planned. However, if an abnormality is detected we will contact you to discuss our concerns and treatment options.

Please note that should you elect to have pre-anaesthetic blood testing done on your pet, the price may not be included in your original estimate. When we admit your pet we will confirm if you would like to go ahead with pre-anaesthetic blood testing.

Intra-operative Intravenous Fluids
Fluid therapy is routinely used in every procedure where a general anaesthetic is required. This assists in maintaining your pet’s blood pressure during the surgery and help improve recovery from the general anaesthetic. Intravenous fluids also reduces the risk of surgical and post-op complications, especially in senior animals.

What are my options if I have concerns about my pets behaviour? 

What are my options if I have concerns about my pet’s behaviour?
Behavioural problems are extremely complex. We are able to provide advice on all behavioural concerns. If you have any questions please phone us or book an appointment and we can discuss all your options in detail.

What options do I have for calming my pet during thunderstorms?
Unfortunately some dogs do suffer severe anxiety from the noise of thunderstorms. If your pet is only mildly anxious then providing a secure safe place to hide can be all that is required. Try not to react to your pet’s anxiety as this can actually make things worse. Instead try to continue your routine as normal.

For mild cases of thunderstorm phobia some dogs may respond well to the use of pheromone collars or specifically designed coats (e.g. Thundershirts).

In moderate to severe cases of thunderstorm phobia we may prescribe anti-anxiety medications. There are a variety of options available and your vet can discuss these with you in a consultation.

One of the most effective treatments that can be implemented is desensitization. This involves playing the problematic noise (e.g. fireworks, thunder) very softly in the background at home and gradually increasing the volume over a period of weeks to months. This process takes time and patience but can be extremely effective.

How can I calm my pet during thunderstorms? 

What are my options if I have concerns about my pet’s behaviour?
Behavioural problems are extremely complex. We are able to provide advice on all behavioural concerns. If you have any questions please phone us or book an appointment and we can discuss all your options in detail.

What options do I have for calming my pet during thunderstorms?
Unfortunately some dogs do suffer severe anxiety from the noise of thunderstorms. If your pet is only mildly anxious then providing a secure safe place to hide can be all that is required. Try not to react to your pet’s anxiety as this can actually make things worse. Instead try to continue your routine as normal.

For mild cases of thunderstorm phobia some dogs may respond well to the use of pheromone collars or specifically designed coats (e.g. Thundershirts).

In moderate to severe cases of thunderstorm phobia we may prescribe anti-anxiety medications. There are a variety of options available and your vet can discuss these with you in a consultation.

One of the most effective treatments that can be implemented is desensitization. This involves playing the problematic noise (e.g. fireworks, thunder) very softly in the background at home and gradually increasing the volume over a period of weeks to months. This process takes time and patience but can be extremely effective.

What food should I feed my dog or cat? 

Diet

We recommend that you feed your dog or cat a complete and balanced commercial pet food. As a general rule, premium diets are preferred as they offer benefits which include a shinier coat, improved breath odour, better joints and healthier, less smelly faeces. A well balanced formulated puppy or kitten diet is particularly important in growing puppies and kittens.

Treats and table scraps can be offered in moderation, however avoid chocolate, onion, garlic, macadamia nuts, grapes and sugar free lollies as these can be poisonous to your pet. We also do not recommend feeding fatty table scraps or cooked bones to your pet.

Raw bones, greenies chews, rawhide bones and pigs ears are all good for dental health and to alleviate boredom. However, some medical conditions will mean that these will be restricted so if you have any concerns or questions please discuss them with your vet.

Home cooked diets need to be given with care. It is very difficult to provide a balanced home cooked diet to your pet. If you wish to cook your pet’s food then please consult with your vet so we can discuss your options and recipes.

How do I look after my pregnant cat? 

If you are planning on breeding your dog or cat we recommend a full physical examination before mating so that we can ensure that they are in excellent health. If your pet accidentally becomes pregnant then a physical examination as soon as possible is recommended.

The average length of pregnancy for dogs and cats is 60 to 63 days (9 weeks). During this time they will gradually gain weight and have some mammary development. Towards the end of the pregnancy they will start to leak some milk from the teats. Pregnancy can be diagnosed with a blood test from 3 weeks and an abdominal ultrasound from 4 weeks.
During the pregnancy it is essential that your pet receives adequate nutrition. We recommend feeding puppy or kitten food from the moment you know your pet is pregnant. We will discuss any further nutritional requirements your pet and her puppies or kittens may require on an individual basis.

When your pet is due to have the puppies or kittens it is important to provide a safe, quiet space to whelp/queen. This space needs to be away from any other pets and children. This space should have a bed with raised edges so the puppies or kittens can’t wander away and get cold. Food and water should be slightly away from the bed so the puppies or kittens can’t accidentally drown.

When your pet goes into labour try to keep her in the area provided. Observe, when possible, from a distance so that she doesn’t become distressed. Call your vet if you have any concerns, in particular watch out for the following:

  • Your pet strains for 20 minutes without passing a puppy/kitten.
  • Your pet seems unsettled and no puppies/kittens have been passed for more than 2 hours.
  • Several puppies/kittens have been born, the last more than 2 hours ago, and a large litter is expected. You may suspect not all the puppies/kittens have been born.
  • Your pet seems distressed.
  • There is an unusual discharge from the vulva and no signs of labour.

We recommend a post-whelp check within 24 hours of whelping/queening, even if everything went smoothly. At this check we can examine all the puppies and kittens as well as the mother.

If you have any concerns please call our number at any time.

How often should I worm my pet and can I catch worms from my pet? 

Intestinal Worms

How often should I worm my pet?
We recommend worming puppies and kittens for intestinal worms every 2 weeks until 3 months of age and then once a month until 6 months old then every 3 months for life.Dogs should also be wormed for heartworm once a month from 6 weeks of age. In dogs over 9 months of age there is a once a year heartworm injection that can be given.

Dogs and cats that hunt lizards should also be treated every 3 months for spirometra tapeworm.

What worms can infect my pet?
Heartworm is a worm that is spread by mosquitoes and can cause a life threatening heart failure and lung disease in dogs. Heartworm infection does occur in cats but is very rare.
There are a number of intestinal worms that infect both dogs and cats. These include roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, the common tapeworm and spirometra tapeworm. Depending on the infection these worms can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and weight loss. Hookworm infection can cause a severe life threatening anaemia, especially in young puppies.

Can I catch worms from my pet?
Some intestinal worms, such as roundworm and hookworm, can infect people so we strongly recommend regularly worming your pet. In addition, regularly cleaning up the yard or kitty litter, washing your hands after handling your pet and avoiding any kisses from them will help to prevent you becoming infected with any of their worms. It also very important to educate your children about hygiene with pets.

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OPENING TIMES

Mon to Fri - 8am to 6.30pm
Saturday - 8am to 1pm

CONTACT US

St Bernards Road Veterinary Clinic
Shop 7
81-83 St Bernards Road
Magill SA 5072
Ph: 08 8364 4545

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