Improve the life for an old dogs

How To Improve the Quality Of Life For An Older Dog

As dogs start to get older it is important to provide age-appropriate activities to keep them mentally active and happy and to help them move around comfortably and safely. A dog over the age of seven is technically classed as an old dog, although some breeds of dog live much longer and show signs of aging slower than other breeds.

A dog who is over the age of seven could still be running around, eating well, and have some mild arthritis or joint mobility but nothing severe enough for it to be a major problem. However, a dog over the age of 12 is a different situation. The mobility issue is usually much bigger, they might have some cognitive dysfunction, struggle to jump into the car, have vision and hearing problems, and will need more adjustments to help them stay comfortable and pain-free.  

In order to maintain a healthy and good quality of life, adjustments need to be made to cater to your dogs' life stages.  

What do you do when your dog grows old? 

There are several steps you can take when your dog starts to grow older to ensure they live a comfortable and healthy life. This life stage requires some changes that you might already be noticing. Maybe your old dog is taking their time to get up from his bed, their joints might appear stiffer than before, and they're struggling to get into the car and walking slower.  

How can you keep a senior dog happy and healthy?   

There are several steps you can take to keep your old dog happy and healthy. One of the most common changes in nutrition. There are diets that are specifically formulated for seniors, but many old dogs can still thrive on their existing adult food. The concern for nutrition for senior dogs is obesity and inappetence. At least 56% of dogs are overweight or obese and this excess weight can lead to health-related problems, especially for senior dogs.  

Dogs don’t complain much, which is why it can be hard to figure out what they need but looking for subtle changes in normal behaviour can be a sign.  

Daily strengthening exercises where the difficulty gradually increases are a great option to keep your old dog moving, you can try activities such as walking over small poles or encouraging your dog to put their front two paws up on a slightly elevated surface for exercises.

rogz indoor flat pod for old dogs
Your Pet PA recommends: Rogz flat pod is perfect for your senior dog to stretch and laze in elegant style. Grab yours today.

You may also like to consider adjustments around the home to make it more comfortable for your old dog to move around. These will vary depending on your dog's needs but include:

  • Ramps or steps to help them get up or down from beds, sofas or cars 
  • Pee pads and diapers for incontinence issues 
  • Orthopedic dog beds for extra support and comfort when sleeping 
  • Rug markers for dogs with failing eyesight 

Another option is to invest in some non-slip mats so when your aging dog is getting up and down from the floor and walking into areas where there is tile or wood, they can move with ease.  

How can I properly take care of my old dog? 

Early detection of a disease means your senior dog will have more manageable symptoms and live more comfortably in their golden years. As dogs age, they may develop some sensitives which mean they might require a specific diet suited to their needs. This is best discussed with your veterinarian so they can decide which product will be most beneficial. 

Here are some six signs to look out for in your aging dog: 

  1. Changing your senior dog's food will help them with joint issues, and arthritis and provide the nutrients they need in their senior dog years 
  2. Take slower, shorter, and more frequent walks with more time allowed for scenting. For most older dogs' small amounts of exercise is still a fantastic way to prevent muscle atrophy, even if they can’t go as far as they used to 
  3. Teaching new tricks is a great way to mentally stimulate your dog if they are struggling to walk. There is an old saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but you can with a little bit of patience and their favourite rewards 
  4. Another great activity for your old dog is foraging. Hide little treats with a strong, delicious smell around the house, yard or somewhere outside for your dog to use nose work and find. This is a great activity for dogs with failing eyesight 
  5. An orthopedic bed that is designed to ease old joints and provide comfort is a fantastic investment to fulfil your aging dogs' needs 
  6. A hydrotherapy pool or dog-safe body of water is ideal for joint mobility 

If you need further support around senior dog care you can read more articles here or book now to speak with our trusted Your PetPA veterinarian via our website or App. 

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Best Natural Supplement For My Dog’s Pet Joints

What Is The Best Natural Supplement For My Dog’s Joints?

The best natural supplement for your dog pet joint depends on specially formulated ingredients. We are strong believers in prevention being better than cure when it comes to caring for your dog's joint health.  Some breeds, such as German Shepards and Golden Retrievers are more likely to be associated with joint issues and may require extra support for joint function.  

What natural ingredients should I look for in my dog's supplements? Best Natural Supplement For My Dog’s Pet Joints

Ingredients such as MSM is a natural supplement used primarily as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant for conditions such as arthritis and some cancers in dogs. MSM can also be beneficial for the joints of horses and cats. 

Hyaluronic acid is a great natural ingredient that is known for its ability to lubricate the joint and help provide shock absorption, aiding the growth and development of cartilage within each joint.  

Green-lipped mussel is another fantastic natural ingredient found in pet supplements that can help with your joint health, arthritis, and osteo health. Green-lipped mussel is a rich source of glucosamine and chondroitin, vitamins C and E, antioxidants, and minerals such as copper, zinc, and selenium, all of which are vital to your pet joint health.  

What are the best natural supplement brands for my dog's joints?  

Antinol Rapid is an all-natural supplement that contains a patented blend of marine lipid oils that are traceable, sustainably sourced, and free from preservatives and fillers. Antinol can be used daily as a natural anti-inflammatory for joint and mobility support, for skin and coat conditions, and as a wellness preventative for those looking to be proactive in their dog's health.  

Antinol is also recommended for dogs with arthritis and joint health problems to help ease pain and help with recovery.  

This natural supplement is suitable for all dogs at any life stage including dogs with known joint conditions, sporting, and working dogs to assist in performance and recuperation, young dogs to support omega 3 demands, senior dogs who are slowing down, dogs who require extra cardiovascular, extra cognitive and renal function support and dogs requiring assistance with skin and coat health.  

4Cyte is another natural supplement for joint function in dogs that can support the joint long term and is backed by peer-reviewed papers and ongoing post-doctorate research. 4Cyte is specifically formulated to provide nutritional support after joint injury or surgery, support healthy joints at any stage of life and boost the body’s ability to meet performance and recuperation demands in athletic and working dogs. 4Cyte for dogs is safe for long-term use and is surgeon and veterinarian endorsed.  

What are the best natural supplements for my senior dog? 

Every life stage of your dog requires different kinds of care, from nutrition to dental and exercise. Senior dogs are best suited to a senior diet specifically formulated for their life stage. A great addition to your senior diet and care is supplements focused on joint mobility and support. While Antinol and 4Cyte can certainly help with your senior dogs' joint mobility there are other products on the market that are formulated to help dogs with arthritis and osteocare 

Rose Hip Vital Canine is used for joint pain and joint mobility. It can also be used as the prevention of joint problems, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, cartilage protection, and immune system support. This natural supplement can be taken daily for general health and wellbeing and for recovery after exercise if your dog has been for a long walk or play. 

For osteocare in dogs there are a few different products on the market.  

PAW Osteocare Joint Care Chews are formulated with glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate which may help improve joint function and health in old dogs over long-term use.  


Glucosamine sulfate helps to provide cartilage nutrition for optimal joint cartilage health and function while chondroitin sulfate is a major component of joint cartilage and is needed for cartilage and joint health in dogs. These chews also contain MSM to support joint health and a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals that work together to maintain the health of your dog's joints.  

These chews are a tasty kangaroo flavour that is easy to give to your dog on a daily basis.  For large breed dogs where joint health and function improvement is important, this supplement can help maintain the health of your dog’s joints.  

Although this natural supplement is used mostly in senior dogs it can also aid joint health in younger dogs that have a predisposition to some joint problems later in life and dogs who enjoy a high level of physical activity. 

Another natural supplement for your senior dog is PAW Osteosupport Dog Capsules These capsules contain a highly concentrated, green-lipped mussel powder that is clinically proven to provide relief from arthritis. The natural, green-lipped mussel powder in these capsules is manufactured using lower temperatures for a highly concentrated product and contains high levels of Omega 3 (EPA, DHA, and ETA) for joint pain relief for dogs. These capsules are also formulated with a natural source of glycosaminoglycans (Chondroitin 6 Sulfate) that are key nutrients in cartilage production to aid joint care in dogs. Osteosupport is beneficial for dogs who are displaying clinical signs of arthritis and reduced mobility. They can also be used alongside pharmaceutical pain relief for dogs, e.g NSAIDs. These capsules are highly palatable and easy to administer.  We suggest either placing the capsule in their food or sprinkling it over their food.      

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to supplements for your dog's joints 

We are advocates for the pet joint support of dogs at all stages of life, not just when something goes wrong. We believe that prevention is better than cure and starting your dog early on a natural supplement for their joints is a great way to support their wellbeing and mobility for their entire life. 

If you need further support around what natural supplements to give to your dog or changing their diet due to lifestyle, book an appointment to speak with a Your PetPA veterinarian or nurse via our website or App

Shop at Your PetPA online store for these vets’ recommended brands and treats. Thriving Pets+ members receive a 10% discount on all purchases. 

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more information about pet care from our expert veterinary team. 


Dog with bowl

The 4 best dog food brands, according to veterinarians

As pet parents, we understand the importance of feeding our dogs a high-quality diet. Although buying high-quality food can be expensive it pays off in the long run of your dog’s life with a reduced risk of health issues that are a result of improper nutrition. 

However, with a myriad of dog foods on the market these days, how are we to know which are the best? What brand of dog food to choose to ensure your fur baby receives the benefit of the right nutritional combination?  

The veterinarian team here at Your PetPA understand your dogs’ nutritional needs at each stage of their life, so to help you navigate the options, we’ve listed our Top 4 Dog Food Brands with respect to premium ingredients for health and happiness (all of which can be found on our online Shop!) 

dog_food_brands

1. Black Hawk

Black Hawk uses real meat and real veggies with all their products manufactured in rural NSW, with ingredients sourced in Australia. They support local farmers and regional communities through the ingredients that they buy and local community programs. 

The original Black Hawk recipe was developed when a passionate breeder applied this thinking to their dogs’ diet. They relentlessly searched for ingredients that had nutritional benefits. 

Black Hawk’s team of pet nutritionists and veterinarians has developed a range of recipes designed to support your dog’s health and vitality at every stage of their life.   

2. Delicate Care

The Delicate Care range is scientifically formulated to bring out their best, no matter what your dog’s life stage, allergies or condition. They have a range specifically formulated for Dental Care, Skin or Stomach, Mobility Support, and Weight Management. These formulations provide complete and balanced nutrition for dogs while at the same time promoting well-being for different concerns regarding your dog.  

3. Hill's

Hill's is focused on combining nutrient-rich ingredients with smart science to develop the tastes, aromas, and textures your dog loves.  Hills offers a wide range of products focused on different life stages and health concerns your dog may experience. Hills combine exceptional health benefits with excellent value and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee that your pet will love the taste.  

4. Royal Canin

Royal Canin focuses their efforts on understanding the unique needs of domestic cats and dogs. Everything Royal Canin does is designed to create precise nutritional formulas to help dogs and cats have a long and healthy life. Royal Canin’s products are researched and developed not by trends in human nutrition or preferences of the pet owner, but through innovative nutritional science and observation.  

Royal Canin have studied the unique health needs of cats and dogs since 1968. Over that time, we have learned that the smallest nutritional difference can make a huge change to your pet’s life and health. 

The individual health of every cat and dog is unique which is why there are not only many different brands but different types of food for your pets' individual requirements.  

Vet Care Plans 

If you need further support around what to feed your dog or changing their diet, book an appointment to speak with a Your PetPA veterinarian or nurse via our website or App. Personalised nutrition advice is especially recommended if your dog has a health condition or special dietary needs. 

Shop at Your PetPA online store for these vets' recommended pet food brands and treats. Thriving Pets+ members receive a 10% discount on all purchases. 

 

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more information about pet care from our expert veterinary team. 

 


easter_chocolate_pets

Keeping Your Dog Safe This Easter… Chocolate Poisoning

We all know what Easter means…. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Whilst this may be fun for us (at least at the time anyway!), it is not fun for our furry friends. In fact, the consequences for dogs who eat chocolate can be fatal.

You can still have a great time at Easter with your dog – just make sure you don’t leave chocolate eggs (or their wrappers) where inquisitive pups can find them. And if you have little ones, why not consider an extra special egg up for grabs for those who take part in a chocolate wrapper or egg foil hunt after the official one? You could then safely follow up with a dog friendly treat hunt.

easter_chocolate_pets_dogsWhy is chocolate dangerous for dogs?

Chocolate poisoning can happen to any animal, however, is it most common in dogs – and not just because many of them are hoovers! Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine which is lethal to dogs. Due to the amount of theobromine, baker's chocolate and cocoa are the most toxic, followed by dark, milk then white chocolate.

Caffeine, another ingredient in chocolate, can damage a dogs’ nervous system and heart. So even if your dog consumes a small amount of white chocolate and you may not be as worried about the theobromine; the caffeine can still cause significant health issues.

How much is too much?

There is no specific answer to this as toxicity levels all depend on the type of chocolate your dog has eaten; the weight of your dog and how much chocolate is consumed. Without question though, it’s always best to contact your vet to go through this in detail if you suspect that your dog has eaten any chocolate – even if they’re not yet exhibiting any symptoms.

chocolate_toxic_to_dogsWhat are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

Dogs process theobromine and caffeine slowly, with the toxic compounds building up in their systems. This slow process means dogs can take up to 6-12 hours before they show signs of chocolate poisoning, so don’t wait for these signs if you already know or suspect your dog has eaten any chocolate. Some of the signs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Twitching
  • Tremors

These can be followed by a period of extreme excitement then seizure, coma and death.

What should I do if I suspect or know my dog has eaten chocolate?

Your PetPA has a chocolate toxicity calculator available on the free app that you can use to calculate chocolate intake for your dog and how deadly it can be. If your dog has consumed large amounts of chocolate call your veterinarian immediately. Or take your pooch to the emergency clinic for peace of mind. Early treatment when it comes to consuming chocolate, can mean life or death for your dog.

Download the free Your PetPA app for quick access to our chocolate toxicity calculator and the ability to schedule online veterinary consultations immediately.


wet_or_dry_cat_food

Wet vs dry cat food

Should I feed my cat wet or dry food?

Cats are notoriously fussy eaters so finding the right food can be made even more challenging by the fact that cats don’t get to choose their diet – it is us as pet parents that make the all-important decision as to what to feed them.

The first decision is whether your cat is going to have a wet, dry or mixed diet and this will be guided by your cats’ age, health and general behavioural needs.

It all comes down to assessing the options and deciding what is right for your cat!

wet_cat_foodWhy wet cat food?

Wet food is easily digestible which is of great relief for cats who have trouble chewing. Whether it be from a loss of teeth or gum issues, some cats can have a hard time chewing kibble regardless of age.

Wet food has a greater water content than dry cat food which is beneficial if you are worried about dehydration for your fur baby.

Convenience! Wet cat food is often packaged in pre-portioned serving sizes.

Wet food smells! This might read as a negative however cats are renown for being fussy eaters so the aroma of wet food can be more appealing and makes it more palatable. Pre-portioned serving sizes can eliminate the need to store uneaten food and deal with this aroma in your fridge.

dry_cat_foodWhy dry cat food?

Convenience! Dry food doesn’t require refrigeration so it can be left out for cat to eat in their own time without fear of spoiling.

The hard texture of dry food aids in cleaning teeth and maintaining good dental hygiene. Specially formulated kibble is also available; designed to reduce plaque, stain and tartar by scraping away these build ups on your cat's teeth.

Dry food is economical, especially when purchased in bulk.

Can I offer both?

Again, it all comes down to deciding what is right for your fur baby but aside from making sure you don’t increase caloric intake when mixing these foods, there is no reason you can’t offer both options if this fits with your cats’ preferences. However, we do recommend following one of the following routines:

  • Offer wet and dry food in same bowl
  • Alternate meals – dry food in the morning which can be left out for grazing across the day and wet in the evening

Regardless of whether you decide to feed your cat wet or dry food, what is critical is that it is a high-quality diet. Whilst we acknowledge the obvious price discrepancy, the cost of higher quality food over the life of your cat will be offset by lower veterinarian bills with a reduced risk of health issues that are a result of improper nutrition.

If you need further support around what to feed your cat or changing their diet, book an appointment to speak with a Your PetPA veterinarian or nurse via our website or App. Personalised nutrition advice is especially recommended if your cat has a health condition or special dietary needs.

Shop at Your PetPA online store for our Vet Recommended pet food and treats. Thriving Pets+ members receive 10% discount on all purchases.


dog_food_dry_wet_kibbles

Wet vs dry dog food

Should I feed my dog wet or dry food?

We understand the role food plays in good health and maintaining energy levels, but mealtimes also form a significant part of our daily rituals and the same can be said for our beloved pooches! Whether eating once or twice a day, your dog understands the cues of mealtimes and for many, this is a highlight of the day.

However, unlike humans, dogs don’t get to choose their diet – it is us as pet parents that make the all-important decision as to what to feed them.

The first decision is whether your dog is going to have a wet, dry or mixed diet and this will be guided by your dogs’ age, health and general behavioural needs.

You may have heard comments about dry diets being “so boring”, but it is acceptable to feed your dog a pure kibble diet, especially if they are prone to gut issues. It all comes down to assessing the options and deciding what is right for your dog!

wet_dog_foodWhy wet dog food?

Let’s start by saying, wet food does not only mean ‘canned’ - there are many options on the market for quality refrigerated fresh ‘wet’ food.

Wet food is easily digestible which is of great relief for dogs who have trouble chewing. Whether it be from a loss of teeth, jaw issues or simply having small mouth because of breed, some dogs can have a hard time chewing kibble regardless of age.

Wet food has a greater water content than dry dog food which is beneficial if you are worried about dehydration for your fur baby.

This higher water content can also help you dog feel full so if you are having to consider weight management, wet dog food can be beneficial.

Wet food smells! This might read as a negative however for older dogs who have lost some sense of smell or those doggies who are less interested at mealtimes, the aroma of wet food is can be more appealing and makes it more palatable.

Why dry dog food?

dry_dog_food_kibbles

Convenience! Dry food doesn’t require refrigeration so it can be left out for dogs to eat in their own time without fear of spoiling.

This in turn also makes dry food ideal for enriching play via food puzzle toys – it can be left to be discovered whilst you are at work providing fun and stimulation for your companion.

The hard texture of dry food aids in cleaning teeth and maintaining good dental hygiene. Specially formulated kibble is also available; designed to reduce plaque, stain and tartar by scraping away these build ups on your dog's teeth.

Dry dog food is energy dense packed with nutrients, protein and carbs.

Dry food is economical, especially when purchased in bulk.

Can I offer both?

Again, it all comes down to deciding what is right for your dog but aside from making sure you don’t increase caloric intake when mixing these foods, there is no reason you can’t offer both options if this fits with your dogs’ preferences. However, we do recommend following one of the following routines:

  • Offer wet and dry food in same bowl
  • Alternate meals between wet and dry

Regardless of whether you decide to feed your dog wet or dry food, what is critical is that it is a high-quality diet. Whilst we acknowledge the obvious price discrepancy, the cost of higher quality food over the life of your dog will be offset by lower veterinarian bills with a reduced risk of health issues that are a result of improper nutrition.

If you need further support around what to feed your dog or changing their diet, book an appointment to speak with a Your PetPA veterinarian or nurse via our website or App. Personalised nutrition advice is especially recommended if your dog has a health condition or special dietary needs.

Shop at Your PetPA online store for our Vet Recommended pet food and treats. Thriving Pets+ members receive 10% discount on all purchases.


dog_playing_with_boy

How To Train Your Puppy - Basic Cues

We understand how crucial the formative years are to a child’s development. Well, the same can be said for the first few months of your puppy’s life. What they learn in this period can set them up with the foundation for lifelong behaviours, emotional response and bonds.

Teaching your puppy basic training cues is fun, rewarding and an important part of learning puppy manners. There are many different cues you can teach your puppy. The following ‘How To’ basics are great for general puppy manners and are the basis for more advanced cues or tricks!

Before you get started though, don’t forget, puppies learn by association, repetition and reward. And always keep things short and positive to create a love of learning.

puppy-training-sit“SIT”

Show your puppy your have some of their food or treats. Wait for them to sit, when their bottom hits the floor, immediately say “yes” and promptly give them a treat. Step backwards or sideways to encourage them to stand and wait for them to sit again. Give another treat as soon as they sit. After a few repetitions, you can begin saying “sit” at the moment they begin to sit.

“DOWN” (LAY DOWN)

Hold a treat in your hand to your puppy’s nose and slowly lure down to the floor. Give the treat when the puppy’s elbows touch the floor to start. After a few practices, their elbows will relax and they should lie down. Give the treat as soon as their chest meets the floor. When they can reliably follow your hand signal, begin saying “down” as you move your hand.

“WAIT” (PUPPY MANNERS FOR STAY)

Stand with your puppy in front of you and simply ask them to go into the easiest position (sit, stand or down). Wait a second or two and give a treat. Extend the time that your puppy is in the position before you give a reward, up to 5 seconds. A release cue is important so your puppy knows when the ‘wait’ is finished.

“MAT” or “BED”

Lure your puppy onto the mat with a treat. Once they have all four paws on the mat, say ‘yes’ and immediately give them a treat. The main thing you want your puppy to learn is that placing their paws on the mat = treats!

puppy-school-training“COME” (RECALL)

Start your training in a slow, low-distraction environment. Show your puppy a toy or a treat, praise them as they are coming to you, and then give them the treat or toy. After a few repetitions, whenever your puppy looks at you and starts to move towards you, say ‘come!’ Make sure to only say ‘come’ when you are confident your puppy is moving towards you.

Whilst you can teach the basics (and have a lot of fun in doing so!), to ensure that your puppy gets the best start possible, attending Puppy School is recommended. Here at Your PetPA, our online Puppy School offers expert advice and unwavering support all from the comfort of your own home. Each live session will guide you and your family to ensure you are creating a safe, secure and stimulating environment for your puppy to grow plus allow you to ask any questions you may have in real time.

Click here for further information about our 4-week online course.


dogs digging sand on beach

Top Beach Dangers for Dogs

It’s summer, and summer in Australia means going to the beach and enjoying the water and sun. Here is a list of some top beach dangers for dogs. More than 85% of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast, and we love it. Soaking up the sun, building sandcastles, surfing the waves and, in many cases, hanging out with our dogs. But before planning a trip to the beach with your pup it is important to understand what dangers lay ahead.

Top Beach Dangers for Dogs

Heatstroke

Hot sun, hot sand, little shade, a fur coat, and an excited dog is a recipe for heat stroke. Dogs don’t sweat – at least not for the purpose of cooling down like we humans do – and can overheat very quickly. Nor can they tell us when they’re hot. Heat stroke can be serious and if not treated quickly and intensively which can lead to organ failure and may be life threatening.

To help your pup avoid heat stroke don’t visit the beach during the hottest part of the day. Make sure you provide them with enough shade, plenty of cool drinking water and limit excessive exercise.

If your dog is showing any of the following symptoms, they may be suffering from heat stroke, and you should seek veterinary attention immediately.

  • Excessive panting
  • Red (rather than pink) gums
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy (after or during a day at the beach)

Sunburn

Just like us, dogs can get sunburnt, and the most likely places for them to get burnt is their nose, ears, and belly. Dogs with thin coats or short white fur are also more likely at risk from the suns UV rays.

To prevent your pooch from getting sunburnt apply a good quality sunscreen that is safe for animals (not all sunscreens are suitable for pets, especially those with zinc oxide) to any exposed pink skin and provide them with a shaded area to cool off under. You can also consider UV- and UPF-protective clothing if your pooch will tolerate it. These are becoming very popular for dogs and can be a safe and practical way to protect high-risk dogs when outdoors.

dog nose sunburn
Severe sunburn injury on a dog’s nose.

The first and most obvious sign of sunburn on a dog is redness directly on a dog’s skin. Other signs of dog sunburn include:

 

  • Dry, cracked, or curled edges of a dog’s ears
  • Hair loss
  • Sores/scabbing
  • Skin ulcers
  • Skin infections
  • Skin cancer (eg squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma) which can present itself as abnormal tumours

If your dog displays any of these symptoms and you’re not confident it is sunburn related, seek veterinary attention as there are other more serious diseases which can cause these signs.

Salt Water

When dogs are hot and thirsty, they can be inclined to drink almost anything, and this includes sea water. Drinking a large amount of salt water can cause your pup to become more dehydrated (when a dog ingests excessive amounts of salt, their body will try and correct the imbalance) and this can lead to salt toxicity. This occurs when there is too much sodium in the blood and is also known as hypernatremia.

The common symptoms of hypernatremia include:

  • Excessive urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Odd behaviour
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Death (in extreme cases)

To avoid your dog from ingesting too much salt water ensure you take a break away from the ocean after every 15 minutes of play and offer fresh water throughout this time.

Sand ingestion

Believe it or not, eating, and swallowing sand can become easy for dogs to do after a day of digging, rolling around and chewing on sandy, wet toys. This unfortunately can cause stomach problems for your pup if too much sand has been ingested, as the sand can compact in their stomach and cause a blockage.

We recommend taking toys that are suitable for the beach and discouraging your pet from eating or chewing the sand whilst they play.

dog intestines sand ingestion xray
Xray of a dog with sand impaction (arrows)

Common symptoms of sand impaction can include

  • Vomiting
  • Seeming constipated
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Signs can develop anywhere from just a few hours after exposure to a few days later. If you think your dog may be showing any of these signs, then please seek veterinary attention.

Hot sand

As a rule of thumb, if the sand is too hot for your feet, then it is too hot for dogs’ paws. Hot sand can cause your pets paws to burn and become very painful. Consider carrying your dog on the soft sand or purchasing dog booties or socks to put on to protect them. We encourage you to play with them on the wet sand and avoid the hot sand especially during the hottest time of the day.

Fishhooks

We already know that dogs love to sniff out all the wonderful new scents of a new location! Unfortunately, due to the strong smell of fish and fish bait, fishhook injuries are not an uncommon beach danger for dogs with fishhooks commonly getting stuck in their mouth, food pipe (oesophagus), stomach or embedded in skin.

If you find that the hook and barb is embedded in an area of the body, immediately cover it to prevent further damage or your pet from chewing, licking, or swallowing it. Even if you were able to successfully remove the hook, we would still recommend taking your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

To prevent this injury from occurring always watch your dog closely when roaming the beach and remove any items that are not his toys from his mouth and discard.

dog fish hook nose
This chocolate Labrador was unfortunately got a bit too close to this fishing lure!
dog fish hook stomach gut x-ray
This is an xray of a fishing hook (circled) lodged in a dog’s oesophagus. Fishing hooks may require endoscopic or surgical removal if swallowed.

 

Jellyfish

While exploring the beach you may come across some washed up sea life. Some will of course be non-threating and others a bit more dangerous. Although the fur on most dogs offers a nice layer of protection, they can be exposed to stings on lightly furred areas such as the snout, face, paw pads, and abdomen. The stingers on the jellyfish can continue reacting for weeks after the jellyfish itself dies (in other words, can still sting even when dead). As always, you must keep a close eye on your dog to prevent him from rolling in or eating anything that could cause him harm.

dog jellyfish beach

If you recognise any of the following symptoms after your dog has had contact with a jellyfish, you should take your pet directly to the veterinary clinic.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle spasms
  • Several stings
  • Swollen oral area
  • Swollen tongue
  • Vomiting

Pufferfish

Although Pufferfish toxicity is one of the rarer dangers seen occur from a trip to the beach, this is also one of the more serious ones. Pufferfish contain a potent neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin and when eaten affects the nerves in animals (and humans) which can lead to paralysis. As your dog may not be seen eating the fish at the time, it is important to be know the signs of toxicity any time your pet has visited the beach.

Pufferfish washed up beach

Dogs will often appear unwell after ingestion and begin constantly licking their lips and panting. Other symptoms may then start to appear.

  • Nausea (drooling)
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness (usually starting in the legs and continuing towards the head)
  • Inability to control
  • Breathing issues

Treatment for this poisoning is possible, but success is more likely in pets receiving prompt and aggressive treatment by their veterinarian.

Dog Fights

One of the less talked about dangers but also one of the most common seen in vet clinics after a trip to the beach is dogs’ fight wounds. This can occur in the blink of an eye and before you know it you have a severely injured dog or dogs and an expensive veterinary bill (always happens on a weekend!).

Being a dog in an exciting new environment can sometimes cause them to become nervous. If your dog is excited enough to go up to another dog that feels threated this can lead to unprovoked attack.

dogs fighting on beach

Although your dog is well socialised, friendly, submissive towards other dogs and ‘would never bite’ this cannot guarantee their safety or the safety of other dogs. Having your dog on a lead or playing at an area of the beach that is a bit more quiet and less crowded will help ensure your day at the beach remains a fun and enjoyable day!

If your pet does become ill has injured themselves after a day at the beach, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

 


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Parenting a Senior Pet

Parenting a senior pet is a special time… Whether you have recently adopted a senior or have had the privilege of raising them since they were young, seeing your loyal companion live out their final years can be incredibly rewarding.

As pets get older, just like humans, grey hairs start to show, activity slows, eyesight and hearing fade and movement stiffens. Whilst we would love to prevent these things from happening, it’s all part of life. Some pets live years beyond their estimated breed age range and with adequate nutrition, hygiene measures and modern veterinary care, this is becoming more common.

As a pet owner, it is important to understand some of the measures that may need to be taken as your pet gets older to keep them safe and healthy. If you’re concerned that your pet is showing signs of any of the following, we highly recommend seeking veterinary attention for further advice.

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Dementia

Senior pets can suffer from dementia, similar to Alzheimers in humans, which causes problems with their memory. Common signs of dementia include:

  • Confusion, anxiety or disorientation
  • Loss of toilet training
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Change in ‘themselves’
  • Memory loss e.g. stop responding to commands or following normal routine
  • Change in activity levels
  • Changes to noise levels e.g. more vocal than usual, howling, barking or meowing, often for no clear reason and usually at night
  • Change in appetite

Your vet may prescribe medication as well as brain function-supporting supplements for their food or a special diet.

Incontinence

As pets age they can become incontinent due to a weakening of the muscles that hold urine in the bladder. There are also many diseases that can cause a pet to create more urine than normal (polyuria) and several of these have higher occurrence in older pets.

When no specific cause can be identified, medication may be prescribed by your vet that increase the tone of the muscles that hold urine in the bladder.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition amongst senior pets. Although age is a high-risk factor, other contributors can include obesity, genetics or injuries/trauma. Common signs of arthritis include:

  • Limping
  • Reduced mobility
  • Abnormal posture
  • Reduced activity
  • Abnormal grooming
  • Changes in temperament
  • Muscle atrophy

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Lumps and bumps

Lumps found on our pets can range from warts, benign tumours, abscesses to malignant or cancerous tumours. Although less than half the lumps seen and tested by vets aren’t serious, any lump that is seen to have fast growth, redness, swelling, pus, an opening or to be painful should be given medical attention.

Without testing the lump (fine needle aspirate, biopsy, or surgical removal) a diagnosis on whether it is serious cannot always be determined.

Coughing

When your old pet coughs or gags, it is natural to dismiss the matter if it is a singular occurrence. Unless your pet has already been diagnosed with a condition that causes coughing, regular coughing heard from your pet should not be taken lightly as it can relate to heart and lung diseases and therefore veterinary attention is advised.

Bad breath

Build-up of plaque and tartar in your pet’s mouth causes bad breath and can eventually lead to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Dental disease is seen regularly in older pets and is not only very painful but can cause irreversible damage to the mouth. In other cases, the bad smell may be something more sinister and should always be examined and monitored by a vet.

Deafness

Similar to hearing loss in older people, degenerative changes to the nerves found inside animals’ ears can occur over time. The changes will likely be gradual, with symptoms creeping up slowly, and you may not notice until virtually all your pets’ hearing is gone. Adding hand signals to any verbal cues can help with maintaining some manners if the hearing ability decreases.

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Blindness

Slight or complete vision loss in our pets’ overtime can occur for many reasons. Unlike humans, animals do not rely on vision as their most important sense and can adapt very well to living a life without sight. Their noses and ears allow them to adjust quite well to changes in their eyesight and therefore can still a long and very fulling life (just don’t move the furniture around).

As we continue to understand the challenges faced by ageing pets, more and more preventative measures are becoming widely available to help provide our faithful friends relief and comfort.

To discuss any concerns as well as tailored preventative health and wellbeing support available, we recommended booking an online appointment to speak with a Your PetPA veterinarian or nurse via our website or App.


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The Importance of Dental Awareness

From a young age, we learn that looking after our teeth and yearly dental check-ups are extremely important for maintaining optimal dental health. However, we aren’t always told that it’s just as important for our beloved pets to have similar care and treatment! Periodontal disease is preventable in pets, and with proper dental care you can prevent your pet from developing a wide variety of dental health issues (and pain) related to the condition.

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What is dental disease?

Just like in humans, dental disease in animals is caused by the build-up of dental plaque and tartar on the teeth, which triggers inflammation and can negatively affect the health of the teeth, gums and surrounding bone structures. The mouth begins to smell, and it is often incredibly painful for our companions with some pets stopping eating to minimise pain they feel when chewing. In turn, weight loss can be the first obvious health issue however, without veterinary treatment, dental disease can also lead to gum infections, bone loss, loss of teeth and over time, other serious health problems.

What are the causes of dental disease?

The main cause of dental disease is a lack of mechanical action on the teeth, however certain breeds are predisposed to the disease due to a maligned bite, genetics, and/or the shape of the mouth.

Canine breeds include the following:

  • Pug
  • Collie
  • Yorkie
  • Chihuahua
  • Dachshund
  • Boxer

Feline breeds include:

  • Balinese
  • Burmese
  • Exotic short/long hair
  • Himalayan
  • Oriental short/long hair
  • Persian
  • Siamese
  • Tonkinese

Generally, these are small, toy, or brachycephalic breeds with a shortened snout (brachycephalic).

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How do you know if your pet has dental disease?

The main indication of periodontal disease in pets is halitosis, or bad breath. Unfortunately, it can often take years for us to realise that the smell is in fact bacteria and infection coming from inside the mouth, as we pass this off as normal “dog or cat breath”.

Other clinical signs to look out for include:

  • Not eating
  • Broken or missing teeth
  • Excessive saliva / drool (possibly blood tinged)
  • Bleeding gums
  • Change in behaviour
  • Abnormal discharge from the mouth
  • Favouring one side of the mouth for chewing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Inability to open or close the mouth
  • A mass or growth inside the mouth or under the eye

If any of these signs are present, you should consult your vet immediately.

How is dental disease treated?

Depending on what stage the periodontal disease is at when first diagnosed, will determine treatment. Halitosis can be treatable and is considered curable with regular (2-3 times per week) brushing and good oral health care such as a premium dental diet. If the dental grade has reached stage two or higher, the damage from the periodontal disease is irreversible and requires more intensive maintenance to prevent further deterioration.

Stage 1: Early periodontitis can be treated with professional dental cleaning to remove any plaque accumulation. You can also try veterinary recommended dental diets or brushing your pets’ teeth with an animal safe toothpaste and brush.

Stages 2 & 3: The teeth require a deep scaling and polishing, both above and below the gumline, to remove the build-up of plaque and tartar. Polishing will create a smooth tooth surface that makes it more difficult for plaque and bacteria to stick to the tooth.  Stages 2 and 3 of periodontal disease don’t necessary look visibly different from a conscious assessment, but an x-ray will show a greater loss of bone at Stage 3.

Stage 4: If the disease has reached this point, it is likely the pet requires several extractions as a result of damage to the structures that support them.

To find out what stage your pets’ dental disease is and what treatment is recommended, contact your veterinarian for a dental check.

How can you prevent dental disease in pets?

Some dental hygiene tools work better on some species and breeds than others and therefore regular dental checks with your veterinarian are important to monitor for signs of onset periodontal disease or progression.

As much as dental disease can be managed if caught in the early stages, there are things at home you can do to support your much-loved family members dental health…

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Brushing teeth

The gold standard care that you can do for your pet is performing daily teeth brushing (just like for us humans). Despite this being the best dental hygiene care we can offer our pets, it is also the least performed strategy. Training your pet to handle teeth brushing when they are young is key and can be what saves them from needing regular dental prophylaxes throughout their lifetime.

Premium dental diets

Premium dental diets are designed to be fed every day and see plaque and tartar formation reduced by more than 60% compared with regular diets thanks to specially shaped kibble. The texture and shape of the kibble produce a gentle abrasive effect on the teeth during chewing to help reduce dental plaque and tartar.

Our dental diet recommendations that have been clinically proven to reduce gingivitis and the build-up of tartar, plaque, and help fight bad breath include:

  • Hills T/D Canine/Feline
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Clinical Dental

Dental Chews

Similarly to dental diets, dental chews and treats are designed to mechanically remove dental plaque and tartar by encouraging your pet to chew.

Oral Rinses

The mind may initially boggle at the thought, but dog mouthwashes can be as simple as additives to your dog's drinking water or oral rinses like Hexarinse which are easily be applied with the spray applicator. These specially designed formulas are harmless if swallowed but provide an antiseptic that kills the bacteria that causes plaque and can aid in decreasing bad breath.

A combination of all the prevention methods is in most cases the best choice however, regular professional dental scale & polish may be still required for many pets regardless of homecare.

To find out more around their dental hygiene and the best solutions for your pet, we recommended booking an online appointment to speak with a Your PetPA veterinarian or nurse via our website or App.

Find all your pet's dental care needs on Your PetPA online store. Thriving Pets+ members receive 10% discount on all purchases.