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Top 10 questions about dogs

1. Should I desex my pet and when?

  • Owners often worry whether desexing their pet is good or bad for their health. We can safely say that desexing your pet is for sure the BEST thing you can do for your pet. You massively reduce the risk of cancerous diseases and medical emergencies such as ‘pyometra’. Your pet will be easier to handle and less likely to have unwanted hormone related behaviours. You will prevent breeding related problems, prevent unwanted litters and help with the general pet population control.
  • By desexing your pet you ensure maximising their life span by avoiding potentially fatal diseases while also avoiding potentially huge veterinary bills.
  • The concerns owners may have about surgery are massively outweighed by the benefits it brings.
  • The ideal timing for surgery can differ between breeds. Generally speaking, small-medium breeds can be desexed at 6 months old, large breeds should be closer to 12 months while giant breeds should be closer to 18 months old. To find out more about certain breed’s recommended desexing time, check out this blog.
  • We like to desex females if we can before their first heat cycle as this can reduce the chance of developing mammary gland lumps in the future.

You can ask your vet for breed specific age recommendations.

2. What should I feed my dog?

  • We recommend dry complete kibble for most dogs. This food has the ‘complete’ requirements for your pet including all the energy, minerals and vitamins needed.
  • Dry kibble is better for your pets dental health versus wet food which doesn’t require crunching. We generally see better weight management on dry-only diets also.
  • Wet food can be used as required for certain pets that are picky along with home cooked foods. Cooked meat, fruit and vegetables are quite healthy but we still recommend mixing some kibble to ensure they get all their minerals and vitamins.
  • Puppies and juveniles can be fed growth specific bags while certain conditions such as allergies and urolithiasis (bladder stones) require prescription foods.

Please refrain from feeding raw food as it can cause food poisoning, allergies and parasite burden.

3. How can I keep my dog’s teeth clean?
There are multiple ways you can maintain optimal dental health at home

  • Brushing is always best. Get a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste and slowly introduce cleaning. This is your best way at preventing plaque accumulation on your pets teeth
  • Dental foods encourage extra crunching and to get the teeth to engage the kibble and help plaque breakdown.
  • Water additives such as Healthy Mouth works similar to mouthwash and is mixed with drinking water
  • Dental chews such as greenies, pigs ears and toys can help plaque breakdown.
  • Routine scale and polish.

We perform routine dental procedures daily here in MyVet Zetland. This is a very safe procedure which will help keep teeth in prime condition. We recommend a yearly clean if possible.

4. How can I protect my dog from parasites?
We have multiple options for complete parasite prevention.

If you are able to easily give your pet tablet medications we recommend Nexguard Spectra monthly and a tapeworm tablet every 3 months.
If tablets can be difficult then we can offer a heartworm injection which lasts 12 months and then we can give a Bravecto and tapeworm tablets every 3 months.

Both of these protocols ensure complete parasite protection from all ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, lice, mites) and endoparasites (round, whip, hook and tapeworms).

Regular parasite control is essential to prevent worrying diseases such as heartworm, tick paralysis, flea allergies, worm burden and itchy mites and lice.

5. How often should I vaccinate my dog?
Vaccinations prevent serious diseases which thankfully are more rare due to decades of vaccination. This does not mean our dogs are safe however, we must continue regular vaccination to keep disease incidence low.

There are 3 main vaccinations dogs required living in Sydney

  1. C3 or Core vaccination which protects against parvovirus, hepatitis and distemper virus, all of which can be lethal diseases.
    Frequency: 3 times as a puppy, once at 15 months old, then every 3rd year.
  2. Kennel Cough vaccination protects against highly infectious upper respiratory infections caused by Bordatella bronchisepta and parainfluenza virus.
    Frequency: once every year
  3. Leptospirosis vaccine protects against Leptospira copenhageni. This potentially fatal disease emerged in Sydney in recent years. Thankfully with vaccinations we limit the spread and clinical signs of disease.
    Frequency: twice as a puppy, then once annually.

It’s important to keep the vaccinations up to date so immunity doesn’t wane.

6. How do I know if my dog has arthritis?

Canine arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, is a condition that affects the joints of dogs. It is characterized by inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints, and it commonly occurs in older dogs. Here are 10 common signs of canine arthritis:

1. Limping: Dogs with arthritis often develop a limp, which can be more pronounced after periods of rest or physical activity.

2. Stiffness: Arthritic dogs may have difficulty getting up, particularly after lying down for an extended period. They may show signs of stiffness when they first wake up or after being inactive for a while.

3. Difficulty in jumping or climbing stairs: Dogs with arthritis may have trouble jumping onto furniture or climbing stairs due to joint pain and stiffness.

4. Reluctance to exercise: Arthritic dogs may become less interested in physical activity or reluctant to participate in activities they used to enjoy. They may tire more easily during walks or playtime.

5. Changes in gait: Dogs with arthritis often exhibit changes in their walking pattern. They may favor one leg or have an altered gait to compensate for joint pain.

6. Swelling and heat in the joints: Arthritic joints may appear swollen and feel warm to the touch. This can be a result of inflammation and fluid accumulation in the affected joints.

7. Licking or chewing at joints: Dogs with arthritis may frequently lick or chew at their joints in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort or pain they are experiencing.

8. Behavioral changes: Chronic pain from arthritis can lead to behavioral changes in dogs. They may become irritable, less sociable, or demonstrate signs of depression.

9. Muscle atrophy: Over time, the muscles surrounding arthritic joints may start to weaken and shrink, leading to muscle atrophy. This can be visible as a loss of muscle mass in the affected area.

10. Changes in appetite and sleep patterns: Dogs in pain may experience a loss of appetite and have difficulty sleeping comfortably. Arthritis-related discomfort can affect their overall well-being and impact their eating and sleeping habits.

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from arthritis, it is important to consult with a veterinarian. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options to manage your dog’s pain and improve their quality of life.

7. Why is my dog vomiting/diarrhea?

It can be ‘normal’ every now and then for a short bout of vomiting/diarrhea due to dogs’ nature to scavenge.

Causes of can be broken down into primary and secondary Gastrointestinal (GI) issues

Primary GI issues refer to abnormal function of the GI tract itself.

  • Most commonly food reaction or dietary indiscretion, when something ingested causes a reaction of the small/large intestine resulting in diarrhoea.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is when the intestines have chronic inflammation and are particularly sensitive to multiple food types.
  • Stress can trigger diarrhoea episodes, particularly when you’ve collected a new puppy
  • Foreign Body: Blockages of the bowels can present with acute diarrhoea signs
  • Parasitic, bacterial and viral infections of the bowels
  • Neoplasia of the bowel, although quite rare a dog may present with signs of diarrhoea/straining due to masses of the colon/rectum

Secondary GI issues refer to problems outside the GI tract itself causing a knock-on diarrhoea

  • Issues with the liver, kidney, pancreas, adrenal glands can present itself as diarrhoea

Why is my dog itchy?
Itching or ‘pruritis’ in dogs is THE most common reason for a dog to visit the vet Most commonly caused by allergies.
The pet comes in contact with an allergen that causes an immune response causing inflammation of the skin.
This Inflammation or ‘dermatitis’ can present itself in different ways but the end result is always itching/chewing/biting the skin (or shaking the ears). Environmental allergy is most common, followed by food and flea allergy
Other than allergies, your pet may be itchy because of:

  • Parasites such as fleas, lice or mites.
  • Bacterial skin infections called ‘pyoderma’
  • Yeast skin infections such as ringworm
  • Reaction to shampoos Poorly maintained coat

9. What can I do if my dog has behavioral issues?

Behavior modification: involves identifying and understanding the root causes of the dog’s issues. A professional (trainer/behaviorist) creates a tailored plan that focuses on positive reinforcement techniques to gradually change the dog’s behavior and reduce anxiety triggers.
Stimulation: through activities like puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training. Engaging the dog’s mind and body can help alleviate anxiety and redirect their focus onto positive outlets.
Creating a safe and comforting environment is crucial through the use of calming aids, such as pheromone diffuser.
Behavioral modification medication: prescribed by a veterinarian. May be necessary if training fails. These medications can help reduce anxiety levels giving training techniques a better chance of success. However, they should always be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques.

10. Does my dog need a blood test?
Routine blood testing allows assessment of overall health beyond the clinical exam. This helps in detecting any underlying health issues at an early stage, enabling timely intervention and treatment. Routine blood testing is important for older dogs, as it helps identify age-related conditions such as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), diabetes or thyroid problem. Besides routine testing, if your dog is sick blood testing is vital to get a better picture of potential pathologies.