Pet Info

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Grain Free Diets and Food Allergies?

Grain-free diets are one of the largest growing segments of the pet food market. More and more pet owners are reaching for these diets, which are sometimes billed as more natural for pets, with:

So, is this true? Are grain-free diets better for pets? 

Firstly, what is a filler?

A filler is considered an ingredient with little or no nutritional value.

Is it legitimate to label grains as fillers?
Grains contribute valuable nutrients to the diet including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and fibre, all essential for health.

Grains are definitely not fillers.

Are grain-free diets more ‘natural’?
Do they help feed our pets like their wild ancestors?

The domestic dog of today is vastly different in appearance and genetics from its ancestral wolf.
In fact, dogs and cats have evolved alongside humans to be able to digest grains as well as many other sources of carbohydrates.

What’s more, grains used in pet foods undergo processing, such as grinding, cooking and extrusion, making them highly digestible.

Substituting grains with highly refined starches like potatoes, tapioca (cassava), peas or lentils, does not make the diet anywhere near to what wolves eat in the wild.

Another confusion is that both wolves and dogs belong to the Order Carnivora, which often gets confused with thinking dogs are carnivorous.

While these animals all share a dental structure that originally evolved for shearing meat, most of the species in Carnivora are now omnivores (meat and plant eaters e.g. skunks, raccoons, bears, etc.) and a few are completely or almost completely vegetarian like the Giant Panda which only consumes bamboo!

Cats on the other hand, are considered 100% carnivores, in that they have a requirement for nutrients present only in animal tissue within their diet. That said, while cats do require part of their protein to come from animals, their systems are also very good at digesting and absorbing nutrients from high-quality, plant-based ingredients.

What about food allergies and sensitivities? Are grains the culprits for these?

While food allergies in pets are uncommon, accounting for less than 10% of allergic skin disease, allergies to grains are even rarer. 

Because allergies are caused by reactions of the immune system against a normal protein, they can form to any protein or protein-containing food or ingredient.

However, the small numbers of pets that do have food allergies are most likely to be allergic to animal proteins rather than cereal proteins.

The most common proteins that cause food allergies are:

As grains contain protein, allergies to grains such as wheat can occur.

However, reactions to other grains and carbohydrate sources, such as rice, corn, and potato are very uncommon.

Treating Food Allergies

If a dog or cat has a diagnosed food allergy, treatment involves feeding either a hydrolysed diet (where the protein has been made so small it can’t cause an allergic reaction) or a food containing a single protein and carbohydrate source which they have not been previously exposed to e.g. kangaroo and potatoes.

These are called novel protein and carbohydrate diets.

Take care when choosing a food claiming to be hypoallergenic or novel.
While they may only have one protein and carbohydrate source
mentioned on the front of the pack, on closer examination of
the ingredient list you may find several other sources of both

Gluten Sensitivity in Pets?

Some pet owners cite the potential for gluten sensitivity as the reason for avoiding grains in their pet’s food.

Celiac disease in humans is a heritable immune-based disease associated with hypersensitivity to gluten proteins in wheat and other related grains such as barley and rye.

Corn gluten and rice gluten, on the other hand, are quite different from wheat gluten, and can be consumed by most celiac patients without concern.

Gluten intolerance is exceedingly rare in pets, with gastrointestinal signs from consuming gluten having only been observed in a small number of dogs, including some Irish Setters.

So back to our original question, are grains unhealthy for pets?

The answer is no, there is no evidence that grains are nutritionally harmful to pets. There are many good quality commercial pet foods available both with, and without grains.

The most important things to look for in a food is that the food is

For example, if a food is formulated for ‘growth and maintenance’ it means that the food must meet the nutrient requirements for the most demanding life stage, a growing puppy or kitten. Such diets are unlikely to be ideal for an adult dog or cat and definitely not for a senior pet.

Which Food Company?

Consideration should be given to the longevity and history of the manufacturing company and their commitment to continual research and development when deciding to feed a particular food, not just whether the food contains grain or not.

That’s why we recommend and sell Hill’s cat and dog foods.

See also...

Food Allergies

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Q Fever in Humans

Q fever is caused by a bacteria that is mainly found in sheep, cattle and goats. However, it has found its way into dogs, cats, some species of ticks, and wildlife (notably kangaroos, wallabies and bandicoots).

Symptoms in Humans

Infection Process

Q fever bacteria live in animals who are either infected or are carriers. These animals can excrete the bacteria in:

Infected dust can form from the bacteria in these tissues, fluids and excretions.

The bacteria can survive in air spaces for up to two weeks and in the soil and dust for years. The wind can spread the bacteria over several kilometres.

As kangaroo and wallaby droppings can carry the disease, extra caution should be taken in situations where the particles can become airborne. A person I know contracted it when he breathed in the dust from kangaroo droppings that he had hit with a lawn mower. He ended up needing a new heart valve and nearly died.


People who work or breed with animals, or work in outdoor areas frequented by wildlife, need to have a test first to ensure they don’t already have immunity from previous low-level exposure. If that’s clear, they can have a vaccine against Q Fever.

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Cytopoint for Allergy Dogs

The days of treating skin allergies with long term cortisone or anti-rejection drugs (e.g. cyclosporin) and their associated side effects is near to a close.

There are now two new products for treating itchy pets - Apoquel tablets and Cytopoint injections.

Whether it's a flea or contact allergy, or a case of breathing in pollens causing a "skin asthma attack" (atopy), Apoquel and Cytopoint have risen through the mist to become the number one treatments worldwide for itchy dogs.

Apoquel and Cytopoint have been shown to have similar anti-itching results to cortisone and cyclosporin, which have undesirable side effects.

See also...
Apoquel Scratches the Itch

What are the costs?

Both Apoquel and Cytopoint are more expensive than cortisone but cheaper then cylosporin.

What are the advantages over traditional treatments?

Overall, you are probably going to be spending the same amount on a yearly basis compared to older classical therapies with multiple consultations.

Do dogs have asthma attacks?

Dogs as a rule don't get the wheezy chest we see in human and cat asthma attacks. Instead, the skin is the "target organ". These dogs are called "atopic".

Atopic dogs classically scratch all over, rub their faces and have watery eyes. They are often also allergic to things in the environment e.g. plants, polllens, house dust mites.

How do you tell between a flea allergy and a contact allergy?

If you can see fleas and there is a rash along the top of the lower back, then it's probably a flea allergy problem or even blocked anal glands.

If the rash is on the lower parts of the body, e.g. feet, armpits and groin, then it's probably a contact allergy.

Both of these allergy problems tend to be worse in spring and summer.

What about a food allery?

Food allergies only represent approx 1% of itchy dog and cat problems, so they are pretty uncommon. They last all year round compared to flea and contact allergies and atopy which are worse in spring and summer. Cats tend to present with rashes around their face and neck and dogs can look like they have a flea allergy.

How do you treat allergies?

If there is a particular cause e.g. fleas or some type of weed growing in the backyard, then removing it will certainly help e.g Wandering Jew.

But going for a walk and contacting weeds and grasses, breathing in pollens or getting a hitch hiker flea, is not so easily prevented.

To minimise the body's allergic response, vets have relied on cortisone therapy. However, long term use and high doses result in undesirable side effects e.g. drinking any weeing a lot (polydypsia), swollen livers, diabetes, cushing disease.

To avoid these nasty side effects, some dogs have been placed on alternative drugs to minimise their allergic reactions. Classically, this has been Cyclosporin (an anti-rejection drug used in humans for kidney, liver and heart transplants). Cyclosporin can cause upset stomachs and is very expensive.

How does Cytopoint work?

Cytopoint is made of a very special chemical which blocks the "itch" cascade that occurs
when dogs come in contact with things that make them allergic.

A similar "cascade" happens in humans bitten
by a mosquitoes; it results in the bites getting warm, red and itchy.

Cytopoint stops the cascade before it can get started.

How long does Cytopoint last?

Each injection lasts 4-8 weeks. It's is given under the skin, and does not sting.

Is Cytopoint OK to give with other medications?

Cytopoint does not interfere with any other medications the dog may be on at the time e.g. cortisone, antibiotics, flea and tick treatments.

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NEW! Bravecto Spot-on for Cats & Dogs

Can you believe it?

We finally have a proven effective and long-acting spot-on tick preventative for both cats and dogs.
And with Bravecto Plus for cats now available, all bases are covered, saving owner's fingers when trying to give worming tablets.

Brand Treats Lasts
Bravecto Chews for dogs Flea & ticks 3 months
Bravecto Spot-On for Dogs Flea & ticks 6 months
Bravecto Spot-On for Cats Flea & ticks 3 months
Bravecto Spot-On Plus for Cats Fleas, Ticks, Worms, Mites 2 months

Bravecto for dogs comes as a tasty
3 month chew, or a
6 month spot-on

Bravecto for dogs covers:

  • Ticks
  • Flea
  • Mites

And with Bravecto Plus for cats all
bases are covered:

  • Ticks
  • Fleas
  • Ear mites
  • Mange mites
  • Worms
  • Heartworm


No cat or dog should die of paralysis ticks

  • No more trying to remember a monthly treatment- it's very easy to forget or double dose in large families (the national average of monthly medication failure is 40%!)
  • No more worry about whether or not the dog swallowed the chew or sicked it up
  • Full control of mange mites (in case they meet a fox or wombat)
  • No more battles getting a worm tablet down your cat's throat - see Cat Pilling Instructions
  • No more spraying the cat every 3 weeks with Frontline (that was never going to happen)
  • No more worry about missing a tick with your daily searching
  • ​No more flea infestations in summer

Bravecto Spot-on gets absorbed into the system in both cats and dogs and distributes itself throughout the whole body.

As soon as a flea or tick bites, it has a quick death.

Get to BHVG and collect a box of Bravecto for your pet before its too late!


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FREE Bravecto Mon 16th Oct 2017

It's my dream that no dog should die of paralysis ticks this season.

And to achieve this, MSD (who make Bravecto) and BHVG are handing out FREE Bravecto to each dog who visits us on Mon 16th Oct between 11-1pm.

That's right! Absolutely FREE.

That's a saving of between $60-$80.

But you must bring your dog with you.

New pets to BHVG will have their weight recorded so they get the correct sized packet, and their owners will be asked to provide their contact details so we can setup future 3 monthly reminders.

New pets will also get a FREE nail clip. How good is that!

But, it only runs for 2 hours on Monday 16th October at BerryHaven Veterinary Group at 2/133 Shoalhaven Heads Rd, Shoalhaven Heads.

Contact BHVG on (02) 4448 5621 for more details

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Raw Chicken: The Myth

Mark has been on a mission for 15 years trying to get pets off raw chicken. He has seen many a severe gastroenteritis following ingestion of raw chicken 1-2 days before, with symptoms of:

Since Mark started putting clients off feeding raw chicken, he has witnessed a huge reduction in the number of affected pets.

Mark has referred 2 dogs to a specialist to have chicken necks removed from their oesophagus at a cost of approx. $4,000. Both dogs swallowed a whole neck, only to have it get stuck over the base of the heart half way down the oesophagus. The specialist used a fibreoptic endoscope to break down the sharp edges before slowly retracting the chicken neck back up to the mouth.

There was also a Shih Tzu dog that presented dead on arrival having choked on a chicken neck it tried  to swallow whole.

One of his Mark's clients cultured up the human chicken in the local Wollongong supermarket (as part of a PhD study), and showed him all the not so lovely bacteria growing on it e.g. E Coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter.

Up to this time, Mark along with most other vets had been recommending raw chicken (carcasses, necks, wings, breasts etc.) as a means of keeping small dogs and cats teeth healthy. TV and other vets still advocate the feeding of raw chicken to pets despite the hidden dangers.

There are quite a few nasty bacteria in raw chicken– that’s why everyone is so careful about handling and cooking it for themselves. I had 2 un-related clients in Dec 2016 both get very sick for 3 days after both of their pets came down with gastroenteritis after eating raw chicken necks and wings.

Pets can develope colonies of these nasty bacteria in their intestines. They can easily spread to owners, especailly children handling the pet and not taking the necessary hygiene precautions. 

People can get also be infected handling raw chicken and/or its packaging, and not following good hygiene principles.

Campylobacter bacteria can cause paralysis in humans and there has been recent speculation in the Illawarra that this is also the case for dogs fed raw chicken - see recent Illawarra Mercury Article

Mark recommends avoiding raw chicken in any shape or form, whether or not it is for pet or human consumption.

No one eats raw chicken in a restaurant, but a medium - raw steak does not seen to cause any issues.

So go for beef or lamb bones when thinking about a raw diet for your pet.

See also...

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Free 6 Monthly Senior Pet Health Checks

There’s nothing like the love and companionship our pets give us over the years. ALWAYS just happy to be there … for you. So when your pet reaches the ‘golden years’ of life, it’s time to celebrate! Of course, with age comes extra care. Just as our bodies complain a little more as we grow older, the same is typically true for our pets.

Just like people over 50 years of age, pets over 7 years of age start to wear out. It may be the joints, teeth, heart, kidneys, liver or other vital organs.

There may be some lumps that have recently grown in size. Bad breath can mean painful underlying dental disease or serious illness e.g. diabetes, kidney failure. Changes in appetite and/or thirst definitely warrant investigating very quickly. Slowness in getting up may mean arthritis or some underlying illness.

The trouble is … they don’t have the WORDS to TELL you what’s hurting or aching. That’s WHY we believe so strongly in screening for age related diseases at this time in their life. The reasons to do so ARE compelling. The great news is most of these are treatable IF they are diagnosed early on.

Wouldn’t it be nice to give your senior pet a full 6 monthly Senior Health Check to make sure nothing is “going on”?

We believe this is so important that we are offering a FREE Senior Pet Health Checks. Just call BHVG on (02) 4448 5621 to book this important check-up.

See the attached document below for more information on blood and urine tests, and pricing.

To show you how important this is, last month's Senior Health Check programme detected 3 dogs with liver disease, 2 dogs with Cushing’s disease, 4 cats with chronic renal failure and 6 pets with urinary tract infections. All of these pets were acting normally at home. They are now on medications to treat these illnesses to prolong and improve their lives.

FREE Senior Pet Health Checks
 Call us today on (02) 4448 5621 and make an appointment

After performing the health check we mayrecommend a Senior Health Check Blood and Urine Analysis Tests for your pet. This is bundled at an incredible price of $96.00 (incl. GST) saving $50.00 off the regular price. 

In additon to this incredible offer, we are recommending sending some of the blood away for the brand new SDMA blood test.

There is a small blood collection fee to cover courier costs and disposables used.

SDMA Blood Tests Successes

The main problem we have in detecting kidney disease is that normal blood testing does not detect a problem until over 3/4 of the kidney function is gone - a bit too late!

At our last Senior Health Check Programme, we ran over 45 SDMA blood tests on senior pets who looked otherwise healthy. We detected early kidney failure in 4 cats and 2 dogs that had normal regular kidney blood tests and relatively strong urine.

We also detected Cushing Disease in 3 dogs, and they have all started treatment.

They have started on special diets and the owners are already saying how much better they look and behave!

10 Good Reasons For You to Arrange a SENIOR CHECK-UP Now
 • 32% of pets die from cancer:
         Females are 3 times more prone to it
         UP to 25% of dogs over 8 have skin tumours
 • 8% of dogs over 3 years have dental disease
 • 50% of dogs over 10 have arthritis
 • 41% of dogs at 10 years of age are obese
 • 10% of dogs over 10 have kidney disease
 • 12% of dogs have chronic liver disease
 • 12% of dogs have severe hormone imbalance causing life threatening conditions e.g. Cushings disease, diabetes
 • 20% of female dogs over the age of 8 have urinary incontinence
 • 12% of dogs over 8 have heart disease
 • 6.5% of dogs have stones in their bladder

These facts are not to alarm. It’s simply our commitment to make your pet’s golden years as pain free and enjoyable as possible. We’ll discuss with you what we do to ensure early diagnosis of any of these senior diseases.

Life Charts for Cats and Dogs

To make things easier for you, we have attached some great LIFE CHARTS below for you to print out, pencil in some dates, and hang on the toilet or pantry door so you get a constant reminder about your pet's next Senior Health Check.

Cat Life Chart Dog Life Chart How Old Am I?            

Blood tests

Using our in house laboratory, we can perform complete haematology and biochemistry tests within 30 minutes of blood collection. Biochemistry tests check out the kidneys, liver, cholesterol, blood sugars and other body systems.

Haematology tests detect abnormalities such as anaemia, infection and blood disorders.

The brand new and exciting SDMA test can detect kidney disease when only 30% of a pet's kidneys are diseased i.e. much earlier detection than with standard tests.

Blood pressure tests

A Doppler blood pressure machine can detect an abnormal blood pressure. This can be an early indicator of serious illness e.g. heart disease, kidney failure, thyroid problems, and hypertension in cats.

See also... High Blood Pressure in Pets

Urine examination

A urine sample can give a lot of information about the state of health of the body. The tests look for the presence of sugar (diabetes), infection, kidney/ bladder stones or damaged kidneys. They also look for the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine.

Did you know...

In humans, you can donate one kidney to a close relative and live a happy normal life. Should your remaining kidney lose up to 50% of its ability to concentrate urine, you can still appear normal although you may be drinking a bit more and making dilute urine. Kidney blood tests can be normal even at this stage.

In other words, you can loose 3/4 of your total kidney function
and still have normal kidney blood tests

The same rule applies to dogs and cats. A senior health check urine examination looks at the concentrating ability of the kidneys to detect early reduction in kidney function. The earlier it is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Cardiac check-up

Many older pets have undetected cardiac disease resulting in decreased exercise tolerance, coughing and/or swollen livers. Mark has received post graduate training in small animal cardiology. He will examine the cardiovascular system to ensure there are no abnormalities eg heart murmurs, irregular heartbeats, heart failure. Most cardiac conditions respond well to the newer medications being used in human medicine at present.

Contact us today on (02) 4448 5621 and book your pet in for a Senior Pet Health Check

See also...


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SDMA Blood Testing

This has to be one of the most exciting advances in veterinary medicine in recent years.

SDMA is a brand-new blood test brought out to Australia from the USA for the early detection of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in both dogs and cats.

Early detection and treatment of CKD can increase the live of a pet considerably.

Advantages of SDMA Testing Over Traditional Tests

N.B. From October 2017, SDMA will be able to be run on our in-house Idexx machine rather than being sent away overnight to a Sydney lab.

Unfortunately, these blood tests don’t get elevated until approx. 75% of all kidney function is gone.

Special SDMA Deal as Part of the BHVG Senior Health Check Programme

When combined with our regular Senior Pet Blood and Urine Test Package ($96.00), the SDMA test is just an additional $30.00 (normal stand-alone price $70.00 - SAVE $40.00).

There is a small blood collection fee to cover courier costs and disposables used.

Call BHVG on (02) 448 5621 to book your sneior pet in for its FREE Senior Pet Health Check

See also...


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Compost Toxicity in Dogs

Believe it or not, compost contains some pretty nasty toxins thanks to some of the bacteria and fungi that do a great job of breaking down the wastes.

Some of the by-products of whole process can affect the nervous system of greedy dogs looking to eat some of those freshly placed scraps.

Symptoms of Compost Toxicity


This may involve making the dog vomit the compost using special drugs, or if too weak, a stomach pump being used.

IV fluids and sedation are required and the patient needs to be in a nice quiet room with no noise and/or bright lights.

Most dogs make a good recovery if treated early.


Make sure your compost areas are safely fenced off from those greedy canine friends.

See also...

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Symptoms of Tick Paralysis


The earliest signs often suggest that your pet has something caught in its throat or the back legs are not working properly. Other commonly noticed changes are vomiting, heavy breathing with a grunt and alteration to your pet's vocal sounds.

Check the eyes can blink

I always tell owners to check the pet can blink in both eyes. One of the earliest signs of a paralysis tick on the head is an inability to blink on the same side. If you find this is the case, search that side of the head thoroughly until you find the tick.

The eye must be kept moist to prevent ulceration from drying out, so apply human artificial tears or saline from the chemist until you can get to the vet.

Progressive Signs

While signs vary from patient to patient, the usual course is a progressive paralysis with subsequent loss of use of back and front legs. Some animals, especially cats, may become distressed, anxious and confused.

Bhvg tick transEventually there is an inability to breathe in enough oxygen as the lungs develop congestion and chest muscles become paralysed.
When animals are fully paralysed, the chances of saving them are greatly reduced.
If you think your pet has a tick, do not give anything by mouth.

See also...

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Pet Dental Home Care

What can you do?

It's vitally important to the overall health of pets (and humans) to have nice healthy teeth and gums.

So here are some "home remedies" to try and prevent buildup of plaque (remember..."plaque causes dental disease") and tartar.

There are a lot of different pet dental products on the market making all sorts of claims. To cut to the chase, the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) has tested and approved a select number of products that have been shown to prevent both plaque and tartar.

Daily Teeth Brushing

If your own dentist had just cleaned your teeth and said "don't brush for 6 months", you would expect to be back for major teeth and gum issues in a very short time.

The same applies for pets. With a little patient training, you'll soon have your pet eager for its daily tooth brushing.

Tooth brushing is by far the best way to prevent dental disease

Hills T/D and Vet Essentials (VE) Dry Foods

These brands of Hills pet foods are the only pet food in the world to have had over 300 published tests proving their effectiveness in preventing both plaquae and tartar in pets. They are approved by the VOHC.

Hills Vet Essentials (VE) has T/D built into their makeup.

The secret lies in a protein "meshwork" inside each biscuit that prevents them crumbling when a tooth penetrates them. I have actually stabbed a biscuit with a screwdriver and it did not split. Once the tooth enters the biscuit and eventaully "exits", any plaque or taratr on the tooth is "dragged off".









Of course they are not indestructable, but they are made to just the right consistency so this action "self cleans" the teeth as the pet eats.

Chews and bones

Try to encourage daily chewing to keep the teeth clean if possible. Some good chewable things include:​

e.g. nylon bones, rope and rubber toys

Aquadent Drinking Water Additive

Aquadent has passed the Veterinary Oral Health Council's (VOHC) stringent testing as effective in preventing up to 50% of plaque and tartar buildup on pet's teeth. Just add Aquadent to your pet's drinking water


Greenies are activated by saliva to battle both plaque and tartar in pets.
They have also under gone extensive testing by the VOHC and proven to be effective.
Should your pet swallow a larger than normal piece, the Greenie will dissolve in the stomach and not cause a bowel blockage (unlike some other types of dental chews on the market e.g. nylon bones)





See also...
Introduction to dental disease
Dental grades of disease

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Introduction to Dental Care

Surprisingly, it was not until the 1970’s in human medicine that dental care gained a much needed boost with the simple finding that...

Plaque causes dental disease

OK, that sounds simple, but what is plaque?

Well, when you wake up in the morning and you feel your furry teeth with your tongue, that’s “plaque”

Someone close to you may pluck up the courage to say either “your breath stinks” or “you need to brush your teeth”.

Plaque is a thick liquid that coats your teeth and gums every day, and is made up of millions of bacteria and food particles. You can’t stop it forming- it’s natural.

Saliva contains calcium which “binds” with plaque and turns it into “tartar” (the tough brittle staining that coats untreated teeth).


Tartar (Plaque) and Gingivitis

Tartar is a mixture of minerals and salts, food particles and plaque that combine together to form a solid, firmly attached yellowish layer on the surface of the teeth.

Tartar traps more food particles between itself and the gums. The food particles start to rot causing inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). 

As a result, the gums bleed very easily and cause a lot of pain when eating.

Eventually, the inflammed gums move away from the decaying area, exposing the tooth roots. Once the tooth roots and bone sockets are exposed, bacteria from the rotting food destroy the bone holding the teeth in place (a very painful experience in humans).

Importance of Healthy Teeth and Gums

Gingivitis and loose rotten teeth are a very painful problem.

Bacteria from infected teeth, gums and bone sockets easily get into the bloodstream by entering the tiny blood vessels in the mouth.

They love to form colonies in vital organs (e.g. kidneys, liver and heart valves) leading to major health issues.

When is it time for a check-up?

Both vets and dentists prefer to not let their patients get to the stage of pain on eating, bad breath and bleeding gums. By this time, permanent damage may already have occurred.

If my dentist said to me "Hi Mark. Your teeth are not too bad, just a small amount of tartar there. Tell you what, come back when those teeth and gums are sore and sensitive, and I will give them a good scale and polish" I'd be wanting the treatment straight away. I would not want to wait until things got much worse.

So when it it time for checkup? We recommend 6 monthky checkups for all pets- just like humans.


In fact we are so determined that all pets be pain free and have nice healthy teeth that we offer a FREE DENTAL CHECK for the first 15 pets to book in each month (value $65.00)

See also...
Dental care at home
Dental grades of disease

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Seresto: Flea and Tick Prevention

Seresto for Flea and Tick Prevention

Seresto is a new odourless collar that prevents fleas and paralysis ticks in dogs, and fleas for cats (awaiting registration for prevention of ticks in cats in Australia). This may bethe first time we get a paralysis tick product for cats (other than Frontline spray which needs applying every 3 weeks).

How easy is this! Just place the collar on the cat or dog's neck, and in a short time you have 8 MONTHS OF PROTECTION






Can you use it with other products?

Seresto can be used with other flea or tick products.

What is Seresto?

Seresto uses a novel blend of materials, enabling a safe, controlled low dose release of active ingredients over 8 months. Overseas, this provides excellent protection for cats, not only killing fleas and ticks but also repelling ticks before they bite - which helps to protect pets from the diseases these parasites can spread.

Seresto makes prevention convenient and (monthly applications become history) and promotes the continuous protection of pets. It’s a simple way to ensure you’re doing the right thing pets, while helping you keep fleas and ticks successfully under control.

What if my pet chews the collar?

Seresto has been extensively tested for its safety, including pets chewing on the collar or ingesting the entire collar. As the vast majority of active ingredients are bound in the collar matrix and not on the surface, the only side effect recorded after ingesting a full collar was a mild stomach upset (e.g. loose stools), which was resolved within 24 hours. 

When age can my pet start on Seresto?

Seresto is safe for use in kittens and puppies aged 10 weeks of age and older.

“Do I need to remove the collar if my pet gets wet?”
No, the Seresto collar itself is water resistant. Also, because the active ingredients are stored in and distributed through a layer of oil on the pet’s skin, being wet won’t wash them away unless your pet goes to the beach or river more than a coule of times a week.

NB Seresto is awaiting registration in Australia for prevention of paralysis ticks in cats

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Pet’s Day Out 15th May 2016

Sunday 15th May 2016 sees the inaugral Shoalhaven Heads Lions Club Pet's Day Out which aligns with the RSPCA's Million Paws Walk.There are lots of fun activities for the day including:

Where and When





The day starts at 10am and finishes at 3pm at Jerry Bailey Oval and Lions Park.

P.S. Apologies from Mark as I am overseas at a vet conference on the day, but our staff and Aussie Paws Grooming will be "manning the fort" and offering free checkups and handing out some free goodies.

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Scratch the itch with Apoquel

The days of treating skin allergies with long term cortisone or anti-rejection drugs and their associated side effects is near to a close.

Whether it's a flea or contact allergy, or a case of breathing in pollens causing a "skin asthma attack" (atopy), Apoquel has risen through the mist to become the number one treatment worldwide for itchy dogs.

Apoquel has been shown to have similar anti-itching results to cortisone and cyclosporin which have undesirable side effects.

See also...
NEW!!! Cytopoint for Allergy Dogs





Book your dog in for a skin check and medication Ph (02) 4448 5621

It does not cause upset stomachs seen with cyclosporin, and none of the side effects seen with cortisone. Talk about great news!

It is more expensive than cortisone but cheaper then cylosporin.

If you eliminate the nasty side effects of cortisone and their treatment, then you are probably going to be spending the same amount on a yearly basis compared to older classical therapies.

Do dogs have asthma attacks?

Dogs as a rule don't get the wheezy chest we see in human and cat asthma attacks. Instead, the skin is the "target organ". These dogs are called "atopic".

Atopic dogs classically scratch all over, rub their faces and have watery eyes. They are often also allergic to things in the environment e.g. plants, polllens, house dust mites.

How do you tell between a flea allergy and a contact allergy?

If you can see fleas and there is a rash along the top of the lower back, then it's probably a flea allergy problem.
If the rash is on the lower parts of the body, e.g. feet, armpits and groin, then it's probably a contact allergy.
Both of these allergy problems tend to be worse in spring and summer.

What about a food allery?

Food allergies only represent approx 1% of itchy dog and cat problems, so they are pretty uncommon. They last all year round compared to flea and  contact allergies and atopy which are worse in spring and summer. Cats tend to present with rashes around their face and neck and dogs can look like they have a flea allergy.

How do you treat allergies?

If there is a particular cause e.g. fleas or some type of weed growing in the backyard, then removing it will certainly help e.g Wandering Jew.

But going for a walk and contacting weeds and grasses, breathing in pollens or getting a hitch hiker flea, is not so easily prevented.

To minimise the body's allergic response, vets have relied on cortisone therapy. However, long term use and high doses result in undesirable side effects e.g. drinking any weeing a lot (polydypsia), swollen livers, diabetes, cushing disease.

To avoid these nasty side effects, some dogs have been placed on alternative drugs to minimise their allergic reactions. Classically, this has been Cyclosporin (an anti-rejection drug used in humans for kidney, liver and heart transplants). Cyclosporin can cause upset stomachs and is very expensive.

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Dog and Cat Kennels

There are only a few really good kennels to look after your pets in the best posssible way.

Petcharm Lodge

Pet Charm Lodge

Petcharm Lodge is located on a 12 acre farm in the small country village of ‘Jaspers Brush’, just 5 minutes south of Berry township on the South Coast of NSW. Jaspers Brush historically was a dairy farm region with views of the picturesque escarpment of the Cambewarra Range. Rolling green hills provide magnificent views from many rooms of our luxury pet lodge. Your pets will enjoy our surroundings and services that if only they could talk, you would wish you could join them for their holiday.

Enter at 215 Princes Hwy.
Japsers Brush NSW 2535.

Contact Details
Phone:  0498 020 535

Opening Hours
Open Daily
9am - 11am and 3pm - 5pm
Please phone to book an appointment



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Feeding Pets

It is important that your puppy or kitten receives a high quality nutritious diet that will allow it to grow up to be strong and healthy. The diet must have a proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

A correct diet can be assured by feeding commercial foods- preferably dry. Supplement this with vegetables, pasta, rice, and cereal grains and fresh meat.

Introducing a new diet

It is common for a sudden change in diet to cause diarrhoea. Introduce new foods (to what the breeder has been feeding until now) slowly over a few days to allow the intestines and good bacteria time to adjust.

Before 12 weeks of age, start introducing a high quality commercial puppy or kitten food. Aim for a 90-95% commercial dry food diet by 12 weeks of age.

We strongly recommend Hills Vet Essentials (VE) dry food. It is fully balanced and very digestible, meaning smaller and firmer stools (easier to pick up off the lawn) and less wind (no embarrassment). The remainder of the diet can consists of fruit, vegetables and pasta/rice.

Table Scraps

Dogs and cats do not need a variety of food.  A good quality commercially prepared diet is adequate and does not need to be supplemented with human food or table scraps. Feeding table scraps or sudden changes in diet can lead to upset tummies, and a visit to the vet.

Frequency of feeding

Feed your puppy or kitten 2-3 meals per day. They only have small tummies, so don’t put too much down at one time.

Remove left over food during the day

It is important not to leave food down between meal times. It will go dry & stale and your puppy will not be hungry at meal times. Its likes working in a restaurant, if you are constantly around food and can smell it all day, you won’t feel hungry.

NOTE: Removing the food during the day also lessens the chance of attracting birds, rodents and snakes

Foods to avoid

Bones for dogs

Please do not feed raw chicken necks or wings to your pet

Royal canin retreiver trans

Adult dogs and cats

In these modern times, pet owners usually like things to be simple and quick. No time for cooking up meat and veges for the pet. My personal recommndations for both cats and dogs are as follows:

Aim for 95-100% good quality dry food such as Hills Vet Essenetials (VE)

These are what I call premium pet foods with very high digestabilty and great taste.

Royal canin cat trans

Cheaper supermarket or pet food store brands have lower digestability so more pops out the other end so to speak. Premium pet foods mean less waste, firmer stools (easier to pick up off the lawn, less gas, healthier teeth and smaller volumes to feed.

Keeping teeth clean

We recommend raw bones, rawhide chews/dental sticks and dry foods to keep teeth and gums healthy. My favourite for medium to large dogs are brisket bones (mutton flaps). They are a bit fatty so don't feed too much of the normal diet on the same day. If you need low fat bones, try roo tails.

For extra large dog breeds, go for shank or marrow bones.

Only feed raw bones to pets- the stomach acids can digest them whereas cooked bones come out the other end the same way they were swallowed; hence lots of constipated dogs on Monday after eating the Bar B Q leftovers.

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Dog’s Stem Cell Brain Transplant

Dementia researchers look to dogs for breakthroughs

The Saturday Paper Dec 10, 2015

A deaf, once-homeless cocker spaniel has become an unlikely weapon in the fight against dementia.

Like more than 342,800 Australians, Timmy the cocker spaniel is living with a form of dementia. Three months ago, he became part of a University of Sydney research project focused on rebooting the brain with stem cells harvested from the subject’s own skin, and in doing so became the first dog worldwide to survive such a transplant. Now Timmy faces a series of ongoing tests designed to measure improvements in his canine condition, which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of human senility.

Watch this video from Vet Talk Australia about the Timmy's trail blazing experience and the work that is currently going on to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease in humans. There is also a call for owners of dogs with similar symptoms to contact the research group to see if they are suitable for the trial.

Associate professor Michael Valenzuela, who heads the university’s regenerative neuroscience group, was cautiously optimistic this week in his first set of interviews since the August transplant.

“Our latest results are promising,” says Valenzuela, referring to measurable improvement in Timmy’s dementia-like behaviour that includes senseless barking, staring into space and constant nightly sleep disturbances.

Valenzuela has been working on a cure for dementia for more than a decade, investigating whether missing neurons and their interconnections (synapses) can be replaced using a form of stem cell therapy.

“There is international interest now in the prevention of dementia – that is probably the fastest-growing area of research,” he says. “But if we ever want to find a cure, we are going to need to repair and regenerate those millions of lost brain cells that are the hallmark of dementia.

“This is why our trial is so exciting, because we have been able to do that in rats and now we are trying to do the same in our canine patients.”

In collaboration with neurosurgeon Erica Jacobson and the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Valenzuela moved on to the Dogs+Cells Trial in 2013.

The aim was to investigate whether the dementia-like syndrome canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) can be reversed by injecting a dog with its own stem cells directly into the hippocampus using MRI guidance. The hippocampus is thought to be the brain’s centre of emotion, memory and the autonomic nervous system.

But finding suitable dogs in the community with CCD has been challenging. As well as adhering to the university’s strict ethical code, the team also had to find owners willing to allow often treasured pets to undergo two bouts of general anaesthetic and cell transplantation into the brain.

Only one other dog has reached the transplant stage, but he did not survive due to complications associated with a pre-existing kidney condition.

“Owners are naturally protective of their animals,” says team vet Sarah Toole, who helps find suitable research candidates. 

“The biggest hurdle has been their concern over an old dog’s ability to deal with anaesthetic, but with improvements in modern anaesthetic the alternative [CCD] holds far more risk to an animal’s wellbeing.’’

Toole diagnosed 13-year-old Timmy with CCD in January this year.

Timmy belongs to a Wollongong couple, Tony and Michele Leeder-Smith, who adopted him at 10 months when several other families were unable to cope with his congenital deafness.

 “He chose us really. He walked through the door and made it pretty clear he didn’t plan on leaving,” says Michele.

His disability, however, did not make him any less of a normal, naughty, shoe-chewing puppy who loved cuddles and attention.

“It was funny to watch him nudge books out of Michele’s hand when she’d sit down for a quiet read,” recalls Tony.

The team hopes to involve more dogs in the research and Valenzuela says if it is successful, the next step will be a human trial.

Click here for the full story

Note: Michele Tydd is a freelance journalist and can be contacted on

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Heartworm History and Update


Heartworm has been known for over 140 years and until recently (about 1960 -1965), it was regarded as a disease limited to the warm coastal regions of the world e.g. France (but not the UK), USA, Japan, Northern Territory and the eastern coast of Australia (especially Queensland). In areas with high mosquito numbers, 100% of unprotected dogs catch heartworm. 

In the USA, surveys over the last 30 years have shown a spread from the sub tropic southern and south-eastern states into the colder northern states, both along the coast and inland. Now only the upper north-western states of the USA (e.g. Washington) remain relatively free from the disease. The spread has been particularly noticeable along the river valleys of the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers, which extend from the warm south to the colder north.

History of Heartworm in Australia

Heartworm (Dirofilaria Immitis) arrived in NSW in the 70’s from Qld. I was working in my first job at Five Dock in 1982, and we were seeing numerous cases each month. The only preventative was Dimmitrol, a daily tablet. Trouble was, if you missed just one day, your dog could catch heartworm, even if you doubled the dose the next day.

The only treatment at that time was an intravenous injection of an arsenic containing drug (Carparsolate) which sometimes wiped out a dog’s liver resulting in death. If the dog moved whilst injecting and a small drop of the injection accidentally went under the skin, you would get a huge area of dead skin that fell off (sloughed) 2 days later. In other words, a really nasty chemical burn developed.

What is Heartworm?

Heartworm is a long thin parasitic worm that grows to approx.10 - 20cm in length. They are a bit thinner than your regular garden worm. Adults live in the right side of the heart. They block up the right heart chambers and major blood vessels trying to send oxygen poor blood to the lungs (pulmonary arteries).

Heavily infected dogs can have 200 or more adult worms inside the heart, and in severe cases, the major blood vessels returning oxygen poor blood to the heart (vena cava) also get blocked up. Dead adults leave the heart and travel up to the lungs where they cause a foreign body reaction (embolus) resulting in severe lung damage. Live adults cause damage to
the pulmonary veins which scar up become narrower, meaning it is harder for the heart to pump oxygen poor blood to the lungs.

How common is Heartworm?

Just last month, Simone (my assistant vet) received a call from a friend on the central Queensland coast who had purchased a vet practice. They diagnosed 60 dogs with heartworm in the first month! The previous vet had only promoted monthly heartworm preventatives and many clients had forgotten to give them on a regular basis.

In the 80’s, Sydney infection rates were spiraling upwards. Not many dogs were on prevention, and the heartworms and mosquitoes had a huge population of unprotected dogs to “work on” and spread the disease, so to speak. We saw 50-60% infection rates in unprotected dogs in those days.

In the Shoalhaven area, approx. 20-25% of unprotected dogs are at risk, depending on how many mosquitoes are in the area. There are regional hot spots along certain waterways and ponds. Going for walks in these areas exposes unprotected dogs to a much higher risk of contracting heartworm. Ipersonally treated 3 dogs in Wollongong that all lived up against Cabbage Tree Creek in Fairy Meadow. In fact, one dog had to be treated twice over 5 years after the owners forgot to stay on monthly prevention after the first treatment. A very expensive exercise!

How does Heartworm spread?

Adult worms mate and produce microscopic babies that leave the heart and travel around in the blood stream all day long. A mosquito biting this dog sucks up these babies (microfilaria) where they spend a few months in the mosquito’s body developing. Eventually, they find their way to the salivary glands. When the mosquito bites another dog, they “abandon ship” and enter the dog’s skin. After a few months of traveling through the dog’s tissues, they find their way to the heart where they “setup base” and start growing to their adult size. Incidentally, the occasional human picks up adult heartworm infection but usually the immune system manages to destroy them before they get too big.

What are the symptoms?

Affected dogs have severe damage to the lungs and major blood vessels trying to pump oxygen poor blood to the lungs.

Classic symptoms are:


Going back to the early days, we struggled for a really accurate test. A positive result had to be posted to Queensland for a confirmation to rule out an infection by a “heartworm cousin” that did not cause major illness in dogs (Dipetalonema). In other words, we had to double check the result to make sure it was the real thing. All this took a week or so. Some of the tests were so inaccurate that dogs escaped detection and went on to develop severe life threatening infection several months later.

Some dogs were diagnosed by classic changes to the lungs and heart on X-rays. When ultrasound became available to the veterinary industry, specialists could actually see the worms inside the pulmonary arteries in those difficult to diagnose cases (see video below).

Nowadays, we have really simple blood test kits that are very accurate and only take 5 minutes to run. How easy is that!


The good news is we stopped using the hasty arsenic injections in the 90’s with the advent of a French product that is much safer to use (Immiticide). Depending on the severity of the infection, treatment varies.

The main complication to avoid when treating is not to kill all the adult worms in one go. If you do, a huge number leave the heart all in one go and causes a major life threatening blockage of dead worms in the pulmonary arteries (a pulmonary embolism). This is especially the case in cats where treatment is actually more likely to kill the cat than doing nothing.


There is no argument on this one. The yearly Proheart injection is the best invention since sliced cheese. Twelve months of peace of mind and not having to remember to give your dog a monthly preventative. The cost of the injection is often cheaper then 12 months of monthly preventatives, depending on a dog’s weight.

Can I just start my dog on the Proheart injection if it’s not been on prevention at all?

Unfortunately, Proheart is a little too effective in preventing heartworm, as it also kills immature worms up to 2-3cm in length living inside the right heart chambers. If you kill all these in one go, they leave the heart in a “big blob” and cause a pulmonary embolism characterised by a very sick dog coughing up blood and mucous and gasping for air.

So, before starting Proheart injection in an adult dog that has not been on prevention, a blood test must be performed. The same holds for dogs that are more then 3 months overdue on their Proheart  injection.

Puppies can have their first Proheart injection at 5 months without testing as they are not old enough for the immature heartworms to have grown to the 2-3cm length. That’s why we give tshe Proheart injection at desexing time (5 months of age)

N.B. Daily heartworm prevention tablets have been shown to have a significant failure rate in high risk areas i.e. where there are lots of mosquitoes. For this reason, we do not encourage owners to use them. Similarly, owners quit eoften forget to give their dog its monthly oreventative (as seen in the story form Queensland above).

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FREE Lump and Bump Check Month

We don’t want to alarm pet owners, but rather give them a heads-up on this very important issue. We see lot of cancers in dogs and cats due to the fact that they age much quicker than humans (approx. 1 pet year is 7 human years). Common cancers we see include:

What are the risk factors?

A pet’s age, breed and sex are all ‘risk factors’.

Un-desexed pets have a much higher risk of cancers linked to their hormones e.g. prostate and mammary tumours.

Any pet 6 years or older is in the higher risk category, so a quick examination is appropriate NOW. Why now? So that together we can rule out any serious risks. Or if we identify a problem, we can treat it as early as possible.

Early detection is vital

Early detection of new growths anywhere on the pet’s body can make a huge difference in the prognosis for a cancerous condition. Luckily, most lumps and bumps are benign and are not dangerous e.g. fatty lipomas.

However, there are also some really nasty cancers that start off as a small blemish or bump on the body surface and if not detected and treated early can very quickly spread through the whole body e.g. melanomas, mast cell tumours.

So now is the time to check!

FREE Lump and Bump Check-up Month at BHVG (but hurry!!!)

So important is this, we’ve made this month a BHVG Free Lumps and Bumps Check Month to help you take an active role in identifying lumps and bumps on your pet through ‘palpation’.

It’s a straightforward process because pets are routinely symmetrical. One side of their body is exactly the same as the other.  So if there is a lump on one side on not a matching one on the other, then we need to check that out as soon as possible.

Here are the 5 easy steps to palpate your pet at home for lumps and bumps
 1. For a longer coated pet, brush out any matts or knots in the coat (so you don’t mistake them for growths!)
 2. Starting at the nose and working back to the tail, run both of your hands over the surface of your pet’s skin. 
 3. Apply just a little pressure to feel anything that might be just under the skin
 4. If you feel any lumps or bumps on just one side of your pet, mark it with a marker
 5. Continue all the way to the tip of the tail.  Feel underneath the body especially along the mammary glands. If a male pet is un-neutered, also feel the testicles
 If you find a lump or bump, schedule an appointment so we can check it out.
 If you feel ANYTHING, it warrants an assessment

So what happens next if you DO identify something that concerns you?

The very best thing you can do is not to panic, but to make an appointment to come and see us for the FREE Lump and Bump Check. The only thing you pay for is the pathology test(s) we run to determine the nature of the lump or bump. We use a fine needle or a small surgical biopsy to collect cells from the lumps for analysis. We have the results back in a few days typically.

The main thing is to recognise that pets 6 years or older are in a ‘risk category’ … and that NOW is the time to get that peace of mind.

Again, this is not to alarm you but to urge you to give your pet that five point check over pronto.  Or if you prefer, drop in and we’ll do it for you.

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Long Term Flea & Tick Products: Bravecto and NexGard

2015 will go down in history as the year we saw the release of some amazing new flee and tick prevention products for dogs.

Firstly, we had the launch of NexGard (Merial) with a great tasting beefy chew that kills fleas and ticks for one whole month. Sales went through the roof and Merial sold a whole year’s supply in just one month. Shortages followed with desperate pet owners wanting to get their dogs protected. NexGard comes in singles, 3 or 6 packs to suit your budget.


In April 2015, MSD launched Bravecto, a beefy chew that kills fleas for 3 months and ticks for 4 months. It comes only in single dose packets with a nice tasty beefy chew.

The 2 products use a new type of insecticide that has been thoroughly tested on dogs before the Australian Veterinary Pesticides and Medicine Association (AVPMA) would allow their sale. Dogs had hundreds of ticks and fleas placed on them, and regular insect counts were performed over several months. Some of the trial dogs were given 5-10 times overdosing in case a dog decides to eat a whole packet when the owner’s back is turned. No ill effects were seen in these dogs.

So we now have 2 safe and effective products for tick and flea prevention. No more fortnightly spot ons, tick collars or daily rinsing.

Daily Searching Still Important

We still recommend daily searching for ticks just in case your dog spits out a chew unknown to you or happened to have an upset stomach prior to treatment, and either vomits the chew up in the backyard or has the “squirts” and it goes out the rear end before it is fully absorbed.

Beware of Counterfeits or Short Dated Stock
Get the original product from BHVG and avoid wasting money and endangering your dog’s life by purchasing elsewhere. Crooks are pretty savvy these days, can whip up a pretty good looking counterfeit in no time.


We can setup an automatic SMS reminder system for you, so at the change of each season, you drop into BHVG and purchase your dog’s 3 monthly intestinal worming and 3 monthly flea and tick product. It could not be easier.

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Mobile Phone Records ECG

Wow!. Using a special device that slips over my mobile phone, and then placing the phone on a pet's chest, it records an ECG.

Not only that, it saves the recording automatically in my Google account as a document which I can analyse.

So what is an ECG?

An ECG is a recording of the tiny electrical circuit that goes through a heart causing the heart muscles to contract in an orderly manner. There are 4 chambers in a heart. When you listen to a heart, you hear a "lub-dub" for each beat.

The tiny electrical impulse that makes the heart muscles contract comes from the heart's very own electrical pacemaker- how clever nature is!





What can an ECG tell you?

Looking at the height and width of the P and QRS parts of an ECG gives a rough guide as to which parts of a diseased heart are enlarged. Measuring the time intervals between the P and QRS (i.e. how far apart they are) can pick up certian heart conditions (e.g. heart block).

But the most important thing ECG's are used for in animals is to detect abnormal heart beats and/or irregular rhythms (e.g atrial fibrillation and Boxer cardiomyopathy ). Extra abnormal heartbeats can be a result of damaged heart muscle and can cause collapsing, feinting, and even sudden death.

Doing an ECG shows us which type of extra beats or abnormal rhythms exist in a diseased heart. This in turn guides us in deciding on the best medicine to prevent them.

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Hill’s Gene Therapy Weight Loss

Wow! Here's some very interesting news.

Hill's new Metabolic diet range actually changes a pet's DNA structure so the body starts to "chew up" fat at a much faster rate. The new diet has taken years to develop. It makes you wonder if humans will be next on the list and once again shows advances in veterinary medicine often end up being transferred to human medicine e.g. stem cell therapy for arthritic joints using the pet's own fat supply (not embryos).

Feed Hills Metabolic (dry and/or tin) food as at least 90% of the diet for a minimum of 10 weeks and a pet's DNA changes (see photo below)

The new food is not designed for pets with medical conditions already controlled by Hill's other low calorie diets e.g. fibre responsive irritable bowel on w/d, diabetic cats on m/d.





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Petplan Insurance Leads the Way

We are thankfully seeing more and more of our clients taking out pet insurance. Sometimes, they have gone with a cheaper company and had very disappointing results when it came time to make a claim.

One of our clients, having paid for a snake bite treatment in 2013, took out cover this yearwith Petplan and has already made 2 successful claims for a nasty leg wound and a paralysis tick treatment. Both claims were paid directly to us, saving her the worry about “getting money from the bank”.

Petplan is underwritten by Allianz, so you can rest assured that your pet's insurance policy is supported by one of the world’s most respected insurers (Currently all other pet insurance policies are underwritten by Hollard insurance).

What distinguishes Petplan from the crowd?

1) A range of options, including genuine the Covered 4 Life policy that covers your pet should they develop a chronic, re-occurring or lifelong illness that will require ongoing expensive treatment and medication.

2) An alternative, cheaper Essential policy for pets suitable for pets over 8 years of age.

Petplan will insure your pet if it is over 8 years of age and not been insured before.* This plan covers vet fees up to $7,000 per 12 months.

3) Coverage for grade 3 dental disease veterinary treatment.

4) Third party liability for dogs, covering $1m, $3m or $5 million depending on the policy.

5) Direct payment to the vet, so all you pay is the excess to the vet who then submits the claim on your behalf.

6) No additional waiting periods for Cruciate Ligament, while many of the other insurers have a 6 month waiting period.

7) Cover starts immediately while many of the other insurers don’t start the policy until midnight on the day you sign up.

Call Petplan on 1300 738 226 or visit to get a quote. Fees may vary according to the pet’s age and breed.

*Cover is subject to acceptance criteria, policy limits and exclusions may apply.We strongly recommend pet insurance for our clients. Veterinary bills are not cheap, and reflect the very high costs of running a veterinary practice. I am glad to say that we are seeing more and more clients take my advice. 



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Tick Searching Technique

Hopefully, your long haired pet is no longer long-haired and had its coat cliped short in ealry spring.

Start with Marks Finger Tap Trick
If the tick is on one side of the head, the eye on the same side is often paralysed and can’t blink. This is the first thing Mark checks for in a suspect tick case. Do a light finger tap close to the outside edge of each eye to check the eyelids can blink. If there is no blink, there is a very high chance the tick is on the same side of the head so start looking.

Tick Searching the Body
90% of ticks are from the shoulders forward where pets can’t bite and remove the tick when they first feel it on their skin. Having said that, other areas to thoroughly check are…

Position yourself in front of your pet and run your fingers against the fur i.e. from tail towards the head using both hands.
Do one section of the body at a time e.g. right side of the neck, top of the neck, left side of neck etc.
Straighten out the neck when finger searching as loose skin folds make it hard to feel a tick- it may be easier to lay the pet on its side and have another person stretch out the head so the skin on the neck is nice and tight.

When you Find a Tick
Don’t apply metho or other chemicals on it as they aggravate the tick before it dies making it release more poison. Use a Tick Remover (available at BHVG) or a fine pair of forceps. Place the remover as low down as possible to the skin below the tick before giving a quick twisting pull to remove it. Don’t worry if you leave the head behind- the tick is dead and is not going to inject more poison.

Is that it once I have pulled out the tick?
No! If the tick has already injected some toxin into the skin e.g. in the last hour, pulling it out does not stop the toxin going on its way around the body. You must keep an eye out for early symptoms for up to 2-3 days as this is how long it can take for the toxin to work.

If you find one tick, there is a high chance there is another one
(or even more) on the body so keep searching

See also...

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Cat and Dog Life Charts

If you are like me when I visit my accountant at the end of the financial year, after about 10 minutes I am starting to forget what has already been discussed. It's just the same for pet owners, especially new pup and kitten owners, when making their first visit to the vet.

There is a lot of information to take on hand, and despite a vet’s best efforts, it’s not surprising most pet owners soon forget what and when things have to be done.

So… here’s a fantastic tool for you to use: a life chart that lays out a pet’s life from 2 weeks of age right through to the senior years. Just pencil in the dates, hang it on the toilet or pantry door and away you go.

Dog Life Chart Cat Life Chart

Six Monthly Senior Pet Health Checks
You will notice that when a pet gets to 7 years of age, we strongly recommend twice yearly Senior Pet Health Checks. This is because as pets get older, we see lots of lumps and bumps and other health issues. Waiting a whole pet year between visits is equivalent to a 7 year break between visits to a doctor for a senior citizen- far too long if something serious and treatable has started to brew.

Click here for more information on Senior Pet Health Checks.

If you don’t have a printer at home, please drop into BHVG and ask one of the staff to print up a FREE copy of a personalised Life Chart.


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Dental Disease Grades in Pets

Dental Disease Grading

A grading system of dental disease allows vets the opportunity to treat and monitor a pet's dental health. According to the severity of the problem, age, weight and species, we can quickly come up with an estimate on anticipated treatment costs.

Grade 1
Plaque/tartar on the rear teeth only
No pockets
Mild gum inflammation (gingivitis)
No bone loss or destruction
Scale and polish
IV fluids
Pre-anaesthetic bloods
Grade 2
Plaque/tartar on most of the teeth
Up to 25% loss of tooth bone attachment
Scale and polish
IV fluids
Pre-anaesthetic bloods
Grade 3
Plaque/tartar extend down into the gums
25-50% loss of tooth bone attachment
Extensive loss of bone
Some gum recession and loose teeth
Scale and polish
Possible extractions
IV fluids
Pre-anaesthetic bloods
Pain relief
Grade 4
Extensive tartar and calculus
Severe inflammation
Over 50% loss of tooth bone attachment
Severe bone and gum loss
Loose teeth
Scale and polish
Possible extractions
IV fluids
Pre-anaesthetic bloods
Pain relief







It's vital to the health of pets (and humans) that the teeth and gums are in top shape. This is so important that we are offering the following...


See also...
Introduction to dental disease
Dental homecare for pets


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Why You Need Pet Insurance

They say the Pommies dote on their pets. Proof of this is the fact that 70-80% of pet owners in the UK have private pet insurance. Most pet owners make no claim at all for 1-2 years, then have a run of illnesses requiring veterinary attention. At the end of a 3-4 year cycle, most owners are "even" or "ahead" with respect to treatment costs versus premiums.

Take Out Pet Insurance or Save?

We strongly recommend pet owners take out Pet Insurance. Despite the very best of intentions, it is difficult to remember to set aside a monthly amount in a savings account for unexpected "rainy days".

If you need a little bit more convincing, have a read of Dyson's adventures and how pet insurance has saved his owners thousands of dollars.

Examples of Specialist and Normal Veterinary Fees

We often refer cases to specialist centres. Examples of approx. costs include:

Examples of approx. costs for conditions treated at a normal veterinary practice include:

Which Insurance Company?

In Australia, there are several companies offering pet insurance. Most are underwritten by Holland Insurance so have similar exclusions etc. in their policies.

Pet Plan Australia is underwritten by Allianz
and is one of our favourites

Whichever company you choose, make sure the policy covers paralysis tick and snake bites (and for more than one occasion a year).

There are different types of plans with each company e.g. variation in the excess you pay, holiday cancellation, boarding fees, death from injury, 3rd party liability.

See also...

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Luckily Dyson Is Insured

Dyson loves coming to visit us.  I'd like to think it's because we have saved him from several life threatening situations, but in reality I reckon it’s because of the liver treats on offer.

You will see from his story below that Dyson is our most operated on and expensive patient.

And why am I telling you Dyson’s story…

Dyson has well and truly lived up to his name. His owners made an extremely wise decision to take out Pet Insurance when he was a pup. Little did they realise that Dyson had a huge appetite for things other than food.

Pet insurance has saved Dyson’s owners thousands of dollars

At 8 months of age, his first major misadventure was eating a Rat Sac block. This required an after hours emergency visit, drugs to make him vomit (emetic) and antidote therapy (vitamin K) for a few weeks. Blood clotting tests were normal at the end of his treatment.

At 11 months of age, he swallowed some plastic coated wraps that got lodged in his stomach and caused him to vomit. On x-rays, we also found a pebble in his lower intestines. Luckily we were able to get him to pass these objects with IV fluids, a short stay in hospital and laxatives.

At 12 months of age, Dyson went the whole hog and swallowed 3 pebbles causing an acute blockage in his intestines. He underwent major emergency surgery to remove the pebbles. He had 3 days of intensive care, medications and IV fluids in hospital.

At 18 months of age, Dyson had severe vomiting and looked very dejected and dehydrated. X-rays showed he had swallowed 2 pebbles: one in his stomach and the other in his colon. He underwent emergency surgery to remove the pebble from the stomach (gastrotomy). We were able to massage the other pebble in his colon out though his bottom thereby avoiding a second incision in his intestines. This involved 3 days in hospital, medications and intensive care.

At 20 months of age, Dyson was bitten by a bee. His whole face swelled up to twice its normal size and his body was covered in hives. He required anti-histamine injections to settle it down.

One week later Dyson swallowed a large piece of raw bone which got stuck in his stomach causing him to vomit. X-rays showed it was causing a partial blockage. Luckily, after being placed on an IV drip for 24 hours and offered nothing by mouth, his stomach acids managed to dissolve the raw bone and it passed on through his intestines.

At 26 months of age, Dyson has a nasty skin infection requiring an extended course of antibiotics, skin tests, special shampoos and anti-inflammatory medications.

At 42 months of age, Dyson went around to a friend’s place to be looked after while his owners were away. It only took him a few minutes to find and eat a large number of Rat Sac blocks that had been laid out a few days earlier. He ate so many; we were worried he may not have brought them all up when he was given an emetic injection. As this particular type of new generation Rat Sac can last in the body for 50-60 days, Dyson had to have the antidote (vitamin K) for an extended time. We tested his blood clotting times on 2 occasions and he was eventually given the all clear.

If you are thinking about whether or not to take out pet insurance, Dyson's story should convince you of its vital importance.

Pet Plan Australia is underwritten by Allianz 
and is one of our favourites

See also...

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NEW! Activyl for Total Flea Control

We are very excited by the release of Activyl in Australia last month. This follows an intensive study on 50 flea infested homes in Tampa, Florida (one of the worse places for fleas in the USA). Dr Mike Dryden, the world guru on fleas, said his study showed some of the best results he has seen in 20 years, and that’s saying something.

You can download a copy of his study by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

The study was a straight Activyl versus Frontline Plus comparison, and Activyl was the huge winner!

Activyl contains a chemical (Indoxacarb) which is absorbed through a flea’s skin as it wanders around on a pet. The chemical then gets activated by the flea’s own body into a chemical that kills it.

Mike went to over 50 homes inundated with fleas and having one or more pets. He and his students set up flea traps around the homes and did untold numbers of flea counts on the pets in each home over several months. Half the homes were Frontline Plus and the other Activyl.





Activyl is available from BHVG in either single (monthly)
or six monthly packs for dogs and cats

The biggest difference was how long Activyl lasted for- at least a full month. Other products tested lasted approx. 20 days, leaving a 10 day gap where fleas could jump on a pet and have time to feed and breed, laying 50 eggs a day for each flea. This was the major finding in the study and was felt to be the reason other flea products were struggling to control fleas.

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Dog Car Harness Failure

Engineers from the NRMA's Research Centre have tested six car harnesses for dogs and found only two offer protection for you and your pet in the event of a collision.

An effective harness is critical when travelling with a pet. It keeps the animal safe and restrained and reduces driver distraction caused by the animal moving around inside the vehicle. In a collision, an unrestrained pet could also injure other passengers in the vehicle.

The testing was conducted by dropping weighted harnesses at speeds of up to 35km/h, and the in-car testing was conducted using a specially modified crash test car at speeds of up to 20km/h. Of the six harnesses reported, all but two failed to restrain the 'dummy'. This was due to weak plastic buckles similar to those used on many backpacks.

People who use a dog harness do so to keep their pets safe. However, the testing has shown that most harnesses, while effective at restraining pets, are not safety devices and do little to prevent injury in a common low-speed crash.

Watch the video below to view the results of a crash test with an unrestrained pet.


Harness Results

  Purina Roadie   Pass
  Sleepypod Clickit   Pass
  Animates Car Safety Harness   Fail
  Black Dog Car Harness   Fail
  Masterpet 2 in 1 Car Harness   Fail
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Sago Palm Tree Toxicity

All parts of the tree are toxic, with the highest concentration of toxin in the seeds. 1-2 seeds can kill a dog.




Usually occur within 12 hours of ingesting the plant with initial signs including

Often these symptoms can be managed with IV fluids and anti-convulscant therapy only to see severe liver failure develop a few days later

Laboratory Tests


If not already vomiting, inducing vomiting can stil be effective up to 4-6 hour after eating the plant, as it is often still in the stomach.
Gastric lavage (stoamch pumping) is not too effective as the plant material is too big to fit down the tubes, but it is handy for placing activated charcoal directly into the stomach.

Activated charcoal
Watch for high blood sodium levels (hypernatraemia) as it causes large amounts of water to cross into the GIT so may see increased thirst (polydypsia). Good idea to get a baseline sodium level before treatment. Can rpt dose at 8 hours.


IV Fluids routinely
5% Dextrose is hepato-protectant

Antacids and protectants
e.g. H2 blockers, Sucrulfate


Dilute with 5% Dextrose  to a 5% IV solution (as irritates veins) at 140mg/kg initially then 70mg/kg


Additional Treatments


Despite all the best efforts at saving an affected dog, there is an overall 30-50% mortality.
It is very expensive to treat with blood transfusions, intensive care, laboratory tests and drugs.

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Lyme Disease and Paralysis Ticks

This article appears courtesy of
Dr Ken Mason

Current Studies

Dr Ken Mason, Managing Director, Dermcare-Vet , is collecting live paralysis ticks for ongoing research into the role of their toxin in canine lungs. 

Researchers at Murdoch University are examining ticks of all species for ground breaking research of a public health concern. Associate Professor Peter Irwin and colleagues are investigating the use of molecular diagnostic techniques to determine whether infections such as Babesiosis and Borreliosis (Lyme’s disease) could be carried by Australian ticks. 

Ticks are a Public Health Concern

In Australia, there is much community concern, yet concurrent medical uncertainty, regarding the distribution and even occurrence of tick borne pathogens such as bacteria, rickettsiae and protozoa.

Lyme disease is a tick borne infection caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia. 

Lyme Disease: The Great Imitator

The Lyme Disease Association of Australia believes upwards of 10,000 people currently have the disease. Described as the great imitator, symptoms of Lyme disease often mimic other disorders such as:

Anecdotally, a significant number of these patients have shown a response to treatment with high doses of antibiotics. In all likelihood, many more patients remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated.

Unfortunately, the majority of doctors and government health departments do not yet acknowledge that Lyme disease even exists in Australia, leaving many people floundering with ongoing debilitating symptoms and concerned GP’s ostracised.

For more information read the fascinating articles on the ABC website after entering "Lyme disease" in the search box.

So why is there such a disparity in opinion?  The official line is that there is no evidence to date that Australian ticks carry Borrelia.  Furthermore, diagnosis is unreliable as the bacteria is extremely difficult to culture and blood test results are based on overseas species.

An understandable reluctance by the medical profession to administer long term antibiotics for a disease that has not yet been definitively diagnosed in Australia may be having a devastating impact on the health of many.  However, if caught early, Borreliosis and Lyme disease can be successfully treated with a short course of antibiotics. 

The research being conducted by Associate Professor Peter Irwin and his team at Murdoch University aims to determine definitively whether Lyme disease inducing Borrelia (amongst other infections) is present in Australian ticks and if so, where.  The public health ramifications of this research are clearly enormous.

A Shared Interest in Public Health Matters

Dr Mason’s interest in tick-borne pathogens was piqued by a seemingly recurrent theme being described in the literature; i.e. a temporary response to antibiotics.

In a touching article on the subject, professor of veterinary medicine and director of the Intracellular Pathogens Research Laboratory, North Carolina, Dr Edward Breitschwerdt, shared the remarkable and insightful story of his own father who was admitted to hospital on more than one occasion with severe mental deterioration.  Dr Breitschwerdt noted that during the course of the illness, his father made several dramatic improvements following incidental antibiotics.

Click here to read the full the full article.

In a classic example of a “One health, One medicine” approach to diagnosis, Dr Breitschwerdt was provided with samples of his father’s blood and CSF for PCR analysis at his research facility.  Bartonella DNA (Amplicon) was repeatedly generated from these samples, and subsequently antibiotic therapy was commenced.  His father proceeded to make a steady recovery until 2 weeks post completion of the antibiotics, whereupon he relapsed and passed away soon thereafter due to complications.

Dr Breitschwerdt’s observations of his father’s illness and PCR findings support the presence of a novel Bartonella species, in conjunction with an as yet unidentified animal reservoir and arthropod vector.  Frightening really, given his father’s original diagnosis was Parkinson’s disease!  He even postulates the involvement of bacteraemic cats, further reiterating the urgent need for a “One health, One medicine” approach.


The investigation into zoonotic tick-borne diseases is proudly supported by Bayer Australia.  It has the potential to definitively solve the mystery of Lyme disease currently dividing the Australian medical community, whilst simultaneously improving the health and wellbeing of thousands.


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Why Are Veterinary Fees So High?

Article appears courtesy of Dr Jim Martin: Valuvet

Your local GP probably has consulting fees which are similar to vets, but have you ever considered the difference in the vet's situation. The GP usually practices in a group of three or more doctors at a medical centre. He shares one receptionist, one reception area, one computer and printer, and a waiting room, with his colleagues. This could also be the case with your vet, and so far they may be on an even footing, cost wise.

The GP requires one consulting and examination area and basic instrumentation, i.e. a stethoscope, blood pressure machine, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, a speculum, a thermometer, torch, percussion hammer, tongue depressors and a pen; all of which he would purchase for less than $1,000. He does not have to provide hospital facilities (e.g. operating theatre, ICU, in-house laboratory or radiology) and pay nursing staff. Every person who pays taxes provides the hospital with its facilities, staff, and equipment.

On the other hand, a vet must either own or rent a hospital facility worth $400,000-$600,000 for the majority, in a city area. Many cost much more. If he/she doesn't own, he/she will be paying a rent- $40,000 to $60,000 per year.

Basic vet instruments and equipment would cost about $150,000 to buy new. To open business, vets must make major capital expenditure and are entitled to expect a reasonable return on this investment. In all probability, this return is required to support the bank loan and mortgage costs.

In addition, your vet pays reception, nursing, cleaning staff and purchases a stock of drugs (at least $25,000 for every vet in the practice). Most vets need to recoup over $100,000 p.a. before they get any return for their own efforts. So if your GP charges $35 for a consultation, your vet should be charging something like $105 to be equally compensated.

Remember, GP's only have to treat the human species, but vets require facilities and equipment to treat many animal species, which often have different requirements in equipment, instrumentation and drugs.

This simple comparison emphasises vet fees to be most reasonable under the circumstances. Because vets are so committed to the welfare of animals, they don't charge fees that could be justified.

See also...
Tour of BHVG and its Facilities

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Backyard Breeders & Puppy Farms

There are many so called "breeders" who think they can make a quick buck by selling a litter of pups or kittens. Speak to any reputable breeder and they will tell you there is a lot of hard work and expense, and not much profit to be made. It is a hobby and love of the breed that keeps them going.

There are also some breeders who have a genetic defect(s) in their breeding animals and are happy to sell pups or kittens knowing full well that in the near future, a particular problem may surface.

How do you recognise and avoid a backyard breeder?

By law, it is compulsory to microchip all animals at point of sale.
Rangers are empowered to fine anyone selling pets who have not been microchipped.
Any breeder who comes up with some excuse about the microchip not being done should be avoided straight away

Combine this one with "not microchipped" and it's time to walk away ASAP. Corners are definitely being cut here.
There is a high chance the mother has not been vaccinated either, meaning no maternal antibodies have passed across in the milk to protect the newborn pup or kitten from some of the more common viruses e.g. cat flu, parvovirus

There may be a serious illness or genetic defect in the litter.

This is an obvious sign that corners are being cut in the upkeep of the kennels. If they are not keeping the setup spick and span, what else are they cutting corners on?

Alarm bells ring when you hear this one. There may be something very obviously wrong with one or both parents so insist on seeing them first.
Don't listen to the old "died giving birth" or "got run over last week" excuse. If the mother died at birth due to birthing difficulties, no doubt a vet would have been on hand and if not, why not. You could speak to their vet to confirm.

Similarly, why would you have your breeding stock running loose on the road?

If they are not registered, avoid them. Contact the president of the respective kennel club before buying to see who they recommend (and who to avoid)

Reputable dog breeders will have had both parents tested for hip and elbow dysplasia. Ask for copies of their reports and check the scores against the breed averages for Australia. Ask your vet for assistance with this if you are unsure what to ask for.
Don't just rely on the breeder telling you they have not had any problems.
On this issue, some unscrupulous breeders knowing or suspecting they have a problem in their breeding line, come up with a ridiculous home made diet they insist you feed your new pet on. Most owners are then told by their vet to change to a better diet. When a problem arises in the near future e.g. elbow dysplasia, the breeder's response will be that the owners did not follow the recommended diet and that's why the problem occurred. What a laugh!

With modern advances, pets can be screened a for multitude of congenital/hereditary conditions from a saliva sample. Its like CSI for pets. Top breeders use DNA testing to screen for possible "carriers" of disease in their breeding line so they can avoid breeding with them e.g. Haemophilia in Dobermans.

If your breeder is doing DNA testing,, its a great sign they are on the ball, and you should be more confident in dealing with them.

If you are paying for a top of the range pet (e.g. potential race winning greyhound), the DNA of the pup or kitten can be matched to the parents.

Buying Pups or Kittens Online: Is it a Puppy Farm?

Unless you can see the kennels, anyone can setup a webpage and put whatever photos on it they like to make a puppy or kitten farm look like a bed of roses. Recent TV coverage of horrible conditions of puppy and kitten farms should make you beware of dealing with kennels you can't physically visit.

Insist on visiting the breeding facilities when purchasing a new pet.

Puppy farm 1Puppy farm 2Puppy farm 3

Designer Puppies

Let's be honest here. These designer dogs are cross breeds, not pure breeds.

They were originally thought up by a vet who was trying to find a suitable dog for a family with allergies to fine coated dogs. It has expanded since then. Cross bred dogs are generally less likely to have genetic defects (better hybrid vigor) but they are cross breeds.

None of these designer breeders have spent all the time and money of your top breeders who have invested heavily on getting as close as possible to a perfect breed.

So don't pay some lazy backyard breeder thousands or hundreds for a cross bred dog. Go to your local RSPCA or animal shelter and buy a desexed and vaccinated pet and save it from euthanasia.

By buying from a backyard breeder, it encourages them to breed again.

Leave the breeding to the professionals and I repeat, have a look at the great pets on sale on your local pet shelter first and reduce the number of unwanted pets that have no home.

Vet Checks at Purchase

It is vitally important to have your new pet check by a vet as soon as it comes home. The vet will check there are no obvious abnormalities e.g. heart murmurs, un-descended testicles, umbilical hernias, cleft palate.

There is nothing worse than owning a new pet for a few weeks only to be told some bad news when in for the second round of vaccines around 12 weeks of age.

Before handing over the money to a breeder, ask for a money back guarantee in writing should the vet find a major problem with the pet.


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Pet Care When on Holidays

We regularly see several scenarios when pets are left at home to be "looked after by the neighbour".

Among the most common problems are:

Please leave your pets with either a qualifed house sitter or book into a good kennel. Ask us for our recommended kennels (and those you should avoid).

Book 2-3 months in advance as good kennels fill up quickly.

Make sure you leave contact phone numbers for the carer or vet to speak to you should something go wrong.

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Rat and Snail Bait Poisonings

There are some great products on the market to control rats, mice and snails, but unfortunately, they are often involved in serious life threatening illness to pets who find them attractive (even if the packaging says "pet friendly").



Metaldehyde (the active ingredient in Defender) is a severely toxic slug and snail poison.

It has no antidote and is a common killer of dogs (see photo). Dogs present with convulsions, body tremors, salivating, semi coma or sudden death.

Mildly affected dogs, if still standing and able to swallow, are given emetics to make them vomit. They are also given enemas and activated charcoal in an attempt to "soak up" any residual toxin in their digestive tract.

Severe cases require anaesthetic, stomach pumping and enemas to remove as much toxin from their system as possible. Long term anaesthesia, IV fluids, oxygen and intensive care may be the only way to save these cases.

Even with the best care, vets still lose these pets and owners are left with a very expensive bill and no dog.

Rat Poisons

The newer generation rat poisons start working within hours and can last in the body for up to 50-60 days even with treatment.

Most rat poisons work by interfering with the action of Vitamin K in the body. Vitamin K is involved in the normal day to day clotting processes occurring throughout the body e.g. repairing bleeds in the lung's microscopic blood vessels.

Affected pets often present with a small "whispy/hacky" cough with flecks of fresh blood on their gums. Other pets can bleed into the thorax filling up the chest cavity with fresh blood. Some pets show tiny red spots on their gums, lining of the vulva or penis. Some pets can get a bleed into one or more eyeballs.

Vitamin K is the antidote but once severe bleeding has started, affected pets can often "use up" other clotting factors in their body (e.g. platelets)

Just giving Vitamin K is not enough to save them. These cases need fresh blood to replace the clotting factors that have been consumed in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

See also...

Ratsac throwsDefender






Metaldehyde poisoningBlood trasnsfusion

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Hookworm in Cats and Dogs

What is Hookworm?

How are Hookworms Contracted?

Dogs and cats can get hookworm from ingesting larvae (young hookworms) in the environment that are in soil or faeces when they dig around with their mouths. Children are also at risk of ingesting hookworm larvae when they play outside and put their fingers in their mouths.

Hookworm larvae can penetrate the skin of dogs, cats and humans when skin is exposed to soil or faeces with larvae in it. They move to the blood stream, then to the lungs, are coughed up and swallowed, making their way into the digestive tract.

In dogs, hookworm larvae can also pass from mother to puppies during pregnancy and via breast milk.


Hookworm infestation affects puppies and kittens more severely than adult dogs and cats, symptoms include:

Foot lesionAnaemia


Hookworm infestation symptoms in humans are similar to that of dogs and cats. Children are more likely to suffer more severe symptoms than adults, symptoms include:

Human deaths from hookworm infestations are very rare but do happen in children in 3rd world countries who are not immunized, have poor immune systems, poor hygiene, poor diet and are already infected with other diseases.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Milbemax for dogs

Diagnosis of hookworm infestation involves the examination of a stool  sample by a vet (for dogs and cats) or doctor (for humans).

Hookworm can be easily treated in humans by getting a prescription from your doctor for worm tablets or getting over the counter worm medications at your pharmacy.

Treatment of hookworms in dogs and cats involves giving them all-wormer tablets such as Milbemax or Fenpral which kill eggs, larvae and adult worms.

Prevention in Dogs and Cats

Prevention in Humans

Proper Hand Hygiene

Hand washing stepsIn areas where there are no hand washing facilities or you  are in a hurry and don’t have time to wash your hands, carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser (preferably alcohol based) or sanitising hand wipes with you. These can be purchased at your local supermarket.

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Dogs and Cats Giving Birth

Most cats and dogs give birth to their young without any problems at all. Left on their own they are usually very successful. Sometimes, however, problems can occur.

Normal length of pregnancy

Pregnancy in dogs and cats

Please ensure that your pet is fully vaccinated before joining, and is up to date with worming and flea treatments.

Vaccination and worming of the mother is imperative as it will reduce the worm burden in the litter as well as provide them with a temporary protection against major viral diseases, such as parvovirus and cat flu.

Preparing for your pet's labor and puppy/kitten care can be both exciting and fun; still, awareness of potential problems is of paramount importance. It is a good idea to keep track of your pet's breeding date so as to know when to expect what.

After about 35 days (7 weeks) of pregnancy, the mother's caloric requirements will begin to increase. In general, she should require about twice as much food as usual whereas, when she begins nursing, she will need three times as much food. The best nutritional plan is to buy a dog food approved for growth (food intended for puppies) and feed according to the package; such diets are balanced and require no supplementation. Calcium supplementation for bitches expecting large litters (especially small dog breeds) may be a good idea to prevent milk fever (see below).

Exercise of pregnant bitches need not be restricted until after the first 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy.

Some time around the 45th day, your pet should be examined by a veterinarian. At this time, the skeletons of the unborn pups/kittens will have mineralized and are thus visible on a radiograph. Your pet's abdomen should be x-rayed so that you know how many pups to expect. Ultrasound may be used to confirm pregnancy much earlier (after 25 days, the embryonic heart may be seen beating) but it is more difficult to count the number of pups/kittens using this method.

A comfortable area should be set aside for whelping and raising the puppies/kittens. The mother should feel at home here and be able to come and go as she likes while the puppies/kittens must remain confined.

Whelping box for dogs

Whelping boxes should allow the mother to enter and exit the box freely, but contain the pups when the mother is absent. Whelping box should be situated in a warm room and allow enough space for the mother to be able to move around.

Whelping box should have cushioning to reduce risk of injury to puppies. Minimize the hardware projecting from the panels as well as ensure that all edges are rounded to both maximize comfort and minimize the risk of injury to dogs and people.

Allow enough space and use materials that are sturdy enough to withstand a Labrador.

Impending labor

When your pet's due date is approaching, you should begin monitoring her rectal temperature. When her temperature drops below 37.7 C (normal canine temperature is 38.2-38.8C), labor may be expected within 24 hours.  

Mothers should be provided with a quiet area that allows them to begin their whelping.

The first stage of labor 
During this stage, uterine contractions begin. The bitch/queen will appear very restless and may pace, dig, shiver, pant, or even vomit. This is all normal and all an owner can do is see that she has water available should she want it.

The second and third stages of labor
The second stage is the hard labor stage in which the puppy is expelled. The third stage refers to the expulsion of the placenta and afterbirth. Each pup may not be followed by afterbirth; the mother may pass two pups and then two placentas. This is normal.

Puppies/kittens are born covered in membranes that must be cleaned away or the pup/kitten will suffocate. The mother will bite and lick the membranes away. Allow her a minute or two after birth to do this; if she does not do it, then you must clean the pup/kitten for her. Simply remove the slippery covering and rub the puppy/kitten with a clean towel. Gently rub up and down the chest wall and sternum. The umbilical cord may be tied in a knot about one inch from the pup/kitten and cut with scissors on the far side of the knot.

Expect one pup/kitten every 45 to 60 minutes with 10 to 30 minutes of hard straining. It is normal for bitches to take a rest partway through delivery, and she may not strain at all for up to 4 hours between pups. If she is seen straining hard for over an hour, or if she takes longer than a 4-hour break, consult a veterinarian.

Expect some puppies (probably half of them) to be born tail first. This is not abnormal for dogs.  

Call your veterinarian if...

It is normal for the bitch to spike a fever in the 24 to 48 hours following birth. This fever should not be accompanied by clinical signs of illness.

Normal vaginal discharge after parturition should be odorless and may be green, dark red-brown or bloody and may persist in small amounts for up to 8 weeks.

Approximate veterinary fees to expect

If the delivery is in normal hours and there are no problems, the bitch and pups need a checkup that morning which attracts a normal consult fee and cost of an injection to make the uterus contract and expel any left over afterbirths.

Out of hours vets & their nurses are on double time and a half with a min.of 4 hours of wages to be paid, even if it's just 1 hour of work. A fully qualitifed vet is on $300-$450 an hour for their professional services (approx. the same as a solicitor or a lawyer). The costs of calling in a vet & a nurse out of hours are therefore very high. Breeders MUST have these funds set aside before considering to breed. Vets need payment at the time of the procedure so they can pay their staff. 

Problems to watch for

Metritis (Inflammation of the Uterus)

Signs of this condition are as follows:

If these signs are noted, usually in the first day or two postpartum, a veterinarian should be consulted. Your dog may have retained a placenta or have suffered some trauma during delivery. Animals who have required assistance with delivery are often predisposed to metritis.

Eclampsia (Milk Fever)
This condition results when the bitch has trouble supporting the calcium demand of lactation. Calcium supplementation predisposes a bitch to this condition. Usually affected animals are small dogs. They demonstrate:

This progresses to:

This condition generally occurs in the first 3 weeks of lactation and a veterinarian should be consulted immediately.

Mastitis (inflammation of the breasts)
Normal nursing glands are soft and enlarged. Diseased glands are red, hard, and painful. In general, the bitch does not act sick; the disease is confined to the mammary tissue. The bitch may be sore and discourage the pups from nursing; however, it is important to keep the pups nursing the affected glands. This is not harmful to the puppies and helps flush out the infected material. Hot packing may be helpful.

Problems with the puppies
Newborn puppies should spend their time feeding and sleeping; they are not very playful or active for the first week. Puppies that nurse poorly, cry constantly, or do not sleep with the rest of the litter are in trouble and should be examined by the veterinarian.  Ideally the puppies should be weighed shortly after birth and should be expected to gain 5% to 10% of their birth weight daily. (A small weight loss in the first day of life is normal but this should be less than 10% of their initial weight.) Puppies that do not gain weight properly are in trouble and should be checked by the veterinarian. It is helpful if puppies are weighed at least daily to be sure they are growing properly. Very young puppies have clear or slightly yellow-tinged urine. Obviously yellow urine is a sign of dehydration. 

If you think there is a problem with the mother or any of the puppies, contact your veterinarian. Examination may be needed for the mother and entire litter, not just the individual who appears sick.

Most dogs are excellent mothers and problems are few. The basic rule is to seek veterinary care if she seems to feel sick or if she ceases to care for her young. Puppies nurse until they are about 6 weeks old and then may be adopted by new homes.

Worming schedule for puppies
An all-wormer tablet, such as Fenpral or Drontal should be given at 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks of age according to their weight. After that worming should be done on 3 monthly basis.

Vaccination and microchiping
First vaccination and microchipping of the pups (compulsory by law) should be done at 6 weeks of age, which is followed by 2 boosters once month apart at 12 and 16 weeks of age.

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Resuscitation in Pets- CPR

Before starting any procedure...

Assess safety and ensure scene is safe before proceeding

Do not assume that the blood has come from an animal

Wear gloves at all times

If fully conscious...

If not breathing at all...

If you are doing mouth to nose respiration and the chest refuses to rise
it may be that there is a foreign body in the windpipe
especially if you can’t see anything in the back
of the throat that could be causing an obstruction

If no heartbeat...

Commence chest compressions as below...

Animal size

Amount of compression to apply
-min. 20% diameter of chest

Small dog/cat

1 cm (1/2")

Medium dog

2- 2.5 cm (1-1&1/4 ")

Large dog

> 4 cm (2") -difficult

  • Do not stop compressions for > 15sec
  • Approx. 100 compression per minute
  • Continue mouth to nose breathing at 20 per minute

See also...

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Bhvg dog sickAn animal may go into shock for any number of reasons, the most common ones being:


A pet may be going into shock if one or more of the following signs are evident:

Treatment at home prior to transport

See also...

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Moving Injured Pets

Before starting any procedure...

Assess safety and ensure scene is safe before proceeding

Do not assume that the blood has come from an animal

Wear gloves at all times

Splinting broken limbs

See also...

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First Aid for Pets- the Inspiration

1st aid transFirstly, the reason I have put these pages online is the inspiration given to me by two American speakers who have lectured in Australia- Rebecca Kirby and Dennis Crowe.

We hold free first aid classes for BHVG clients, time permitting. Call us on 02 4448 5621 to find out about the next class.

Dennis Crowe mentioned the idea based on an experience where he did the same in a practice in the USA. In the class were 2 young girls. Not long after the class, one of the girls fell into the backyard pool and started to drown. Her sister remembered the CPR drill that Dennis had taught them just one week earlier- you guess the rest!

Most of the things contained in these pages are re-hashed from their talks and are equally applicable to human first aid classes.

Feel free to print them up and distribute them, as one day, the same thing may happen to you as it did to Dennis, and that's priceless in my language.

See also...

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Choking- the Heimlich Manoeuvre


This often occurs on two occasions:

If you are doing mouth to nose respiration and the chest refuses to rise
it may be that there is a foreign body in the windpipe
especially if you can’t see anything in the back
of the throat that could be causing an obstruction


Treatment- the Heimlich Manoeuvre

See also...

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Bleeding injuries in pets

Arterial (high pressure) bleeding

1st aid transThis occurs when an artery is cut. Arteries carry blood under high pressure so you will see a jet of blood shooting outwards or blood filling up very quickly under the damaged tissue causing swelling. Arterial bleeders need to be stopped very quickly as it does not take long for an animal to pump out its blood supply through a damaged artery.

Arteries are located deep in muscles and are usually on the inside of limbs, so they are not normally damaged if it is a shallow wound to the outside surface of a limb.

Venous (low pressure) bleeding

Veins carry blood under a much lower pressure so do not squirt out blood- they tend to ooze out blood instead. Veins tend to lie just under the skin surface so they tend to be the first blood vessel damaged in an injury.


 Applying digital pressure

Grasp the affected leg above the level of injury and squeeze with your fingertips into the deeper tissues on the inside of the leg.

Applying direct pressure

Look for symptoms of shock

The animal is starting to go into shock if some or all of these symptoms are noticed:

See also...

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Human Skin versus Pet Skin

There are marked differences between human and animal skin. This is very important when it comes down to understanding skin diseases and deciding on types of shampoo to use.

One of the main differences is skin pH. This determines if the skin is acidic (pH <7.0) or alkaline (pH >7.0)

Skin humanSkin dog



Products to avoid in washing your pet

All these are destructive to animals finely balanced skin chemistry, and makes them unsuitable for your pets coat.


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Despite its name, ringworm is not a worm. It is a fungal infection of skin. So "worming" your pet will not protect against it.

Public health issues

The ringworm fungus can spread to humans, especially children.
It causes a circular red "ring-like" lesion on the skin surface (hence the name).
If you suspect a ringworm lesion, see your doctor ASAP for treatment as it can be very difficult to remove if it gets into the scalp. Localised lesions in humans are usually treated with an ointment containing Miconazole e.g. Daktarin


Ringworm spreads from pet to pet either by direct contact, or by sharing infected bedding.


Ringworm skin lesions look like circular areas of hair loss. They can appear anywhere on the body. Favourite sites are the face and toes.


A vet can run several tests to diagnose ringworm.


Ringworm1 Ringworm2 Ringworm8

Ringworm lesion
on an adult dog

Ringworm on a
cat and owner's arm
Fungal hyphae
under the microscope
Ringworm9 Ringworm4 Ringworm6
Ringworm on a
puppy's head
Ringworm in the
human scalp
Ringworm glows
in ultraviolet light
Ringworm10 Ringworm11 Ringworm3
Ringworm on
a kitten's head
Ringworm affecting
whole of a cat
in a Koala
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Antibiotic Pulsing Therapy

Sometimes, we see cases that have repeated bacterial infections despite all the best attempts to control it with shampoos, anti-biotics etc. It may be there is something wrong with the pet's immune system that allows bacteria to continually invade the skin.
In these cases, we suggest trying Pulsing Therapy. This entails use of a good antibiotic e.g. Clavulox, Cephalexin for 3-4 days on and 3-4 days off each week.
This is combined with use of Dermcare shampoos e.g. Pyohex, Malaseb and Aloveen, and a trial of anti-histamines
Good results can be achieved, but it can be an expensive long term solution. Cases should be thoroughly investigated beforehand to rule out other causes of the skin problem e.g. hormone imbalances, mange mites, yeasts.

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Pimples and Pustules

Dermcare logo 200Dogs and cats can develop pimples and pustules much like teenagers.They are usually the result of an underlying allergy e.g. contact allergy, flea allergy. Left untreated, they quickly spread and in some cases turn into hot spots.

They are caused by bacteria, usually a streptococcus ("strep") or staphylococcus ("staph"). The staph is a cousin of the Golden Staph seen in human infections and can be tough to clear up with traditional antibiotics like penicillin. Streps and Staphs live in low numbers naturally on the skin surface.

Once the top protective layers of the skin are damaged, these bacteria find a way into the deeper skin layers e.g. when the itching pets scratch and/or bite itchy skin. Here, they find conditions nice and ripe for multiplying. The body mounts a defence against them "throwing" white blood cells WBC) and proteins into the battle. The WBC "gobble-up" the bacteria. Pus is formed by the combined WBC, bacteria and protein.

When the pimples or pustules burst, the bacteria spread out from the eruption zone like lava streaming down a volcano's sides. As they spread outwards, they find new skin to "attack". As they spread, the lesion changes to one of a circular ring with an outer edge of lifting skin that looks like dead skin from a bad case of sunburn. This is called an epidermal collarette.

These pimples, pustules and epidermal collarettes can be very itchy, and the pet does more damage licking or scratching them, and the cycle continues.

The lesions should be examined under the microscope using a Dif Quik Stain to rule out any other "invaders" e.g. Demodex mange mites, yeasts.
Once the vet is confident there are no other invaders, anti-biotics are given, sometimes for 3-4 weeks in chronic cases.
Use of Dermcare Shampoos help attack the bacteria form the surface e.g. Pyohex, Malaseb. .
The underlying cause of the allergy needs to be determined and appropriate treatment undertaken to lessen the underlying problem.

See also...
Dermcare shampoos
Which shampoo

Pustules Erythema epidermal colarettes Wandering dew allergy

Pimples in a dog's skin secondary
to a contact allergy reaction

Pustules in the groin due to
an allergic reaction to Wandering Jew

Erythema (inflammation) and epidermal
collarettes in the lower right corner lesion


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Pododermatitis wth ulcerated foot pads


De-pigmentation and/or ulceration of one or more pads in aged dogs may be the only presentation of Epitheliotrophic lymphoma.

Contact allergy can occur at any age. Contact allergy to Wandering Jew should be considered if there are papules and macules on the non haired abdomen skin as well.

Drug eruptions are a rare cause of pad ulceration; the mucous membranes are usually involved as well.

Idiopathic plasma cell pododermatitis is a rare disease in the cat, which may respond to Doxycycline and Nicotinamide.

Some interdigital bacterial infections associated with allergy may ulcerate from the edge.

Paws15 Paws16
Epiheliotrophic lymphoma
caused by Mycosis fungoides
Drug eruption to Triamcinolone
Paws18 Paws17
Bacterial ulceration underrunning
pads from interdigital dermatitis
Trauma caused ulceration of a
benign tumour (focal adnexal dysplasia)



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Introduction to Pet Information

Bhvg girl dog transI have gathered together some very interesting bits of pet information over my 30 years in practice, and included them here for your enjoyment. It certainly is not extensive, but covers many interesting topics.

As new things are discovered, I will be adding the information to these pages.


Mark Allison

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Pododermatitis with swollen painful feet

Dermcare logo 200These are often more painful than itchy with lameness and careful licking. There is scale and crust with nodules, sinuses and exudation.

Always check the pre-scapular and popliteal lymph nodes, and if swollen, then consider Demodex and deep bacterial infections.

Common causes


If improved, but still itchy and erythematous, consider furunculosis secondary to allergy.

Paws6 Paws5 Paws7
Demodex Pododermatitis

Staph folliculitis
secondary to atopy


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Pododermatitis with nodules and sinuses

Dermcare logo 200There are several diseases presenting as nodules and sinuses.

Interdigital cyst syndrome

This usually occurs in short coated dogs e.g. Staffies, Bull Terriers, Great Danes and Rottweilers. In these breeds, the short bristle hair is easily pushed into the follicle by the dog's weight and toe movement.

These cases will have another folliculitis predisposing cause:

Allergy signs may be mild, therefore look at the ears:

Look for signs of scratching, rolling or face rubbing.

If only one foot is involved, consider grass seed foreign body.

Single lesions

Single lesions can be tumours; however some tumours occur as multiple lesions. The common paw tumours are epitheliotrophic lymphoma, fibrosarcoma, metastatic adenocarcinoma, mast cell and squamous cell carcinomas.

Sterile nodular granulomas which are Langerhans histiocytic disorders

There are four categories of histiocytic disorders:

Adnexal dysplasia

This is a benign nodule that may ulcerate. They are usually single but can occur as inter-digital swelling in multiple feet.

Xanthoma in cats

This is a fat granuloma that can occur in cats associated with diabetes mellitus, lipid metabolic disorders and as a side effect of megestrol acetate.


A biopsy will give an accurate diagnosis.


Some cases will be simple to treat however in others a serious prognosis will be revealed, or the biopsy will lead to an investigation of a systemic disease.

Paws8 Paws9
Interdigital cysts due to a
Staph obstructed furunculosis
Sterile pyogranuloma
(cutaneous histiocytosis)
Paws10 Paws3
Focal adnexia dysplasia

Systemic histiocytosis
(there were lesions in the nose)



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Pododermatitis with crusted pads

Dermcare logo 200Causes

In mature dogs without pruritus and involving multiple feet, these may be:

In young dogs they can be:

In cats:


Evaluation for systemic signs and biopsy is the appropriate test to reveal the diagnosis.

Paws14 Paws12

Cutaneous lupus in a Border Collie

Hepatocutaneous syndrome

Paws13 Paws11
Actinic dermatitis

Pemphigus foliaceous


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Pododermatitis with chronic foot licking

Dermcare logo 200Commonly the area irritated is behind the carpus and the inter-digital area. The foot is mildly swollen, erythematous and has little hair in the carpus. Often clients will advise the dog does not like walking on wet grass.


Paws1 Paws4
Uncomplicated atopic
reaction to grass pollens
Pododermatitis caused
by Malassezia
Paws2 Paws2a
Atopy with swollen feet and a secondary
infection with Staphylococcus bacteria
Swollen feet due
to a food allergy


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Steps to reduce allergen exposure

Frequent washing with a hypoallergenic shampoo e.g. Dermcare Natural shampoo, Pyohex, Aloveen, will remove some pollen and mould away from your pet’s skin and hair.

It is a temporary remedy to remove pollen and mould from the hair and skin of pets, however, it is very important. Furthermore, pets that are not bathed regularly will carry pollen inside and shake it everywhere and then will be constantly re-exposed.



See also..
Allergies and allergens
Dermcare shampoos
Which shampoo?

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Malassezia skin infections

When to consider Malassezia as a cause of a skin problem

Clinical signs of Malassezia dermatitis and Seborrhoeic dermatitis


We use Malaseb shampoo as directed 2-3 times a week followed by Aloveen conditioner. If bacteria are present, we give anti biotics, sometimes for several weeks. Severe cases are given an oral anti-fungal drug called Ketaconazole.

Malasezzia high powerYeastsMalass abdomen

Malass bassetMalass chih1Malass chih2

 Malass chih3Malass cocker1Malass cocker2

Malass earMalass eyeMalass feet

Malass feet2Malass muzzleMalass neck

Malass poodleMalass sharpei1Malass sharpei2

Malass terrier1Malass terrier2Malass westie



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Dermcare logo 200For those problem dogs with severe allergies to things in the environment, it may be time to consider having some blood/skin tests done to determine which things are causing the allergies (skin allergy testing).

For immunotherapy to be successful, it is important that you, as the owner, understand what this process involves and what your role is in helping to manage your dog's allergic condition.

Allergy related skin disease can be a long and frustrating problem for both you and your dog. The success of treatment depends on several factors including the overall health of your dog, the severity of the allergies and, very importantly, a commitment to therapy requiring careful attention to detail and patient monitoring.

In recommending immunotherapy, you can be confident that your veterinarian is providing not only the best but also the safest and most effective long-term treatment for improving the quality of life of this important family member.

Before going further, it would be prudent to advise you that these allergy tests and desensitising programmes can run into several hundreds of dollars.

If you notice any reaction in your dog while on immunotherapy be sure to contact your veterinarian. Some increase in itchiness is normal during the initial 'loading" phase of treatment. Some dogs may also show increased itchiness immediately after beginning a new treatment vial.

Many of the different allergens are injected into a clipped section of skin to see what the pet is allergic to. A positive result ends up looking like a Mossie bite.

Patch testing2Patch testing

What is immunotherapy?

An immunotherapy treatment extract is specifically formulated based on the results of your dog's allergy test and history. Immunotherapy is a treatment that involves injecting your dog in increasing amounts and concentrations, with the allergens (pollens, fungi, moulds, dust, dust mites) identified as causing the allergic skin disease.

Injections begin with a very low concentration of the extract, gradually increasing over a period of time until a maximum concentration ("maintenance" dose) is achieved.
By injecting allergens in this way. 80-85% of dogs experience a lowering of sensitivity to the allergens and a decrease in symptoms. This is the safest way to control the clinical signs of allergy in your dog.

How are immunotherapy injections given?

Immunotherapy injections are small quantities of fluid administered underneath the skin (subcutaneously). The majority of dogs do not object to these injections, especially if they are rewarded after each injection. It is preferable not to exercise or feed your dog for one hour either before or after the injection.

Is immunotherapy safe for my dog?

Yes. In fact, Immunotherapy is the safest way to control your dog's allergic symptoms. As is the case with any medication administered by injection, there is a less than 0.5% chance of an allergic reaction to the injection.
Should your dog show any unusual signs, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, heavy breathing, collapse or hives over the body following an injection, contact your veterinarian immediately.

How soon can I expect to see some improvement in my dog’s condition?

Each dog's response to immunotherapy is unique and the length of time necessary for improvement varies accordingly. A decrease in symptoms may be achieved rapidly or it may take a considerable amount of time to achieve a result.

Generally, it takes three to four months after beginning therapy before seeing any improvement although some owners

feel they have noticed improvement after the initial injection. Remember, in most cases, the allergy has been present for a period of time ranging from months to years prior to diagnosis and commencement of immunotherapy. Thus, it does take time for your dog to build up the necessary antibodies. It is most important for you to be patient. Continue with immunotherapy for a minimum of six to nine months to give your dog time to improve. Some dogs may not show real improvement for up to a year.

What about other medications while on immunotherapy?

As your dog’s response may not be immediate, it will probably be necessary to help control the symptoms and keep your dog comfortable during the early stages of immunotherapy or during your dog's most severe allergy season, with other treatments such as antibiotics, topical creams and medicated shampoos.

Do not consider immunotherapy a failure because of this need to use other medications occasionally: as with many chronic diseases, allergies can only be controlled, not totally cured.

How often will my dog require immunotherapy injections?

Again, allergies are a lifelong problem able to be controlled but not cured. Once your dog's allergic skin disease is controlled, or during the colder months of the year, it may be possible to increase the time period between maintenance injections up to one month. Generally, dogs that do well on immunotherapy will slowly relapse if the injections are stopped.

What if my dog is not doing well on immunotherapy?

A small percentage of dogs will not respond to the immunotherapy treatment. It is critical that you work closely with your veterinarian regarding your dog’s response. The problem may be as simple as flea infestation (for which there is currently no effective vaccine), bacterial infection, seborrhoea or other complicating, but easily treatable factors. In other cases, it may be necessary to change the content, dosage or concentration of the Immunotherapy vaccine.

In selected cases, it may be beneficial to re-test your dog for the possibility of a change or increase in allergens to which your dog is reactive.

How successful is treatment?

Generally, the steps to successful allergy treatment involve the following:

The combination of these therapies will result in successful allergy treatment in the majority of pets

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Hot spots

These are more prevalent in dogs, especially thick coated breeds.

Hot spots require immediate veterinary attention as they can double their size overnight and give pets a great deal of discomfort. They require aggressive therapy- clip, scrub, cortisone and antibiotics.

Most of the damage is done by the dog continually chewing &/or scratching itself, hence the need for anti-inflammatory drugs. Owners first notice a weeping inflamed area often with matted fur and pus underneath. They are intensely itchy and painful. 

Hot spot tail baseHot spot bodyHot spot face


Conditions and common underlying causes


For hot spots due to certain conditions, attacking the underlying cause is the best plan of attack e.g. flea control, ear infection. blocked anal glands

Regular washing with Dermcare Pyohex or Malaseb is very helpful in preventing hot spots. Follow up with Dermcare Pyohex conditioner.

For those dogs with ear problems leading to hot spots below and around the base of the ear, consider using Malaseb shampoo as an ear wash. Dilute 1ml of Malaseb into 30mls of water and flush the ears 1-2 times a week and after swimming. Make a fresh solution each time.

See also....
Dermcare shampoos
Ear cleaning
Hot spot case
Which shampoo?

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Grass seed abscesses

It is not uncommon for the sharp awns of grass seeds to work their way under the skin and cause a large pus filled swelling. It is the long sharp pointed type of seed that has minute barbs like a tiny arrow head that only allow it to move forward through the body tissue that cause the problems.
They occur most commonly in late summer or autumn and can affect any dog, though most commonly longer haired active dogs that are exercised in reserves or long grassed areas.
The seed can get caught in the coat and works its way down to and then though the skin. Once it is under the skin the body tries to eliminate it and pus is formed that can swell into an abscess. Sometimes the entry hole can heal over leaving no clue to the source of the problem.
Common sites include between the toes and in the cheek (coming from the inside of the mouth) though the seeds can end up any where, even in the middle of muscle tissue. Once under the skin they can keep migrating - even moving 10 - 20cm or more!
Often dogs will need to have a general anaesthetic and the vet will need to explore the tissues surgically to find the offending seed - This can be quite a challenge but need to be done.
In extreme cases a seed might migrate through muscle tissues and into the spinal cord - with very serious consequences.
To prevent problems a concerned owner should check the pets coat after an outing where a dog may have picked up seeds. Focus between the toes and in thick hair on the dogs underside - prevention if definitely better than cure.

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Fly Bite Dermatitis

There are several species of flies causing fly worry in cattle, horses, goats and dogs.

Fly types


Home made fly repellent

Dilute 1ml of Permoxin in 40mL of Vaseline or baby oil and mix well. If a consistency less than thick Vaseline or more than baby oil is desired these two ingredients can be mixed in the desired proportion to give the desired consistency after the Permoxin is added.

Add the baby oil/Permoxin mixture to the Vaseline/Permoxin a little at a time until the desired ointment consistency is reached. This will keep for the summer months, then discard.

This ointment can be applied on wounds to help healing and prevent flies from further irritating the wound.

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Ear cleaning


Malassezia yeasts are the most common organisms associated with inflammation of the ear (otitis) and, along with Staphylococcus, are commonly associated with dermatitis.

YeastsPseundomonas bacteria 1Dermcare Malaseb group

Both Malassezia and Staphylococcus proliferate on:

The ears, interdigital areas, axilla, inguinal are most frequently affected.

Malaseb shampoo will remove these pathogens from the skin surface in all these areas. Many clients asking about cleaning the ears are also concerned about water getting into the ears.


Animals with Malassezia and Staphylococcus infections resulting in dermatitis and otitis, are bathed with Malaseb twice weekly. At the same time the ears are flushed with a 1 in 30 dilution of Malaseb in luke warm water.

This allows Malassezia and Staphylococcus, at all sites to be treated. Ears are flushed several times during bathing until clean i.e. no wax or debris is seen. The solution does not sting or burn and it is well tolerated.

The surfactants in Malaseb dissolve the wax and allow it to be flushed out. This is an economical and readily available option. We also use diluted Malaseb to flush ears under general anaesthetic.

General tips for ear flushing

Products to use and not use for ear cleaning



Malaseb shampoo

Contains a unique base surfactant and has no toxic preservatives

Sebolyse or other shampoos

Do not use  for this purpose

Acid ear cleaners

Tend to irritate and burn further, damaging the already compromised ear canal lining. They must not be used if the tympanum is not intact

The biggest failing of current ear cleaners is their failure to dissolve and remove wax, cellular debris and pathogens. The build up of these in the ear allows the infection to ignite and persist underneath and shields the organism from topical medications.

Owners instructions

Make up a 1:30 dilution of Malaseb shampoo into luke warm water and flush with a small syringe (2-3mLs) with or without the silicone tubing. Owners are encouraged to use the solution twice weekly.

If a veterinary ear flush is not performed, but there is a severe build up of wax and/or debris in an otitis case, try daily flushing before applying antibiotic drops. Continue until no debris is seen, usually 3 days.


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Which shampoo?

Pyohex shampoo

Dermcare logo 200Is used for infected skin conditions. It contains Chlorhexidine, which we use to scrub our hands with prior to operating.

Badly infected skin problems need washing at least twice a week. Leave Pyohex on for 10 minutes and rinse off well. For hot spots, use Pyohex one or two times a day to kill the bacteria causing the inflammation. If using Pyohex regularly, we recommend applying Dermcare Aloveen conditioner after washing.

PustulesErythema epidermal colarettesDigital camera images 101009 005


Pyohex Medicated Lotion (NEW)

The most common cause of skin infections, Staphylococcus (Staph), is susceptible to chlorhexidine if incorporated in a shampoo or Pyohex Medicated Lotion.

Chlorhexidine used in a shampoo has a 4 day residual action, and if used in a lotion after shampoo, has an antibacterial action of up to 2 weeks.

The chlorhexidine in topical preparations is optimised at a 3% concentration.

Pyohex Medicated Lotion is well tolerated on the dog and can be used in young dogs for extended periods.

Pyohex Medicated Lotion is a leave-in lotion and its action and use is maximised if used after chlorhexidine containing shampoos e.g. Malaseb or Pyohex. It is applied after rinsing off the shampoo and is left on the coat and skin. The leave-in nature of Pyohex Medicated Lotion acts to decrease the bacterial load on the skin and reduces the recurrence of infection.

Malaseb Shampoo

Is used for yeast and bacterial infections in greasy/dandruff skin. Badly infected skin problems need washing at least twice a week. Leave Malaseb on for 10 minutes and rinse off well.

Malaseb makes an excellent ear wash for pets with chronic ear infections. Dilute 30mls of Malaseb into 30mls of water. Flush ears once or twice a week if a chronic ear infection sufferer especially during the warmer months of the year. Make up a fresh solution each time.

If using Malaseb regularly, we recommend applying Dermcare Aloveen conditioner after washing.

Thick skinFace rubbingContact allergy2


Aloveen shampoo

Has all the soothing, anti-itching and anti-inflammatory effects of Oatmeal & Aloe Vera.

It's great for itchy pet’s skin not complicated by the presence of bacteria and/or yeasts.

Aloveen conditioner

Has all the soothing, anti-itching and anti-inflammatory effects of Oatmeal &  Aloe Vera.

Aloveen conditioner contains micro-spheres which coat the hairs and skin surface, forming a protective layer against allergens. In other words, they act like a force field to protect the skin from things that make pets itch eg pollens, grasses, house dust mites. Aloveen conditioner is often used in conjunction with any of the Dermcare shampoos to ensure a beautiful, soft shiny coat.

Many pet owners with itchy pets apply Aloveen conditioner on their pets before they go for a walk. Aloveen does not have to be applied to a wet coat. Place a small amount on your hands, rub them together, then run your hands through your pet's coat before each walk

Natural shampoo

Is used for general shampooing of pets. Dermcare Natural Shampoo does not strip the protective oils from the coat or skin surface, unlike cheaper pet shop or supermarket brands of pet shampoos.

Dermcare Natural shampoo can be used daily if required.

Use with Dermcare Aloveen conditioner for a smooth shiny healthy coat.

Dermcare Pyohex groupDermcare Malaseb groupDermcear Aloveen group


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Dermcare shampoos

Dermcare logo 200Dermcare is an Australian Company based in Brisbane and is owned by two Veterinary Dermatologists. They make a range of normal and medicated shampoos that are leaders in the world of veterinary dermatology.

Dermcare shampoos: Pyohex, Malaseb and Aloveen

Dermcare shampoos have been formulated by Veterinary Dermatologists and have the following properties:

Dermcare shampoos do not strip out the oils from the skin and hairs, allowing insecticides like Frontline to adhere to the coat for longer periods.

Use of Dermcare products with lipid bound insecticides

With the advent of insecticides which bind to skin lipids for flea and/or tick control (e.g. Frontline Top Spot Plus, Advantage, Revolution), many have queried how these products are affected by shampoos.

All shampoos remove lipids to some degree. Even lipid-sparing products like Dermcare's Malaseb, Pyohex, Natural and Aloveen are lipid normalising in small amounts. The total amount of lipid removed will depend on the rate of shampooing.

Dermcare's novel base will remove lipids produced as a result of inflammation and spare those produced normally by the skin and sebaceous glands for antibacterial and antifungal activity.

For this reason, Malaseb and Pyohex contain no added keratolytic.

Sebolyse and Keritar are keratolytic, and will remove the lipids from the skin. They are not recommended in conjunction with Frontline Plus, Advantage or Revolution.

Dermcear Aloveen groupDermcare Malaseb groupDermcare Pyohex group



Dermcare Pyohex shampoo 250mlDermcare Natural shampoo 250mlDermcare Aloveen shampoo 250ml




See also…
Which shampoo
Dermcare newsletters
Dermcare website

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Eosinophilic granuloma

Dermcare logo 200This is a strange condition in cats. The actual cause is unknown but various factors are suspected e.g. viruses, genetic bacteria, food allergy, and other allergies.


Eosinophilic granulomas present in various forms (see pictures below).


Based on the clinical signs, a confirmation of eosinophilic granuloma is made by biopsying the lesions and having them analysed by a pathologist.


The first step is to eliminate flea and food allergy as possible causes. Step up the flea control and feed a hypoallergenic diet in case of a food allergy.

If no success it's time for a skin allergy test to determine if there is something in the environment that is causing a bad allergic reaction.

The main drugs used to treat eosinophilic granuloma are:

For resistant cases, we use some newer drugs in combination with the cortisone

Eosinophilic lesions on the tongueEosinophilic lesion at base of the tongueRhodent ulcers opposite each upper canine



Rhodent ulcerEosinophilic lesion on skinEosinoph mouth

See also...

Food allergy
Introduction to flea control

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Dermcare logo 200Just like people, many dogs are "asthmatic". The big difference is the target organ is skin rather than lungs.

Things that dogs are allergic to are called allergens and include:

When dogs breath in, or come in contact with these allergens, they break out in a very itchy skin rash. The technical term for these dogs is atopic.

Atopy is diagnosed by ruling out other diseases with similar signs and by demonstrating an allergic reaction to allergens using injections in the skin (sensitivity testing).

Once a dog has had its suspected allergens discovered, the dermatologist makes a vaccine with the same allergens in it. The vaccine is injected back into the dog, starting at a millionth of a dose and gradually building up the strength. After a while, the dog’s body gets used to these allergens and stops reacting (de-sensitising programme).

These tests and vaccines can cost several hundred dollars so often owners look for other ways to treat their dogs. They must be aware that they are aiming for reasonable relief from the itching- not a cure. There will be set backs along the way and various trials of different medications have to be tried to see what does and does not work.

At BHVG, we place suspected atopic dogs on a combination of:

Contact allergy2Face rubbingPatch testing2

See also...

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Atopica® and Neoral® - a new approach

Logo atopicaAtopica® and Neoral® represent a relatively new approach for Atopic pets. Novartis released these two drugs for treatment of atopy and other skin problems in pets. Claims of 80-90% cure rates for atopic dogs have been made.

Neoral® and Atopica® contain Cyclosporine- an anti-rejection drug used for heart, liver and kidney transplants.

Neoral® and Atopica® have become the treatment of choice for Atopic dogs and German Shepherds suffering from peri-anal fistulas.

You play a key role in your pet’s return to a happy, healthy life without the misery of allergies.

Atopica® provides advanced control of canine atopic dermatitis, an allergic skin disease in dogs. It has already helped thousands of dogs like yours enjoy life again. The following information will help you understand the importance of the prescribed treatment regimen. If you have any questions or concerns, please ask your veterinarian for more information.

Atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition

Like in humans, atopic dermatitis results from a hypersensitivity to environmental allergens like pollen, house dust mites and mould. It’s a lifelong disease that can be controlled but not "cured," much like eczema in people.

Atopica provides advanced relief of skin allergies

Compliance is essential

How to administer Atopica® to your dog

Side effects

If your dog initially experiences side effects such as vomiting or diarrhoea be sure to consult your veterinarian. These are transient side effects, and will generally pass without complication within a short period of time.

Helpful tips


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Antihistamines and Evening Primrose Oil

A combination of Evening Primrose Oil and antihistamines provides marked reduction in allergy related skin problems in a large number of itchy pets.

Remember to keep using the Dermcare shampoos as the main cornerstone of your control of allergy related secondary problems.

You will probably have to experiment a bit with the dose and/or type of anti-histamine you use as results vary from pet to pet. Ask your vet for those anti-histamines he/she uses (overseas brands vary from here).

Evening Primrose oil comes either in capsules or liquid. Ask your vet for the most economical formulation. We use Megaderm (a liquid formulation). It is given by mouth once a day along with the anti-histamine tablets.





2 mg/kg 3 times a day


   4 mg tablets

4-12 mg/dog twice a day
4 mg/cat twice a day
(Drug of choice in cats)


   4 mg tablets
   Liquid- 1.2 mg/5mls

0.2 mg/kg twice a day


   60 mg tablets

2 mg/kg twice a day


   10 mg tablets
   25 mg tablets

2 mg/kg twice a day


To test the effectiveness, you must continue for at least 35 days. If no improvement, then try a different brand of anti-histamines.


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Wandering Jew contact allergy

Dermcare logo 200Does your pet have pustules, red and itchy skin occurring on its stomach, paws, chest or its underside. If so, it could be a contact allergy to one of these plants from the Wandering Jew family.




Purple Heart

Purple Heart

Purple Heart

Wandering jew2

Wandering jew1

Wandering jew3

Wandering Jew

Wandering Jew

Wandering Jew

Moses in a boat1

Moses in a boat2

Dermcare logo 200

Moses in a boat

Moses in a boat


Scurvy weed1


Scurvy weed2

Scurvy Weed

Scurvy Weed

Scurvy Weed

Inch plant11

Inch plant2


Inch Plant

Inch Plant


Bolivian jew1

Bolivian jew3

Bolivian jew2

Bolivian Jew (Turtle vine)

Bolivian Jew (Turtle vine)

Bolivian Jew (Turtle vine)

See also...
Contact allergy

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Mosquitoe bite allergy in cats

 sometimes see cats with raised lumps or punched out ulcerated areas on their noses. The lesion can look similar to early skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) of the nose due to excessive exposure to UV light.

The lesions respond nicely to treatment with anti-inflammatories e.g. cortisone tablets and use of a fly repellent and restricting access to outside in the early morning and evenings when mossies are most active.

This cat was presented with lesions we suspected were due to mosquitoe bites. It responded very nicely to treatment.

If there had been no improvement, we would have to have performed skin biopsies to rule out other lesions e.g. skin cancer, feline herpes virus infection.

Skin mozzie 3Skin mozzie 1

Skin mozzie 2





See also…
Squamous Cell Carcinoma in cats

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Food allergy problems

On a less common note, we occassionally see pets develop allergies to a protein source in their diet- even if they have been on the same diet for some years.

Food allergies are not seasonal i.e. the skin problems go all year as long as they stay on the same diet. On a percentage basis, approx. 1% of itchy pets have a food allergy, so it is not a very common condition. Pets can also get other diseases of the body from food allergies (see below). 


Skin lesions are similar to those of flea allergy dermatitis

Food allergies have been implicated in many diseases in pets and people. The basic problem is that 0.2% of the protein in a meal gets absorbed into the bloodstream unchanged from what it looked like when swallowed.

A small percentage of dogs, cats and people are allergic to certain types of protein e.g. beef, lamb, milk proteins. The unchanged protein reacts with the immune system in the body causing a massive allergic reaction. 

Local food allergy reactions (food intolerance)

Generalised food allergy reactions

Depending on where the protein and parts of the immune system decide to travel around the body (antigen-antibody complexes), signs can include: 

Skin food allergy reactions

Diagnosis and treatment of food allergies

Hills and Royal Canin have hypoallergenic diets for diagnosis & treatment of food allergy problems in dogs & cats.

Starting suspect cases on a hypoallergenic diet for a minimum of 3-4 weeks should result in early mild clinical improvement in skin and/or other problems if there is a food allergy problem.

By 10-12 weeks, there should be marked improvement.

At this stage, the owner decides to either stay on the hypoallergenic diet permanently or do some tests with different foods to see what their pet can and can't tolerate. 

By introducing a particular food, e.g. beef bones for a 10-14 days, the owner looks for the early signs of disease re-occurring. Obviously, we don't want to see the pet back to the bad condition it was in before starting on the prescription diet, so stop the trail at the very first signs of problems starting. 

These are some of the hypoallergenic diets on the market

Rc hypoallergy dry catHills zd dry catRc skin support dry dog







See also...
Grain Free Diets?

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Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)

FAD is one of the most common skin diseases we see in practice. A small percentage of cat and dogs are allergic to the flea saliva. One small bite can trigger off a large allergic reaction- just like people who are allergic to bees needing only one bee sting to cause major problems.

FAD presents with intense itching all over the body but especially the lower backline where fleas tend to congregate.

Obviously, if we can get rid of the flea problem, then the problem resolves itself.


Affected animals usually require a combination of medications to settle the skin while flea control measures are put in place. The most common approach is:

FadUni 0395Fleas

See also...
Flea infestation videos
Introduction to fleas

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Contact allergies

Pets often present with skin problems along the underneath parts of the trunk and paws. These are usually due to contact with something new in the environment e.g. woolen blankets, chemicals (e.g. carpet deodorisers), hessian bedding, and summer weeds like Wandering Jew

Owners need to have a good think about when the condition first started and if there was anything new at the same time.

Contact allergy affecting the faceAllergy pustules 2Contact allergy along the lower half of the body

See also...
Dermcare allergies
Minimising contact
Wandering Jew contact allergy

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Allergies and allergens

Allergies are one of the most common reason people take their pet(s) to the vet. Some pets are allergic to just one or two things while others are allergic to just about everything.
Common types of allergies include:

Allergens are the things that can trigger off an allergic reaction e.g. pollen, bee stings, flea saliva.
Some pets can inhale allergens and break out in a skin rash. We call these pets atopic. If atopic, they are often also allergic to things they come directly in contact with e.g. grasses, weeds, house dust mites.
We don't often see asthma in dogs- it's usually the skin that "breaks out" following an allergic reaction. Cats can present with the classical "lung" asthma seen in people.
Have a look at these pages on allergens to gain an insight into how allergens cause allergic reactions.

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Feline acne

Feline acne is a relatively common complaint in cats. It is an infection of the sebaceous glands of the chin. These glands are the chin-marking pheromone producers which cats use to mark their territory by "bunting", and are under hormonal control.


There are a number of possible initial causes including allergy to plastic food bowls, flea allergy. After the initial insult, secondary infection with some of the more commonly seen micro-organisms can start e.g.

These organisms are normal bacteria of the mucosal areas and are found in the gland and follicle openings.



Initially, in severe cases, the lesions are too painful to apply topical medication. In these cases, we use the following drugs:

Once the swelling and purulent material is reduced, Panalog ointment is applied twice a day

Quite often, feline acne resists these conservative attempts at treatment. This may be due to large amounts of dried pus or debris deep within the skin layers that cause a foreign body reaction. In such cases, we give the cat a general anaesthetic and squeeze out as much debris as possible, followed by a vigorous scrub with Malaseb shampoo.


See also...
Case of Feline Acne

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The Brain: Worst Enemy in Tick Paralysis

Recently studies on human volunteers in Europe in 2011 showed how the brain reacts when blood oxygen levels drop.

Participants were put in a room with gradually decreasing levels of oxygen, and asked to perform mental puzzles and physical exercises.

What they found was the brain diverted energy to itself at the expense of energy being delivered to the muscles. The volunteers could perform mental puzzles quite well, but were unable to perform physical exercises because the muscles were being fatigued.

How is this relevant to tick poisoning?

In tick paralysis cases, a drop in oxygen delivery is caused by several factors such as:

The brain detects this drop in blood oxygen and initiates the reflex mentioned above.

This reflex fatigues the diaphragm, rib and abdominal muscles while the brain “looks after itself”.

As these muscles are used to breathe in, there is a further reduction in the delivery of oxygen to the body, and the brain in turn will fatigue the muscles even more. A viscous circle.

Major cause of death

This brain reflex is the most common reason we lose tick cases.

The answer

In cases where the pet is having increased difficulty breathing (dyspnoea) because of the fatiguing of the breathing muscles, it is best to knock the brain out so the reflex disappears. That way the muscles can work properly and a good supply of air/oxygen can get into the lungs.

How to knock the brain out?

A general anesthetic (G/A) is the answer.

Humans with reduced oxygen delivery problems (e.g. major trauma) are placed in a coma.

When pets are placed under G/A there is an immediate improvement in the delivery of oxygen around the body as the breathing muscles start working again.

At the same time, while the pet is under G/A, we can easily place oxygen tubes down the windpipe (trachea) right down to the lungs.

The bad news…well, not too bad

PBhvg tick translacing an animal under G/A requires someone to be with the animal while it’s asleep. For us, that means a nurse/vet during the day but at night if it’s an after hours case, it means the vet on call will probably have to stay all night at the hospital to ensure the pet does not wake up and start chewing the tubes in its throat.

Not so good for the vet if he/she has a full day of work ahead.

Not so good for the owner as the vet has to be paid for his time and expertise.

For those living in Sydney or the ACT, pets are transported to 24hr Emergency Clinics.

For country vets, it usually means using a long acting anesthetic agent called Pentobarbitone. It is given intra-venously (IV) and lasts for 4-6 hours. An initial IV dose can be “topped up” by connecting the pet to an IV drip containing Pentobarbitone which trickles in at a very slow rate.

How long does the pet stay anaesthetised?

      By placing a pet under G/A, we buy ourselves some time for the body to repair the damage done by the tick toxin. Most of this damage occurs where the nerves attach to the muscles in the body. That’s why the muscles don’t work as well as they should. This may take 12-48 hours or longer. Pets are “woken up” at certain intervals to see how they cope with breathing “awake”- if they can’t cope, they get some more anaesthetic. Once they are more relaxed and able to take deep breaths, they are taken off the anaesthetic.

See also...

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Aftercare of Tick Cases

Even though your pet is going home after being treated for tick poisoning, a full recovery may take another couple of weeks.

It is very important to ensure your pet does not go for any long walks (except to go to the toilet in the backyard). Allow plenty of rest and allow access to a cool environment.

Feed small amounts of soft food 4-5 times a day for the next 3-4 days as the swallowing reflex may have been affected by the tick poison making it difficult to swallow.

Please return in 2-3 days for a free checkup if it was a severe case, as we wish to make sure everything is going well with your pet.

The anti-tick serum does not give immunity from ticks so check daily for ticks and start on prevention as soon as possible. We do not want to have to repeat the whole exercise in a few days or weeks.

Contact BHVG on (02) 4448 5621 (24 hours) if there is any deterioration in condition after going home.

See also...

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Paralysis Tick Complications

Paralysis ticks produce a very powerful poison which can kill pets within a very short time. It affects nerves and muscles which then become paralysed.
Early symptoms include weak hindlegs, a grunting breathing sound, forceful breathing efforts and vomiting.

There are several complications associated with tick poisonings.

No Response to Therapy Due to Delay in Treatment

Anti Tick Serum (ATS) consists of large particles (antibodies) which are very good at collecting and destroying tick toxin while it is in the bloodstream.

After a while, tick toxin leaves the bloodstream and starts to run down the nerves towards the muscles where it causes paralysis.

This can start to happen during just a 10 minute delay in treatment

The pet does not look any sicker 10 minutes later, but the tick toxin has started on its way down the nerves. ATS antibodies are too big to go the same way after the tick toxin- they are left behind in the bloodstream.

Once the tick toxin starts moving down the nerves, it does not matter how much ATS is given, it just won't work.

So cases which don't look too bad to start with, can still go down over the next 24 hours despite the vet's best attempts at treatment. The delay means the ATS is not going to work.

Unexpected Death

Slow Response to ATS

ATS can take up to 12-24 hours to neutralsie tick toxin.

As a result, cases often get worse in the first 12-24 hours until the ATS neutralises the tick toxin.

Reaction to the ATS itself

ATS is collected from the blood of specially looked after immune dogs on the mid north coast of NSW

When treating a case, we are basically giving a small blood transfusion. Recent studies have shown that if ATS is given too quickly to dogs, up to 80% of all cases will have a severe side reaction. It has been shown that giving ATS slowly over at least 1 hour avoids the majority of these reactions. For this reason, we connect dogs up to a drip and a special drip administration machine to give the serum slowly over an hour.

In cats, we are in effect giving them another species of blood- it would be equivalent to a human receiving pig blood.

The chances of a reaction are much more common. For this reason, we inject ATS into the abdomen of cats and pre- dose them with drugs to “knock out” their immune system so a reaction is minimized. The trade-off is that it takes longer for ATS to get absorbed into the body.

Effect on the oesophagus

The oesophagus (food tube connecting the mouth to the stomach) can become parlaysed by the tick poison.

It starts to relax and acts like a large wet sock as it can not contract in its normal way. Saliva, food and water build up inside the relaxed oesophagus (megaoesophagus) and is often vomited or regurgitated back up into the throat.

Effect on the throat

The tick poison can paralyse the vocal cords and swallowing mechanism at the back of the throat. Affected pets can choke on accumulated saliva or food/water that is vomited up from a megaoesophagus.

Inhalation pneumonia

In cases with megaoesophagus and paralysis of the back of the throat, it is quite common for vomit to go down the wrong way i.e. the trachea (windpipe) and end up in the lungs. The vomit contains acid and bacteria and can cause a large amount of damage to the lungs leading to life threatening pneumonia.


If a case is slow to respond to treatment e.g. still can’t eat or swallow after 2 days, we have to consider fluid therapy to avoid dehydration. This will mean setting up an IV drip to slowly give fluids. This has to be monitored very closely in case there is secondary heart failure as even a small amount of IV fluids can end up as fluid in the lungs if badly affected.

Effect on the heart

1) Heart failure

In a small number of cases, the tick poison will also attack the muscles of the heart causing severe heart failure.

This effect on the heart is NOT reversed by ATS administration

We need to be on the alert for this which may mean taking chest x-rays and running blood tests to detect it early. The heart failure can cause sudden death whilst under treatment.

2) Irregular heart beat

A small number of cases have a problem with the toxin affecting the conduction of electrical impulses through the heart. These impulses cause the heart to contract, but in some tick cases, the impulses can suddenly become very erratic and cause sudden death. This can happen in hospital or in the first week or so back at home. It is very important to rest recovered pets for a few weeks following treatment for this reason.

Poor oxygen supply to the body

In many cases, the toxin paralyses muscles that are used to make the chest expand and suck in air to the lungs. These muscles of respiration are found in the diaphragm and between the ribs. In cases where these muscles are affected, the pet finds it very hard to get enough oxygen into the lungs and circulation. As a result, they can die suddenly.

We need to be regularly checking these pets by using a pulse oximeter on their tongue, ear or lip to measure the amount of oxygen circulating around in the blood. If it is low, then we need to supply these cases with oxygen.

This may mean an oxygen mask, intra-nasal or intra-tracheal oxygen tube insertion. Some cases can be on oxygen and intensive care for 2-3 days.

Despite our very best efforts in treating even mild tick poisoning cases,
serious life threatening complications and/or sudden death can occur


Affected cases that have been left in the cold outside and/or given tick rinses can often get a sub normal body temperature (hypothermia). A pet suffering from hypothermia alone can look very similar to paralysis tick poisoning and easily be mistaken for a tick case.

However, a tick case with hypothermia is in double trouble. We need to monitor body temperature to ensure there is no lowering of body temperature in affected cases. This may mean the use of heating pads and hot water bottles to keep their temperature up.

Effect on blood pressure

Until recently, it was thought that most tick cases had high blood pressure. With the use of Doppler measurement of blood pressure, it has been shown that this is not the case in most situations. In fact, blood pressure is often too low meaning poor blood supply to the muscles, heart, kidneys, brain etc.

Measuring blood pressure on affected cases is important to detect this problem.

See also...

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Paralysis Tick Images

Most paralysis ticks are the size of the arrowed tick when the animal start to display symptoms.

Here are some photos of paralysis ticks on pets.




See also...

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Paralysis Tick Prevention

Whichever product is being used by pet owners, the basic daily searching must be carried out as no single product guarantees 100% protection against paralysis ticks.

See also...

Nexgard and Bravecto for Dogs

No doubt about it, 2015 will go down as one of the most innovative for tick prevention with the release of both Nexgard and Bravecto for dogs. 
Now it's a easy as either a once a month or once every 3 month beefy chew to protech your dog from both fleas and ticks.
No more spot ons, collars or rinses.

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NEW June 2016: Seresto Flea & Tick Collar for BOTH CATS & DOGS

Finally! A tick preventative for cats

Seresto is a new odourless collar for dogs and cats that prevents both fleas and paralysis ticks. This is the first time we have had a paralysis tick product for cats (other than Frontline spray which needs applying every 3 weeks).

How easy is this! Just place the collar on the cat or dog's neck, and in a short time you have 8 MONTHS OF PROTECTION from both fleas and paralysis ticks.

See also...

Clip long haired cats and dogs

Have them clipped in early spring. Some of these products have trouble spreading through thick or matted coats leaving areas where ticks can hide.

Do not apply methylated spirits, kerosene or turps on ticks

Recent studies have shown that pets recover better if the live tick is quickly pulled out of the skin using a fine pair of forceps or a tick remover. Applying methylated spirits, turps, kerosene etc. appears to irritate the tick causing it to release more poison before it dies.

See also...

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Treatment of Paralysis Tick Poisoning

Only a very small percentage of animals will survive without treatment. Unfortunately, some animals also die despite being given all the appropriate treatment.

Mortality rates

The overall mortality rate for Australia for all tick cases is 10%, no matter how mild the symptoms at presentation. For each year over 6 years of age, the mortality rate increases by another 10%.

Boxers, Bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds are very prone to sudden death from paralysis ticks and are always a high risk no matter how mild the symptoms.
Because the chances of successful treatment decrease as the symptoms progress, and the fact that there is no way of telling which will survive without treatment, the only way to ensure your pet has the best chance of survival is to seek early veterinary treatment.

Where does the tick anti-venom come from?

The tick anti-serum comes from Lismore where there is a colony of large dogs that are immune to ticks. These dogs have had paralysis ticks attached to their ears for short periods at regular intervals making them immune to the tick toxin.

The dogs are regularly sedated to collect blood from them. The blood is spun down in a centrifuge and the clear serum is siphoned off and bottled. This is the tick anti-venom; the serum of an immune dog.

The intensive nature of this exercise results in an expensive product.

Early treatment with anti-serum is vitally important

The anti serum is very effective if given early in the course of the condition. If pets are left too long to have the anti serum, it may not work and owners are left with a deceased pet and a large bill.

The tick anti-serum contains large tick antibodies. They are very good at neutralising tick toxin that is in the blood stream. However, once tick toxin starts to travel down the nerves towards the muscles, the large antibodies can’t follow the same pathway as they are too big to fit.

This is why it is vitally important to get the anti-serum in ASAP.

You can miss this golden window of opportunity
by as little as ten minutes

The pet won’t look much different at the end of 10 minutes, but in that time, the toxin may have started to travel down the nerves. Once this happens, it does not matter how much tick anti-venom is given, it just will not work.
Occasionally, some of the tick toxin poisons the heart directly. This in addition to the paralysis of the muscles of the legs and chest that are used for breathing. The cardiac toxin effect of the tick toxin is not reversed by the use of anti-tick serum. These cases have to be treated for cardiac failure, otherwise the prognosis is very poor.
We will consider a possible tick case as an emergency. It may be necessary for your pet's coat to be clipped off to find the tick or crater left in the skin where a tick was attached.
While antiserum and hospitalisation involve some expense both are nearly always essential if you want to ensure your pet has the best chance of survival. Hospitalisation is very important as there are often serious complications that require assessment and other medications which can only be given by injection.

See also...

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Introduction to Paralysis Ticks

Paralysis ticks are a major problem especially along the eastern coast of Australia. They cause severe cardiac, respiratory and muscle weakness, eventually killing their prey after only 4-5 days of attachment.
There are other ticks around the world which don't cause such serious problems e.g. bush ticks, cattle ticks. These ticks require less vigilance and less frequency of application of preventatives such as Frontline Top Spot Plus.
These pages have some of the latest ideas on Paralysis ticks.

See also...

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Thunder Desensitisation of Dogs


This is done by exposing the dog to very gradual increases in loudness of a thunderstorm recording (systematic approximation) and by giving it rewards for being relaxed when it is exposed to the noise (counter-conditioning).

It is not considered necessary to desensitise dogs to the lightning flashes. It is the noise which originally produces the fear. Although the flashes may become associated with it, by themselves they do not normally cause fear.

Although dogs initially react to the noise of thunder, some learn to associate the preceding events with the noise and may show the response several hours before you can detect the storm.

It is not known what changes the dogs are responding to but they may be able to detect:

We can only counter-condition and systematically desensitise to stimuli that can be reproduced in a controlled way, and we can easily do that to the sound component of the thunderstorm.

Even if a dog does get upset well before the storm can be heard by people, it is worthwhile desensitising it to the noise. It is likely to be less upset when the storm is overhead than it was before. In this way the bad association with the storm may be lost.


A recording of thunder should first of all be played loudly, but without distortion, to make sure it does cause the response in the dog. Otherwise there is little point in going through with the training, although some people have  said it  has  been  of  benefit.

Most, but not all, dogs that have a fear of thunderstorms are sensitive to this recording when it is played on a high quality sound reproduction system.
Some dogs are not sensitive to the recording when they are inside the house and so the stereo system needs to be arranged to play back the recording with the dog outside.

Some dogs are not sensitive to the recording when their owners are present and so playback and observation needs to be arranged with the owners absent. In that case systematic approximation is used by itself without counter-conditioning.


For the training, the recording needs to be played for a start at such a very low volume that it does not cause a response. The dog should be given frequent tidbits for not showing fear.

Gradually the loudness of the recording is increased by very small amounts, with pauses for several minutes at each progressively louder setting, giving food rewards and praise as long as there are no signs of fear.

If there are signs of fear, or even apprehension, it means the last increase in loudness was too big a step. The training went too far too fast. The training session should be stopped until the dog has settled down again.

The next session should be started at least 4 steps back in the training program. A session may last up to about 40 minutes. Several of these sessions per day produce rapid results.

However, a session should always be stopped if the dog becomes tired of the game or shows fear. If the dog has a short attention span, the length of the sessions should be reduced to suit. Each session should start 2 steps before the point at which the last one finished.

The time required to completely desensitise a dog depends upon:

Sometimes dogs can be desensitised in one evening; other dogs have taken several days of one training session a day.

When it is on the training program it is important that the dog does not feel fear during a real thunderstorm as that will set the training back. If necessary, the dog should be tranquilised, sedated or given an anti-anxiety drug.

If the dog was only sensitive to testing when the owner was absent, then desensitisation needs to be done in a similar way but without food rewards (unless the dog can be given rewards by some ingenious remote control method ).

The volume is slowly increased every few minutes as long as the dog is relaxed. Once the dog has been successfully desensitised to one sound, training can start with other noises, such as the sound of heavy rain.

Follow –Up

When thunderstorms have not occurred for a few months, it is a good idea to repeat the training to maintain the desensitisation.

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Inappropriate Urination & Defecation

It is rare to find an elimination disorder that is not due to either:

Medical conditions

Incomplete housetraining

This dog is older than 6 months and has always occasionally eliminated inside. This happens regardless of the presence or absence of the owner or a change in their schedule (that is, whether the dog is left for 12 hours or two hours). The dog has never has a period of at least four weeks where it has not eliminated inside.

These dogs eliminate inside because they have a disregard for substrate, prefer the substrate of their puppyhood (eg newspaper) or they have learned to like the substrate because frequent accidents have impregnated it with a stimulating smell.

Rehomed dogs of uncertain history may be prone to incomplete housetraining. Dogs will develop their own substrate preferences if they can not access the substrate that the owner prefers.

Insufficient access to appropriate elimination area

This dog has been housetrained however a change in owner’s schedule results in the dog no longer having access to its usual elimination area or not at the usual times. Older dogs or those with debilitating medical conditions will cope less well with a change in routine.

The dog may be prevented access to its normal elimination place by the presence of noises,people or other animals it is concerned about. These dogs will seek a new substrate or surface from necessity and can then develop a preference for this substrate in the future.

Substrate preference

Dogs develop toileting substrate preferences from 7 to 8 weeks of age. Owners can influence this preference with housetraining as described in Toilet Training.

The longer a substrate preference exists the harder it is to change so it is best to encourage the owner’s preference from an early age. A problem with substrate preference usually occurs when either the dog has accidentally used an inappropriate surface then developed a preference for it or the dog has been acquired with the inappropriate preference already in place, for example, dogs kept in shelters in concrete runs.

A preference can be changed by monitoring, startling the inappropriate behaviour and rewarding the desired behaviour.

Clients may also have a problem with dogs that have no preference and no inhibition. They may have been strays, free roaming or kennelled dogs. Not all dogs “know” where to eliminate. These dogs need to be taught to have a substrate preference.

Anxiety and in particular separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is diagnosed in cases where the dog eliminates inside only when he does not have access to people or one person to whom he is particularly attached. This dog never eliminates inside when the owners are present whether or not there is a change in schedule.

There are no detectable medical conditions and the dog is housetrained.

In addition the dog may also show one or more of the following behaviours in the absence of the owner:

This condition and its treatment is described in Separation Anxiety.

Marking behaviour

Male leg cocking behaviour is facilitated by hormones, learnt and social factors. It will be decreased by castration but not completely eliminated. Females will also urine mark and both males and females will mark with faeces.

Firstly the stimulus to the marking behaviour needs to be identified. If the dog is dominant type dog then monitoring, removing or altering a relationship with the stimulus or cue, startling and dissuading of the inappropriate behaviour and positive reinforcement of desirable behaviour will be the treatment of choice.

If the dog is marking because it is unsure, anxious or fearful then it may benefit from some anxiety-lowering medication.

Submissive urination

Other signs of submission include; sitting, hanging head, exposing groin, rolling onto back, tucking the tail, retracting and flexing the forelimbs, turning the head and salivating. These clients should encourage their dogs to DEFER to them rather than SUBMIT.

Ignore submissive behaviour and attempt to avoid situations where the dog urinates. These can be reintroduced when the dog is more confident.

Reinforce other behaviours such as sitting and looking as described in Providing Stability and Security.

Use the desensitisation methods described in Small Steps Towards a Final Goal.

Start with an empty bladder and some basic commands then gradually reintroduce the situations that previously stimulated urination. In severe cases anxiety-reducing medications may help in combination with behaviour modification may help.

As an added benefit, the tricyclic antidepressants such as Clomicalm have secondary anticholinergic effects that may result in increased bladder and sphincter tone.

Excitement urination

These dogs are usually young and exuberant and they will often grow out of this behaviour.

The owner should take the dog for frequent walks to ensure the bladder stays relatively empty. They also need to address the excitability with exercises to encourage relaxation in excitable circumstances.

Behaviour needs to be ignored in some circumstances and the environment needs to be enriched with toys and games and plenty of physical exercise.

See also...
Providing Stability and Security
Dogs with Energy to Burn

Elimination associated with fear

Reflex contraction of bladder and colon muscles can occur with a fearful experience.

Other signs of fear will probably be present- increased heart rate, increases respiratory rate, mydriasis, piloerection, salivation, shivering, distal limb contraction, avoidance and catatonia.

Fear needs to be treated by increasing confidence, desensitising to fearful stimuli and anxiety-reducing medication.

Attention-seeking behaviour

Different dogs require different levels of attention to satisfy their individual needs.

Some dogs will learn ways to get attention from their owners or others, to help them satisfy these needs. This attention can be positive or negative.

Some dogs will learn that if they squat inside this elicits a response. This behaviour will usually occur in the presence of the owner and the dog will eliminate outside at other times. Dogs with Energy to Burn and Providing Stability and Security information sheets provide tips for reducing these behaviours.

Geriatric or oestrogen-dependent incontinence or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Spayed females or older dogs may leak urine while asleep or relaxed.

Dogs diagnosed with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction may urinate indiscriminately. Other changes may include altered sleep cycles and inappropriate vocalisation.

It is rare to find an elimination disorder that is not management related, due to an underlying medical cause or socially stimulated.

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Puppy Toilet Training

Start training between 7 and 8 weeks of age.

Confine your puppy in a certain area (e.g. kitchen, laundry, verandah or in a crate) to give it a sense of security when you are not home or at night. The confined area will be similar to the wolf den. Leave a radio or light on with the puppy. Gradually expand this area as the puppy learns not to eliminate in it or destroy things.

If the puppy is confined for more than 2 to 3 hours provide a small area of substrate within this “den” such as newspaper or kitty litter for the puppy to eliminate in. Also
provide bedding, water, food and toys. Puppies learn preferences for certain eliminating surfaces or substrates.

Training to preferred substrates such as grass as a toileting area straight away is ideal. However, there may be circumstances when the puppy can’t be taken outside every 2 to 3 hours such as overnight. Newspaper, puppy training pads or kitty litter can be alternatives at these times. However, the puppy may learn to seek out newspaper instead and this may be the paper lying on the floor that you haven’t yet read!

Toilet Training Tips

See also...
Accidents in the House

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Territorial Dogs

Wolves defend the land on which they hunt from trespass by other wolves: they are territorial. Your dog's territory is probably smaller than the wolf ancestors', but may he defended just the same. The criterion or degree of territoriality in dogs can usually he changed by a learning process: teaching the dog that invasion from visitors brings good rather than bad experiences.

Most of us only want a dog that barks but does not bite: that is enough to deter burglars. A biting dog is a liability that at least will lose you friends and could lead to a prosecution if someone is bitten.



Some breeds are much more territorial than others, Yorkshire Terriers and German Shepherd Dogs being good examples. Cavaliers and Irish Setters are notable for their lack of territorial instincts, because they have been bred that way.


Frequent contact with a variety of people, from puppy days onwards, limits the development of territorial behaviour. These contacts must be rewarding in outcome, and an unfortunate kick or unpleasant experience at the hands of a stranger can spark off latent antagonistic tendencies.


A Fort Knox house in which few visitors come or strangers are seen develops an antagonistic tendency in the dog. This is particularly seen at doors and along fences through which neighbours etc. can be threatened. Daily and more frequent off-territory walks will change this tendency.


If someone could possibly be hurt, ensure your dog is muzzled or restrained on a lead when conducting the behavioural therapy outlined below. Muzzles do not make dogs more 'mean": they behave much the same as if they were unmuzzled.

Owner Attitudes

You must be cool, off-hand and rejecting to your dog before you expect visitors, and at the moment of bell ringing. The greater your affection or closeness of contact, the more territorial or protective your dog.

Victim Psychology

Frightened people are more likely to be bitten: rapid and jerky movements, together with unnecessary direct eye contact elicit attacks from territorial dogs. Thus, invite people who are calm, who like dogs and can stand still.

The Payoff

Visitors should come equipped with food, or shortly after arrival they should take your dog for a walk. This will produce a positive expectation of the outsider.

The Penalty

Punishment from the owner for excessive barking or territorial aggression should be modest, well timed and more with the intention of interruption than pain. A powerful sound stimulus is a Rape Alarm air canister or a flick of water from you the owner. Visitors must never punish your dog.

Response Substitution Therapy

The aim here is to train a response which is incompatible with launching an attack upon a visitor.

Train your dog to sit or lie, on a particular place (e.g. a mat inside and near your front door) or hall, within sight but out of reach of the visitor.

The training can be reward-centred for titbits, independently of the presence of visitors. When a real visitor arrives, have them toss titbits at your growling dog.

Problem avoidance

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Reward Training

Training can be fun using a reward technique!

Have you ever watched dolphins and seals perform at the zoo or oceanarium? If you have you can see that they do their tricks and obey their trainer's commands with obvious enthusiasm and enjoyment.These tricks have been taught with motivational training methods without using any force or compulsion, simply using treats to reward the desired behaviour.

You can train your dog the same way using motivational training methods and Vet's Best Rewards or other suitable treats e.g. small pieces of dry toast or cheese.


Hey - it works! These methods are based on modern, humane, scientifically proven methods of training which are used all over the world to train a great variety of animals including the human animal.

How dogs learn

Dogs learn just like us, trial and error, success and failures. They learn best by positive reinforcement or motivational training methods. They go on learning whether we are consciously teaching them or not. Every interaction, every encounter you have with your dog he is learning, make sure he is learning what you want him to learn.


Dogs love to do tricks. Let's turn our training exercises into tricks.

Getting your dog's attention

Getting your dog's to immediately look at you in all sorts of circumstances is your first and possibly your most important step. You must first get your dog's attention before you teach him anything and before you can give him a further command (come, sit, down, stay) that may one day save his life. Let's make paying attention worthwhile for him.

Begin in your own home. First thing in the morning fill your pockets with some Vet's Best Rewards. Randomly during the day (preferably when your dog is close at hand and not distracted by something else) call your dog's name in an excited voice.

When he looks at you, smile and say "good" to mark the behaviour you want and reward with a treat immediately. It is important that the reward/treat is delivered quickly (within 1 second).


Continue to do this until he is consistently looking at you when you call his name. Now you can reward him when he looks at you in the backyard, in the front yard, in the car, while out for a walk, in the park. We do it in this order to slowly increase the distractions to make it easy for him.


Sit is easy to teach and very versatile. You will find it invaluable in many situations and it is the foundation for more advanced tricks.

Wait until your dog is slightly hungry just before his dinner). Hold some Vet's Best Rewards in your hand and get your dog's attention focused on them. Hold your hand (with the treat as a lure) at your dog's nose level, get your dog's nose glued to the treat and slowly move it up over his nose and back between the ears and lure him to a sit.

As you move your hand back his hindquarters should sink to the ground. Presto - sit happens! As he sits, smile and say "Good" quickly in an excited voice and reward with a treat immediately.

If you are having trouble, don't worry; just keep trying until he gets the idea. If he keeps backing up, try doing it against a wall.


Continue to do this until he is sitting consistently. When this happens introduce the command word "sit". You can then progress to asking him to "sit" in the backyard, in the front yard, in the car, while out for a walk, in the park.

Try asking him to sit before you go through doors, before he gets in the car, before he goes for a walk and before you give him his dinner. When he can do this you will have a whole new dimension of control and he will love doing his trick because of all the rewards.

Always remember to smile, praise enthusiastically and reward immediately.

Come when called

Come when called is a most important trick for all dog owners. Start off as in trick number 1. Call your dog's name "Rover", show him the treat, smile bend forward slightly and hold your arms out to welcome your dog, call "Come" and run back a few steps.

He will almost certainly come running towards you, smile, praise enthusiastically and reward with a treat immediately. Continue to call your dog in the above manner from the other side of the room and then from other parts of the house.


Continue to do this until he is coming consistently, enthusiastically and quickly from all parts of the house. Now you can gradually begin calling him and rewarding him for coming quickly in the backyard, in the front yard while out for a walk and in the park.

Remember to keep the progression in the above order, increase distractions slowly and make it easy for him. This trick can take some time to get consistent performance in different environments. For your dog's safety whilst training, keep him on a lead at all times.

Remember to make yourself more interesting and exciting than other distractions and praise and treat enthusiastically when he comes to you.

As you progress to training in a park, switch to a long light lead or retractable lead to give him more freedom but to make sure he doesn't run away. Only progress to the next step when you are getting consistent behaviour at your present level.

When he does reliably come to you when off the lead, call him to you, clip on the lead, praise and treat then release him again. This will ensure that he doesn't associate coming to you with the loss of his freedom and being taken home.

Do not under any circumstances punish or growl at your dog when he comes to you.

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Oh my garden! Oh my slippers

Chewing and digging are normal behaviours

Dogs chew and dig for fun, to hide treasured possessions, as part of the elimination ritual, to relieve aching teeth or improve jaw strength and occasionally because they are feeling anxious.

When a dog chooses to dig up your favourite rose or chew your favourite slippers it seems quite normal for him, it is humans who think this is inappropriate.

We must teach him what is appropriate and what is not. He needs to learn "the rules". It would be almost impossible to stop this behaviour completely; however, here are some hints on how to improve chewing and digging behaviour or direct it towards something we feel is appropriate.

Destructive problems

It is easiest to start with puppies by directing them towards appropriate chew toys. Provide many and varied toys and rawhide chews or pig’s ears for puppies and adult dogs. To encourage dogs to chew the appropriate toys fill or cover with food or play a game with the toy at first. Praise the dog for sniffing, licking or chewing these selected items.

If you catch the dog chewing something inappropriate then correct the dog with a firm, deep voiced "no" and remove the object. Replace with a chew toy and praise the dog for chewing this. It might be worth spending some time watching the dog or puppy for an opportunity go through this process a number of times.

Be consistent! Don’t let the dog chew a shoe one day then punish him for chewing a shoe the next.

Deny access or fence off areas where the dog is doing damage or ensure that valuable objects are placed beyond temptation.

If you punish your dog then the dog may learn not to do the behaviour when you are present but that it is OK when you are absent. "Booby Trapping" has the advantage that the aversive experience isn’t linked with you. You can "booby-trap" things you don’t want the dog to touch like clothes on the line with water-filled balloons or fabric with a non-toxic bitter tasting or hot substance. Upside down mouse-traps or Snappy Trainers are good deterrents.

Avoid punishing the behaviour, it is less effective than other methods and may make an anxious dog worse.

Digging problems

See also…
Dogs with Energy to Burn

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Puppy Vaccines

Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a new puppy. The following is some information to help you make sure your new friend stays healthy and happy.

Our BHVG Dog Life Charts are a great tool to easily setup everyting there is to remember from 2 weeks of age to the senior years. Print up a copy of the Life Chart at the bottom of this page, fill in the dates, stick it on the toilet or pantry door and away you go!

Puppy vaccinations

Subsequent annual health checks

There are a couple of options:

A tri-annual Durammune C3 vaccine (lasts 3 years), combined with…

An annual health check combined with…

Heartworm prevention

Bhvg heartworm transStart pups on monthly heartworm tablets from 12 weeks of age (e.g. Milbemax, Interceptor, Sentinel which prevent both intestinal worms and heartworm).

At 5-6 months (normally coinciding with the desexing operation) give a Proheart (heartworm prevention) injection which lasts until the first annual boosters.

What are in the vaccines?

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is still common especially in lower income areas where people try to save money by avoiding vaccinations. When Parvovirus first occurred 15 years ago, there was no vaccine available and large numbers of dogs lost their lives. When the first Parvovirus vaccine arrived, vets had queues around the street corners.

It causes sudden vomiting and diarrhoea of watery blood, severe shock, acute abdominal pain and death within 24 hours.

Treatment is prolonged, costly and not always successful. The virus spreads easily and can survive up to one year in contaminated soil- a dog has only to sniff where a dog went to the toilet one year ago to pick up the infection eg on its walk in the park.

Diagram of normal intestines
Diagram showing damage caused by Parvovirus in the intestines

Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper occurs occasionally. It is a highly contagious viral disease. Symptoms vary but can include fever, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and depression. Muscle tremors, fits and paralysis occur later in the disease. Treatment is usually ineffective and for those that do survive, there is risk of permanent brain damage.

Canine Hepatitis

This is a very serious viral disease affecting the liver of dogs. Symptoms include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and acute abdominal pain. In severe cases, death can occur within 24-36 hours. Dogs that recover may develop long term liver and kidney problems.

Prevention of Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus
These days, dogs receive either annual or tri-annual booster to protect them from Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus.

Kennel Cough

Dogs coming into contact with large numbers of other dogs e.g. boarding kennels, shows, often catch kennel cough and develop a nasty throat and/or chest infection.
There are several "bugs" which can cause kennel cough of which the two worse are Bordetella and Parainfluenza.

Prevention of Kennel Cough
Both Bordetella and Parainfluenza are preventable by use of vaccines. There are still a few other "bugs" which can cause a milder kennel cough, especially in dogs that bark all day long when in kennels, but they are not as serious. It's like over-doing it when you go to support your kid's soccer match (not me!). Boarding kennels will not allow dogs onto their premises if these vaccines are not current, as they are highly contagious and makes dogs feel very ill.


Coronavirus causes severe bloody watery diarrhoea, shock, abdominal pain and vomiting. There is variable mortality amongst puppies and older dogs. Signs appear very suddenly. The diarrhoea looks and smells just like Parvovirus. We see approx. 1-2 affected dogs each month.

See also...


This is a disease spread by infected rodents. The bacteria affect the kidneys and livers and dogs can get seriously ill. It is more common in places where there is a lot of stagnant water. The Animal Emergency centre sees approx. 2-3 cases each year in dogs from the western suburbs of Sydney. It's something to be wary of.

Prevention of Leptospirosis and Coronavirus
and Coronavirus can be prevented by using the combined Protech C2i vaccine. It needs to shots 4 weeks apart to work. Once this has happened, then its an annual vaccine in combination with either C3 or C5


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Intestinal Worming for Dogs

Bhvg worm transPuppies should be wormed fortnightly from 6 weeks until 12 weeks old. This particularly important against roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm and hookworm. Over 12 weeks of age- once a month until 6 months old. Dogs over 6 months old- once every 3 months.

We recommend worming with either:

Public health issues with intestinal worms

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Introduction to Pet Poisons

Bhvg pills transUnfortunately, many pets are accidentally poisoned at home and on walks. Some poisons are very serious and life threatening requiring aggressive intensive care at the earliest possible time. Prevention is definitely much more preferable to cure

Listed here are some of the more common ones we see in practice and also some summaries of household hazards that you may not be aware of. We will be adding to the list as time permits.

A good awareness of these potential dangers may also prevent a young child from serious illness.

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Desexing male dogs- the advantages

1) Prevent wandering and fighting

Entire male dogs search for female dogs in season. Unfortunately, many have an encounter with a motor vehicle or other dogs (with the same idea) leading to fights and visits to the veterinarian. Desexing makes him a more "homely" pet.

2) Prevent embarrassing behaviour

CastrateMale dogs can display some forms of behaviour that are unsociable, the more common ones being:

3) Prevent "male" diseases

Older male dogs can suffer from a number of problems caused by testosterone (the male hormone). The more serious of these conditions include:

Desexing at an early age prevents Testosterone from causing these serious diseases.

4) Cheaper registration rates for desexed dogs

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Desexing female dogs - the advantages

1) Prevent unwanted litters of puppies

Recent publicity has highlighted the problems faced by the RSPCA and Animal Welfare Associations who have to destroy thousands of unwanted dogs each year.

For every pup that finds a good home, there is one less home for a puppy somewhere else. Unless you intend to breed on a professional basis (which involves a lot of hard work, time, and money) it is better to have a female dog desexed.

Diagram illustrating a female dog desexing operation

Pyometra- a life threatening condition in entire female dogs


2) Prevent "heat" periods

A female dog in season will attract male dogs from afar - many of whom are quite athletic when it comes to jumping high fences.

3) Reduce the risk of mammary cancer

Desexing before a dog's 1st season will substantially reduce the risk of her developing malignant mammary cancer at a later stage in life (up to 99% protection). This protection rate drops off quickly after 2-3 seasons.

4) Prevent womb infections (pyometra)

A large number of entire older female dogs develop a womb infection after being in season. This is a very serious and life threatening situation requiring an emergency hysterectomy and intensive care.

5) Prevent wandering

Desexed female dogs tend to stay at home more so than entire ones who often have an encounter with a motor vehicle. Desexing results in a more " homely " pet.

Disadvantages of desexing female dogs

There are not many disadvantages to desexing, and they are far out weighed by the advantages.

1) Weigh gain

Desexed dogs tend to put weight on more easily when fed the same amounts of food. As long as owners exercise their dogs regularly and keep control on amounts fed, this does not become a problem.

2) Urinary incontinence

Sometimes, older desexed female dogs start leaking urine when resting. This is easily fixed by using a new product, Propalin, which tightens up the bladder. Its is given as drops in the food and has a 90-95% success rate.

See also...
Female dog desexing operation
Mammary cancer 
Pyometra in a dog
Urine incontinence

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Pet Age Calculator

Use the table below to calculate your pet's actual age depending on the current bodyweight e.g. a 15kg dog that is 3 human years old is 27 pet years of age

 Pet’s Weight













Human years

Pet's age in pet years


























































































































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Providing Stability and Security

This programme will benefit all dogs but especially those with behaviour problems. For example, dogs that suffer from separation anxiety show obvious signs of distress when separated from you. These individuals are likely to have a higher anxiety level at all times than most dogs.

Providing a secure environment in which the dog learns to look to you for direction and control can help to relieve the underlying tension that is always present and reduce the likelihood of a crisis episode developing.
The aim is for the dog to recognise that you are dependable and to recognise where in the household hierarchy he fits. This reduces or removes sources of confusion or conflict, the dog feels more comfortable and confident that he can rely on you to determine departure and return routines.

There is also a section included for those dogs with attention-seeking behaviours.
The Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has developed a programme to assist in providing the dog with this secure, stable environment. It involves the dog sitting for all of the things that it values.


First you need to train "sit". There is no need to push down on his bottom. Firmly hold a food reward above his nose and move your hand backwards until his hindquarters start to drop. As they go down say "sit" and good boy and when he sits give his reward. You may need to ask your vet for advice on teaching your dog how to sit on command if it has not been trained to do this previously.
It is essential that it is taught in a gentle, positive manner which results in the dog being rewarded when it is obedient. Many people dislike food rewards as they consider them a bribe. However it may be thought of as a "payment" for a good job.

Once the behaviour occurs 95% of the time, then start alternating food rewards and pats. At this stage intermittent reward becomes the strongest reinforcer of good behaviour.
Once your dog can reliably sit on your request he should be encouraged to make eye contact with you when he sits. You can hold a favourite toy or tit-bit near your eye while asking him to "look". The treat should be given as soon as he complies.

Over time the item can be replaced by a hand movement up towards your eyes only and a reward given from your pocket.
If you are concerned that your dog is focusing on the food rather than you, an alternative is to hold a tit-bit in each hand and hold them at shoulder height to your left and right. Initially your dog is likely to look from one to the other- eventually he will look at you and as he does so instantly give the word "look" and reward him with both pieces of food. 


The next step is to introduce the "stay" and ask the dog to remain in position until a release command such as "free" is given. Make this learning process fun. Use a happy tone of voice and lots of verbal praise together with the reward of a tit-bit or a game. Sessions should be short and enjoyable. No more than 5 minutes at a time but repeat these sessions a minimum of six times during the day.
If you and your dog are not looking forward to them then progress will not be as good as it should be. If you are continually becoming frustrated with your dog, then it is time to contact your veterinary clinic for some assistance.

Once you have taught your dog to sit and look at you on request you can begin to ask this of him for ALL the things he enjoys in life. You might like to think of it as the dog saying "please".

It does not mean that your dog has to miss out on anything - only that he must earn what he has previously been given for free, by sitting and looking at you. This needs to become part and parcel of your daily interactions.

A few examples are: "please" (sit, look and stay) can I have my dinner, "please" can I have my lead put on for a walk, "please" can I cross the road, "please" can I have a pat, "please" can you open the door, "please" can I get into/out of the car and so forth.

This programme will reach its full potential if you concurrently ignore any attempt on your dog’s part to control YOUR actions. For instance, if your dog comes up and nudges you while you are reading the newspaper (his way of saying "gimme"), it is important not to reach down and pat him until he chooses to move away. Doing so would have allowed the dog to dictate that entire interaction. It is preferable to ignore the dog (even if he whimpers or paws at you).
If he jumps up, make no physical, voice or eye contact with him. Don’t push him away - this is a response. Just turn around and walk away or stand and walk away. Once the dog has moved away you can call him over, ask him to "sit" and "look" (i.e. he says "please") and then pat him provided he complies. In this way, your dog doesn’t miss out; it is just a matter of you deciding when he can be patted.

If your dog does not do as requested, walk away and ignore him.

It is important to watch for potentially "pushy" behaviours by your dog to ensure you are not inadvertently being manipulated.

It is to be expected that there will be some resistance to the change in the household hierarchy and the behaviours may become worse in the short term but will eventually disappear when the dog realises he gets no benefit from them.

Remember in attention-seeking dogs any recognition is reinforcement for the behaviour.
That includes even small gestures like eye contact or negative things like yelling. These will seem like acknowledgment to this dog. We must avoid all signs of acknowledgment unless we initiate it. We need to teach our dog basic manners.

This programme often means quite a big change in the way that you interact with your pet. In the short term you might feel like you are being harsh on your dog by refusing to meet his demands if he does not comply with your directions. However, dogs are like people in that they generally value things more highly if they require some effort to obtain.
The simple act of sitting and looking at you will provide your dog with direction and reward for deferring to you. It helps to provide a clear set of rules for your dog to follow, which can play a major part in relieving anxiety and hence, the undesirable behaviours that often follow this emotional state.

Head Collars

The use of head collars such as Halti (available from BHVG) is another way to reinforce your rank and therefore enable your dog to feel more secure. They also give you more physical control of your dog but are in fact far gentler than neck collars or choke chains. The pressure of the strap over the back of the neck and the nose also translates to the dog a feeling that the owner is higher in rank. When playing the dog of higher rank mouths or puts his paw over the back of the neck and over the top of the muzzle of the dog of lower rank.
It is important that collars are fitted correctly and that they are introduced in a slow and positive way to the dog.
Do not remove the head collar if your dog is showing any irritation such as pawing at the collar. Distract him with a tit-bit or toy and remove it once he is relaxed. Some dogs may resist the psychological effect of having their rank diminished.
Behaviour modification takes time and effort and can be a slow process. Dedicate at least a four week period to start and then assess the situation. If you are having difficulty with any of the programmes please don’t hesitate to contact BHVG.

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Small Steps Towards a Final Goal

This information sheet describes the steps required to desensitise your dog to the particular stimulus he finds distressing.

Desensitising dogs to particular events

This stimulus may be thunderstorms, loud noises such as fireworks or the recycling collection truck. It could even be being left alone.

Desensitisation involves the gradual exposure to low levels of the stimulus while at the same time encouraging and rewarding relaxed behaviour like sitting and staying.

Desensitisation is part of a long term strategy that when successfully completed will mean you will be able to leave your dog alone for extended periods or he will tolerate thunderstorms or other loud noises without any anxiety or undesirable behaviour.
The first step is to provide a clear rule structure for your dog and to encourage him to be calm and relaxed in a non-stressful setting. This is described in Providing Stability and Security.
Once your dog will reliably perform these exercises for you it can then move on to remaining relaxed in the presence of the stimulus. This may be exposure at a low level, for example, playing a thunderstorm MP3 (available from BHVG) very quietly or only departing to the next room for a very short time. As your dog progresses, the period he can be left alone or the volume of the thunderstorm tape can gradually be increased.
If we couple these episodes of being exposed to the anxiety-inducing stimulus with something the dog really enjoys then he will progress quicker because the dog will associate your departure or the loud noises with something positive, rather than only the negative aspects which have been overwhelming until now.
The specific programme for each dog will vary because the environment that your dog finds challenging and the rewards he will value the most are unique for him. However the general principles are evident from the following example:

Desensitisation to being left alone: an example

Certain events in your dog’s life may also trigger a relapse. This may be anything your dog finds traumatic such as moving house, a member of the household departing, the death of another pet and so forth.

Desensitisation to thunderstorms and loud noises

Using the same principles as described for "Fido" we can desensitise your dog to thunderstorms or other loud noises. Instead of rewarding "Fido" for being relaxed while alone, we will reward for relaxation while a thunderstorm MP3 (available from BHVG). 

Starting with the MP3 playing very quietly then gradually increasing the volume over time. It is important to note that with thunderstorm fears and phobias it may not be just the noise that stimulates the behaviour, lightening and ozone may contribute to the fearful response and in these cases the thunderstorm tapes will not be as effective as in cases where the stimulus is the noise alone.

Progress will be hampered in dogs with noise or thunderstorm fears and phobias if the dogs are exposed to these during the desensitisation process so it is better to try thunderstorm desensitisation before the thunderstorm season.
These exercises require time and patience but have been shown to be effective in most cases of separation anxiety and phobias. Some dogs will experience severe anxiety or panic under certain circumstances. These individuals can benefit from the use of anxiety-reducing medications such as Clomicalm which assist them in learning more appropriate responses in a given situation.
Behaviour modification takes time and effort and can be a slow process. Dedicate at least a four week period to start and then assess the situation. If you are having difficulty with any of the programmes please don’t hesitate to contact BHVG.

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Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a severely distressed state in dogs related to the dog being excessively or overly-bonded to its owners. It is manifested in a variety of behaviours only seen when the dog doesn’t have access to its owner.

Pre-disposing factors

Breeds affected

Separation anxiety is no more prevalent in crossbred or purebred dogs.


The signs of separation anxiety include one or more of the following:

When the dog doesn’t have assess to its owner...

In the presence of the owner the dog…

Keeping a diary or using a video or a sound-activated recording device will help identify if and when behaviours are occurring and for how long. They can also provide a baseline to which you can compare recordings during the treatment programme. Owners can leave for short periods (15 minutes) and return to observe what has occurred.


The type of behaviour modification will depend on the severity of the clinical signs. A good rule of thumb is to do no more than the dog can easily cope with and always finish on a good note.

Start with relaxation and other short term strategies then gradually build up to a desensitisation programme once the dog is more confident, obedient and relaxed.

For the successful resolution of this problem, treatment takes time, effort and commitment on the owner’s and the clinic’s part. Generally, the presence of another dog does not help minimise this anxiety as it appears that these dogs need human company, not the company of another dog or cat.

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Dominant Dogs

Extract from Dr Roger Mugford's book "Dog Training the Mugford way" available on his website at

Canine society is like a cast system. The pack is dominated by one or two individuals, which with a pet dog in the house will be a human. If a dog is allowed to dominate people, he can literally bite the hand that feeds him.

The rules of dominance in dogs are quite clearly defined, so it should be easy to turn the tables and establish authority over a pushy dog as follows:

Keep a height advantage

Never allow the dog on chairs, laps or beds as this brings him up to your level reinforcing social rank. Ideally, exclude from bedrooms and even upstairs.

Don’t be pushed around

If the dog initiates any activity, even friendship, ignore him. Later, YOU command "come", "sit", then stroke the dog when it suits you.

Enforce every command

As you are the boss, you make the rules and must make sure they are obeyed. Otherwise don’t give commands, but remain silent.

Handle the dog

Especially around the head, shoulders and paws.

Games are serious

Don’t let the dog win or even play tug of war, or rough and tumble on top of you. Controlled games such as "sit" (throw) "fetch" are better. Chase games are fine as long as you are the one doing the chasing.


The basic "sit-stay-come-sit" (reward) sequence is easily trained with a head collar and extending lead. If not, join a training class, but remember that you must do the work.

Walk ahead

Pulling dogs are in control: make the dog follow, and enforce the "heel’ command. If you have difficulty training "heel", use a head collar rather than a choke chain.


Substitute indulgent "human-type" food with basic rations of a complete, dry dog food e.g. Science Diet. No more table scraps, nor rewarded begging.


Males are more likely to dominate than bitches, and castration reliably reduces dominance. Progestogens (pills or an injection from the Vet) can also be helpful in the short term.

Be careful

Don’t seek unnecessary confrontation, and if grooming, nail clipping or similar activities are unavoidable, first muzzle the dog.

Dominant dogs can be enjoyable characters, memorable for their spirit, so long as you remain in control.

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Helping Dogs to be Alone

Separation anxiety refers to the distress that some dogs feel in the absence of a person (or less often, an animal) to whom they are highly attached. The anxiety can be expressed in one or more ways including vocalisation (barking, whining), destructive behaviour, salivation, pacing, house-soiling, escaping or depression.

These undesirable behaviours need to be prevented from recurring in the short term.

Anxiety is a cascade type of phenomenon - once you get upset it is easier to become more upset very quickly. The memory of the unpleasant experience the last time anxiety occurred will make the same situation even more stressful for the dog on the next occasion.

Hence, the need to avoid these episodes whenever possible, until there is time to implement longer term strategies which will enable the dog to cope with separation without distress.

Here are some short-term strategies that can help your dog cope.

Denning and "dog-sitting"

Some mildly affected dogs may accept confinement in an exercise pen, crate, cubby or den. It is ideal if an item such as an unwashed sweater can be placed with the dog, together with appropriate chew toys such as Kongs (available from BHVG). Some dogs may prefer the car and settle better here.

However, beware on warm days and in cases where the dog is very destructive. Another alternative is access to a place closely associated with the owner such as a couch or bed. You may have a friend or neighbour who is willing to check on the dog at certain intervals or temporarily "dog- sit", or "Doggie daycare" at a veterinary hospital or boarding kennels at those times early in the programme when you just have to leave home, can be a great help.

Departure routines

Many dogs will readily identify departure routines and use these as cues to become distressed. Ideally we need to try and identify ways that will relax the dog and help him tolerate your departures better. It is useful to carry out activities such as picking up keys,
packing a briefcase or putting on a uniform but then staying home. Practice these "mock" departures many times.

Alternatively, you might be aware of a cue that helps your dog relax e.g. putting on joggers indicates a short departure for a morning jog. You might put these joggers on and go to work. This can help to ensure the dog is unable to reliably predict which activities precede your departure.

"Relaxation" cues

On days when you are leaving the dog for very short periods only, you can start to develop some specific cues that indicate your return is imminent. These could include such things as a particular piece of music playing, an unlit vanilla candle, a special blanket or rug, a novel toy etc.

These signal to the dog that the departures are "safe" and that you will be back very soon and can be provided during the desensitisation programme set out in Small steps toward a final goal. These items MUST be removed at other times or they will lose their significance.

Greetings and departures

Greetings and departures should be downplayed. The dog should be ignored 15 minutes before you leave and for 15 minutes on your return. This helps to avoid the intense highs and lows that are contributing to the anxiety levels your pet is experiencing. Setting a light or radio on a timer programmed to come on 30 minutes before your arrival home can help to defuse the sudden nature of your return.

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Dogs with Energy to Burn

There is little doubt that no matter how much we love our dogs, the friendship can get somewhat strained if we come home to destruction or soiling inside.

It’s even worse if our relationship with our neighbours and the council is threatened because our pooch has been barking all day or repeatedly escapes despite our best efforts to keep him confined.

There are numerous causes for these types of behavioural problems but one aspect of a treatment programme that can help to reduce these unwanted activities involves providing more stimulation and unpredictability in the dog’s routine.

While some owners react by confining the dog or tying it up so that its annoying habits are not so widespread, this will tend to add to the potential stress and/or boredom the dog feels and will make matters worse in the long run. A far better strategy is to implement as many of the following recommendations as possible and in doing so identify those activities which benefit your dog the most.

There are marked individual differences in the requirements for stimulation and activity that a dog requires - some are happy to be lounge (or lap) lizards while others like to be on the go all day. Don’t be concerned if you only have a small back yard - the area available is far less important than what takes place there.

Ideas for Owners Short on Time

SBhvg king kong transome activities that our dogs enjoy can be provided without the need for a lot of additional time on our part. Most dogs enjoy eating but will eat their meal very quickly.

We can make this activity more challenging by providing at least some of their ration stuffed inside a "Kong" (a sturdy, hollow rubber toy) or within a training treat ball (which the dog must roll around to allow pieces of food to drop out).

This can extend eating time from a few minutes to half an hour or more. Providing raw bones to chew on is also worthwhile. Giving several to start with will help to reduce the chance of the dog burying them.

Be sure to monitor your pets if you have more than one, to ensure bones and toys don’t trigger aggression between them.

Don’t leave all the toys out all the time or they will become "humdrum". Offer a different toy every day and rotate the toys over the period of a week or so.

Quality Time With Your Dog

Stimulating you dog’s mind is just as important as giving him physical activity. Some basic obedience work, either at home or in a class situation, can assist you in having better control of your dog as well as giving him a mental work-out. Ask at BHVG for advice on classes in your area or contact the Delta Society for your closest Canine Good Citizen qualified dog trainer.

Bhvg dog kong 3 transYou may consider reading David Weston’s book "Dog Training -The Gentle Modern Method" as a guide for training at home. Dog trainers use different methods so be sure to find one that uses a gentle positive reinforcement and reward approach. You may need to shop around for the trainer you like.

Before selecting a training group, go to a class without your dog to see if you feel comfortable with the instructor and their methods. Dog’s who love to run and play will often benefit from agility work.

Making time to ensure your dog has regular walks can be difficult- but even 20 minutes a day can make a difference. Obviously, longer or more frequent sessions are even better. Your local council can advise you about where your dog is permitted to run off lead. Consider the use of a head halter such as a "Gentle Leader" or "Halti" if you have problems with your dog pulling or being unruly on a lead.

Swimming is another pastime that many dogs enjoy and is particularly good for any individuals with arthritis. There are canine swimming pools in some areas or you may have access to a beach or lake where dogs are permitted.

Some owners consider getting another dog as a source of activity for their current dog. Unfortunately, there is a risk that your problems may be doubled by this approach. A better solution, if possible, is to have another dog visit or arrange to meet it on your outings together.

Not all dogs will welcome the company of others but if they can be monitored closely during the initial stages then many will go on to become a great source of entertainment for one another.

The Benefits

It takes considerable effort to put the above suggestions into practice. Some dogs’ behaviour will deteriorate for the first few days then settle down to a much more acceptable level.

Enriching your dog’s environment will help to keep him contented by giving him the opportunity to direct his energies in a positive manner. This allows you to enjoy a much happier relationship with your pet and makes the time and effort all worthwhile.