Common emergencies in kittens

Kittens can have many of the health conditions of adult cats but there are a number of conditions more common or serious in kittens.


Due to their size, kittens are a lot more prone to being stepped on or squished beneath falling objects, and are more likely to be seriously injured. Kittens feel pain more easily than adult cats. We would always recommend that a kitten showing any pain, breathing difficulties or behavioural changes after a traumatic incident should be seen by a vet.

The biggest and most common of the traumatic incidents has to be the road traffic accident and is the biggest cause of death for outdoor cats; cats under two years represent the majority of patients we see. Injuries are often severe and include broken bones, damage to the lungs, internal bleeding, head trauma or even death on impact. The only way to avoid this risk is not to let your cat outside. If your cat does  go outside, having them microchipped is the best way for a vet to be able to contact you in an emergency.

Bite wounds

Kittens first starting to go outside often end up in territorial disputes with the established cats in the area. Bite wounds are very common and often require antibiotics to prevent or treat abscess formation.

Respiratory Problems

Respiratory problems are very common in young kittens, particularly those from shelters, rescue situations or from unvaccinated mothers. Sneezing, coughing, a runny nose, mouth ulcers and conjunctivitis are all symptoms which form part of the ‘cat flu’ syndrome.

Inability to smell food or a painful mouth can stop a kitten wanting to eat. Any kitten struggling to breathe despite being at rest, or which has started coughing, wheezing or making abnormal breathing noises should be immediately assessed by a veterinary surgeon.

Eye Problems

Conjunctivitis is often related to cat flu as mentioned above. Scratches to the eye from over-exuberant play with another cat or during a fight can lead to conjunctivitis, with discharge from the eye, pain and squinting. It is also possible for seeds and other foreign material to get stuck in the eye. As eye problems can deteriorate very quickly, any kitten with eye problems should be checked immediately.

Vomiting / diarrhoea

Vomiting and diarrhoea are very common in newly rehomed kittens for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: stress of rehoming, parasites included worms and amoebae, bacterial infections, viral infections (including the deadly parvovirus), dietary indiscretion and/or rapid changes in diet, vitamin deficiencies, toxins and congenital problems.

Small bouts of watery diarrhoea or a small amount of regurgitated food can often be treated at home by feeding a bland diet little and often, withholding all rich treats and titbits. Tepid water can be offered but should not be gulped. Kittens with vomiting and diarrhoea should still appear bright and normal at home.

Kittens with vomiting and diarrhoea should be seen by a vet if any of the following apply:

  • They are lethargic, not acting normally or not wanting to play.
  • The abdomen seems bloated or painful.
  • There is a large amount of fluid being lost through vomiting or diarrhoea, or blood is present.
  • The vomiting or diarrhoea has not responded to a bland diet.
  • More than one cat is affected, or a member of the family is also displaying symptoms.

Foreign Material Ingestion

Kittens explore the world with their mouths – licking, mouthing and chewing virtually everything they encounter, and this behaviour can lead to a lot of trouble! Chewing electric cables can be life-threatening; any animal receiving an electric shock should be brought to the vet as soon as it is safe for them to be moved. Please contact your veterinary surgeon for advice immediately upon ingestion of any toxin or drugs as prompt action may be required to prevent long term health problems. Never give human medications as even small amounts can be fatal due to a difference in the way they metabolise drugs.

Non-food materials getting stuck in the gastrointestinal tract happens less commonly than in dogs, but materials including wool or string are very tempting to kittens. Symptoms often include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and abdominal pain. Kittens showing these symptoms or who might have eaten material should be taken for a check-up as soon as possible.


Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, is very rare but can be life threatening if occurs. The two main causes in a kitten involve insect stings/allergic reactions, and vaccine/medication reactions.

For insect stings, swelling around the head/neck area should always be checked by a veterinary surgeon, as should any sting causing lameness or pain in the area.

Medication reactions, including vaccine reactions, are generally limited to lethargy and mild itchiness/tenderness at the vaccine site for 24 hours. True life-threatening reactions are extremely rare. Any kitten failing to respond to sound or touch, showing profuse vomiting after receiving medication, or showing tremors/seizure-like activity should be taken immediately to see a vet.

Please note:
This advice is not a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health – even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. 

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18/05/2016 / by / in
My dog eats poo, is this a problem?

Coprophagia is the term for eating poo (faeces). In most cases this is not due to an underlying disease.

Sometimes a dog will eat their own faeces if there are undigested bits of food in the faeces.  Bitches with puppies will also commonly eat the faeces of their newborns.  Puppies may eat faeces having seen their mother do it or out of curiosity.

Why does my dog eat poo?

Dogs will often eat cat faeces (and horse, sheep and cow faeces!) because it is tasty however faeces is not particularly good for your dog so you should try to prevent this happening.

There are some medical reasons your dog may be eating faeces including a vitamin or mineral deficiency, parasites, malnutrition, or certain disease conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disease.

There are also behavioural reasons your dog may eat faeces, such as a response to punishment, to attract attention, because is cleaning his environment, or because he is hiding a mistake.

Is this a problem?

Eating faeces can lead to tummy upsets (gastroenteritis), weight loss and increased worm burden.  It may also be an indicator of underlying disease so it is worth monitoring.

Purebred dog outdoors on a sunny summer day.

What should I do?

Try to prevent this behaviour by limiting your dog’s access to non-food items and faeces. Keeping your dog’s area clean and disposing of waste promptly will also prevent your dog getting access to his own faeces.

You may find that changing the dog’s environment or using forms of behaviour modification, such as a muzzle may help to break the habit. Be careful not to turn this into a game. We often inadvertently reward our dogs by shouting and chasing them, which they think is fun and increases the likelihood that they will do it again.

Make sure your dog is up to date with their worming and you could consider changing their diet to ensure they are getting all their nutritional needs.  You can speak to your vet for further advice on suitable diets.

If the habit continues or your dog is showing any other signs speak to your vet and they may run some blood tests to check for any underlying medical reason for this behaviour.

Please note:
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not
a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a
guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment
immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health – even if they are
closed, they will always have an out of hours service available.

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Human foods you should never give your dog

It can be tempting to share your food with your dogs, but what we consider to be treats can be extremely dangerous to our dogs. So here are a few pointers to keep your dog from needing a visit to the emergency vet.



Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs.  The amount of theobromine differs in the different types of chocolate (dark chocolate has the most in it).  Theobromine mainly affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys.  Signs of
theobromine poisoning will occur from 4-24hours following ingestion and will vary depending on the amount of chocolate (theobromine) your dog has eaten.  You may see vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures.

Theobromine doses in the region of 100-150 mg/kg bodyweight are toxic to dogs

There is no antidote to theobromine. In most cases your vet will make your dog vomit. Other treatments will depend on the signs your dog is showing.  They may need intravenous fluids (a drip), medication to control heart rate, blood pressure and seizure activity (fits).


Like chocolate, caffeine also contains stimulants, as this substance is found in the fruit of the plant that is used to make coffee.

Dogs are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people. A couple of laps of tea or coffee will not do any harm, but the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds or tea bags can lead to serious problems.  Signs are similar to chocolate toxicity and treatment is broadly similar.

Onions, Garlic, Chives

These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal (stomach and gut) irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed.

Onions are particularly toxic and signs of poisoning occur a few days after your dog has eaten the onion. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. Left over pizza, Chinese dishes and commercial baby food containing onion, sometimes fed as a supplement to young pets, can cause illness.



Alcohol is significantly more toxic to dogs than to humans. When consumed, alcoholic beverages and alcoholic food products may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. So, remember to keep alcoholic beverages well out of reach of your dog!


A substance called Persin that is contained in the leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. In addition birds and rodents are particularly sensitive and serious reactions such as the development of congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart can result.

Grapes & Raisins

The toxic substance that is contained within grapes and raisins is unknown; however these fruits can cause kidney failure. Dogs that already have certain health problems may have an even more serious reaction so this is certainly one to avoid.

Macadamia Nuts

Within 12 hours of ingestion macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia (increased body temperature). These symptoms tend to last for approximately 12 to 48 hours, and as with all the other food groups mentioned if you suspect your dog has consumed macadamia nuts note the possible quantity consumed and contact your vet.

Yeast Dough

Ingestion of yeast dough can cause gas to accumulate in your dog’s digestive system as a result of the dough rising. Not only can this be painful but if may also cause the stomach or intestines to become obstructed (blocked) or distended. So whilst small bits of bread can be given as a treat due to the fact that risks are diminished once the yeast has fully risen, it is advised to avoid giving your dog yeast dough.


Whilst feeding your dog bones may seem like a good idea in that it takes our dogs back to their ‘roots’, it is important to remember that domestic dogs may choke on the bones, or sustain injury as the splinters can become lodged in or puncture your dog’s digestive tract, so if you choose to give your dog bones be sure to keep an eye on him while he tucks in, and avoid giving cooked bones (which splinter easily) or giving bones that are small enough to get stuck in their bowels.

Eating large quantities of bone can often cause constipation, so try to monitor the amount your dog manages to consume.

Corn on the cob

Corn on the cob may seem like a healthy table scrap to give your dog, but unlike most vegetables, it does not digest well in a dog’s stomach. If your dog swallows large chunks of the cob, or even whole, it can cause an intestinal blockage due to it’s size and shape. If your dog gobbled up corn on the cob watch for signs of trouble such as vomiting, loss of appetite or reduced appetite, absence of faeces or sometimes diarrhoea and signs of abdominal discomfort. In this case, have your dog see a vet immediately and be careful to never feed corn on the cob again.


The artificial sweetener xylitol found in many foods such as sugar free gum, diabetic cakes, diet foods etc. causes insulin release in many species leading to potentially fatal hypoglycaemia (lowered sugar levels). The initial symptoms include lethargy, vomiting and loss of coordination, following this recumbency (unable to stand) and seizures may occur. Xylitol has also been linked to fatal acute liver disease and blood clotting disorders in dogs. Even very small amounts can be extremely dangerous and if you think your dog has eaten any amount of xylitol then you should seek veterinary advice immediately.


As dogs do not have significant amounts of the enzyme lactase that breaks down lactose in milk, feeding your dog milk and other milk-based products can cause diarrhoea or other digestive upset.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested any of these items, please note the amount ingested and contact your vet as soon as possible.

Please note:
This advice is not a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health – even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available.

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Important Tips for Boarding your Cat or Dog

Are your boarding your pet this holiday season? Here are some important tips to make sure your furry friend is happy and healthy while they’re in boarding.

With the holiday season almost upon us, many of us will need to have our pets looked after while we are away. There are several different options available, each with their own pros and cons.

The advantage of having your pet stay at a boarding facility is the knowledge that they are being looked after by professionals who are used to caring for animals. Friends and family, while well meaning, may not have the time to look after your furry friend as well as you do. In a boarding kennel, animals are checked up on daily: to make sure they’re eating and drinking, pick up on any health concerns, and ensure they’re happy and comfortable.

If you’re thinking about boarding your pet, here are some important tips:

1. Check out the kennels and cattery
Always check out a boarding facility first. Most places will let you view their kennels and cattery. Make sure that the area the animals are kept in is clean and neat. Some things to look out for:

Enrichment – For dogs, there should be a large enough area to run around in. There should be toys to play with, and if there is contact with other dogs, this should always be supervised. Cats like to have places to hide and sleep in, as well as suitable toys to play with. Ask if you are able to bring your own bedding or toys, which can help make your pet feel more comfortable.

Staff – Observe the boarding kennel staff. Are they relaxed and happy or stressed and overworked? Also try to note how many staff members they have for the amount of animals that are in boarding.

Food & Medications – Ask what food they provide to their boarding guests, and whether you can supply your own. Make sure they’re happy to medicate your pet if required, and whether there are any extra costs associated with this.

Veterinary care – Ask what care your pet will receive if they happen to get sick or have an accident. Where is the closest vet?

Referrals – Check out their website, social media and Google for any comments from previous clients. Ask family, friends or your vet if they have any recommendations.

Opening Hours – Always find out the kennel’s opening hours and aim to have your pet there a few hours before closing time so they have time to settle in before being left for the night.

2. Make sure your pet is up to date with vaccinations
Always make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. The majority of kennels won’t let you board if they are not. Also double-check that their worming, flea and tick protection is up to scratch.

3. Book early!
As soon as you’re thinking about booking a holiday, start looking for a boarding facility. When you’ve found one that you’re happy with, book in early! Boarding kennels fill up quickly in holiday time, especially Easter and Christmas.

4. Prepare your pet
If your pet has never boarded before, it’s important to spend some time preparing them (and yourself!). For dogs, boarding can be quite an adventure. The change can be a bit more stressful for cats, although they tend to end up just sleeping most of the day.

Try it first – If your pet has shown signs of separation anxiety before, trial the kennel for a night or two before your actual holiday. This way it will be somewhat familiar to them when actual boarding time comes.

Car trip – Make sure your pet is comfortable with the car trip before you take them into boarding. If they are anxious being in a car, this will only increase their stress levels and discomfort by the time they get to the kennel. Products such as Adaptil for dogs andFeliway for cats can help reduce stress when travelling.

Crate training – As your pet will spend time in an enclosed space, it is a great idea to crate train them in the months before boarding. This gets them comfortable in a confined space. For cats it may be their carrier, for dogs a crate/cage that is a suitable size for them.

Collars and tags – It’s a good idea to fit your pet with a collar with an ID tag on it, just in case.

Saying goodbye – When it comes time to leave your beloved pet at the kennel don’t make a fuss, as this could increase their anxiety. Just say bye and leave quietly. A lot of places will get you to leave first before taking the pet into their kennel.

5. Enjoy!
Enjoy your holiday, knowing your furry family member is going to be well looked after while you are away.

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18/05/2016 / by / in
How to make your Pet love Vet Visits

Is your dog or cat a little worried when going to the doctor?

Strange as it may seem, many pets do love coming to the vet. Where else do you get endless treats and attention? If your dog or cat shakes uncontrollably, paces and refuses to take treats from your well-meaning vet, it is possible to make those visits enjoyable. Here are a few strategies you can use to make the whole experience more enjoyable for you and your pet.

1. If it is just a routine health check and your pet is generally pretty well, remember the power of food rewards. In order to increase that motivation for food, you could even skip the big breakfast, so your dog is a little on the hungry side for the visit. We won’t hesitate to dole out some nice healthy liver treats when you come to visit us at one of our Love That Pet campuses, but if your dog has a favourite, bring it with you.

2. If your dog starts shaking with anticipation as soon as you drive in the driveway, consider doing a few runs to the vet where nothing happens except treats in the car park or waiting room. Believe it or not there are many dogs that come bounding through the door in anticipation of treats and attention, so if your pet has a few visits where we just give treats, it can work wonders to change that frame of mind. Just let us know your pet just needs some ‘treat therapy’ and pop in anytime!

3. If your dog has a fear of other dogs, cats or noise, consider making your appointment at a quiet time. When you book in, ask when the quieter times are and  schedule in an appointment when the waiting room won’t be overloaded and you can walk right in. You can also call ahead to sure the coast is clear and get your worried pooch into a spare consultation room while you wait.

4. If your pet really is a real worrier and this anxiety seems to be more than just about vet visits, consider chatting to your vet about medications such Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats. There are also tools like the Thundershirt you can try. There are many options to reduce anxiety in our pets and we are passionate about developing strategies to help them out, we also highly recommend Liarne fromK9 Trainer for some one-on-one training, she really ‘gets’ dogs and is very savvy with the current research.

Next week- how to make visits easier for cats…yes, it is possible!

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18/05/2016 / by / in
Pets: Are you aware of the risks to human health?

There is no doubt America is a nation of animal lovers. In 2012, more than 62% of American households included at least one pet. But while most of us are aware of the numerous benefits of pet ownership, are you aware of its risks to human health?

Though pets can offer a wide range of health benefits to humans, they can also pose a number of health risks.

Those of you who have a cat, dog, bird or any other animal in your household will likely consider that pet to be member of your family, and rightly so.

Pets offer comfort and companionship, and we can’t help but love them. In fact, when it comes to dogs, a recent study found the famous “puppy dog eyes” glare triggers a whopping 300% increase in owners’ oxytocin levels – the “love hormone” involved in maternal bonding.

What is more, pets offer a number of benefits to human health. In December 2014,Medical News Today reported on a study that associated household pets with stronger social skills in children with autism. And in May 2013, a study published in the journalCirculation linked pet ownership to reduced risk of heart disease.

But while pets can benefit our health in a number of ways, they also have the potential to spread infection and cause human illness. In this Spotlight, we take a look at the some of the health risks associated with ownership of many of the nation’s most-loved animals.


Most of us have heard of Campylobacter. The bacterium is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in the US, estimated to affect more than 1.3 million people annually.

As well as diarrhea, infection with Campylobacter – called campylobacteriosis – can cause cramping, abdominal pain and fever within 2-5 days of exposure to the bacteria.

While most cases are caused by exposure to contaminated food – particularly meat and eggs – and water, it can also be contracted through exposure to stool of an infected animal – including dogs and cats.

According to PetMD, around 49% of dogs and 45% of stray cats carryCampylobacter and shed it in their feces. It is most common in puppies and kittens younger than 6 months.

It should be noted that infection with Campylobacter is rarely life-threatening, though individuals with weak immune systems, young children and the elderly are most at risk.

Tapeworm, hookworm and roundworm

Dipylidium caninum is the most common tapeworm in both dogs and cats in the US. It is caused by ingestion of fleas that carry the tapeworm larvae. This can happen when the animal grooms itself.

D. caninum can be passed to humans, though the risk of infection is very low. It most commonly occurs in young children who accidentally swallow an infected flea.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flea control is the best way to reduce the risk ofD. caninum infection in both pets and humans.

Hookworm infection in humans most commonly causes a skin condition called cutaneous larva migrans, in which the hookworm larvae penetrate the skin.

Ancylostoma brazilense, A. caninum, A. ceylanicum andUncinaria stenocephala are just some of the species of hookworm that can infect cats and dogs.

The hookworm parasite can be shed in the feces of animals, and humans can contract it by coming into contact with infected feces or contaminated soil and sand where such feces have been.

Hookworm infection in humans most commonly causes a skin condition called cutaneous larva migrans (CLM), in which the hookworm larvae penetrate the skin. This causes a red, itchy and sometimes painful rash.

In rare cases, specific strains of hookworm can infect the intestines of humans, causing abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Toxocariasis is an infection caused by the transmission of Toxocara – parasitic roundworms – from dogs and cats to humans. According to the CDC, almost 14% of Americans have Toxocara antibodies, indicating that millions of us have been exposed to the parasite.

In dogs and cats infected with Toxocara, eggs of the parasite are shed in their feces. Humans can contract the parasite by accidentally swallowing dirt that has been contaminated with these feces.

Though it appears human exposure to Toxocara is high, most people infected with it do not develop symptoms or become sick. In the rare cases people do become ill from toxocariasis, the condition may cause inflammation and vision loss in one eye (ocular toxocariasis), or abdominal pain, fever, fatigue and coughing due to damage to various organs (visceral toxocariasis).


Though not as cute and fluffy as kittens and puppies, reptiles – such as turtles, snakes and lizards – are owned by around 3% of households in the US.

There is no doubt reptiles are interesting creatures and can make brilliant pets, but they are also a carrier ofSalmonella – a bacteria responsible for salmonellosis. Humans can contract the bacteria simply through touching a reptile and ingesting the germs.

According to the CDC, more than 1 million people in the US become ill fromSalmonella infection each year. Of these illnesses, more than 70,000 are caused by contact with reptiles.

Within 12-72 hours of being infected with Salmonella, people may experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that last around 4-7 days. While most people fully recover without treatment, others may need to be hospitalized.

Turtles are a main culprit of Salmonella infection in the US. The sale of turtles less than 4 inches was even banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1975 because of their high disease risk – particularly among young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems.


Rabies is one of the most severe diseases that humans can contract from dogs and cats, as well as smaller animals such as ferrets. A recent study reported by MNT found the disease kills around 59,000 people worldwide every year.

Rabies is a disease that infects the central nervous system (CNS). Caused by a bite from an animal infected with rabies virus, the disease causes fever, headache and weakness, before progressing to more severe symptoms – including hallucinations, full or partial paralysis, insomnia, anxiety and difficulty swallowing. Death normally occurs within days of more serious symptoms appearing.

According to the CDC, domestic animals accounted for 8% of all rabid animals reported in 2010.

In the US, the most common way domestic animals can contract rabies is through a bite from infected wild animals, particularly foxes, raccoons, skunks and bats. Symptoms normally occur 1-3 days after infection and include excess salivation, paralysis and unusual shyness or aggression.

If an owner suspects their pet may have been bitten by a rabid animal, they must take them to a veterinarian for care immediately, even if they have been vaccinated against the virus. Any person who believes they may have been bitten by a rabid animal must seek immediate medical care.

Parrot fever

Despite its name, parrot fever does not only occur in parrots – all birds can be affected. However, human transmission of the disease most commonly involves parrots, parakeets, macaws, cockatiels and poultry – particularly turkeys and ducks.

Also known as psittacosis, parrot fever is a bacterial disease caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia psittaci that humans can contract through inhalation of birds’ secretions, including urine and feces.

If a person becomes infected with C. psittaci, symptoms usually appear around 10 days after exposure. These may include fever, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, chest pain and shortness of breath.

In more severe cases, infection with C. psittaci can cause inflammation of the brain, liver and other internal organs. It can also reduce lung function and cause pneumonia.

It is important to note, however, that parrot fever in humans is very rare in the US. According to the CDC, fewer than 50 people a year are infected, and this has been the case since 1996.


Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a single-celled parasite – Toxoplasma gondii. It is most commonly contracted in humans through ingestion of undercooked or contaminated meat.

Cats shed T. gondii in their feces.

However, humans can also contract T. gondii by coming into contact with cat feces or any area or object contaminated with cat feces, as felines are carriers of it.T. gondii cannot be absorbed through skin, but infection can occur if the parasite is accidentally ingested.

It is estimated that more than 60 million people in the US are infected with T. gondii. However, very few people become ill from the infection as the human immune system is normally able to fight it.

If the infection does present symptoms, these may include swollen glands and muscle aches and pains. In very severe cases, T. gondii infection may cause damage to the brain and other organs, or eye damage.

Pregnant women, elderly individuals, young children and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk of developing symptoms from T. gondii infection.

Cat-scratch disease

Although our cute little kitties very rarely mean to scratch us, it does happen. And while many of us think nothing of a small graze from a cat’s claw, it has the potential to cause more damage than you may think.

Cat-scratch disease (CSD) is caused by a bacterium called Bartonella henselae, which around 40% of cats carry at some point in their lifetime, though most show no signs of illness.

B. henselae is most common in kittens under the age of 1 year, and since kittens are more likely to scratch during playtime, they are most likely to spread the bacterium to humans.

An early sign of CSD can be an infection at the site of the scratch around 3-14 days after it occurred, characterized by swelling, pain and tenderness. Headache, fever, loss of appetite and fatigue may also present, and in very rare cases, CSD can affect the brain, heart and other organs.

Children under the age of 5 years and individuals with weakened immune systems are most likely to experience severe symptoms from CSD.

What can be done to prevent pet-related infections?

It is clear pets can harbor an abundance of germs that can be passed to humans, but there are a number of ways pet-related infections can be prevented:

  • Wash your hands – hygiene is key for preventing the majority of pet-related infections. After coming into contact with pets, their saliva or feces, hands should be washed thoroughly with warm, soapy water. A scratch or bite from a pet should also be cleaned immediately
  • Pick up and dispose of feces – quickly disposing of your pet’s feces, particularly in areas where children may play – can prevent the spread of disease to humans and other animals
  • Avoid scratches and bites – the best way to avoid infections from pet bites and scratches is to avert them in the first place. If you are scratched by a cat, dog or other animal, clean the wound immediately with warm, soapy water. A cat or dog bite may require medical attention due to the risk of rabies or other serious infection
  • Get your pet vaccinated and routinely evaluated – visit a veterinarian regularly to ensure your pet is healthy and to prevent infectious diseases. Also, ensure your pet is up-to-date with the required vaccinations.

It is important to note that the likelihood of a person catching a disease from their pet is low, particularly if the correct precautions are taken. With this in mind, there is no reason why the millions of pet owners in the US can’t enjoy the companionship and joy their animals provide.

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18/05/2016 / by / in
My dog has eaten chocolate, what should I do?

Why is chocolate bad for my dog?

Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs. The amount of theobromide differs in the different types of chocolate (dark chocolate has the most in it).

What does theobromine do and what symptoms will I see?

Theobromide mainly affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms will occur from 4-24 hours after your dog has eaten chocolate and will vary depending on the amount of chocolate (theobromine) your dog has eaten.

If your dog has eaten chocolate, you may see:

  • Vomiting (may include blood)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Restlessness and hyperactivity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle tension, incoordination
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures

How much chocolate is too much for my dog?

dogs eaten chocolate

Our advice is not to give any chocolate to your dog, but if they have managed to get hold of some chocolate these are some guidelines you need to be aware of.

Theobromine doses in the region of 100-150 mg/kg bodyweight are toxic to dogs.

Approximate amount of theobromine in 25grams of chocolate.

  • White chocolate contains minimal amounts of theobromine.
  • Milk chocolate contains 44-64 mg theobromine
  • Semi-sweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate contains 150-160 mg theobromine
  • Unsweetened (baking) chocolate 390-450 mg theobromine
  • Dry cocoa powder 800 mg theobromine

This means that for a Labrador (around 30kg bodyweight) we would expect to see a fatal toxic reaction if they had eaten 1kg of milk chocolate, ½kg dark chocolate or 170grams of baking chocolate.

Signs of poisoning will be seen at lower levels of ingestion.  For example, a 30kg dog that has eaten 200g milk chocolate is likely to have a digestive upset (vomiting and diarrhoea).  If they had eaten 500g milk chocolate, it is likely that cardiovascular problems will be seen (increased heart rate) and if they had eaten 750g milk chocolate they may develop seizures.

It can be hard to tell exactly how much your dog may have eaten and the amount of caffeine and theobromine in chocolate will vary due to growing conditions, cocoa bean sources and variety. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet for advice if you are at all concerned.

What should I do if my dog has eaten chocolate?

Treatment may be needed if your dog eats any chocolate so please contact your vet as soon as possible.  It will assist your vet if you can tell them how much chocolate your dog has eaten, what type of chocolate it was (wrappers can be very helpful) and when your dog ate the chocolate.  This will enable them to work out whether your dog has eaten a toxic dose or not and what treatment your dog is likely to need.


There is no antidote to theobromine. In most cases your vet will make your dog vomit.  They may wash out the stomach and feed activated charcoal which will absorb any theobromine left in the intestine. Other treatments will depend on the signs your dog is showing.  They may need intravenous fluids (a drip), medication to control heart rate, blood pressure and seizure activity.

With prompt intervention and treatment even in dogs that have eaten large amounts of chocolate the prognosis for a poisoned dog is usually good.

Please note:

Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health – even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available.

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18/05/2016 / by / in
Safety tips for dogs and children

As with most things, the best way to deal with problems is to prevent them from occurring.  By giving children and dogs firm guidelines and establishing good habits you will have done all you can to avoid any serious issues.

Teach your child:

  • To read your dog’s body language and identify signs that your dog wants to be left alone.  So, how can we tell if our lovely family pet is enjoying it or not? Well does he look as if he’s enjoying it? Is he doing that old waggly bottom and open lollopy mouth thing? Or does he move his head away and flatten his ears against his head? Has his tail disappeared under his body or sticking up rigidly or even wagging in a controlled way? Is he licking his lips, is he starting to yawn and can you see the whites around his eyes? It’s more obvious if he begins to growl, lifts his lips to show his teeth or goes to snap but these other more subtle behaviours are just as important as they are saying “please keep away you are worrying me and I don’t like it”.
  • How to protect themselves from an overexcited dog by demonstrating the basics of dog bite prevention, such as turning their back on the dog, rolling into a ball, protecting hands and face and calling for help, rather than running away or screaming if he’s chased by a dog.
  • That your dog’s right to end a play session is just as important as your child’s right to do so and to leave your dog alone when she retreats to a bed or crate that you’ve designated as a dog’s “safe spot.”
  • Not to approach a dog that is sleeping, chewing its bone or eating.
  • Not to approach a dog you don’t know. It may be ill or grumpy.
  • How to say hello to a dog, squat down, make calm gentle movements and give a treat, offer the hand for the dog to sniff before giving a or rub/pat on the chest (rather than on top of the head).

Teach your dog:

  • To respond to the word “Stop” and encourage your child to practice using that word when appropriate.
  • Not to jump up at children
  • Not to jump on your child’s bed
  • Not to grab or pick up your child’s toys
  • Not to grab or mouth your child, not even in play
  • Not to run after children.

As with most things, the best way to deal with problems is to prevent them from occurring. By giving children and dogs firm guidelines and establishing good habits you will have done all you can to avoid any serious issues.

The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) have researched and approved a number of excellent free website resources which are aimed at educating children, parents and teachers how to behave safely around dogs here:

These factual and free resources help children learn how to speak and read dog language and what to look out for if a dog is unhappy or afraid.

Let’s teach the next generation of children to grow up with a clearer understanding of how to stay safe around dogs and allow our dogs to stay safe around children!

Please note:
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not
a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a
guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment
immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health.

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18/05/2016 / by / in
Creative Ways to Include your Pet this Christmas

Our four-legged friends are just as much a part of our family as the two-legged variety. Here are a few tips on how to include them in your Christmas celebrations.


We always think of food first at this time of year! But although it can be tempting to feed your pet some tasty leftovers, many of the foods that are around at Christmas are really rich and fatty, and can make your furry family member pretty sick. Be careful with leaving food lying around… dogs love to steal the unwrapped Camembert from the kitchen bench, that box of chocolates from underneath the tree or the chicken carcass from the bin!

Want to give your dog something special but healthy on Christmas Day while you’re all at the dinner table? How about a Kong filled with steamed sweet potato and turkey… Not only is it a yummy Christmas-themed treat, but the sweet potato helps everything stick to the inside of the Kong, so it last longer. For determined chewers, consider freezing your stuffed Kong.

Doing Christmas crackers this year and want to involve your pooch? Consider getting some doggy Christmas crackers that are made from edible rawhide and natural vegetable colouring. So cute!

Santa Photos

There are lots of places where you can get a special photo of your dog with Santa. The results are often hilarious, and make for unique Christmas cards!

Just remember that the jolly man can be pretty scary for some pets, so if you think your pets are not the type to enjoy the attention of a bearded stranger, perhaps use Photoshop to whip up those photos instead.



Don’t want your furry family member to feel like they’re missing out at present time? Why not put together a special Christmas stocking for your pet this year… Decorate it with paw prints and their name, and fill it with some special pet-friendly treats and toys. Check out our stocking fillers for some ideas.

Greeting Cards

If you’re someone who sends out Christmas cards to your friends and family every year, consider sending one to your pooch! Just like the edible Christmas crackers, these adorable greeting cards are a tasty treat and include a cardboard envelope should you want to send by post.

Daytrips and Holidays

There are many pet friendly places to stay in Australia and many outings your pet can join you on. Remember to never leave them in the car and stay away from national parks, since they don’t allow pets! Beach trips are a great place for dogs to enjoy themselves and for those dogs that need lots of space, the South Coast has some lovely big, quiet beaches to explore.

Foster a Homeless Dog

Christmas is that time of year when we often reflect on how lucky we are to have a roof over our head and family and friends that we can spend time with. If you feel you have some extra time and space in your heart, consider fostering a dog over the holiday period. Unfortunately our pounds and rescue groups are inundated at this time of year, with people surrendering their pets before they go on holiday. Fostering can be a great way to temporarily give a dog a home and can provide a playmate for your dog or cat during the silly season when you may not be home much. Pet Rescue allows you access to many rescue groups and search online for a foster pet.


Enjoy the festive season, we hope you and your furry family enjoy spending more time together during the holidays!

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12/05/2016 / by / in