Pet nutritional supplements: Are they necessary and what do we recommend?

  Supplements for Pets. Many of my patients go home with recommendations to include some form of nutritional supplementation into their diet.  I am often asked why would my pet need a supplement if I am feeding a premium brand of balanced dog or cat food? The answer to that comes in two parts. First the why? Most commercially prepared cat and dog food contains the minimum nutritional requirements for pets in a balanced formula. If the pet eats nothing other than that balanced diet, then they will receive the minimum requirements for maintenance (survival), nothing more. Many people add other foods to their pet’s diet (bones, family left overs, home prepared pet foods). Even though these added ingredients are all good quality, human grade food, they are not completely balanced.  Unfortunately their addition effectively dilutes out the other nutrients leading to an unbalanced diet. So do we recommend these added ingredients or not? Absolutely YES! More on this later. The other reason is that commercially prepared tinned and dry foods for adult pets typically only contain the minimum requirements for maintenance. That is they don’t have anything extra for growth, illness, pregnancy, stress or high levels of exercise. Supplementing these diets with extra nutrients can really boost your pet’s vitality. There are also some nutrients that do not survive the extreme processing temperatures such as anti-oxidants and omega-3 essential oils. So what is needed? In an ideal world, everyone would get all of their required nutrition from the food they eat. We all know that a richly varied diet of organic whole food ingredients, with balanced proportions of each of the food groups, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids would provide all of the necessary nutrients for us all.  Yet, many of us, if asked to list ALL of the vegetables and fruit that they ate in a given week, would struggle to list much more than potato, carrots, peas, bananas and apples. We are surrounded by a wealth of variety in available foods.  As a result of marketing, supermarket subsidies and plain old habit forming, we consequently fall […]

Our best tips to keep your pets coat healthy

A Healthy Coat With all of this wind around at the moment, many of us are suffering from extremely bad hair days! Just as important as it is for people to look their best, it is just as important for us to keep our pets’ coats in top condition too. A healthy glossy coat is a sign of a robust and happy pet.  While a dull, dry coat can be an indication of disease, allergies or nutritional deficiency. Here are our top tips for keeping your pet’s coat looking its very best: Nutrition The first and most important piece of advice we give is to provide your pet with excellent nutrition.  Proper nutrition will usually lead to healthy skin and a shiny coat. With healthy coats pets often have a degree of natural immunity to internal and external parasites. We all know that demodectic mange or lice on our pets is an indicator of poor health. We often find the pets who receive a fresh, natural and well balanced diet have fewer fleas and less frequently require chemical parasite prevention. An optimal diet consists of fresh and natural ingredients with ‘live’ nutrition.  Pets diets should be similar to the diet recommendations that healthy people follow (less processed and refined foods, more fresh wholefoods). It is vital to follow veterinary nutritional recommendations on balancing the diet to ensure mistakes are not made that can have serious health consequences. Washing Our washing recommendations vary depending on the dog we are discussing.  We are seldom mean enough to advise washing cats!  A short-coated dog with healthy skin may not need washing more than a few times a year.  Whereas a dog suffering from atopic skin disease or an inflammatory condition of the skin may benefit from fortnightly baths. All too often dogs are over-washed.  In some cases this can exacerbate the dry itch experienced by allergic dogs, making this condition worse. Reduced washing, or just wiping affected areas with a damp facecloth might produce better results than a weekly bath. The type of shampoo is also very important.  Save that medicated shampoo for when […]

What is the best flea protection for your pet?

Flea Protection I know it hasn’t felt like it but Spring really is well upon us and when the temperatures do rise, so again will flea numbers.  So what does this mean for you and your pet?  What is the best way to keep your pet protected from fleas? Did you know that fleas spend the majority of their time in the environment? That’s right, fleas actually spend only 10% of their time on your dog or cat? This means that 90%!! of the flea burden is living and breeding in your house and garden. And then there are the eggs, larvae and pupae.  All ready to erupt into a full-blown flea explosion as the weather warms up. Reducing the environmental load is why it takes several consecutive months to properly treat a flea problem. It is much more effective to treat the areas that your pets sleep and spend time, rather than just treating your pet. So if you are treating your pet with a flea product, what else can you do to get rid of those fleas within your house and garden? Flea bombs have traditionally been the only option. Unfortunately these treatments are toxic.  No one likes resorting to chemical treatments in and around our homes.  Especially when they require families and pets to vacate the house for 24 hours while they work. This is inconvenient and unhealthy. Tips on How to Remove Indoor Fleas Naturally The safest way to treat your household is to vacuum the areas that your pets sleep frequently.  Afterwards dispose of the vacuum dust into an outdoor bin. If you do this daily and thoroughly you will physically remove the environmental load and stop the fleas breeding.  Washing your pet’s bedding in hot water and hanging it out in the sunlight to dry will also kill flea larvae. Eucalyptus oil in the wash and sparingly dotted onto bedding will also repel fleas. These natural ways to remove fleas from your home are the safest methods.  However when your home is literally jumping with fleas, your dog and cat are scratching like mad and your children are being bitten, sometimes a fast and effective treatment is required. […]

Vaccinations and Titer Testing

Vaccinations, Immunisation and Titer Tests What do they all mean and why should I care? Every pet owner is very familiar with the vet’s annual reminder to bring Fluffy back in for her annual shots.  Annual health checks are important to maintaining good general health but do we need to vaccinate every year? Do you know what is actually being administered to Fluffy with that annual vaccination? Bentons Road Veterinary Clinic believes in vaccinating animals only when necessary.  We have the strong opinion that annual jabs given when not needed may cause harm to your pet. To be very clear though, we are NOT Anti-Vaccination vets.  Vaccinations are essential for providing your pet with immunity to debilitating and potentially fatal diseases.  We definitely need to ensure that we have strong individual and herd immunity to disease.  However we do not need to vaccinate every animal every year to do this effectively. Before we get into the nitty gritty of immunisation and vaccinations and why this is vitally important to you pet, here are a few important definitions: VACCINATION A dose of a biological compound (part of a virus or bacteria) that stimulates/triggers the body’s natural immune system to provide immunity to that particular disease. IMMUNISATION The process by which an animal is made immune to a disease – usually by administering a vaccine. IMMUNITY Having protection against a particular disease. TITER TEST A measurement of antibodies for a particular disease which correlates with immunity.  VACCINATIONS are those doses of partial disease that your vet gives your pet by injection at their Annual Health Exam each year. Dosing pets with this medication stimulates the immune system to recognise that particular disease as foreign.  Therefore your pet will be better able to fight it when it is next encountered. Perhaps by a real life infection. This gives the pet IMMUNITY to that disease. Sometimes the words vaccination and immunisation are interchangeable. Immunity is established after being given a vaccination, but how long does it last? How Long Does a Vaccine Last? Previously vets have advised you vaccinate your pet every year.  This was because studies conducted […]

Should I buy Pet Insurance

  Should I buy Pet Insurance One of the most common topics we get asked about at Bentons Road Vet Clinic is should I buy Pet Insurance. Whether its worth it.  Whether the benefits are there. Many people appear apprehensive about buying pet insurance and are concerned about companies declining payments or not covering certain injuries.  So what should you do?  What do we recommend?  This blog examines pet insurance and provides information to those people who just aren’t sure what to do. When talking about pet insurance, it is often the case that people tend to be wary of insurance companies. This often leads to people delaying taking out a policy for their pet. Many others wait for their pet to become older with the rationale that their pet is more likely to require veterinary treatment as an older pet and therefore they will get more value for their premiums by waiting a few years. In our opinion, this is the worst thing you can do.  Unfortunately taking out pet insurance on an older pet can be a huge cost with very little benefit. The problem with waiting to long to buy pet insurance If you wait a few years before taking out a policy, the insurance underwriters will request a full veterinary history before agreeing to cover the pet. This means that any lameness, skin condition, gastrointestinal disturbance that has been noted in the clinical history will now be considered a pre-existing condition and grounds for refusal of a claim in the future. Unfortunately at our Mt Martha vet clinic, we have often seen the surgery fee for a cruciate ligament repair be declined by the insurance company because the dog had lameness in the same leg as a puppy, before any insurance policy was taken out. Recommendations for Pet Insurance We always recommend to pet owners on the Mornington Peninsula, that they obtain pet insurance at the time of purchasing a puppy or a kitten.  Before it has had a chance to suffer an injury or an illness. After first examining your puppy or kitten, we can sign pets up for a […]

A Healthy Lifestyle

A Healthy Lifestyle Most people in today’s world understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle to their overall health. Good fresh nutrition, getting enough rest, reducing toxic load, gut health, mindfulness and weight control are more than just buzz words in most households. We know we should eat organic and pasture raised foods when we can afford it.  We know we should reduce the amount of toxins and drugs that we expose our bodies to.  Who doesn’t realise we need more sleep and ‘me time’ and we know the importance of probiotics and maintaining a healthy gut. This part is a no-brainer. So why shouldn’t we extend these health ideals to our four-legged friends? At Bentons Road Veterinary Clinic in Mt Martha, we apply this healthy philosophy to the care of our pets. We understand that pets have a positive effect on other family members. There is nothing more ‘mindful’ and beneficial to emotional health than getting out in the fresh air and going for a walk with your dog on one of our beautiful Mornington Peninsula beaches.  How relaxing it is taking time out from the hectic day to day or spending some time stroking a purring cat. Bentons Road Vet Clinic is passionate about the wellbeing of your pet.  We offer traditional and holistic health advice to ensure your pet is as well as can be. Our Overall Health Philosophy We believe natural, organic and unprocessed wholefoods should be fed to your pet as well as to your family. We recommend parasite control based on your pet’s lifestyle and have some great advice on natural methods of flea and worm control.  Vaccinations are recommended only when they are needed and we can easily test for whether they are required or not. We also have a wealth of experience in managing and treating fear and anxiety. Are you the sort of person who strives to keep your family healthy (and let’s be honest, who isn’t)? Then come to the veterinary clinic that applies the same principles to treating your pet. Bentons Road Veterinary Clinic is open 6 days a week, […]

A Good Diet

A good diet and effective parasite control will keep your pet’s coat looking its best.  Like humans a good quality, balanced diet will keep your pet in peak physical health.  You know your cat or dog is in good health when their coat is glossy and the skin underneath is well nourished and moisturised, not dry, flaking, red or irritated. Your pet has energy to burn and just looks happy. Bentons Road Vet Clinic’s philosophy on feeding may be a little different from what you are used to hearing but making some nutritional changes in your pet’s diet can dramatically improve the health of their skin and coat. 1.     A good quality, well-balanced diet rich in fresh and natural ingredients will ensure your pet is receiving all of the nutrients they require to keep their skin and coat healthy resulting in a shiny coat. Pets receiving excellent nutrition often have higher natural immunity to external parasites, needing less chemical treatment for fleas, lice and mites. A high level of omega 3 essential fatty acids are crucial in the diet to maintain skin health and help manage allergic skin disease and these are often lacking in highly processed commercial diets. For more information on nutrition and feeding, click here 2.     Parasite prevention is essential to keep your pet irritation free and to keep the skin and coat looking its best and we have already shown that a good quality diet can help reduce the incidence of parasites in our pets.  Bentons Road Vet Clinic in Mt Marth recommends chemical treatments (spot-on or tablet form) immediately for fleas only when a problem exists or if a pet is at high risk of contracting fleas (think dogs that frequently socialise with many other dogs). Many indoor or low risk pets do not require regular parasite treatment for a problem they do not have. 3.     Regular brushing to remove knots, shedding fur and old skin cells will keep the coat looking its best. Regular brushing also helps to spread the natural oils through the coat and along the shaft of the hair, improving shine. 4.     Infrequent […]

Dental Disease in Pets

Dental Disease In Pets Dental disease is the single most prevalent disease affecting the pets of the Mornington Peninsula.  It can and does have devastating effects on the health of your pet. What starts as bad breath and plaque on a few teeth can rapidly progress to calculus build up.  Calculus is a solid mix of concrete-like tartar populated with bacteria. The bacterial infection causes the gums and periodontal tissues to be eroded.  This exposes the sensitive roots of the tooth and leads to teeth becoming rotten and falling out. The infection makes the pet feel unwell.  Eating is painful. The constant fight against disease stresses and weakens the immune system and causes pain and inflammation.  The chronic drain on energy and nutrients often causes weight loss and disease in other parts of the body. We know that commercial diets do not do enough to provide adequate dental health care for your pet’s mouth.  If you feed nothing but kibble or tinned food, you may as well book in for major dental treatments every 12-24 months for the life of your pet. This can become very expensive and although very safe, performing a yearly anaesthetic and dental is not without some risks.  Once teeth start being lost (either falling out or being removed), the mouth loses its occlusive design and self-cleaning ability.  Further extractions are often required and this leads to the inevitable spiralling of disease. The only way to prevent your pet suffering from serious dental disease is to feed a natural diet with a large proportion of raw meat chunks and soft raw bones.   These ingredients cause the teeth to chew through tough material.  This chewing action physically scrapes the plaque and tartar off the tooth, much like a dental drill. So What Do We Recommend? To maintain good dental health in our pets our Mt Martha vet clinic team recommend: Natural Products 1.     Soft, edible bones such as chicken necks (small dogs and cats), chicken frames and turkey wings (bigger dogs). These bones are eaten entirely providing nutrition as well as dental hygiene. Chicken frames are often […]

Why is My Dog Scooting Their Bottom?

What Is Bottom Scooting? One of the more common reasons for visiting the vet is the dog who is scooting its bottom. So why do dogs do this unsociable act of rubbing their bottom along the carpet? And what can be done about it? Dogs rub their bottom along the ground because it is itchy and often this is the easiest way of scratching that itch.  This is particularly common if they are a bit tubby and find it difficult to reach that far to chew it! There are three reasons why dog will have an itchy bottom: Anal Gland Irritation Anal glands are little scent glands located to the sides of the anus or bottom.  They contain the single most foul smelling substance known to vets (and we know a lot of them!). Anal glands are designed to lay down a dog’s scent when they deposit faeces.  This is something that dogs in the wild do in prominent places to warn others of their territory. In some dogs, these glands do not empty easily and get overfull or impacted, causing irritation. In a few dogs, these can become infected causing even greater itch. Expressing the liquid out of the glands is sometimes all that is needed to reduce the irritation.  Usually this is enough to stop the odd bottom scooting behaviour.  But if an infection is present then more intensive treatment is required. Atopy or skin allergies Dogs who suffer from allergic skin disease will commonly feel irritated in this area, particularly dogs suffering from flea allergy.  Constantly rubbing their bottom on the ground makes skin infections much more likely.  Unfortunately this then turns into a chronic problem. Any dog with allergic skin disease will benefit from diet changes and nutritional supplements.  These dietary changes support the health of the skin and make it more efficient at withstanding the onslaught of allergens. Skin infections and chronic changes often require longterm medication and treatment to reverse. Intestinal worms Worms seen around the bottom of dogs and cats are usually tapeworm segments, which are egg packets looking like a grain of […]

How to avoid a dog bite

  How To Avoid a Dog Bite At Bentons Road Vet Clinic we are passionate about helping our fur friends and their owners, living on the Mornington Peninsula, stay safe and happy. This blog is focused entirely on dog bite avoidance and the signs to look out for when dealing with your pet friends. Tips on how to avoid dog bites Unfortunately any dog can bite. Any dog experiencing a scary situation that finds itself unable to easily escape may resort to biting in fear. Never treat any dog as completely bomb proof and consider this from the dog’s perspective. Look at the dog and ask “is this dog enjoying this interaction or is it fearful”?  Not all dogs love interacting with unfamiliar people or dogs. If your dog reacts ‘badly’ towards strangers or other dogs it is probably feeling fearful about the interaction. Don’t push it. Allow your dog to choose not to interact if it doesn’t want to. Learning some basic dog behaviour can also help.  Dr Sophia Yin has some great rescources on animal behaviour.  This is a great place to learn the difference between an anxious dog exhibiting fear and a happy dog enjoying an interaction. There are many wonderful blogs and videos clearly demonstrating dog behaviour and training methods on Sophia’s website. Ways to stop children being bitten by dogs Sadly children are more likely to be bitten by dogs.  Never allow small children to interact unsupervised with dogs. Some dogs may find the unpredictable way that children behave very unsettling and may growl or snap in fear. This is not the child’s fault, this is normal child behaviour and also not the dog’s fault, they are scared. Avoid putting either the child or the dog into this sort of situation and monitor these interactions at all times. Always ask permission before greeting a dog. Ask the owner’s permission and then also remember to ask the dog. Don’t lunge at the dog with a hug and a kiss, the dog may not want one and it is their personal space, respect it! Offer the back of […]