Tips & Advice

Guy Fawkes, Thunder & Other Scary Things!

FIREWORKSGuy Fawkes, thunder and other scary things can be dealt with by a number of ways. Generally your pets need to be aclimatised to the noises or experiences under calm controlled conditions. Best the owner doesn’t get excited or overly reactive to any odd behaviour associated with the event as this just reinforces the scarey evasion panic behaviour. If you can ignore the misbehaviour or just do normal things like dinner and vaccuming. If you can’t or if behaviour is severe say causing destruction of furniture or inappropriate toileting then your pet is probably in the severe category so needs to be medicated to calm it down to a more rational being, so it can learn from the experience and decide that the noxious stimuli are non harmful. I may need to dispense a PAR(prescription animal remedy) like diazepam(valium) , or clomicalm a licensed drug for cats and dogs to relax their inner fears or a combination .

During fireworks season it may pay to ensure windows,doors and cat flaps remain closed to both prevent pets escaping and reduce noise. Provide distractions, in the form of toys and chews. Draw curtains and put the TV on to mask any noise. Also try not to leave your pets alone when fireworks are going off.

A over the counter treatment for dogs is Adaptil which is a synthetic copy of the natural appeasing pheromone the mother dog produces to comfort and reassure her puppies. It has been scientifically proven to help both puppies and adult dogs cope in stressful situations such as fireworks and loud noises.  It is available as a wall socket plug in diffuser and a spray, You pay to use this 1-2 weeks before the stimuli are going to be unavoidable eg before and during guy fawkes. There is also a feline version called Feliway which also comes in a diffuser or spray.

PET REMEDY is  a  new  herbal essential   oil  calming    diffuser   , it  works  and  is  cheaper  too

Calmex   is  a  Kava  based   herbal  medicine  thatdoes  calm  aswell  available as an OTC   natural  sedative  for  cats and  dogs

Food there   are   new  high  B vitamin  foods for  stressey cats  especially  designed  to  prevent  urinary  problems  both  Royal  Canin   and  Hills science  produce  them

Homeopathic drops in water may help (No guarantee) either the bach flowers calming tonics or one called sedapet have variable activity but as a non drug alternative may be additive or helpful in some cases.Desensatisation is also important . You can buy CDs of noxious noise stimulus so you can socialise your pet to get used to these noises under controlled conditions at home. This is best done early as a 10-16 week old pup while at puppy training stage of life.

Thunder jackets  work   well in   some dogs

Ageing/Geriatric pets

OLD DOG CARTOONAs pets get older, similar to humans, various things start to deteriorate.

Cats live past 15 years and dogs live longer (12-18 yrs), than they used to now due to better quality foods and improved health care

Many specific problems do affect the different animals . This can be picked up by a simple examination but sometimes needs a blood test or even blood pressure analysis.

At this stage they should have a blood test , sick or not to gauge wether there is any problem smouldering away in the backround. Diagnosis is the precursor to improvement. Once identified food types can be changed or improved and medication can be designed to improve your animals life for the next few years

Cats get high blood pressure and I check every cat older than 10 years of age. They do suffer arthritis although not as frequently as an energetic active dog breed e.g. Collies .

Thyroid issues also affect both cat and dog although in opposite directions . Cats become hyperthyroid due to a slow growing growth in their thyroid glands that produces too much thyroid hormone that sends metabolism into hyperdrive so you get a hungry cat but still loosing weight. Dogs on the other hand get a hypothyroid condition similar to humans where the body attacks the thyroid gland (autoimmune thyroiditis) that results in lethargy, weight gain, skin conditions and may be seen as puffy ankles and face . Both conditions cause heart damage so early intervention is needed. Routine blood tests pick these conditions up easily even before I can see clinical signs .

Cats often suffer kidney damage and failure more than dogs . This may be due to chronic infection most commonly seen in the mouth with dirty teeth & Gum infection. When we see kidney damage in the blood test we can say that 75% of the kidneys are damaged beyond repair and we have to manage the remaining 25%. Saying that there are some excellent treatments and food changes that will improve the situation and provide a happy final couple of years of life.

Weight Control

Overweight animals are prone to diabetes, hepatitis, heart problems and worsening arthritis. Bring your pets into see one our veterinary nurses , so they can weigh and recommend a good weight reduction program and food , and decide wether the vet should examine them also.


We spend alot of time indoors with our pets . We can notice good and not so good things about our pets . Is their coat in good condition ? Long haired animals may get knotty in spring as the winter coat is lost and need a good grooming , or even an anesthetic to facilitate this (in cats and some dogs ). Some knots will irritate and twist causing discomfort , sweating and excema rashes requiring medical treatment. Long hair on dog’s feet may get continually wet and cause skin infections so again best clipped in advance and may need treating from time to time with medicated antiseptic shampoos and creams . In summer clip feet hair also as hair traps grass seeds that migrate into the toes causing painful infections.

Dental Care

GUM INSPECTIONDoes your pets breath smell bad , Flip up a lip and have a good look at the teeth are they brown?, especially where the gum margin meets the teeth , do the gums look red or maybe swollen ? is there any mucoid discharge at round the mouth? does your pet chew bones or large biscuits well or leave them alone as their gums are too tender? These are all signs of dental problems that should be attended to soon, as once gum disease has reached a certain point this can not be reversed well and will become a battle for the rest of your animals life. This is not only a financial drain but affects your animal’s health status as chronic infection bombards kidney and liver with toxins daily and kills off certain percentages of these organs causing irreversible damage, leading to earlier geriatric demise .

As a veterinarian it is my objective to diagnose and treat and reverse dental hygiene problems so as to make your pets life from middle to old age as enjoyable and disease free as possible . This may involve an anesthetic from time to time to allow dental cleaning and polishing , with very safe modern veterinary anesthetics that can be fully reversed when finished. There are many procedures available to make this important treatment safer by measuring blood pressure and blood testing prior to the anesthetic , and by using fluids while our patient is asleep, to maintain hydration and blood pressure to vital organs.I use antibiotics and pain relief after a dental cleanup to help your pet recover well.

Most pets post dental polishing require a change in eating habits to prevent the situation recurring as some animals will be back with the same problems six months later if not worked through to train your pets to chew productively and keep their teeth clean.

Chew dental biscuits (Hills T/D or Royal Canin Dental) , chew Prozym dental sticks, chew greenies (an enzymatic treat NOW ALSO FOR CATS!) , Veggiedent chews for dogs, chew bones the larger the better for both the cats and dogs, chew rawhide or pigs ears etc to get those teeth working .

Christmas & Easter Holidays

Now is the time to book or confirm your holidays at the kennels or cattery. See CATMANDU. At the same time ensure you check all vaccinations are up to date as many kennels have differing requirements . As Xmas is the busiest time at the kennels , with most animals in together , contagious disease can spread easier so most kennels demand recent vaccinations within the last 6-8 months for this busy period to give your animals the highest immunity cover possible . This is especially important for cat flu (cats) and kennel cough in dogs. Other Core vaccinations are important but less so as far as kennels are concerned. All young dogs and cats should have received at least 2 vaccination visits when younger and another full vaccination at 15 months of age . The core vaccinations are important and you can discuss the other vaccinations with us at the time.

Kennel costs range from $15to $45 a day depending on animal type, temperament and size, and newness of the establishment. Kennels and catteries are booked out by October for Xmas so think ahead and ring in with tentative dates to be confirmed closer to the date.

Kitten  & Puppies

If you are thinking of buying a pet just remember to budget for their costs . It costs $500 a year to feed a cat or small dog plus vet fees of say the same amount , and more if accidents and illnesses occur . Pet insurance is available to help cover these unexpected occurrances from $150-400 premium per year. A Large dog can cost upto 4-5 times that amount for food and maintenance. Plus is often not suited to our smaller estates in the city. They also require a lot more exercise and time spent with them, otherwise larger dogs get bored and destructive behaviours can occur.

August is the start of the kitten (birthing) season that runs until easter , there will be a large number available from December to March , so if you have a month away in January planned, maybe it is better to look for a new animal after you get back home for the work year. The healthiest kitten or pup to aquire will be found in a home somewhere , aged between 6-8-10 weeks old , that has had a vaccination and all parasite treatments and eating a high quality food , whilst interacting with their siblings and owners’ children in the household. Buy healthy outgoing youngsters as they will have less problems in the near future.

There are huge benefits from owning pets, obvious pitfalls but then it is my job to identify those and help you learn to prevent these from occuring .

Apartment or small backyards; Your cats change in accommodation.

Often a change in living needs results in a change of accommodation. This can upset the balance in the home as your pet get used to their new surroundings . Cats main problems are toileting issues so there are tricks to help prevent problems .

Give plenty of drinking water, best filtered , aged or distilled. Dont wash water bowls in dishwasher as powder leaves a strong flavour behind. Just wash in hot water . Cats enjoy pot plant water; green with algae and brown with dirt because it tastes best. Have multiple water bowls inside and out. This ensures your cat drinks plenty as some appartments do get very warm in sunny situations.

Have multiple litter boxes best large, placed strategically in the open at first then gradually hidden out of site . Some cats will use the hooded type . Some cats prefer absorbant litter some dont care . Many different types include recycled paper pellets, Pine sawdust pellets, Clumping sand, Dried clay, plastic pellets; recommended in that order.

To go with this a premium food will guarantee against diarrhea but importantly reduce the fecal  load produced. Quality food will also help prevent cystitis (bladder problems). This is most important with the stress at the time of moving into a smaller restricted area.

Two cats in a small apartment is plenty , three will be a crowd and be more at risk for major stress problems.

Keep your cat inside for the first 2 weeks, and then let out only during daylight hours when you are there to supervise.

Rubbing butter on paws is an OWT (old wives tale) all it does is make a mess and keeps a cat busy for the next hour or more. Petting your cat and ensuring it is happy with good attention and food is the best way of ensuring settling.

Provide large (tall) cat scratch poles or climbing frames to amuse your cat, so any marking can occur here rather than on the new lounge suite, table leg or carpet.

Often a cattery/kennel stay while packing , shifting and unpacking is the best, as it will reduce the stress in both the owner and pet and re-train to litter tray use.

Night time is when local cats are more active so more territorial fighting can occur and cats will also take risks with roads and cars, and even resident or walked dogs. Be careful with balconies as some cats will jump or fall off balustrades .

Ensure a tag with a phone number is on the collar in case your cat gets lost or escapes. Microchipping is a very good idea as it works as an internal “name tag” for the cats that loose collars easily.

Some breeds of cats that suit inside living include; Ragdoll, Persian,Exotic, Burmese, Maine Coon, Scottish Fold, British short hair, Siamese. Generally cats are adaptable , a new kitten is the best option as they can grow into the smaller accommodation.

Problems can be dealt with by destressing your pet with an armoury of not just drugs. Bach flowers , homepathic drops, pheromones (Feliway,  pet remedy), cat nip herbs are all used today in conjunction with “prozac” or diazepam like drugs.

If your cat wont settle, a health check may be needed as there are several conditions that occur in older aged cats ( usually more than ten years of age ) that need treating and can worsen stress. Thyroid (hyper) , High blood pressure and kidney disease can cause multiple health issues.


The most common problem of the season is skin problems; infections , allergies or parasites either separately or even all together. Fleas cause a fair proportion of problems at this time of the year . Any outdoor cat ,dog or rabbit will get fleas in abundance from spring till June. There are many products available for use to prevent or kill off a problem . All of the veterinary products available are safe and effective. Cheap flea shampoos have zero residual effect and really only make fleas a bit sick. The cheap spot on (ex supermarket) doesn’t work that well or long and is toxic to the recipient and has caused deaths in small cats and dogs; so don’t use it . All available vet products spread over the skin surface and are all effective so I generally recommend rotating the brands maybe using 1 for a couple of years then swapping over to another brand to keep effectiveness high. Some are more waterproof than others. With Flea allergy dermatitis I usually advise decreasing the recommended interval between applications, so a high level of product kills the fleas quickly.

Spring to autum, the warmer time of the year, those dogs and cats that venture out to farms, especially deer or cattle farms north or east of Auckland , or up the city volcanic hills where cattle graze, will come across cattle ticks that range in size of small red spider like first stage larvae to the forth stage which is a small purple pea when engorged (with blood). Practic  is a topical treatment for dogs and treats both fleas and ticks for one month. There is also a new flea and tick treatment for dogs called Bravecto  which comes as a palatable pork flavoured tablet. One Bravecto tablet lasts for 12 weeks!  And  the  new  topical   treatment  works   for 6  months  in dogs,  3 months  for  cats.

If travelling to infected areas treat at least 1 day before arrival. DON’T pull the large ticks off without killing them first so if pre treated with Practic or Bravecto wait and they will die, or you can drop some meths on them or use a good fly spray to kill and relax their mouth parts so as not to leave anything behind to cause an infection/irritation . Then you can gently pluck them off. Think of an extra ripe grape when plucking off.

Allergies especially grass and weed allergies are very common. Kikuyu , paspalum, wandering dew are all culprits causing this usually severe irritation that quickly reddens and then through self trauma can cause severe infection. The first aid should always be a soapy (dog or cat brand) shampoo then when dry use of anti-inflammatories. Avoidance of the grassed areas from Dec/Jan to June /July is usually indicated especially after mowing. Control of weeds through physical removal, avoidance (fencing) or herbicides are ways of combating the problem.

If the skin gets very moist, red smelly and infected antibiotics will be needed .
Some animals have severe allergies that occur all year . A fresh look at these can find medications and changes that will help improve the situation.

Reinventing The Meal

Have you ever wondered why there are so many types of pet food available ?.. Well You are what you eat, and as a result many petfood companies make lifestage diets – different food mixes for young , adult and senior animals and as well differing size ranges for small , medium and large breed dogs. Multiply this by the 3-4 brands of food we have and you have about 100 odd lines to choose from and then you may have slight flavour differences……….

Younger pets benefit from junior/growth types as they contain higher calories and protein to aid controlled growth (avoid obesity) while having the right mineral balance to aid growing bones and joints.

For adult pets (1-7 years of age) maintenance foods help keep pets healthy and active with diet changes when needed through pregnancy, activity or non activity, Injuries , stress or just fine tuning.

Older pets (>7 years) need senior or geriatric diets ; lower calory to avoid obesity, higher fibre for gut maintenance, with essential oils and nutriceuticals added to maintain immunity, skin and joint function.
Prescription diets are available to help treat a specific problem like Diabetes , Food sensitivities/allergies, Skin trouble, Kidney damage, Urinary problems, Liver disease, Hairball trouble, Dental cleaning diets and more .

Why do I have 4 brands ? When your pet gets bored with a diet type we have an equally superior diet we can change onto . Sometimes food trials are just that; trial and error, as there are no tests for food sensitivities, just good experienced deduction and try again.

Why do I have Premium diets only ; mainly i see a skewed population with health problems, so I use foods like drugs to treat or even prevent a problem. You gan get lower quality and price at the supermarkets, but not necessarily what we need to sort out a problem.

Pets Indoors

Problems at this time of year may become more obvious as we spend more time inside with our pets.

Cats may develop behavioural problems at this time of the year because of wet weather and outside “stress” . Every cat in the neighbourhood has a drive to be outside on these cooler dry nights socialising ,good or bad, or chasing mice and rats. This causes friction as your cats space is infringed on physically and verbally.

Population stress can cause a cat to stress out inwardly and start abberant behaviours such as inapppropriate toileting inside the house, scratching flooring and walls, and fighting with previously friendly housemates or neighbours . Auckland has the highest concentration of cat owning population in the world so there are more cats per square area in Auckland than any other city, hence the occasional problem.

Change can also bring about stress, shifting house, new arrivals into the house ;baby, visitor, flatmate, partner. A change in routine can upset some cats .

What can you do to prevent inappropriate toileting and destress your cat? ;Add Indoor toilet trays ; 1 per cat , 1 per floor level as a minimum. Cat litter substrate ; find one that the cat likes , recycled paper pellets, pine pellets and charcoal clumping litters absorb the most smell and fluid so are better, while some cats will just prefer certain types of litter that you will only find by trial and error .

Make the outside more inviting by digging up garden areas so cats can dig (for toileting). Chose a drier area close to the back door so there is not too far to go, to escape from conflict.

Ensure there is a safety area where your cat can escape to, either inside the house or maybe under the house, when scared by a marauding neighbourhood ruffian. Install an electronic cat door in a door or wall.

Plant cat repellant plants on your boundaries to keep other cats out of the area. Smelly plants mimick tomcat urine and give the imposter the idea that there is a big smelly tomcat around to sort them out of the teritory. These plants include tomatoes, potatoes, Geraniums,Callendula, Large flowering marigold, some grow best in summer months . These dont affect your own animals as they are at home anyway. Some repellents (granules and spray)work some of the time , less if raining .

You can buy Feline pheromone spray and difffusers called Feliway or  Pet  Remedy that are open sellers to help destress your cat . The europeans have bottled cats’ wiskers pheromone , that works at calming the stressed individual by reason of relaxed recognition, reducing the need to mark everything as their stress levels wane. This pheromone is breathed into the nasal tissue and quickly sends a message to the brain, calming the cat resulting in normal behaviour. This product is available OTC so you can buy it direct from the counter. Some homeopathic drops will work to settle a cats anxiety so are still worth a try. Fresh or dried catnip may help settle a domestic cat (more than a purebred cat) as they often love the flavour and it seems to calm many cats, as they roll all over the herb.

Sometimes only behaviour modifying drugs will be the last resort to try before some cats willl settle down .These drugs are more useful for timid, aggressive or scared cats . All treatments need to be continued for up to or greater than 30 days to ensure the best result.

Watch for general ill health signs especially in our older pets , the earlier we diagnose a problem the more we can help improve the quality of life.

What to do if your pet goes missing
  • Call the Auckland city council  09 301 0101 (for dogs) and check on their website here
  • Make a listing on (it’s free to make a listing and the SPCA uses this website to list all found animals)
  • Make a listing on trademe (lost and found animals section)
  • Call or email around vet clinics, remember some cats can wander quite far or jump in the back of cars so contact vet clinics Auckland wide starting locally.
  • Make a flyer to put in your neighbours letterboxes as a lot of time pets can get locked in garages, sheds etc
  • Make sure your pets microchip is registered on the NZ Companion Animal Registry or if they are already registered make sure your contact details listed are up to date. We can update and register them for you from the clinic. By law all dogs (exception dogs used wholly for herding or driving livestock ) registered for the first time after 1 July 2006 need to be microchipped. We highly recommend you microchip your cat, as it works as a internal name tag of such and makes reuniting a lost cat with it’s owner a lot easier .

Some of the more common foods that are poisonous to small animals include the following:

Chocolate: particularly associated with dogs, but cats, rodents and rabbits are susceptible. It contains theobromine which has similar effects to caffeine and toxicity depends on the amount and type of chocolate ingested. White chocolate is not really toxic, milk requires treatment when over 9g/kg is consumed and dark chocolate requires treatment when over 1g/kg is consumed. The clinical signs include diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration progressing to hyperactivity, hyperthermia, hypertension and tachycardia. Muscle rigidity, tremors and convulsions can be in severe cases.

Grapes/raisins/currents/sultanas: are associated with kidney damage in dogs. The susceptibility to toxicity after eating these fruits varies between dogs some becoming sick (vomiting/diarrhoea, lethargy and abdominal pain) after consuming just a few so it is recommended that they are excluded from a dogs diet.

Xylitol: is an artificial sweetener in some foods and chewing gum. It is extremely harmful to dogs and acts as a potent stimulator of insulin causing hypoglycaemia (ataxia, tachycardia, convulsions and even coma). Liver failure has also been recorded.

Onions, garlic, leeks and chives: can be harmful even when cooked causing vomiting/diarrhoea and red blood cell destruction (anaemia). Beware of sage and onion stuffing in the turkey!

Some nuts (peanuts, macadamia nuts) can cause vomiting/diarrhoea and more severe signs affect the nervous system.

Mouldy bread and cheese: can be very harmful and cause muscle tremors and even seizures

Other poisons pets might be exposed to around the home include:

Lily poisoning: cats are particularly susceptible. All parts of the plant are toxic and the pollen often brushes off on the coat and is licked off. The toxin causes kidney failure and cats initially show clinical signs of toxicity within 2-6 hours (off their food, lethargic) and then (excessive drinking, excessive urination and convulsions)

Slug pellets (metaldehyde): can cause fatal poisoning and clinical signs (muscle spasm, convulsions) can occur with in a hour of consumption.

Rat poison: comes in 2 main types – Warfin based: causes interference to the clotting cascade and kills by causing massive coagulopathy and haemorrhage. the second type Alphachlorulose based- causes the rodent to fall asleep and die of hypothermia.

Ibuprofen: Is especially toxic and not uncommonly ingested by dogs. The clinical signs develop fast and include bloody diarrhoea and vomiting, abdominal tenderness, gastric ulceration and renal damage occurs.

Karaka  Tree  Berries are  fatal  in  summer  when fruits are  turning   golden    colour ,  Dogs   will  eat these  especially the   hungrier  ones

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