Monday, February 27, 2017

Dr Mark's Top 10 Things Your Dog Should NOT Eat

Over the years I practised veterinary medicine, I noticed that there was a repeated trend in the type of foreign bodies that I had to remove from the bowels of our canine friends.  

It may be useful for pet owners to know what the ten worst offenders are. Some of the items are often fed to dogs in the common belief that they are harmless, others the dogs themselves tend to find and ingest without their owner’s knowledge.

 Here are my Ten Worst Offenders:
  1. Cooked bones (chop bones, ham bones, etc) 
  2. Stones and rocks (gravel)
  3. Corn Cobs
  4. Fish hooks
  5. Mango Seeds & Avocado seeds
  6. Super Balls
  7. Macadamia Nuts
  8. Rubber bits – sink plugs, caps of shock absorbers etc
  9. Plastic bags
  10. String (baling twine, wool & fishing line etc) 
Things that I have not removed out of animals but which many of my associates have had to remove are:
  • Hardware such as screws and nails
  • Cloth – One of my colleges removed a shirt out of the stomach of a dog.
  • Corks
Take care with all of the above items and help prevent major abdominal surgery for your beloved pets!

dr mark

Interested in a more detailed version of what foods are safe and unsafe for your dog, click here for more.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

5 Ways You Are Shortening Your Dogs Life

Being a good pet parent, you always have your dog’s best interest at heart.

However, sometimes without even knowing it, you could be doing or not doing something that could impact your beloved fur-friend’s lifespan. 

The good news is, it's never too late to bump up the level of care you are providing for your pet.

Learn the 5 ways you could be shortening your dog’s life, and the simple solutions on how you can move towards living a long, happy and healthy life together.

boy and dog

1. Letting Your Dog Gain Too Much Weight

Dogs that are over nourished, lack the ability to exercise, or that have a tendency to retain weight are the most at risk for becoming obese.

When you pet is obese, excess body fat can affect multiple areas of the body, including the bones and joints, the digestive organs, and the organs responsible for breathing.

Obesity is apparent in dogs of all breeds and ages, but particularly middle aged, neutered and indoor dogs.  

To ensure your dog stays at a healthy weight you should:
  • Walk them daily, or as often as you can
  • Play games in the backyard with them
  • Feed them a well-balanced diet including premimun pet food, or alternatively cook their meals from scratch
  • Avoid feeding them supermarket brand foods as these contain a lot of water and salt and have very little nutritional value
  • Avoid feeding them table scraps

overweight dog

2. Neglecting Dental Care

Periodontal disease (gum disease), is very common in dogs.

It is estimated that 85% of dogs over the age of five suffer from the condition, which develops after food and bacteria collect along the gum line, and form plaque.

And not just dental issues, oral bacteria can lead to many other health problems for your pet, including heart valve issues and infected kidneys.

To ensure your dog’s teeth and gums stay healthy you should:
  • Brush their teeth. Try Dentipet Toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Offer them dental chew toys that assist in reducing plaque build up 
  • Give them dental treats once a day
  • Visit your vet once a year for a professional cleaning session

dog and toothbrush

3. Not Going to Annual Vet Checks

While sometimes it may seem like a waste of time, or even a hassle taking you dog to the veterinarian for their routine check, doing so may just save their life.

‘Getting your dog looked at just once a year by a vet can help ensure your pet is ACTUALLY healthy, and increase their lifespan’, says Dr Mark, who stresses the importance of annual checks even if you think nothing is wrong with your pet. 

Dr Mark also explains that time is of this essence with your pet’s health, ‘sadly in some cases, by the time symptoms have appeared there isn't much we can do.’

Part of being a good pet parent is ensuring they are happy and healthy, so set a date or month each year that you endeavour to take your fur-friend to the vet, and stick to it.

dog with vet

4. Not Being Consistent with Parasite Protection

Ensuring you provide your pet quality parasite protection is just as important as keeping up to date with their vaccinations.

Keeping your pet safe from fleas, ticks, heartworm and worms is a critical role in pet ownership.

These small but nasty parasites can cause all sorts of problems for your fur-friend – with many being life threatening. 

Fortunately, there are many safe and vet-approved protection options available at VetShopMax to keep your pet safe and happy – from collars and topical spot-ons, to oral chews and tablets. 

And most protection methods are administered monthly, so a handy tip is to set a reminder in your calendar for when to give your pet their next dose. That way you will never miss a treatment, and have the peace of mind that your pet is protected all year round.

flea control

5. Not Socialising Them

Just like us, dogs too need their weekly dose of socializing and ‘chit chat’ with their counter fur-pals.

Dogs who don’t get the chance to interact with other dogs, tend to develop anxiety and fear-related issues, even dermatological issues.

Even going on walks becomes a whole different experience for dogs who aren’t use to interaction with other pets.

Similar, dogs that don’t receive much human interaction, no playtime, cuddles etc. can feel lonely and get depression.

To ensure your dog is happy and socialised you should:
  • Take your puppy from a young age (once they are fully vaccinated) to puppy training classes or meet-ups
  • Let your dog stop and greet other dogs on walks
  • Visit dog parks or beaches where your dog can run free to explore and meet new friends
  • Before you get a dog, make sure you have time in your day to spend time and bond with your fur-friend

running dogs

Is your dog above the age of 7? If so, you may be interested our helpful guide on Caring for an Old Dog.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Top 7 Things You Should Be Doing to Care for an Old Dog

How do you know when to consider your dog as a senior?

Is it when they turn a certain age? Or is it when their hair starts going a little grey?

To answer the question, it really just depends.

In general, bigger dog breeds will age and show signs of ageing faster than smaller breed dogs. 

For example, a Great Dane is considered to be a senior by roughly 5-6 years old, a Golden Retriever could be considered senior by 8-10 years, and small dogs like a Chihuahua are considered a senior around the age of 10-11.

Aside from age, dogs can also show a number of signs that they are ageing. These may include:
  • Decrease in energy levels
  • Arthritis and stiffening of joints
  • Not jumping up or down surfaces like they use to e.g. the couch, stairs etc.
  • Rougher and thinner coat with bald patches and white hairs
  • Deafness, revealed by failure to respond to commands
  • Tooth and gum conditions
  • Warts, fatty lumps and even tumours may appear (ensure to check these with your vet)
  • Excessive thirst and frequent and uncontrolled urination
  • Confusion or failure to recognise surroundings
  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression, disobedience and occasional destructive behaviour
  • A hazy, bluish cast over the eyes (should not affect eyesight unless cataracts are formed)
  • A tendency to sleep more during the day but sleep less at night. Some dogs may pace around the house at night due to sore joints, senility or even loneliness
  • Weight gain

Although you don’t want it to, the day will come when you start spotting the signs of your dog ageing. However this does not mean you have to wrap your fur-friend in cotton wool and start to worry.

You may just need to make a few small adjustments to your usual routine, and take a few extra precautions. To help you out, we’ve gathered the top 7 most important things you should be doing to care for an old dog.

1. Proper Medical Care

Regular check-ups are very important for older dogs. 

Keep note of any new or unusual symptoms your dog may be showing and report them to your vet.

It's also crucial that you maintain your dog’s regular flea & tick, heartworm and worm protection, as older dogs can be more susceptible to disease.

And if your dog has been diagnosed with a certain medical condition, for example Arthritis, you really want to stay on top of their medication schedule, to ensure your fur-friend is happy and comfortable as can be.

2. Steady Exercise

Obesity and arthritis are the top two most common problems experienced by older dogs, so regular exercise is very important.

Even a brisk walk around the block, or play time in the backyard is great for keeping their joints moving.

Please note, if your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, consult your vet before beginning an exercise routine. 

3. Daily Routine

A consistent and daily routine is something everyone can benefit from, and will help your dog’s physical, mental and emotional health.

Even if it’s as simple as feeding at the same time, regular afternoon walks, grooming at night etc.

Things for them to look forward to in a sense.

4. Healthy Skin & Coat

Ensuring a regular skin and coat routine for your older dog is not only going to help their external appearance, but it’s going to make them feel great on the inside too.

Try bathing your older dog every 2-3 weeks with a soothing shampoo such as Aloveen Oatmeal Shampoo, as this will be gentle on their skin and leave their fur smelling great and feeling silky smooth. 

And for a little extra support, a supplement such as PAW Coat, Skin & Nail Chews that contains the essential nutrients silica and zinc, along with chia and flaxseeds, will really help improve and maintain your dog’s appearance. 

5. Healthy Teeth & Gums

Older dogs are more prone to gum disease and tartar build-up, so a regular dental routine is very important. 

Dental treats are a simple and low-cost solution to keep your dog’s pearly whites shinning bright.

A product such as Greenies Dental Treats will provide your dog with complete oral care when fed daily. Plus, the treats will help discourage tartar build up and plaque, and are also a great solution for freshening your dog’s breath. 

6. Emotional Support

As your dog ages, it’s important to be sensitive to what they are going through, and understand that a lot of psychological changes are taking place. 

Daily care for your older pet may require a little more patience on your part. 

Your loving care and commitment will really help and make for a positive quality of life for your senior fur-friend.

7. Specific Nutrition

Understanding the changing nutritional needs of your senior dogs is one of the most important things for you to consider. 

Generally, dogs of seven years and older will start to take life a little easier, and as a result, their nutritional needs and requirements will need to adjust to this new way of life.

Senior dogs are less active and have a slower metabolism, so fewer calories are required.

This does not mean lesser quality, as easy-to-digest protein and nutrients now become more important than ever. 
To ensure you are providing your dog with everything they need to thrive, you can either feed them a specifically formulated senior dog food diet, or alternatively make their food from scratch – that way you know exactly what's going into their food. 

Overall, caring for your older dog is just like caring for any aged dog. Snuggle up, spend quality time together, and appreciate every moment your pup has to give. 

Do you have any tips for providing extra care for your older dog? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Beginners Guide to Taking a Picture of Your Pet

Can we all agree we’ve tried to take that perfect picture of our pet to share across social media, however failed miserably?

Fido sit, stay, don’t move ah! 

Taking a good photo of your cat or dog can be tricky; as most pets are not natural born posers… 

Not to worry, let us help you capture that Kodak moment with our 5-step guide to taking the perfect picture of your pet.

Step One: Work with Your Pet’s Personality

Some dogs are gentle, slow moving and calm; while others jump, lick and run laps of the yard. 

Consider what makes your pet unique and work on these qualities. 

For example, photograph your playful pooch during a game of fetch, or your cat that enjoys snoozing for hours, on a cosy blanket next to the fireplace. 

And try avoid encouraging your pet into unnatural situations; as showing their true personality always looks best.

Step Two: Ensure a Relaxed Atmosphere

Getting your pet to pose in a studio is not only difficult, but they probably won’t enjoy it either. 

In fact, most pets are more likely to relax and be their best selves in a familiar environment; at home, in the garden, or even the beach. 

Try make your little photo shoot fun for everyone, and ensure there is plenty of interaction and breaks. 

Step Three: Natural Lighting Works Best

For the most desirable lighting, try photographing your pet during the day and preferably outside. 

Also avoid using a flash, as this will not look as effective and can also frighten your pet. 

In additional to good lighting, you also want to consider the surroundings. 

An adventurous dog against the backdrop of a crystal clear beach makes for a pretty amazing shot.

Step Four: Get On Your Pet’s Level

Our best tip to you, is to get on your pet’s level. 

Kneeling down when photographing animals really does make a huge difference. 

Photos taken from a low camera angle will help make your pet the central focus in the final image.

Aim for the eyes and you’ll capture your pet’s unique personality. 

And if your pet is acting calm or a little sleepy, this is a great chance to get up close and personal. 

Most importantly, experiment! Try a close-up portrait or a fun action shot.

Another great tip is to take your photos with your subject off-centre, and have something interesting in the background.

Not only will this look nicely balanced, but your friends will think you’re a pro!

Step 5: The Winning Shot

Keep things simple, stay relaxed, and just have fun with it!

Encourage plenty of action with a selection of toys and treats, as this will allow for a range of different shots.

And most importantly, aim to harness your pet’s natural spontaneity and instinct. Your dog might suddenly do something funny, so be alert and ready to capture the moment. 

Overall, your little photo shoot most likely won’t turn out quite as you imagined, but you’ll soon see that this makes for some super cute photos, and some memorable moments shared with your best friend.

Happy snapping!

We’d love to see our tips put to use. Share your perfect pet photos on our Facebook page and you could be featured in monthly newsletter that is sent out to over 26,000 pet families!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Did You Know Talking To Your Pet Is Good For Your Health?

Hands up if you talk to your pet?

And if you’re anything like us at VetShopMax, it’s each and every day, all day long.

We love telling them about our day, what we’ve been up to, and even how we feel.

Whilst this may sound a little strange to those without pets, talking to pets is actually very common.

But did you know talking to your pet is good for your health?

“The average dog can understand around 200 words”

Your Pet Knows How You’re Feeling

Here’s a fun fact, although we talk to people using words, 80% of our communication is actually via our body language. 

The average dog can understand up to 200 words, but won’t really understand spoken language.

They can however, pick up on our emotions, and are able to sense how we’re feeling. 

Kind of like a 6th sense.

Some dogs will lay their head on your lap when you’re upset for example, whilst your cat may often sit with you when you’re feeling lonely or unwell (even if they don’t sit with you normally).

So it doesn’t really matter what you say to them, but rather how you express it.

If you’re one to talk regularly to your pet, he or she is going to know you inside out, which is a really special bond to have with your fur friend.

“Your pet senses how much you love them by the way you talk to them”

Talking to Your Pet Is Good for BOTH of You

We see pets as family, and genuine friends that we can bare our souls to – secrets are always safe, and an animal will never judge us… or do they?

But did you know having a good old yarn with your fur friend is actually good for your mental health?

Taking to pets and interacting with them regularly can lower stress levels, increase productiveness and overall just make you feel good!

That’s why at VetShopMax, we bring our furry pals to work with us. For more information, click here.

Now as mentioned earlier, pets can sense how your feeling; and they can also sense how you feel towards them.

A lot of you and your pet’s communication is actually expressed through intonation.

For example, your dog may associate a high, happy voice with positivity and excitement, a neutral, calming voice with reassurance, and a low, deep voice with negativity or disapproval.

Next time you talk to your pet, think about your tone and body language and see how they respond.

“Your pet actually has a lot to say in return”

You Learn Your Pet’s Language Too

Although animals are good at picking up on much of what we say, they still have their own way of communication too.

Start paying greater attention, and you’ll notice that your pet has quite a lot to say in return when you talk to them.

Try immerse yourself in the body language of your cat, dog, bunny or any pet for that matter, and you’ll soon realise there’s a whole new form of communication to discover.

Overall, the more you work on understanding each other, the stronger your bond will be and the happier and healthy you both will feel!

Do you know how to break up a dog fight? Learn the skills and protect your pet here.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

How To Safely Break Up A Dog Fight

As humans, breaking up a dog fight is something we hope to never have to do. Being a good pet owner, you may have the best behaved and trained pooch around, however not all dogs get along – even the good ones. Instinct is a very powerful thing in animals, so simply telling your dog to ‘stop’ or ‘come here’ nine times out of ten is not going to work. They no longer hear you as their loving loyal owner, but instead their only focus in that very moment is to attack – no matter who it might be at. 

It cannot be stressed enough that you should never, ever reach into the chaos and grab your dog away. This manoeuvre is rather going to leave you injured than breaking up the clash. Instead, there are a two effective techniques that will ensure everyone involved walks away serious-injury free. 

Technique 1: Two-person breakup

This technique will be effective if you have two people who are able to break the fight up together.
  1. At the same time each grab a dog’s back legs
  2. Raise them up, similar to how you would lift a wheelbarrow
  3. Back both dogs away slowly, continuing to hold their legs in the air (this will prevent them from reaching around and biting you)
  4. Once the dogs are safely separated, try hold them securely until they are calm and face them away from the other dog if possible

Technique 2: One-person breakup

This technique can be used if you are alone, however proceed with caution. 

  1. Grab a free leash or a piece of rope
  2. Slowly approach the more aggressive dog
  3. Once you are close enough, loop the leash around their middle section, you want to catch them just in front of their back legs
  4. Slip the free end of the leash through its looped handle and pull tight
  5. Once fastened, slowly pull the dog backward until you find something to fasten them to, such as a telephone pole or fence post
  6. Now shift your focus to the second dog and grab them from behind using the “wheelbarrow” technique described above
  7. Again, pull them away at least 5 metres and restrain until the dogs are calm or help arrives

Whether it’s big dogs or small dogs, these techniques will work the same. Try not to scream or yell unless it’s calling for help, and most importantly, be quick, stay mindfully aware, and remain calm and assertive.

Want more pet health tips and advice? Click here to learn more.