Monday, March 27, 2017

Everything you Need to Know if Your Dog Eats Chocolate

As most pet owners are aware, chocolate can be extremely toxic to dogs.

If your dog does consume chocolate, depending on the type, amount consumed, and your dog’s weight, could make for a serious medical emergency.

That being said, no matter how much your dog has eaten, there is no need to panic.

Learn why chocolate is so toxic to dogs, the signs of chocolate poisoning, and what steps you should take if your fur-friend gets their paws on your Hershey's chocolate block.

Sad dog with chocolate

Why Chocolate is Toxic to Dogs

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both which can speed the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system in dogs.

The risk of your dog becoming sick if they eat chocolate all comes down to the type and amount of chocolate, and also the weight of your dog.

Basically, a big dog such as a Lab is going to be able to tolerate a lot more than a small dog such as a Pug.

However, even the smallest amount of dark chocolate can be lethal to any sized dog.

A general rule to follow is the darker chocolate, the greater the risk.

To help you understand better, here is a list of common types of chocolate in the order of theobromine content and greatest risk of toxicity.

1. Straight cocoa powder
2. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
3. Dark Chocolate
4. Milk Chocolate
5. White Chocolate

To calculate the expected toxicity level in your dog if they have eaten chocolate, use the helpful guide below:

Signs Your Dog Has Chocolate Poisoning

The greatest risk about chocolate toxicity, is that the signs of poisoning usually don’t appear until 6-12 hours after they have eaten it. And at this point, can make it very expensive and difficult to treat.

That is why it’s SO important to keep any chocolate in your home out of your dog’s reach – especially when you’re not home.

In the unfortunate case that your dog steals your Hershey's block off the coffee table, in the midst of an epic battle between Harry and Voldemort during your Harry Potter movie marathon. And you only notice right after Harry finally defeats the Dark Lord. Although not ideal pooch has just devoured half the block, at least you’re able to act quickly and give your pet the best chance of survival.

In the unlikely event that you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate while you weren’t home, look for the following signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Increase urination
  • Tremors
  • Elevated or abnormal heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Collapse or death

Sick dog

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate

Regardless of how much your dog as eaten, or the type of chocolate, you should ALWAYS call your veterinarian immediately.

That way you can explain to the vet your exact circumstances, and from there they will be able to recommend to you the steps you need to take for your individual situation.

If your dog has only eaten a few squares of milk chocolate, they might just recommend that you monitor your dog for the next few hours, and call back if you notice any changes in their behavior.

If your vet is concerned or you are worried for your dog, they will likely get you to bring your pet in and they will induce vomiting and possibly give them a few doses of activated charcoal. This works to move the toxins out of the body, without being absorbed into the bloodstream.

And for more severe cases, your vet may provide supplemental treatment, such as medications or IV fluids, to resolve the effects of the poisoning, and may need to monitor your pet at the clinic overnight.

Vet and dog

Overall, if your dog does eat chocolate the most important thing to remember is not to panic.

Remain calm and ensure your dog is comfortable first and foremost, before taking any further steps.

And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your vet and they will happily guide you through.

If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter in the footer of our homepage, or visit

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Six Tips for a Stress-Free Move with a Cat

Moving house is generally a very stressful time for everyone – especially for your feline friends.

Dogs don't seem to mind all that much, but the packing, routine changes, and all the strange new smells can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for a cat.

During this time, cats can show signs of aggression, house soiling, and excessive meowing or crying. And because cats form definite attachments to places, they often will try to return to their old home if they escape or are let out too soon. 

But with our Six Tips for a Stress-Free Move with a Cat, we ensure your move will go as smooth as possible, and guarantee your cat will accept their new address in no time.

1. Consider Boarding

A simple way to avoid some of the stress on your cat is to place them in boarding the day before you move, and bring them home when everything is a little more settled.

This also stops the risk of your cat escaping and going missing, and allows you to set your new home up, before adding your cat back into the mix.

Plus by doing so will allow for a much calmer environment to bring your cat home to and become familiar with. 

cat boaring

2. Carrier Tips

Whether you're placing your cat in boarding or bringing them with you, they're most liking going to cross paths with their carrier.

So if your cat is a little unsure about theirs, bring it out a few days earlier.

Many cats will eventually start to explore this strange new space, and may even start sleeping in there (try putting a clean towel inside).

And when the moving day does come around, make sure their carrier has a nice absorbent towel base – as some cats are known to soil themselves out of fear or stress.

cat carrier

3. Feline Tranquil Formula

Cats see and experience things a lot differently to us. So when we pack, move furniture and introduce them to a new environment, their whole world changes.

Their senses are practically bombarded with new stimuli.

This can be a very traumatic time for them, as cats like routine, patterns and predictability – basically they don’t like change.

Feline Tranquil Formula Tablets are a simple and cheap option that can be used to bring your cat's anxiety levels down, and overall help them better deal with being in an uncomfortable situation. These tablets contain Tryptophan and essential B group vitamins to help maintain normal emotional balance in cats.

Feline Tranquil Formula 120 Tablets

4. Before the Move

A few weeks before moving house some general things to consider include:

  • Make sure your cat is micro-chipped and wearing a collar with a pet tag that is up to date with correct phone numbers.
  • If they are home on the moving day, restrict them to a small and quiet space in the house (laundry, bathroom or bedroom).
  • Try to keep your cat’s routine as similar as possible and don’t forget to schedule some cuddles and playtime at the end of a long day.
  • If you’re travelling a far distance by car, consult your vet about any health concerns that could impact your cat’s well-being.
  • Avoid feeding them breakfast on the morning of the move as this may contribute to an upset tummy.

cosy cat

5. During the Move

If your cat isn’t placed in boarding during moving some general things to consider include:

  • Keep your cat safely enclosed in their carrier until you're in an enclosed room at your new place. And try not to open the carrier to ‘comfort’ them during transit as they may make a quick dash and try escape.
  • Do not leave your cat unattended in a hot car or out in the sun in their carrier. A car can heat to dangerous temperatures within 10 minutes, even on a relatively mild day.
  • Avoid putting food or water in their carrier, unless you're planning on being on the road for more than 12 hours. 
  • For lengthy journeys, ensure the carrier is big enough for a littler tray and have food bowls that ideally can be refilled from the outside, and won’t spill during transport. 

cat on leash

6. After the Movie

Once you have moved house some general things to consider include:

  • Set your cat up in a small room; the bathroom or laundry are ideal. And let them get use to this one small space where they have food, water, litter, plus some things that smell familiar – basically set it up like a nice cosy home.
  • After a few days, let you cat suss out another room, and gradually allow them to explore their new environment. 
  • Do not let your cat outside for at least 2-4 weeks after a move. And when you do decide to let them out, make sure the initial access is supervised and ideally just let them out into a fenced area. Cats are easily startled and will often dash out into another cat’s or dog’s territory or the road. Some cats have been known to return to their old homes, so the longer you keep them inside, the better.
  • Avoid letting your pet outside after dusk and before dawn to not only protect your cat, but the wildlife too. 

cat in trees

Overall, you can’t help that your cat is a creature of habit, so moving can be quite stressful for them. We do hope that these tips will help to make the whole process a little easier, and smooth as possible for you and your feline friend. 

Did you know talking to your pet is good for your health? Click here to find out why.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

6 Superfood Ingredients for a Healthy Dog

Superfoods for my dog…? That seems a little far-fetched don’t you think?

To answer the question, not at all!

We’re not talking about goji berries, or organic flaxseeds, we’re talking about affordable wholefoods that are possibly already sitting in your pantry or fridge.

In fact, there are many superfoods that humans and dogs can share, so it won’t even cost you an extra cent.

And besides being awfully convenient and money saving, superfoods are a fantastic way to keep your dog healthy, strong and living long (plus they fight disease, boost energy and taste great)!

To make things even easier, they can be added to your dog’s specifically formulated pet food, or mixed in with their home cooked meals.

So without further ado, here are Dr Mark’s top 6 Superfood Ingredients for a Healthy Dog.

6 Superfood Ingredients for a Healthy Dog

If you'd like to read more about pet nutrition, check out Dr Mark's Dog Food Safety Guide & learn what human foods are safe and unsafe for your pet. 

Monday, March 6, 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 Socializing 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 socialized 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.

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.

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.