Winter Edition Paws, Claws and More!

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Osteoarthritis occurs when the joint fluid and cartilage at the end of the bones near the joints wears down and deteriorates. This process occurs gradually and worsens overtime causing the bones to grind on each other, leaving joints stiff, swollen and their movements painful. Injury, obesity and genetics can all exaggerate the process. The majority of cats over 12 years old will have some signs of osteoarthritis, however cats are very good at masking when they are in pain so it is important that we look out for subtle changes. Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats can include; reluctance to jump up or down, difficulty going up and down stairs, stiffness in legs after sleeping, irritability, difficulty using the litter box, inability to groom certain areas on their body and hiding or sleeping more than usual. Thankfully there are options to help our feline friends remain comfortable and have a better quality of life these can include supportive therapies, supplements and medications. If you suspect your cat has osteoarthritis your first step is to make an appointment with your vet who will be able to examine your pet and figure out the best course of treatment for them. In the meantime making small changes around the house can make your cat more comfortable as well, such as moving bedding, food and toys all within your cats reach so that they avoid unnecessary jumping, placing food trays on nonslip surfaces and by making sure they have a nice warm padded bed to sleep in. Brushing and grooming your pet not only makes them more comfortable but also stimulates blood circulation making them feel better.

With all the recent rain and flooding we have had several Leptospirosis cases in our local area. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection carried by rats and spread through their urine. It’s extremely important to not allow your dog to drink from stagnant water or puddles due to the risk of them being contaminated. It is an extremely harmful and can be potentially passed on to humans and other pets, so it’s vital we take all precautions to protect our dogs from this deadly infection. We have seen a massive influx of clients taking the opportunity to vaccinate their dogs against Leptospirosis which requires 2 injections 1 month apart and then continued with a yearly booster this can be done at the time of their regular vaccinations.

The rainbow lorikeet is not only beautiful to look at, but makes an amazing pet! They are exceptionally smart, affectionate and cheeky birds who are easily trained and love spending time with their owners. They are nectar feeders and have a brush like tongue and require regular fresh nectar to be available to them. They also require a variety of native flowers plus fresh fruits and vegetables. Due to their nectar based diet their droppings can be quite messy so when choosing a location for your cage keep this in mind and make sure the surrounding area can be easily cleaned. They love water so a bird bath is essential and it’s very entertaining watching them splash and play around.

They are very vocal birds and are excellent talkers and will learn many words and phrases however they can be very noisy and demanding when they want attention! Rainbow lorikeets are very active birds so require a large caged space to maintain optimal health with lots of toys to stimulate their minds and keep their beaks busy! Lorikeets live on average 10-15 years.

Little (fairy) penguins are the smallest of all penguin species; they stand 33cm tall and weigh around 1 kilogram. Little
penguins breed in colonies along the southern coastlines of Australia and New Zealand. Little penguins can eat about 25% of their body weight of small fish daily such as barracouta, anchovies, red cod, pilchards and squid. Little penguins are classed as seabirds that don’t fly. They have a beak, feathers, and lay eggs. Penguins have modified wings called flippers they are great swimmers and look as
though they are flying through the water. As they come closer to land they surf in and project themselves up on to land like little torpedoes. Most of the time landing on their feet! Once on land they waddle along with their heads down, jumping over rocks.
There is a colony of little penguins on Middle Island, Victoria protected by Maremma Sheepdogs! These penguins and Maremmas were made famous by the 2015 movie Oddball.

“Missy” is an 11 year old female Maremma sheepdog. Prior to her visit to our clinic she had been feeling quite unwell – she was lethargic,
drinking lots and off her food. Her dad was just worried she wasn’t her normal self. After some testing she was diagnosed with pyometra, a potentially life threatening condition. A pyometra is due to an infection of the uterus. It usually occurs 2-6 weeks after a heat cycle. Hormonal changes during a heat cycle allow bacteria to enter via the cervix and the infection develops. If the cervix is open often pus will drain to the outside and become visible (often seen on their tail or bedding). If the cervix is closed the uterus will
continue to swell inside the abdomen and these dogs become extremely sick very quickly. If a pyometra is suspected there are a few tests that will be done. Bloodwork will show high white blood cells, indicating an infection is present in the body. Imaging (x-rays or an ultrasound) of the abdomen will show a distended, fluid filled uterus. This combined with associated clinical signs indicate treatment is required. Common clinical signs seen include excessive drinking and urination, lethargy, depression, inappetance, vomiting and diarrhoea. Once the diagnosis was made for Missy she was admitted for emergency surgery. Treatment involves desexing – removing the uterus and source of infection. Dogs are often kept at least overnight for fluid therapy, antibiotics and pain relief until we are comfortable they are able to be sent home. Most animals feel much better once they are awake from the surgery and are able to be discharged the next day. Close monitoring during the 2 week recovery period is key to ensure they continue to improve. This potential life threatening illness is why we recommend most of our female dogs and cats are desexed at an appropriate age. Missy has recovered completely and is doing well at home. Below Missy’s infected uterus.

 A much happier Missy!

The ancestor of all modern day cat species first appeared about 11 million years ago. In appearance it most closely resembled a modern panther. Unfortunately, it has proven to be difficult to map feline evolution precisely since fossil records of the felidae are uncommon. DNA analysis was performed in 1997 on all 37 living cat species and it demonstrated that they can be grouped into 8 separate lineages. The great roaring cats [ lions , leopards , tigers , jaguars ] were the first to branch off the feline evolutionary tree about 6 million years ago while the ancestor of modern domestic cats was the last to appear about 3.5 million years ago. The modern house cat is derived from a small wildcat species and was found to have become domesticated somewhere in the Near East approximately 10,000 years ago. Cats proved to be very well adapted and spread via land bridges as sea levels fell and colonised many new continents. As they travelled, they evolved into a diverse array of sizes and appearance and became new species but all retained their typical feline heritage. Cats arrived in North America from Asia via the Bering Land Bridge about 9 million years ago. They subsequently returned to Asia later via the same route, evolving further , and with each migration, new species of various sizes were created. This resulted in the diverse array of wild felines that we see today. It has been shown via DNA analysis and the fossil record that at least 10 intercontinental migrations occurred over the past 10 million years. As a result, felines were able to reach the farthest reaches of the planet and became one of the most successful animal designs to have evolved. In most habitats they became the top predator and ruled all types of environments from arid deserts to tropical forests. They are truly a remarkable example of evolutionary selection that created a successful mammalian type that is still widespread today in its many diverse forms. So, the next time that you see your pet domestic cat asleep in the sun, remember that it is the result of more than 10 million years of evolution and natural selection to create the perfect predator. Don`t forget that cats are not being lazy when they sleep for between 12 and 16 hours per day, they are just being energy efficient.