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Help! My dog has noise phobia, Newstead Vet

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Thunderstorms and fireworks are pretty common here in QLD and other parts of Australia this time of the year and I thought I would take this opportunity to write about noise phobias - thunder and fireworks.

How many of you have found yourself trying to soothe your dog during a storm? Most owners would recognise “storm phobia” as the three “H”s - the howling, the hiding and the havoc! Storms are actually more stressful if your pet is in an apartment particularly as the thunder echoes against the surrounding tall buildings. Here are some tips on preventing your furry companion from doing some serious damage to themselves (broken bones and tissue damage) when a stressful storm front is at your doorstep.

Help! My dog is afraid of the thunder, Newstead Vet.

Recognizing your dog has a phobia of noise

Do thunderstorms make your pooch quiver with fear and send him scurrying under the bed? Panting and pacing around when the weather turns foul? It is likely that a dog suffering from storm phobia will react badly to other loud noises such as fireworks, and will likely suffer from separation anxiety. Some experts consider storm phobia to be a progressive behavioural disease – meaning that your dog is likely to display worsening signs of fear with each successive thunderstorm. Act early - recognise the signs and take steps now.

Distract and reassure

This method works best when your furry kid is just beginning to show signs of noise phobia. Engage your dog in activities that he or she enjoys, distracting her from behaving fearfully. Get the tennis ball out and roll it around the floor. Hugs and tummy rubs with lots of treats are never a bad thing. However, be careful not to reward your doggie for a fear reaction with soothing sounds or stroking as you might positively reinforce fear reactions.

Hidden cave behind a waterfall

Create a comfortable place for your pooch to go to during a storm. Crates or enclosed room (think closet or bathroom) allows your pooch to safely hide away from the negative stimulus. Drowning out the noises with a loud radio can be beneficial. I once heard of an owner calmed her dog down by playing an entire soundtrack of Lady Gaga's songs during the storm to a dog in a bathroom.

Desensitization with noise

Playing a thunderstorm sound CD when it is not raining can reduce the doggie’s sensitivity to loud noises. Play a game of fetch while starting at low volume and gradually work your way up to very high volume. This process may be a good way to negate fearful reactions.

Natural therapies can work magical wonders

Flower essence such as Bach flower extracts (Rescue Remedy) or Dog Appeasing Pheromone diffusers (D.A.P) may supplement the above tips to help you build a calming environment around the dog.

Drugs and behaviorists

Talk to your vet about the range of drugs that can help your furry kid if you are concern of his or her health or safety – dogs who work themselves into a frenzy can, from time to time, get self-destructive. Some clients have a negative association of "drugging" their pets but look at it this way, there are many people who are on Xanax and they seem to lead a normal life. Get a referral to a vet who specialises in behaviour if necessary.

Come see us at Newstead Vet, Emporium  Shop 15, 1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley, if you have further questions about the health of your pet.  (07) 3216 0045.

How do I cook food for my dog, Teneriffe Vet?

There are many different ways to feed your pooches and the shops certainly stock a huge variety of pet food currently available in the Australia. However, there are also a lot of us who want to home-prepare food for our furry kids. It is also important that the food we feed our doggies are also nutritionally balanced.

I often get asked by clients who want to cook something nice for their pet dogs and if this is OK. My opinion is that as long as the cooked food contains the right amount of ingredients and meet a dog's nutritional needs, why not?

How do I cook food for my dog, Teneriffe Vet?

Here is the ingredient list to home-prepare an AAFCO balanced diet for an 18kg adult dog:

240g cooked rice/oats
120g cooked meat
2 teaspoon olive oil
30g pureed veggies or fruit
4g calcium carbonate*
1g potassium chloride*
1 adult multivitamin tablet

* You can buy calcium carbonate as a supplement from your chemist. Potassium chloride is available as a salt substitute and can be found in the supermarket.

Check out my video on how to make a simple dinner for your dog using the above ingredients in a rice cooker!

Teneriffe Vet's guide to basic cooking for your dog:

If you are looking for a trusted Teneriffe Vet, call (07) 3216 0045 to make an appointment to see Dr Nic at Fortitude Valley Vet.

Christmas toxic food list

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Christmas has arrived!

While shopping for groceries this week for ingredients to make a dessert for Christmas Day’s BBQ, I came across a free Christmas food recipe booklet which I cheerfully flipped through. I put on my MasterChef hat and convinced myself that I had a shot at creating that delicious Cherry Wreath Cake, or Panettone Bombe or the Almond ricotta cheesecake (with fresh mango). Deep down inside, I probably would be lucky to get away with a fruit salad.

Now some of us may be in our holiday mood and decide to give our Christmas lunch leftovers as an annual treat to our dogs… but before you do so, I thought it prudent to come up with a list of some of the common Christmas foods/ ingredients that could lead to that unwanted visit to the Pet Emergency Centre.

What kind of Xmas food can my dog have, Teneriffe Vet?

Foods to definitely avoid!

  • Alcohol: Good for you and me, not so good for the four-leggeds. Wines and sweet alcoholic beverages during festive season are unavoidable but keep the beer to yourself and desserts containing hard liquor in your tummy.
  • Avocados: The science behind this is not exactly clear but it is claimed that all parts of an avocado are toxic to dogs, so resist the urge to give your furry creature any of this creamy delight found commonly in dips and salads.
  • Bones: After the meat has been carved, throw away the bone or reuse it as a soup stock. Cooked bones, especially chicken/turkey bones, can splinter and lodge in your dog’s digestive tract.
  • Chocolate: Death by chocolate can be a reality if you are not careful. It is very popular to gift dark chocolate truffles so make sure you leave Christmas presents that may contain these heavenly bites away from dogs. Pretty sure there will be many chocolate desserts tonight, best not to wear my belt. If you have any excess delicious chocolates, Dr Nic is more than happy to woof them down for you.
  • Fat trimmings/gravies: If I don’t eat it, my babies can’t have it. Too much fat over a short period of time can be dangerous. Pancreatitis is a very common disease that occurs after a treat high in fat.
  • Fruit pits: Cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines and other juicy stone fruits are in season now. Cherries are particularly worrying as their pips are smaller and can be consumed in large amount. Dispose of pips carefully by not spitting them out as you cheerfully walk around in the garden.
  • Grapes/raisins: I cannot resist picking thirst quenching grapes and eating them off fresh from the vines that I grow in my backyard. However this also means that I have to fence up my garden to prevent my two babies from scavenging any grapes that have fallen on the ground.
  • Macadamia nuts: Honey glazed macadamias are the perfect snack while waiting for friends to turn up for the dinner. Not so perfect for dogs. These crunchy nuts can cause paralysis.
  • Onions: A must have in any barbeque party. Let’s face it, a sausage sizzle is not a sausage sizzle without caramelized onions. A disaster if your four-legged babies get into a tray full of them.

Accidents do happen and sometimes your guests may not know that the above food items can be poisonous or dangerous to dogs, so keep an eye out for these following signs:

  • Abdominal pain or your dog reacting negatively to your touch (shying away, snappy etc).
  • Convulsions
  • Diarrhoea
  • Drooling
  • Laboured breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

If your furry baby is exhibiting any of the above symptoms or even if you just suspect he has ingested something toxic, seek veterinary attention immediately and bring the suspected poison and a sample of the vomit to your emergency vet if possible.

Prevention is still better than cure. Merry Christmas everyone and may you eat lots of delicious food tonight!

If you are looking for a Teneriffe Vet, call (07) 3216 0045 to make an appointment to see Dr Nic at Fortitude Valley Vet.