We love our dogs in Darwin; they’re an important member of many families. But our tropical climate means dogs are susceptible to more diseases and parasites than in other parts of Australia.
Here are some important things you need to know about caring for your dog.
There is a disease dogs can get in Darwin that isn’t vaccinated for in most other places in Australia: leptospirosis australis. We also see a lot more cases of Parvovirus in Darwin than in most areas of Australia.
Is a potentially fatal disease in dogs that’s spread mainly by the urine of rats, mice and native wildlife contaminating water sources. Vomiting and diarrhoea are among the first symptoms, followed closely by liver failure and often death.
Commonly called ‘parvo’, is a highly infectious virus that attacks a dog’s intestinal tract. It’s mainly transmitted through the faeces of infected dogs, and the virus can last in the environment for up to a year. We see a lot of dogs with this horrible disease, which can kill puppies, so it’s important to vaccinate your dog and wait until they are fully vaccinated before going for walks.
After the first round of puppy shots, dogs in Darwin should have a scheduled vaccination every six months.
6–8 weeks: ‘C3’ injection, which covers parvo, distemper and hepatitis
12 weeks: C5 (C3 + canine cough) + leptospirosis
16 weeks: C5 (C3 + canine cough) + leptospirosis
Thereafter: annually for C5, and six-monthly for leptospirosis.
All our vaccinations include a health check.
Parasites, like worms, ticks and fleas, thrive in warm environments, which means they’re more prevalent here than in southern areas of Australia. The parasites we treat are:
Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms are common in Darwin, and infected dogs can pass them on to people, usually children. We also have an extra species of tapeworm here, the spirometra tapeworm. This is transmitted by lizards and frogs and none of the normal worming treatments cover it.
Dogs need to be wormed more frequently in Darwin than in other areas of Australia: young puppies should be wormed fortnightly from 2 weeks of age, and adult dogs should be wormed monthly. For puppies we prescribe a worming syrup or a tablet to treat intestinal worms. For adults we prescribe a monthly tablet to treat intestinal worms, and recommend an additional tapeworm tablet every three months. Most supermarket products aren’t effective against our tropical-strength worms.
Heartworm can be fatal for dogs, and because it’s spread by mosquitoes and thrives in warm environments, it’s super important to protect our dogs in Darwin. We offer two heartworm treatment options: a monthly tablet that covers both heartworm and the intestinal worms (you can get one that covers fleas, too), or an annual heartworm injection.
We don’t see the dangerous paralysis tick in Darwin, but the common brown dog tick is rife. On top of irritating their hosts, ticks can also transmit diseases to dogs. Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial disease transmitted by the brown dog tick which can cause severe, potentially life-threatening disease in dogs. Many cases of this disease have been diagnosed in the Northern Territory and it is present in Darwin, Palmerston, Darwin rural area, Katherine and many remote communities.
New treatments are very effective at treating ticks. Chews, spot ons and collars are now available over the counter. If your dog has ticks and is unwell please call us to book an appointment.
Fleas love hot, wet environments, which can make life miserable for many Darwin pooches. Flea collars and powders alone are not effective treatments in Darwin, and even some of the better flea products that work elsewhere often don’t work here.
We can offer a tablet form of flea control, which is given monthly and highly effective. We can also prescribe a monthly flea tablet that also treats heartworm and intestinal worms. We now have a new flea control option – a tasty chew given every 3 months, which also covers for ticks. It’s imperative to treat all dogs and cats in the household when addressing a flea problem.
You can also use our hydrobath to help with ticks and fleas. We use a top quality solution and change it after every wash, so it’s less likely to cause reactions. Though it’s not enough to treat ticks and fleas on its own, a hydrobath will kill all the ticks and fleas on the animal and provide some immediate relief.
As a companion animal, a de-sexed dog makes a much better pet. Dog registration is also discounted for de-sexed animals.
Here are the main reasons why de-sexing your dog is important:
- De-sexed dogs are generally less likely to be aggressive, less likely to fight with other dogs and less likely to try to escape and roam.
- They generally have fewer health problems, especially uterus infections and mammary cancer for females and testicular and prostrate problems for males.
- Reducing litters of unwanted puppies can only be a good thing.
De-sexing a dog is a routine, five-step procedure that's performed (by appointment, Monday to Friday) in one day:
- Bring in your dog in the morning, and he’ll be ready to go home that afternoon. Don’t let him eat after midnight the night before (water is fine).
- We’ll give him a full examination and a premedication, which keeps him calm and provides excellent pain relief before the surgery starts. This also sets him in a good position for recovery.
- Our vets then perform the de-sexing surgery, which generally takes 30–45 minutes for females and 20 minutes for males.
- After surgery your dog is given more pain relief and monitored as he recovers in the clinic for the afternoon. When he’s up and awake, he can go home.
- In 12 days, bring him back and we’ll remove the stitches and check on him.
At All Pets, all anaesthetics are closely monitored by a dedicated veterinary nurse. We also have state-of-the-art monitoring equipment.
Options to make it even safer:
At All Pets, whenever we administer an anaesthetic we offer our clients two extra options to make the procedure as safe as possible:
- Pre-anaesthetic blood testing gives us vital information about the animal’s kidney and liver function and puts us in a better position to handle any problems we find.
- We can also put the animal on an intravenous fluid drip throughout the procedure, which maintains their blood pressure and aids their recovery. It also means we can act quickly if a problem does arise during the anaesthetic.
We recommend both options to all patients, but they’re not mandatory. These things would be done at point two in the list above.
Traditionally, desexing has been recommended at 5-6 months of age. This is still appropriate for cats, but for the dog the research shows it's not that simple. Read our blog to help you decide when should you desex your dog.
Dental problems are common and serious in dogs—two out of three dogs we see over the age of three have dental disease.
If your dog has smelly breath, hard yellow or brown gunk on their teeth or swollen, red gums, they may have dental disease. Fractured teeth is also a common problem for dogs. This is very painful for the animal and can lead to serious infections, so the fractured teeth should be removed.
We can treat all of these dental problems, including extractions, with our state-of-the- art dental equipment. It has ultrasonic scaling and polishing functions, much like a human dentist’s machine.
Dogs don’t tolerate dental procedures like people do, so we need to administer a general anaesthetic for dental treatments. Like our de-sexing patients, we offer two extra pre-anaesthetic options to make the procedure as safe as possible: pre- anaesthetic blood testing to check the dog’s kidney and liver function, and a drip to administer intravenous fluids throughout and keep the dog hydrated.
Prevention is Best
Brushing your dog’s teeth every day is the best way to keep their teeth in great shape and stave off dental disease. We have special finger toothbrushes and chicken-flavoured toothpaste that dogs love.
We also have dental chews that have been shown to be effective and specialised diets that can help to brush the teeth as they chew. But, for some dogs, even with fantastic home dental care, they’ll still need an occasional scale and clean.
Diet & Nutrition
What your dog eats can have a huge impact on its health and wellbeing, especially if it has a health condition.
We carry the Hills Science Diet, which is designed to provide optimal nutrition for dogs at every life stage: puppies, adults and seniors. It’s particularly important to get puppies off to the right start with their diet: large-breed puppies need to be fed a puppy food specifically for large-breed dogs to help their muscle and bone development and reduce the risk of joint problems later in life.
Food as medicine
We also carry a full range of scientifically developed, prescription pet foods that are also treatments for a whole range of conditions—joint, teeth and skin problems are just a few. It’s called the Hills Prescription Diet, and it’s only available from vets. We can examine your dog and recommend a specific diet to help treat these and many other conditions.
Obesity is also common in dogs, and this can lead to many serious health problems. We have foods designed for weight loss and can organise a weight loss program for your dog with regular weigh-ins one of our nurses to help keep them on track.
What about the cost?
A bag of premium dog food does cost more than a supermarket brand of the same size, but the cost is actually quite comparable when you consider some important factors.
Each Hills product contains all the ingredients your dog needs for good nutrition, but none of the ‘fillers’ common in supermarket brands. That means you actually feed your dog less (and he’ll pass much less waste, too).
Our nurse can calculate the per-day cost of premium food (or prescription food) for your dog, and most people are pleasantly surprised at the comparable cost.
The bottom line
We can recommend a diet that will make your pet happy, healthy and live longer, especially if they have a health condition.
Pet insurance, like private health insurance, helps to cover the cost of medical bills but is specifically designed for the furry members of your family.
Advances in veterinary medicine have greatly increased the number of diagnostics and treatment choices your vet can offer you. However, providing the best care for your pet can be expensive. If your pet is involved in an accident or suffers a sudden illness pet insurance can give you the ability to consider all treatment options and not be restricted by cost. That is why at All Pets we strongly recommend health insurance for your pets.
There are a number insurance providers, we can help you with information on these but we recommend researching the best provider for you and your animals. For a comparison chart click here.
Petplan insurance have an exlusive offer through vet clinics for four weeks free pet insurance with no obligation to extend. This is available for puppies and kittens between 8 weeks and 12 months of age. All Pets can activate the policy straight away and cover starts 72 hours after activation.
We also offer a 50% discount on most of our services through All Pets Health Care. Pay a yearly fee and then you’ll only pay half price for most services throughout the year, including consultations, hospitalisation, surgery, x-ray and anaesthetics (not including drugs and pathology).
Senior Health Checks
Caring for our pets as they age is not always an easy task. It can be difficult to know the difference between a normal ageing process and signs of disease. Some pets can be particularly good at masking their discomfort or changes. This may allow certain ailments such as arthritis or dental disease to progress to an advanced stage before detection. The Vets at All Pets Veterinary Hospital can help you interpret early changes in your pet’s behaviour in order to provide appropriate advice and treatment if required. Our aim is to provide the best quality of life for your pet as he or she ages.
Any pet over the age of 8 is considered a senior, and for large breed dogs (over 25kg) 6 years of age is considered senior. Although many dogs and cats are still behaving like adolescents at this age, their bodies do develop special needs, particularly with regards to nutrition, oral care and exercise.
Regular veterinary examinations allow us to discuss any changes you may have noticed, as well as examine your pet thoroughly for any early physical signs. A blood test and urine test is an easy way to rule out problems such as kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease or diabetes, all of which become more common as pets age. Blood tests at least annually allow us to know what is normal for your pet, and provide a benchmark for any changes that develop over the years. Blood samples can be taken during a senior health check consultation. If you are able to bring in a recent urine sample for your pet, we can perform a urinalysis which provides valuable information. Our nurses can supply you with a urine pot and advice on how to collect it!
With early diagnosis, many conditions can managed successfully, allowing our senior pets to continue being much loved and important members of the family.
A senior health consultation can be booked at the same time as your pet’s vaccinations, or at any other time during the year. To help us obtain a thorough history about your pet we will ask you to fill out a senior health questionnaire when you arrive for your visit, if you prefer these can be downloaded here and brought in with you.
Explanation of tests that are recommended for senior pets annually (or every 3-6 months for some pets):
1) Full health check
2) Bloods tests:
Haematology – A PCV (packed cell volume) assesses red blood cell levels and can help detect anaemia and dehydration.
A more comprehensive test that provides more information about red and white blood cells and also platelets may be recommended for some animals.
Biochemistry – this helps to assess kidney and liver function, as well as glucose levels (to assess for diabetes).
A more comprehensive biochemistry test may be recommended in some cases.
Thyroid hormone levels – this test can help detect hyperthyroidism in cats, and hypothyroidism in dogs. This is recommended in all senior cats, and for dogs if there are any suggestive signs.
3) Urinalysis – this is important to accurately interpret the biochemistry blood results, and provides information about kidney function, diabetes, and urinary tract infections.
4) Blood pressure monitoring – high blood pressure can cause numerous problems including blindness and neurological problems and it is important to measure blood pressure as you pet ages.
Other testing such as radiographs or ultrasounds may be recommended in some pets, which may enable us to detect problems earlier than we can with a physical examination.