Pet Health Information in Warragul

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— Chanakya

Senior Pet Health

By Dr Terri Wilks BA BVSc MANZCVSc 

At Baw Baw Paws we take the senior years of your pets life seriously. When your best friend begins to slow down and stiffen up we are here to help your pets achieve a healthy and comfortable senior life. Aging is variable between breeds and as a general rule of thumb large breed dogs age quicker than small breed dogs. On average large breed dogs reach senior years at 6, small breed by 7 years and cats generally by 8 years old. 

Often the symptoms our beloved pets show us in their old age may go unnoticed, some of these symptoms are age-related and cannot be prevented such as hearing loss and change in vision. Other symptoms may be of a more serious nature, caused by developing diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, arthritis or dental disease.   To a degree they can be prevented or successfully managed.

The following is a quick check list of signs and symptoms to look out for in senior dogs:

•    Increased drinking and/or urinating
•    Weight gain or weight loss
•    Reduced appetite
•    Difficulty chewing
•    Slowing down on walks, stiffness , sore or favouring a leg
•    Coughing when exercising
•    Behavioural changes, confusion and disorientation
•    Loss of toilet training
•    Disrupted sleep/wake patterns

The following is a quick check list of signs and symptoms to look out for in senior cats

•    Increased drinking and/or urination
•    Accidents out of the litter tray
•    Weight gain or weight loss
•    Decreased appetite
•    Reduced activity
•    Decreased grooming and or poor coat condition

The above signs and symptoms could be a vital clue in the discovery of a potential serious disease your pet may have. It is recommended your pet has a senior health exam twice a year and if you notice any changes discuss this with your vet as soon as possible as many diseases can be successfully managed if caught early in the disease process. 

Don’t forget there are many things you can do at home to make your pet more comfortable in their senior years. Such as a soft and supportive bed, in winter keep it in a warm place and in summer in a cool area. Feeding your pet a well balanced senior pet food to help maintain teeth and weight. Excessive weight can put more strain on their joints.  Observe your pets behaviour, has anything changed? Are they drinking more? Are they going to the toilet normally? Feel over your pet regularly, are there any new lumps? Do they need grooming? Is there any odour coming from their mouth? And the most important thing to do is to give your best friend a good old pat and a big cuddle and show them how much you appreciate their unconditional love.  

The Dangers of Rat and Snail Bait

Dr Julia Malcolm, Baw Baw Paws Veterinary Clinic

Our battle to control the unwanted pests in our environment has been going on for centuries. Snail bait and rat poison are commonly used to control pests and can be obtained in most hardware or grocery stores. However, while we may want to get rid of pests, we don’t want to create unnecessary hazards for our pets. Of late we have seen a number of cases at Baw Baw Paws and it may be important to review such products in order to understand the risks, limit access to the products, and be aware of the signs of poising if it does occur.

Rat Bait

Most common rat baits are based on anticoagulants that stop blood from clotting.  Rat bait poisoning in pets can occur when the pet has eaten even the smallest dose of bait or even eaten a rodent that has consumed some bait.

The main signs of rat bait poisoning are a result of excessive blood loss and may include blood in their faeces, in saliva and even blood dripping from the nose.  Some pets will become weak and lethargic with pale gums and have difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, it may take several days for these signs to be noticed and if left untreated the poisons will be fatal. However, if caught early your veterinarian can treat with medications to limit the effect, with a reasonable rate of success.

Snail Bait

All animals are susceptible to poisoning from snail or slug baits that contains the drug metaldehyde, with as little as 1 teaspoon being potentially fatal in many cases.  Once ingested the signs of toxicity, such as tremors, salivating, shaking and even seizuring can develop rapidly and you must see your veterinarian as soon as possible. There is no ‘antidote’ to reverse metaldehyde toxicity. Any treatment will try to minimise further bait absorption and counteract the toxicity until it has time to wear off.

Please note

There are many poisons on the market that claim to be “Pet friendly”. Unfortunately, this usually means that they are less tasty and a pet that is intent on eating bait will probably consume as much as they can find.  If baits are required place them in areas that your pets cannot reach such as the roof cavity, between walls or in a sealed container.

Overall, any contact with poisons can be fatal and if you have any concerns please contact your local vet clinic as soon as possible.

Snake Bite


During the warmer months our furry friends are at much greater risk of crossing paths with a snake. Often these encounters result in cats and dogs being bitten because dogs have such a curious nature and cats love to hunt anything that moves.

On the weekend a client of ours at Baw Baw Paws took her dog for a walk on the Linear Park Trail near the creek, unfortunately, her little dog was bitten by a snake. Due to prompt emergency treatment her best friend will make a full recover. Although this case has a happy ending this is not always the case and far too often snakebites have devastating outcomes. 

When snakes attack they inject venom into their prey, each species of snake has a different venom. Venom is made up of toxins which attack different parts of the body including the nervous system, muscles and the blood system. This most commonly results in paralysis, blood in the urine, muscle break down, pain and prevention of the blood clotting. 

By following a few helpful tips, noted below, you can help to prevent your pet from being bitten from a snake:

  • Keep your dog on leash and away from long grass and rocks where snakes like to rest
  • Always stay on the open path where snakes are more visible  
  • Do not allow dogs or cats to explore holes or dig under rocks or logs
  • Do not allow dog or cats to examine snakes even if you think they are dead
  • If you see a snake slowly back away
  • Never attempt to kill or capture a snake, this is not only very dangerous to you, but snakes are a protected species by law. 

If your pet has been bitten by a snake you may see a variety of symptoms depending on the species of snake involved. These symptoms are often seen within 1 to 24 hours after our pet is bitten. Following is a list of possible signs to look out for:

  • The animal may appear to recover but then signs gradually get worse
  • Collapse, weakness, trembling
  • Vomiting or drooling
  • Dilated (enlarged) pupils
  • Breathing may become rapid and shallow
  • Bleeding from wounds 
  • Blood in the urine or vomit 
  • Pale gums


More often than not pet owners do not see the snake bite their pet and they are often found collapsed. If you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a snake or has any of the above symptoms remain calm and seek veterinary medical attention as soon as possible. It is important to keep your pet calm and quiet. The chances of a full recovery are greater if your pet is treated early, pets that are not treated urgently or left untreated have a much lower survival rate. 

Once you arrive at your vet a series of tests will be undertaken, after positive identification of snake envenomation the vet will administer snake anti-venom under close observation. Depending on the amount of venom injected, your pet may require a second vial of anti-venom. Your pet will be hospitalised for intensive monitoring and supportive care such as intravenous fluids, pain relief and nutritional care. Anti-venom does not always guarantee survival of your pet, prognosis depends on the speed of treatment, the amount of venom inject and the general heath of your pet. Further complications can arise after treatment of your pet, however with prompt treatment your pet can have a full recovery and return to full health.