We All Love a Glossy Coat!

dog coat 4We all love the look and feel of a healthy, shiny coat on our pets, but as with our skin in winter, there are times when our furry friend’s coat can become dry and flaky.  In more severe cases, the skin can become very inflamed and there may be hair loss and infection.

To understand how to best look after our pet’s skin and coat it is important to first understand how the skin behaves and what it is made up of.

The skin is vitally important and often gets taken for granted – it is actually the largest organ on our pet’s body!  As well as being a protective barrier, it also regulates body temperature and provides the sensation of touch.

Now for the scientific part …………There are three layers to the skin:  The epidermis (outermost layer) , the dermis (middle layer) and the subcutis (innermost layer).

The epidermis provides protection from dehydration, trauma, infection and toxic insult. It is made up mainly of toughened cells called keratinocytes, which are continuously formed in the lower layer of the epidermis and shed from the top layer. It takes 7 days for dogs to replace all of their keratinocytes! These cells connect together to provide a strong barrier. If these cells are damaged the skin loses its protective effect. Another cell in the epidermis, the melanocyte, provides pigment in the skin and coat and protects against UV rays.  Langerhan’s cells are the immune cells of the skin. They are often over stimulated in animals with allergies.  Merkel cells provide sensory information about touch, temperature and pain.

All of these cells lie over a basement membrane which connects the epidermis to the dermis and provides another protective barrier. This layer is often damaged in immune mediated diseases such as pemphigus.

The dermis provides nourishment for the outer layer of the skin and has a network of connective tissue containing blood vessels, nerves, sweat and oil (sebaceous) glands and hair follicles.  Collagen and elastin which provide elasticity of the skin are made in the dermis.   Variance in dog and cat’s coats can be attributed to a variable number of hair follicles and the type of hair.  Hair follicles contain both a guard hair and several under hairs.  Guard hairs are courser and thicker while under hairs are finer and softer.  The hair coat provides important insulation against the cold and heat as well as providing physical protection from trauma and the sun.

The subcutis contains muscle and fat.  The muscle is often observed as a skin twitch when touched and the fat provides insulation and nourishment for the skin.

Changes to the skin and coat can often  give us early clues of underlying diseases elsewhere in the body. Inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) can be a symptom of parasitic infestation, bacterial or fungal infections. Unfortunately, much like with us humans, we also can see cancerous change happen frequently in our pets skin. That is why it is so important to get any nrw or growing lumps and bumps examined and checked as soon as you notice them.

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With all the different pet breeds and variations in coat types, it can get confusing as to what is the best way to care for your pet.  The good news is that the basic requirements are the same for all animals.

The cornerstone of all animal health care is a good quality diet. In particular, a diet with the correct ratio of Omega -3 to Omega-6 fatty acids is very important.  Most premium diets have been formulated to maintain a healthy skin and coat but in some cases, additional supplementation with Omega-3 is required.  Before considering adding anything into your pet’s diet, it is a good idea to see us to confirm the best product to use and the dose required.

Another important part of your pet’s health is to make sure all external parasites have been eliminated.  Fleas in particular, are one of the most common causes of skin disease we see, particularly through the warmer months.   Thankfully, there are many new and convenient products available for both dogs and cats so there is really no need for our beloved pets to suffer from fleas ever again.

cat coat 1Grooming is also something that should be part of our routine for our pets.  For a short-haired dog or cat, this can be as simple as a weekly brush to remove loose hair.  Longer-haired pets will require more frequent maintenance and specific tools to remove their undercoat, while the non-shedding breeds need regular haircuts to keep them in optimal condition and looking their best.

Bathing should be performed every 7-14 days depending on the breed of dog ( cats generally dont need bathing as they are so fastidious about their own cleanliness!) When washing your dog, don’t forget to use a soap-free shampoo that is specifically formulated for animals.  Many medicated washes can dry out our pet’s skin so please check with us to find out the best option for your pet’s skin type.

Hopefully this has helped to clarify a few things about our pets coats and skin and will help you to optimise their health. If you ever need any further advice or information on your pet’s coat – please feel free to call in and see us, or give us a ring on 3353 6999.cat coat2

Welcome Dr Lauren!

Many of you will already have had the pleasure of meeting Dr Lauren Fraser, who joined us at the beginning of September. Our overriding aim at McDowall vets is to make veterinary care friendly, approachable and convenient. With this in mind, we realised as we continued to grow, that we needed another vet to help increase the consult times available to you, so after an extensive interview process, we hand-picked Lauren.
We are really excited to have her join our team; she is an exceptional vet of the highest calibre, with lots of experience with both dogs and cats, but more importantly has the high level of empathy, compassion and gentle bedside manner that our clients have grown to expect when visiting us.
Having an extra vet allows us to offer more appointments and means that we will now have two vets consulting every evening until 7pm, which hopefully allows you to have more access to those later after work appointments which are so useful when trying to fit everything into the busy working day.
It will also allow us to perform more house calls for our clients when required. We realise that for many pets, a home visit is a lot more practical and less stressful. Please give us a ring to arrange a home visit if required.
Lauren adores cats and has a young Jack Russell puppy called “Hippo” (don’t ask!!) Feel free to say “Hi!” when you are next passing by.

 Dr Lauren Albany Creek Vet

Dr Rob’s Ramblings: The Pleasure of Pets!

cat_love at mcdowall vetAs I was lying sick in bed this week with the “man flu” trying to sleep, our cat “Mocha” came and gave me a huge amount of attention! Firstly she pushed her face up against mine and started purring until I stroked her and then she continued to nudge up against me and purr gently, nudging my hand whenever I stopped. Her cold nose reminded me to keep going whenever I hesitated. Soon I started to feel slightly better and my spirits lifted as I spent some quality time with my cat. She then cuddled up next to me and kept me company while I recovered. I couldn’t help but marvel at how lucky we are have to have such loving creatures in our lives who endlessly show us all the best human attributes and none of the worst.
*Empathy                                            *Compassion
*Love                                                   *Adoration
*Loyalty                                              *Sympathy
*Companionship                                *Joy
*Exuberance                                      *Sense of Humour
*Protection                                        * Patience

pets mcdowall vets

We would love to see pictures and hear stories of your pets best displaying these wonderful attributes. Please upload your picture or story  to our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/mcdowallvet. The ones getting the most likes will be short – listed to be awarded our inaugural annual McDowall Vets Medal Of Gratitude! ” The Mogie”

Dr Robs Ramblings: It’s Raining Itchy Dogs and Cats!

Itchy dog Albany Creek vet     Itchy dog McDowall vet






What a beautiful weekend we have just had. It was wonderful to feel the sun on my skin and the warmth in the air as I took Roxy for a walk. The kids were ahead on their bikes and all was right with the world! The Jasmine is flowering, filling the garden with a beautiful scent. Spring is definitely in the air!
Unfortunately, for many people this statement is met with dread as it signals the start of hay fever season. Did you know that many of our pets are similarly affected? However, instead of sneezing, and having a runny nose and eyes (although occasionally we see these symptoms), dogs usually develop itchy skin. In animals these inhaled or contact allergies are called atopy and we are seeing a tonne of them at the moment.

Itchy skin Everton park vet

For many it will start with itchy feet. You may find that your evenings are being disturbed with the constant licking and slurping noises made as they try to relieve the irritation. The symptoms can rapidly progress to generalised redness and even ear infections.dog ear infection Bridgeman Downs vet It is really important to stop this irritation in its tracks before it causes secondary skin infections, so if yours is an itchy dog, prone to grass allergies, now is the time to make sure that they restart low doses of their anti – allergy medication to prevent a flare up.

Itchy dogs and cats can be very frustrating to treat and live with, as it can often be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause without undergoing dermatological testing. I recommend keeping a diary of your pets itch score and their diet, exercise patterns, time of lawn mowing and bathing as well as any other variables that may play a role in the allergies. Often you can start to see a pattern develop and then avoid the most troublesome allergens or at least plan in advance for next year.

So, to summarise, if your pet is a chronic “foot licker”, he or she is likely suffering from allergies. The good news is that we can certainly help to control these and there are lots of different options available now days. Hopefully, with the correct treatment, we can ensure that you both return to getting a peaceful night’s sleep!Dog pain McDowall vet

Getting to the bottom of the problem

problemDorothy is a young pug who has had a very common canine problem. She has suffered from the slightly embarrassing affliction of leaking anal gland fluid whenever she jumped onto the couch or onto her owners’ laps! As you can imagine, this was starting to have an effect on the frequency of her cuddles and was very distressing for her and her owners!

All dogs (and cats) have scent glands adjacent to their rectum, which are used to mark their territory. Unfortunately, with reduced roughage in their diets, we commonly see pets with anal gland disease. They typically “scoot” their bottoms along the floor, or chew at their tails due to the discomfort caused by the swollen glands. This can be a chronic and debilitating disease.

Despite attempting to treat Dorothy’s condition medically, the problem persisted, resulting in her having to undergo delicate surgery to remove the offending glands. She has subsequently recovered well and life is now greatly improved for her and her owners!

Vet Albany Creek talks about a Day in the life of a patient

It can be very nerve wracking handing your furry little (and not so little!) ones over to us for surgery.  We thought we would take you on a virtual tour of a typical ‘day in the life of a patient’, so you will be able to see what will happen to your pet when they spend the day with us for a procedure. Todays patient is a wonderful Labrador called “Braxin” from Albany Creek.

Vet Albany CreekAdmissions are between 8.00 and 9.00 in the morning and the patient will need to have an empty stomach if they are having a general anaesthetic.  In the week before the operation, we will have sent out a letter to you, as a reminder of the upcoming procedure and also to go over a few things about the operation.  When you and your pet come into the vet Albany creek clinic in the morning, we will get you to fill out an admission form, including your best contact phone number for the day.  We will give you an estimate for the procedure and give you the option to request pre-anaesthetic bloods.  These bloods will assess how the liver and kidneys will function under anaesthetic as to give us the best idea as to how your pet will handle the anaesthetic.  They are highly recommended for all pets, but particularly our geriatrics (over 7 years of age).  We will go through any questions you may have and try and put you at ease- as much as possible!

Vet Albany CreekA nurse will take the patient out to the theatre and will give the patient a good check over.  The heart rate, respiration rate and temperature are taken.    At this stage, if bloods are required, we will take them and run them.  If there is anything at all wrong with the results, we will call you and discuss our options.  If everything is alright, we will give them some pre-anaesthetic drugs.  This includes a strong painkiller as well as a sedative to calm them if they’re feeling anxious. These will also help to make their anaesthetic smoother.  At this time, we will also place an IV catheter so we can give intravenous fluids during the surgery.  These are important to help maintain the patient’s blood pressure during the anaesthetic.

The patient is then made comfortable in a cosy heated cage.  We try to separate the dogs from the cats, as we find that some dogs will tend to bark more if they are placed next door to a cat!  Some of our cat patients can be very nervous and so we can put a cloth cover over their cage so they feel more secure.

Vet Albany CreekWe start our surgeries around mid-morning.  We use the same anaesthetic as humans, so it is as safe as we can possibly make it.  An ET tube is placed in the airway to give anaesthetic and oxygen throughout the surgery.  The animal is monitored using sophisticated anaesthetic monitoring equipment- and we also always have a nurse manually monitoring the patient throughout the surgery.  With most procedures, the animal will receive a long lasting pain relief injection at this point- before they are conscious to any discomfort.

Vet Albany CreekOnce the animal is in recovery and is awake and sitting up, the vet will call the owner to let them know that the patient is awake.  We put them in a heated cage with a blanket and hot water bottles, as an animal’s body temperature drops during surgery while they’re not moving.  We like to keep the animal for a few more hours so that we can continue to monitor them.  We will make a discharge appointment so that the surgical nurse who was assisting the vet during your pet’s procedure can sit down with you and go through some homecare notes.  If your animal needs any further medication to go home with, we will also go through this with you.  We will give you a handout outlining everything we have talked about because there is usually quite a bit to go through and we find most people are so excited to be reunited with their pet, that it’s quite easy to forget certain details! We also have free e books covering most of the important topics which we can e mail to you directly. This allows you to discuss the procedure more fully with the whole family at home. Our aim in this whole process is to make the day as comfortable and stress free as possible for both you and your pet and live up to our reputation as being the best vet Albany Creek has to offer!

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We will give you a call the next day to make sure that everything is going well and to answer any more questions that may have popped up in your mind overnight.  The nurse will ensure that a post-operative check has been made.  This is a free check, usually ten days after the operation, to make sure that the animal is healing well and to take out any sutures if needed.

We hope that puts some of the worries to the back of your mind.  If you are still feeling at all worried, we can schedule an appointment for you, in which a nurse can show you where the operation will be taking place and we can try to answer any further questions you may have.