The Outbreak Of Ehrlichia In Australian Dogs

dog ehrlichiosis australia

Canine ehrlichiosis is cause for considerable alarm for the millions of dog owners around the country.

ABC News 27/1/2021

The arrival of Ehrlichia in Australia has been devastating for some remote dog communities. However, there’s no reason to panic, and it’s easy to prevent.

Here I’m going to help Australian dog owners to understand the risks, and know how to easily prevent it.

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Treatment with Remdesivir for FIP in Cats

FIP antiviral treatment

The nightmare is almost over. Until very recently, a diagnosis of Feline Infectious Peritonitis was a death sentence. Either a slow, lingering decline or a decision to euthanase and spare the suffering. This happened to around 1% of cats, most of them still kittens.

Then it was discovered that certain antiviral drugs could not only improve the symptoms, they could actually bring about a cure. But there was still a hitch.

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The Cause Of Sneezing & Watery Eyes In Kittens

kitten eye infection

There’s a very good reason why so many kittens come with sneezes, runny eyes or coughs. This is true whether it’s a young kitten with continuous symptoms, or an older cat where the problem seems to get better and then come back.

Once you know it, a lot of other common cat illnesses start to make sense.

To understand what’s special about cat diseases, you need to look at how they began. So stick with me! What I’m about to discuss could be the most important health issue of cats.

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Help! My Cat Has A Bloated Stomach

cat swollen stomach

Essential facts (details below):

Causes Of A Swollen Belly In Cats

There are five likely causes for an enlarged abdomen in a young cat:

  • Intestinal worms, especially in untreated kittens up to three months of age
  • Pregnancy, in undesexed, free-roaming female cats
  • Abdominal fat deposition, which is usually easy to identify
  • Excessively large meals (swelling should come and go)
  • Feline infectious peritonitis or FIP
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Your Dog or Cat & Coronavirus COVID-19

kitten with interferon

Find the facts below about dogs and cats and coronavirus COVID-19. Keep checking this page for updates on the situation.

Vets across Australia are open as normal. Walkerville Vet requests that clients:

  • Maintain 1.5m from staff and other clients (nurses will hold your pet for examinations)
  • Do not pay with cash
  • Not attend the clinic if in isolation or even mildly unwell
  • Wait on the front lawn if there are 6 or more people in the waiting room
  • Come to the clinic alone whenever possible, and without children

Now dive deeper…

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It’s True, Cats Get Parvo Too

Kitten face closeup

News Flash: Since writing this, there have been increasing reports of feline parvovirus outbreaks in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.

A few years ago I started getting questions about a new cat viral outbreak called cat plagueCat plague? I may have been seeing cats for 25 years, but this was news to me too.

A quick google and it all became clear: this is a new name for an old disease. It goes by all these names:

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5 Causes Of Bleeding Gums In Dogs

dog bleeding gums

Have a look at the picture above. You could be forgiven for thinking that Barlie’s gums are just the result of a good chew on a bone. But hang on: why are there red spots a long way from the gumline and even on the tongue?

The answer is a disease you won’t easily find if you look up the causes of bleeding gums in dogs. Even though what Barlie had could have killed her.

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Causes Of Sneezing In Dogs

Does your dog do this? When mine gets excited or playful he starts sneezing.

Sneezing during play isn’t well understood, but it’s clearly one of the least serious causes of sneezing in dogs.

I’ll take you through the other common reasons, from minor to major. As nearly every one is associated with a runny nose, I’ll also describe the nasal discharge that goes with it.

By the time you make it to the end, you’ll be an expert!

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Feline Immunodeficiency Virus & Your Cat

cat FIV infection

When I was young, like all kids, I wanted to know why everything happened. Having vets as parents, I can distinctly remember asking why male cats needed to be desexed.

“It’s because otherwise they fight so much that they get run down and die early.”

With the benefit of hindsight, this is pure folk wisdom. People could see that fighting was associated with sickness, but not yet why. Then, in 1986, hot on the heels of the discovery of the human AIDS virus, researchers in the USA put two and two together and found a feline AIDS virus in cats like these. We call it FIV.

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Respiratory Infections In Backyard Chickens

chicken with sinusitis

What if I told you that your backyard chickens are carrying a respiratory illness? Even if they look perfectly fine. You’d have every right to be offended.

Well the truth is that most flocks carry more than one disease, and yet many never seem to have a problem. You’re about to find out why. You’re also going to learn what to do when one breaks out.

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Help! My Kitten Has Cat Flu

feline calicivirus symptoms

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’

What Is Cat Flu?

  1. Cat flu isn’t influenza or a cold, it’s either a herpesvirus or calicivirus
  2. Symptoms include fever, not eating, and eye or respiratory infection
  3. Many infected cats become virus carriers or have lifelong problems
  4. Rarer conditions caused by cat flu include arthritis, gingivitis, eye damage, stillbirths & abortion

Now dive deeper.

A stray kitten was found in a backyard a few weeks ago. Like most people do, her finders never hesitated to give her a home. Straight away, however, they knew something was wrong.

That’s her pictured above and below. She’s obviously miserable, but it’s the second photo that shows what’s really going on. This is ‘cat flu’.

You probably diligently vaccinate your cat against flu but do you know what it is? Cat flu is nothing like what most people think. For a start, it’s not flu!

Common Symptoms Of Cat Flu

Cat flu just looks like a severe cold until you take a closer look. It causes:

cat flu symptoms
Mouth ulcers, conjunctivitis and nasal discharge in a poor kitty with cat flu
  • Fever, lethargy and not eating or drinking
  • Clear or yellow-green discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Sneezing, coughing and difficulty breathing (read the other causes of sneezing in cats here)
  • Ulcers on the mouth, tongue and occasionally the eyes

But that’s not all. These nasty viruses sometimes do a lot more damage. Other important effects can be:

  • Arthritis
  • Viral pneumonia
  • Stillbirth, abortion or birth defects

And yet, there’s still even more. Most of the time it doesn’t go away…

How Long Does Cat Flu Last?

For a simple, uncomplicated case of flu, a cat might be back to normal in seven days. However, in most cases, secondary bacterial infection of the eyes, nose, sinuses or chest increases both the severity and duration of the illness.

Cat flu is treated by:

  • TLC, fluid and nutrition support
  • Antibiotics and eye ointments for secondary infection
  • Bathing and steaming to reduce buildup of secretions
  • More TLC

Most of these cats will still make a full recovery, although they suffer quite a bit in the process. For many, though, and especially the young or neglected, long-term problems persist.

Long-Term Effects of Cat Flu

  • Chronic rhinitis is a nasal infection that persists for life
  • Stunted growth is common in infected kittens
  • Stomatitis-gingivitis complex is a severe mouth infection
  • Most cats who get infected will carry the virus for life

If there’s just one thing I want all cat owners to understand about flu, it’s this last point about carriers.

How Cats Catch Flu

Cat flu is spread in the saliva of apparently healthy carrier cats. Nearly every cat who got cat flu once will carry and spread the virus for life. Carriers are estimated to represent around 30% of all cats.

It’s not their fault. It’s up to all of us to know where the real risk is and stop it. Here’s what I do…

How I Prevent Cat Flu

The viruses spread both directly from cat to cat and indirectly via objects, people and the environment.

  • I assume that every cat I see could be a carrier
  • I wash my hands between each cat and change my coat regularly
  • I use an isolation room for known infected cats
  • I clean and disinfect all equipment after every cat I see
  • I change my clothes when I get home
  • I ask breeders to test their breeding stock for carriers
  • I get my kittens from trusted sources like good breeders or the Animal Welfare League

I hope now you understand why a good cattery never mixes cats or uses anything that can’t be disinfected.

I’m sorry if this all sounds a bit like a scare story. It’s all gospel truth but we’re in danger of forgetting how things once were. If you want to read more, visit an old page where I featured three cats with rare consequences of cat flu or here for other causes of mouth ulcers.

Related: Why Kittens Often Have Runny Eyes

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

dog snorting gagging

‘Emergency Care’ (details below)

How to Tell Reverse Sneezing from Choking

  • Reverse sneezing causes minimal distress and gums remain pink
  • It can usually be stopped if you call or distract a dog
  • The dog is 100% fine immediately before and afterwards

If in doubt, see a vet immediately. True choking is often fatal. No vet will criticise you for being careful, even if there is nothing wrong.

Now dive deeper…

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K5 Rabbit Calicivirus

rabbit calicivirus vaccination

UPDATE 2018

  • It now seems clear that the K5 release was not very significant to pet rabbits (as we predicted!)
  • There is more evidence that the current Cylap vaccine is effective. A further study (reference below) has demonstrated 100% protection in a small group of rabbits experimentally exposed to K5 virus.

In early March 2017, the new K5 strain of calicivirus is planned to be released at 600 sites across Australia and 45 in South Australia. Here’s what pet rabbit owners need to know.

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Update On The Rabbit Calicivirus Outbreak

rabbit calicivirus vaccination

Update 2018:

To those who love rabbits it’s been a tough few years.

On the 24th of February, 2016 we were notified that the new strain of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus called RHDV2 had reached South Australia and was causing deaths around Adelaide.

We posted an alert on our Facebook page, and only then did the true horror of what was happening become clear.

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