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Advice and Care FAQ

Got a specific question? PETstock runs two Q&A sessions on the PETstock Facebook page each week, with industry experts including Dr Katrina Warren.

For more information, join our online family at facebook.com/PETstock.

Here are some frequently asked pet care questions; please contact your local PETstock VET for specialist and specific advice.

Vaccinations and Heartworm Preventions

The first vaccination can be given at six to eight weeks of age. Two further vaccinations are then given four weeks apart, enabling your puppy to build a full resistance to the diseases they are being vaccinated against.

During this time it is not safe to take your puppy to places where they may be in contact with unvaccinated dogs.

Vaccination timeline:

  • Vaccination 1: 6 – 8 weeks old

  • Vaccination 2: 10 – 12 weeks old

  • Vaccination 3: 14 – 16 weeks old

Health checks and vaccinations are required annually for your dog. These visits can also include Proheart injections (heartworm prevention) for your convenience.

*C3 Vaccination: protects against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvo virus.

*C5 Vaccination: protects against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvo virus and 2 strains of Kennel cough (most common around Australia).

*C7 Vaccination: protects against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo virus and 2 strains of Kennel cough + corona virus and leptospirosis (mainly NSW).

Consult your vet for information about which course of vaccinations will be most suited to your dog.

The first vaccination can be given at six to eight weeks of age. Two further vaccinations are then given four weeks apart, enabling your kitten to build a full resistance to the diseases they are being vaccinated against, which can include Feline Enteritis, Chlamydia, Cat Flu and Leukaemia Virus.

If your cat lives outdoors, it is highly recommended they are vaccinated against FIV (Feline AIDS), which is spread by contact with infected cats. This is now a disease that is prevalent in the community.

Vaccination timeline:

  • Vaccination 1: 6 – 8 weeks old

  • Vaccination 2: 10 – 12 weeks old

  • Vaccination 3: 14 – 16 weeks old

Consult your vet for information about which course of vaccinations will be most suited to your cat.

There are two options:

  1. Treat your new pet as though they have never been vaccinated, by giving two vaccinations four weeks apart (this is not going to harm your dog), or;

  2. Have your vet perform a Titre Test. A Titre Test measures your dog’s immunity levels to the core diseases they are usually vaccinated against – this helps determine if they need to be vaccinated or not.

Heartworm is a very serious parasite carried by mosquitoes. The tiny heartworm larvae grow and flourish in your pet and eventually end up inside the heart where they can grow quite large and cause heart failure.

It can take years for the worms to grow so large that they cause distress in your pet. By this stage however it is difficult for heartworm to be treated without causing serious illness in your pet.

Contrary to popular belief, heartworm is present Australia wide.

Prevention is definitely better than cure! Heartworm prevention comes in many different forms, including a yearly injection, monthly pill, liquid spot on or daily tablet. Prevention should start from when your puppy or kitten is 12 weeks old. A simple blood test should be carried out if left later, to ensure your pet is free from heartworm before starting the prevention.

Yes. The organisations manufacturing your pet’s vaccines spend millions of dollars on research every year, ensuring they are as safe as possible.

Occasionally some pets may have a reaction to vaccines and become slightly unwell for a short time. These reactions can present as your pet becoming slightly lethargic or going off their food for a day or so. Rarely, an allergic reaction may occur that will require you to return to your vet for an anti-allergic injection. Always contact your vet if you are worried about your pet after a vaccination.

A Titre Test is a blood test to measure the level of immunity your pet has to the core diseases they are usually vaccinated against. This test gives an accurate indication on whether your pet’s vaccination is still working, or may need updating. This is a good option for pet owners who are reluctant to vaccinate but still want to ensure their pets are safe in the community.

Intestinal Worming and Flea Prevention

We need to worm our pets regularly to ensure they stay healthy, as an intestinal worm burden can lead to your pet becoming ill. Some worms are zoonotic which means they can be passed from our pets to humans, causing children and adults to also become ill. It is easy to prevent both animals and owners becoming ill by de-worming your pets.

Puppies and kittens need to be de-wormed much more frequently than adult animals. Beginning at four weeks of age, pets should be treated every two weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then monthly until they reach six months of age. They can then be treated on an adult worming regime, which is every three months for the rest of their lives.

False! Just because you don’t see fleas on your pet doesn’t mean they are not there.

Fleas can move very quickly and like to hide in places that are dark and cosy. Spotting ‘flea dirt’ a better way to tell if your pet has fleas. Quickly test your pet for fleas by getting a damp sheet of paper and bushing or combing your pet vigorously over the top of it. If the black dirt smudges and turns browny red on contact with the paper, your pet has fleas. This is the flea dirt which is mainly your pets blood.

Vet flea prevention and treatments are made of high quality and safe ingredients, making them safe and guaranteed to work on your pet when used correctly.

Most supermarket products have none of these guarantees and at best don’t work, or at worst can potentially harm your pet. Most of the time you pay for what you get and it is worth spending that little extra for a product that benefits your pet.

De-sexing

De-sexing permanently stops your pet from being able to have offspring. In female animals, de-sexing is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus (spay). In males, the testicles are surgically removed (castration). There are also drugs that can be used to chemically de-sex your pet temporarily.

Most vets recommend cats and dogs be de-sexed at six months of age. This gives your pet time to grow and develop enough to avoid any long tem side effects that can be caused by de-sexing too early.

The main reason for de-sexing your pet is to prevent any unwanted pregnancies. There are many homeless dogs and cats currently living in shelters as a result of people not de-sexing their pets.

Another good reason to de-sex is to assist your pet’s long term health; entire animals are more prone to developing certain types of cancers and diseases. Behavioural issues can also be avoided by de-sexing.

False! Dogs can be trained to guard and this ability has nothing to do with the presence of testosterone. If your dog is an active member of your family, it will usually warn you when something enters their territory.

There is no research that proves your female dog or cat will benefit from having a season or giving birth before being de-sexed.

Diet

High quality, manufactured food is normally very well balanced and contains all the nutrients your pet needs for a healthy, happy life. A home cooked diet can vary greatly depending on what ingredients the owner uses, but a good diet, low in fat and with a variety of meats, vegies and carbohydrates (pasta or rice) will keep your dog healthy also. The main difference between the two options is convenience.

As long as they are of a high quality, wet food and dry food both provide a balanced diet. Wet food does have the added bonus of containing water which can contribute to your pet’s water intake for the day if they are not a big drinker. Dry food is more convenient, keeps for longer and doesn’t go off in the bowl or attract flies.

Be aware that dry food is concentrated and it is easy to over feed your pet. However animals on dry food diets tend to have less sloppy and less volume of stools, as more of the food is absorbed.

If you have to ask this question then the answer is most likely yes! A touch test will help you determine if your pet is overweight. Run your hands over your pet’s rib cage; if you can feel but not see ribs, your pet is most likely at an ideal weight.

Housing and Identification

In Australia our wildlife is very susceptible to cat attacks and as responsible cat owners we should consider this when we allow our cat to roam outdoors. In a perfect world, our cats would live indoors with an enclosure to allow them to have fresh air and bask in the sun. This way they would be safe from cars, dogs and feral cat attacks. At the very minimum, all cats should live indoors at night. If given enough stimulation in the form of toys and scratching posts, a window to sit at and a comfy bed, cats will be very happy living the indoor life and will not be deprived of anything.

If you cannot bear to keep your cat indoors 24/7, cat bibs can be used while they are outside and are effective in protecting wildlife from being attacked. If your cat does go outside, ensure they are vaccinated against FIV.

If your dog sleeps outside, ensure their bed is in a sheltered area out of the elements. A kennel with a warm bed will keep your dog happy and comfortable.

A microchip is tiny device that sits under your pet’s skin. Each microchip has a unique number that, when scanned, will display your contact details and allow the quick return of your pet should they ever get lost.

Microchipping laws are different across each local council and from state to state. Check with your local council as to what laws apply in your area.

If your pet is microchipped, call one of the national registries to see if they have been collected. Phone your local shire and surrounding vets and leave your relevant contact details, including your name and phone number, a thorough description of your pet and their unique markings or collars.

Ensure you never lose your pet again by securing your fencing, shutting gates or installing boundary collars.

Senior Pets

Your pet may display the following signs of arthritis: difficulty walking up stairs; difficulty or taking a long time to lay down/get up; reluctance to run, climb or jump; sleeping more and groaning or unsettled in the night.

Signs in cats may also include: the inability to jump up or down from the heights they previously could jump from and; being unable to groom themselves in certain spots.

When your pet turns eight years old it is a good idea to visit the vet for a senior check-up. Your pet will be checked for age-related ailments and will be recommend various remedies to keep them happy and healthy.

A full health check and yearly vaccination is strongly recommended regardless of your pet’s age.

Wildlife

Approach with caution; your safety is important and while some animals (such as kangaroos) look cute, they can cause serious injury if not handled carefully. If you have managed to capture and restrain an injured wild animal, keep it warm and in a quiet place until you can get to the vet.

Your local vet will treat wildlife free of charge; get in contact and they will be able to advise you on who to call in your local area.