Getting your cat used to carry boxes and car travel

Does your attempts to get your cat into its carry box look more like a 3 ring circus then a calm and easy manoeuvre?

It need not be so, it just takes a little time and patience and it can all go smoothly.

Firstly choosing the right carrier can help.

Ideally you want at least 2 ways of getting into and out of a carrier. One of the best options is a hard carrier that has a front door and that can have the top lifted off. By placing the bottom half in a favourite resting spot, complete with snuggly blanket your cat will learn to like the bottom half of the box and use it regularly for a little cat nap. Once they are happily snuggling in the bottom half you can place the top half on top but leave the door out, until they are happy to snuggle in there. Once they are very comfortable with the box you can place the door in the carrier and use it to bring your kitty to the vet.It will take weeks of getting your cat really comfortable.To help make it an even better place you can leave treats in the cage for your kitty to discover. After the trip to the vet you can turn the bottom half into a bed again to keep your cat comfortable with his box.

Once your cat is comfortable in its cage, the next step for a calm vet visit or trip to the cattery, is to help them have a good car ride.

Having got your kitty into the cage calmly and without a rush, cover the cage with a towel. You can spray the towel with Feliway Pheromone to help your cat stay relaxed, for additional help. Now carry your cat carrier carefully (carrying the box holding it by the sides and not the handle) to the car and place the carrier on the floor behind the front passenger seat. This is the least stimulating and least frightening place for your cat to be. When the carrier is placed on a level between the 2 seats very little movement of the cage occurs and this gives your cat a feeling of security. Drive carefully and do not rush. Taking corners at speed will do nothing to calm your kitty’s nerves!

The final step for a calm vet visit for your cat is your arrival at the vet.

Again carefully carry your cat carrier (by the sides not the handle) to the waiting room and place it on a seat next to you, not on the floor. Face the carrier so the door or uncovered side of the carrier is facing towards you and away from other pets. Choose a seat away from dogs if possible. If dogs do frighten your cat, ask one of our receptionists if it is possible to wait in a consult room for your appointment. Keeping your Kitty feeling secure and calm is the best way for a pleasant vet visit.

Puppy Care

Puppy and Toy

Getting a new puppy can be very exciting but also overwhelming at times. There as so many things to consider:

  • which breed to choose,
  • what to feed,
  • essential health care such as vaccination and worming,
  • training and puppy preschool, and
  • what sort of lead, collar and toys to use.

Here are a few hints to help you get started.

Firstly choosing a puppy from the right source is very important for your puppy’s long term well-being. Ideally choose your puppy from a breeder that is happy to let you meet your puppy’s parents and the puppies. Look for breeders that handle their puppies from an early age and allow their puppies and their parents plenty of environmental enrichment, such as access to outdoor runs, toys, digging pits etc. Avoid purchasing puppies from pet shops and online especially if this involves air transport as research has show that puppies from these sources are more likely to have long-term behaviour and health issues.

Food: Choosing a good quality puppy food that is balanced for growing bodies and developing brains is important. It is vital that the nutrients are balanced for healthy bone growth and muscle development, but also that the diet is rich in Omega Oils, Lysine and L-Cartenine, as well as B Vitamins and Antioxidants so that your puppy’s brain develops normally. You can feed your puppy to be smarter!

puppy and kittenVaccinations: Puppies need to be vaccinated to develop immunity against many diseases. The essential vaccinations are for Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus so it is safe for them to go for a walk, but also Canine Cough vaccinations are important so it is safe for them to socialise with other dogs and learn proper dog etiquette for later in life. Vaccinations are usually given at 6-8 weeks of age, 10-12 weeks of age and again at 16 weeks of age. Puppies should not go out into public areas until after their second vaccine is given.

Worming: Puppies need to be wormed at 6,8, 10 and 12 weeks of age and then monthly until they are 6 months old. Worming should cover all of the stomach worms and heartworm. At 6 months of age a heartworm injections may be given so that the routine worming medication only needs to be given every 3 months. If you want to continue with oral heartworm prevention, worming needs to continue monthly.

Fleas: We are lucky in Canberra as fleas do not tend to be as much of a problem. However once you get fleas on your pet the environment can quickly become contaminated requiring months of treatment to resolve fully. There are now many combination products available that will worm and flea your pet at the same time, so its easy to cover all bases.

Sleeping labrador puppy with booksTraining: Puppies need environmental enrichment and socialisation from a very young age. Ideally the breeder will already have begun this before you get your puppy. But once you get your little bundle of joy it is important to gently expose him to lots of different things so he learns that new things are good and enjoyable and nothing to be scared off. Get him used to different surfaces such as tile, wooden floor boards, carpet, grass, tan bark etc. If he seems worried about any of the surfaces gently coax him onto the surface with some treats and feed him his favourite treats when he walks over the surface. Invite friends over to hang out with your puppy so he gets used to men and women of different ages and sizes, kids too but make sure they are closely supervised and very gentle and quiet when handling your puppy. Once the second vaccination has been given gently introduce your puppy to the outside environment. Puppy preschool is the ideal way to help you and your puppy with training, but don’t think a 4 week class will get the job done, keep working with your puppy and continue to socialise for his first year of life so he has every chance to develop into a happy, well adjusted and polite canine companion. Your hard work early will be rewarded with a lifetime of happy dog behaviour.

Leads and collars: Introduce a collar to your puppy early on. Start by putting it on when you are feeding him or playing a game so he is distracted from it and given positive associations, then gradually leave it on for longer. When he has accepted his collar start introducing his lead. Initially coax him forward with a toy or treat if he seems reluctant to walk on the lead and once he is used to it in the house and backyard start taking him for walks with it. Don’t use the lead to drag him though if he stops, continue to coax him with a toy or treat if he stops until getting the lead out results in a happy dance.

Please call us and discuss any questions you have regarding your new puppy with one of our helpful staff.

Introducing A New Pet To Other Household Pets

Family membersIntroducing any new pet into your household with other pets can be a worrying time and can lead to some unusual behaviours by your resident pets as they try to get used to the new family member. Often they adjust quickly to each other and after a short period of adjustment everything is fine. But sometimes problems can develop, so slow gradual introductions are generally best.

NOTE: Before introducing any new pet ensure it is healthy, vaccinated, wormed and has no fleas.

Gradual introductions often make the process a lot easier giving your new pet and your “pets in residence” time to get used to each other, slowly and gently.

Dogs meetingInitially keep your pets separate when you are not supervising them. Your original pet(s) should have much the same access to areas as before and the usual routine should be maintained as much as possible. The new addition should be kept in a neutral area such as a bathroom or garage. Make sure that the area is well lit and not too hot or cold and “pet proof”. Provide toys, food, water and bedding and for cats a litter tray or puppies wee mats if they are likely to be confined for some hours. Don’t put your new pet into the favourite area of your resident pet.

Make sure to spend time with both pets so that the routine of your original pet remains much the same but the new addition also gets plenty of time.

The next step is some limited interaction between pets. Make sure that the new pet is on a leash or in a crate or cage. If you are at all concerned your other pets may react badly to the new addition then place them on lead also. Allow them to explore each other at a distance at first. Any calm behavior or even ignoring of each other can be rewarded with calm praise or a treat.

If initial introductions go well, with calm behavior, perhaps even a little sniffing and tail wagging then you can progress to feeding pets in the same room, but quite a long way apart. If this goes well every few days move the bowls a little closer together. If either pet acts aggressively then back of the distance again to one that is acceptable and then after a few days try to bring them a bit closer together. If your pet actively guards food and wants to fight over food do not do this step.

If one of your pets reacts violently (hissing, spitting or swiping by cats, or staring growling, snarling, lip lifting by dogs) banish the pet showing the aggressive behavior into a neutral “time out” area (second toilet for example) and leave them there until they are calm, then try again. If they react aggressively again then leave them in time out for longer.

If things are progressing well continue to offer pats, food and treats whenever the pets are together to show them it is a positive thing to have a new family member. Make sure to spend several minutes each day, ideally at least 5-10 minutes with each individual pet on their own without the others around.

Once your pets are either not reacting to each other at all or are doing so positively allow them to be together unrestrained but still under supervision at all times. This may take hours or weeks to achieve. Remember to praise and reward them if they are interacting well together. Be prepared for possible negative situations by having a water pistol or whistle handy that maybe used to startle them and get them apart if aggressive situations develop and always be careful when handling pets that are aroused and upset.

If these supervised interactions go well allow them to be together without strict supervision but when you are home and listen out for problems and check on them regularly to make sure all is going well. Once they have been fine with this for some time they will be able to be together when you are not at home to keep an eye out. Make sure there are extra water dishes, food bowls, beds and litter trays available so these do not become a cause of fights.

Be patient, don’t rush your pets and don’t push them to interact if they are not wanting to. It maybe a much happier household with 2 individuals living side by side but separate lives than trying to force them to be best buddies.

  • Don’t inadvertently reward bad behavior by misplaced assurances that everything will be OK. If your pet is acting aggressively, that is not OK. Separate them allow the aggressor to calm down and go back a step in the program and reward calm interactions to encourage good behavior.
  • If you have tried slow introductions and things seem to be getting worse get help from a qualified behavioural trainer or a veterinarian.



  • Bring the new cat into a neutral room and make it a pleasant and calm environment. Allow your cat or kitten to get confident in this location and make sure he or she is comfortable with all human members of the family.
  • Make sure your resident cat(s) has plenty of attention and food
  • Consider using Feliway pheromone both in the new cats room and the rest of the house to keep all cats calm and relaxed.
  • In the first stage of introduction use scent only. Get a face washer or hand towel and label it with each cat’s name. Each day rub the face and flank of the cat whose name is on the towel and store it in a plastic bag afterwards. Whenever you go to greet, feed or play with one of your cats wrap the towel of the other cat around your hand and present it to the cat you are greeting. This may initially cause the cat to back away, do not force them to sniff it. If they back away allow them time to settle and come forward to investigate. Once you can present the towel and the cat ignores it you can move on to stage 2.
  • Stage 2 the swapping of smells. Now you can put the towels of the cats in one bag and let the smells mingle. Proceed as above and present the towels to each cat. Once the cat is reacting positively then you can rub the towels on objects that the cats might rub against such as furniture or even your legs. At this stage you maybe able to use a single cloth to wipe both cats with it. Make sure the cat is happy to accept rubbing with the cloth that carries the scent of the other cat. Once all cats happily rub against the cloth and objects rubbed with it is time for the next stage.
  • Allow the new cat access to the rest of the house to explore while the other cat(s) are shut away elsewhere so it can find hiding places and escape routes should they be needed. Allow some time each day for this before returning your new cat to its room and allowing your other cat(s) back in. You might be able to have your resident cats out during the day and locked up at night and have your new cat confined during the day but allowed the run of the house at night for example. Once your new cat is confident in the house its time to move to the next stage.
  • Allow cats to see each other but keep a barrier between them. Ideally a mesh screen can be used as it allows odours to travel but a glass door may also work. Cats should be given food at normal feeding times on either side of the screen or distracted with play. You can rub the screen or door with the towel you have been using for the scent swapping to help the process along. Move play and food progressively closer to the screen as long as the cats remain calm.
  • The final stage allows them to meet. Once they are calm and content on either side of the screen with distraction allow them to meet with the screen between and if they remain calm after an initial greeting open the door and allow them to meet.
  • Once your cats have started to mix in calm and relaxed manner and start scent marking areas with their chins in the house or even each other you can gradually remove environment barriers and changes and the Feliway.

It may take weeks to months to reach this happy co existence so be patient and persist. Cats take time to adjust to new things and especially new cats.

For more information on animal behaviours and behavioural issues go back to our behaviours page.

Senior Care

As your pets get older their behavior may change, they might be sleeping more, or become restless at night. Or they may show changes in appetite or drinking. Often dogs will slow down on their walks.

These changes are not due to aging so much as the diseases that are more commonly seen in older pets. Often older pets experience some degree of hearing loss (just like older humans) or they may lose some vision due to aging of the lenses in their eyes. These changes can lead to them becoming more anxious or reactive. Old dog
Sometimes dogs and cats become less active in their senior years and this maybe due to arthritis or heart disease. Arthritis causes discomfort and may result in dogs and cats being less willing to exercise. Heart disease can affect the circulation and the pets ability to cope with exercise and your may see shortness of breath or panting with exercise or your dog may cough when exercising.
As well as some hearing and vision loss aging pets can sometimes suffer from cognitive dysfunction as well. In dogs this may lead to agitation and restlessness at night, loss of toilet training, changes in appetite and “getting lost” in familiar surroundings. In cats the most common sign is often loud yowling at night or during the day and again appearing lost or staring into space.

Another common disease with age is kidney disease, with the most common symptoms seen being increased thirst and urination, and loss of appetite.
Hyperactive thyroid function is also quite common in older cats often leading to an increase in appetite but loss of weight, and increased irritability.

So if your pet is aging and you are concerned about any changes in their behavior, why not have them examined and checked for these problems, so that they may age gracefully and with maximum vigor and enjoyment.


Arthritis can affect dogs and cats of any age but is most common in pets over 7 years of age. In dogs predisposing causes include being overweight, genetic causes such as hip dysplasia and repetitive high impact exercise such as leaping up to catch balls and Frisbees. In cats being overweight, injuries and to a lesser extend genetics play a role.

Old dog
So how do you know your dog has arthritis? Signs can be variable depending on which joint is affected.
◦ Initially your dog may simply stretch a lot more on rising after rest, or have a bit more difficulty getting into the car.
◦ He may tire more easily on walks or start using both back legs together when running.
◦ You may also note a loss of muscle mass in the affected leg.
Eventually though you see lameness with the joint becoming so painful your dog no longer puts all his weight on the leg. Arthritis is a chronic painful condition but most dogs wont yelp or show obvious signs of pain, its up to you to notice and get them help.

Cats are a lot more difficult to see signs, as they are not usually highly energetic especially as they get older, so signs are a lot more subtle.
◦ Initially you may notice they are a little less certain when jumping up, or they no longer get up as high.
◦ Your cat’s coat may also become less glossy as she starts having trouble with grooming.
◦ Another sign maybe that she begins to miss the litter tray when urinating or defeacating or she starts to avoid human contact.
◦ Sometimes all you see is that your cat sleeps more or becomes more restless and sleeps less.

So what can you do if your pet has arthritis?
Firstly make sure they are not overweight as this simply adds to the wear and tear of joints. There are some steps you can take to help your pet lose weight, call the veterinary hospital to discuss what options could work for your pet.
Secondly make sure you provide warm supportive bedding. Dogs often prefer a firm surface to assist them with getting up. A trampoline bed or a wooden packing palette with carpet or a thin foam mattress can make ideal beds. For cats they often like to snuggle, so a bed with sides is ideal but make sure the entrance is not too high so your cat can gain easy access. Heating pads are also available to add extra comfort.
Early on in the disease diets such as Hills j/d or Royal Canin Mobility Support can help get your pet back to normal. Food additives such as Joint Guard, Pernaease and many others, offer joint support through addition of glucosamine and natural anti-inflammatories.
However, medication often becomes necessary to relieve your pet’s pain and get them back to their spry selves. There are many options.
For more severe cases using Cartrophen Injections or Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatories maybe necessary to maintain your pet’s quality of life. When used correctly and with medical supervision these medications carry minimal risks and provide great relief from the chronic pain of arthritis.
Contact us at Weston Creek Veterinary Hospital for further information if you think your pet has arthritis or you’d like to discuss treatment options for arthritis. We are here to help you and your pet.

First aid kit for your pets

Knowing some of the basics and having a first aid kit on hand may save your pets life.First Aid Kit

To make up a first aid kit for your pet is quite easy.

Get a water proof bag large enough to hold the following supplies:

  • Sterile wound dressing,
  • gauze bandage,
  • medical tape,
  • scissors,
  • tweezers,
  • thermometer andlubricant such as KY Jelly,
  • small syringe or eye dropper,
  • chlorhexidine disinfectant in a small bottle (with instructions on how to dilute it for use),
  • plastic non latex gloves,
  • ophthalmic saline solution,
  • antiseptic wound ointment, and
  • a small bottle or bag containing a few washing soda crystals.

Additionally have a ruler or other rigid material for a splint and a blanket large enough to cover your pet and a soft nylon rope to fashion a muzzle in an emergency.

Optional Extras include tick remover, and instant cold pack.

Once you have gathered you supplies place them in your waterproof bag and add a card with your vets and the Animal Emergency Centres number on it.

Your first aid kit is now ready

Poisons and Toxins

Your pet has just ingested something toxic. What do you do?

First, take a deep breath. Stay calm, the more composed you are, the sooner you can seek the correct medical attention.

Then, take the following steps:

eating poison

  1. Check to make sure your pet is breathing normally and acting fine otherwise and remove your pet from the area.
  2. Make sure no other pets or children are exposed to the area, and safely remove any poisonous material.
  3. Collect a sample of the material, along with the packaging, or container. The information on the pack can be vital in the treatment of your pet.
  4. Don’t give your dog any milk, food, salt, oil, or any other home remedies. This can lead to complications.
  5. Never induce vomiting without talking to your vet—you may cause further problems by doing so.
  6. Get help. Program your vet’s phone number into your phone, as well as the Animal Emergency Hospital number.

Remember your pet’s prognosis is always better when treatment is sought immediately, so don’t wait to see if symptoms develop before seeking help by calling your vet or us on 02) 6288 4944. There is only a small opportunity to remove the poison from your pet before it is absorbed so don’t delay.

Prevent Pet Poisoning in your home

Prevention is better than cure, and by taking a few simple precautions you can prevent your pet from getting poisoned.

In the Living Room

  • Make sure any pot plants or cut flowers are not poisonous. Take especial care with bouquets of flowers as they often contain Lilies, which are highly poisonous to cats. • Avoid the use of aerosols and heavily fragranced products around caged birds.
  • Make sure any home fragrance products such as pot-pourri, plug in diffusers and oil burners are well out of reach of pets.
  • Make sure ashtrays, cigarettes and nicotine replacement products are kept out of reach of pets.

In the Kitchen

  • Make sure foods poisonous to pets are kept out of reach these include sugar free gum, grapes, chocolate, onions and many more. For a more complete list check out our top ten kitchen toxins. Also avoid leaving fatty foods out as these can cause pancreatitis if eaten.
  • Avoid access to garbage bins and compost heaps as these can contain many toxins such as coffee grounds, spoilt food and cooked bones, which can cause serious problems for pets.
  • Make sure alcohol is also kept out of reach.

In the Bathroom

  • Keep all medications vitamins and supplements locked up in secure cupboards—don’t leave them on bench tops or plastic containers, which are easily chewed through.
  • Never use any human medications on your pets without first checking with your vet that it is safe to do so. Many common medications such as Paracetamol are toxic to pets.
  • Store your pets medication separately from your own, it has been known for humans to accidentally take pet medications and visa versa. Always check the label to make sure your are using the correct dose and medication before giving it.
  • Keep pets away from cleaning products. When cleaning any room with detergents and disinfectants make sure to shut your pet out of the room until the product has dried. Cats are often attracted to bleach and other cleaners and can suffer serious problems after licking at cleaning products.
  • Keep your toilet lid closed, it is not uncommon for a dog or cat to drink from the toilet bowl given half a chance and this can lead to nasty consequences especially if you use automatic toilet bowl treatments.

In the Laundry/Garage

  • Keep pest poisons out of reach of pets. Check all products to see if they are toxic to your pet and know what to do if any product is ingested. Where possible choose products that are not toxic to your pet Do not use insecticides without knowing the toxic effects of the product. Read the label carefully and make sure your pet is locked away when using sprays etc. Never use dog products on cats or visa versa without check with your vet first.
  • Keep batteries out of reach, if chewed or swallowed these can cause serious harm and dogs seem to like chewing them.
  • Keep glues out of reach—dogs love to chew on the bottles and these can cause serious damage by poisoning or causing blockages in the gut.
  • Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) products are extremely toxic. Choose propylene glycol products as they are safer. If you spill any antifreeze on a driveway, clean it up immediately or dilute it with several litres of water.
  • Keep all automotive products—like windshield cleaner fluid, engine oil—away from pets, and immediately clean up any spills.
  • Dogs like to eat some fertilizers such as blood and bone and Dynamic Lifter. These can cause serious problems if ingested in reasonable quantities, so keep bags tightly sealed and use products according to label instructions.
  • Grub or snail killers—use safer alternatives such as Multigard as most snail killers are extremely toxic to pets. Avoid them if possible.
  • Insecticides used outside the house may contain organophosphates or carbamates and these can be very dangerous if ingested in larger concentrations.
  • Keep pets off lawns until herbicides are dry. Once absorbed by the plant leaf products such as round up are no longer toxic to your pet.

In the Garden

  • Make sure that plants in the area your pet has access to are not poisonous. Check out our top 11 toxic plants to help you with this or go online at
  • If placing pest poisons in the garden pest traps to place the poison inside as this avoids transference of poison by the pest to areas your pet can access.
  • Make sure to remove ay mushrooms that sprout up as these can be highly toxic.

Source: Pet Poison Helpline,

Toxins around your house and garden

Do you know the toxins around your house and garden?

  • Top 10 Toxins in the Kitchen
  • Top 11 Toxic Plants

Top 10 Toxins in the Kitchen

Chocolate 1. Chocolate:Contains Theobromine which has gastrointestinal and cardiovascular effects. The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa and the higher the theobromine content. As little as 5-10g of chocolate per kilogram of body weight of dark chocolate can have toxic effects on dogs. Cocoa powder is even more toxic. Another toxin in chocolate is caffeine, which acts as a stimulant to the heart and nervous system. White chocolate does not contain theobromine and milk chocolate has lower levels of theobromine so is less toxic then dark chocolate.
Grapes 2. Grapes, Raisins and Currants: The toxin is not known but ingestion of 19g/kg body weight of grapes and 3g/kg of raisins can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea within a few hours of ingestion. This progresses to loss of appetite, increased thirst and abdominal pain. Kidney failure can develop within 48 hours.
Sugar Free Gum 3. Xylitol: Is used as a sweetening agent in sugar free gum and sweets. Ingestion of as little as 0.1g/kg can cause rapid life threatening drops in blood sugar. Larger amounts are toxic to the liver leading to liver failure. Symptoms include weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, tremors, seizures, jaundice, black-tarry stools, coma and death.
Alcohol 4. Alcohol:  Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Central nervous system depression is very marked resulting in drowsiness, weakness and in-coordination and can lead to seizures and respiratory failure.
Onions 5. Onions and Garlic: contain organosulfoxides which can lead to damage to the Red Blood Cells. This causes the cells to break up leading to anaemia. Cats are more sensitive to these toxins then dogs. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, rapid heart rate, pale gums and yellowing of the skin (jaundice).
Compost 6. Compost: Often contains fungal toxins which can be toxic. Signs include agitation, elevated temperature, panting, drooling, vomiting and may progress to in-coordination, tremors and seizures. Symptoms can develop within 30 minutes of ingestion and even small amounts can be toxic.
Uncooked dough 7. Unbaked Bread Dough: When ingested can expand in the stomach leading to bloat, carbon dioxide can also be released causing further bloating and fermentation can lead to release of alcohol leading to further toxicity.
Macadamia Nuts 8. Macadamia Nuts: Can be toxic to dogs. Symptoms include vomiting, in-coordination, weakness, fever, muscle tremors and depression. Macadamia nuts are only toxic to dogs. Poisoning is non fatal but requires supportive care to avoid complications.
Household cleaners 9. Household Cleaners: Similar to humans caustic cleaners can cause serious damage to the gastrointestinal tract as well as irritating the respiratory tract. Strangely it is often cats that suffer as they are attracted by bleach and will often lick the cleaners remaining after cleaning is completed causing ulceration of the tongue and mouth and excessive salivation.
Medications 10. Human Medications: Many of these are highly toxic to both cats and dogs. Topping the list are common household medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), which include common names such as ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen) and naproxen (eg Naprogesic). These can cause severe gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney failure. Another pain medications, acetaminophen (e.g. Panadol) is very popular. This drug is especially toxic to cats. One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in large doses, red blood cell damage. Another class of drugs that is toxic to pets is Antidepressants such as Fluoxetine (eg Prozac or Anafrinil). While these antidepressant drugs are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, in-coordination, tremors and seizures. Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (eg Ritalin) contain potent stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even minimal ingestion of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems. Beta-blockers (eg Propranolol) are used to treat high blood pressure and small ingestion of these drugs may cause serious poisoning in pets. Overdoses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate. This is by no means a complete list, with many other medications harmful to pets.

If your pet ingests any of the above or any other medications or chemicals in your home please contact Weston Creek Veterinary Hospital immediately to get advice on your best course of action.


Top 11 Toxic Plants

While there are a vast number of species of plants and flowers, only a few of these plants are poisonous to your pet. Make sure you check which plants are most deadly and remove them from your backyard or home to avoid your dog or cat from getting into these toxic plants!

Autumn Crocus 1. Autumn Crocus (Colchicum Autumnale: Liliaceae Family): This plant contains Colchicine, which is highly toxic causing severe vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, liver and renal damage, and respiratory problems. Signs may occur immediately but can be delayed for days. The more common crocus plants are those that flower in spring and are part of the Iridaceae family and cause general vomiting and diarrhoea but are not highly toxic. If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested this plant contact the veterinary clinic immediately.
Azalea 2. Azalea: These are in the same family as rhododendrons. Azaleas can cause serious problems for pets. Eating even a few leaves can result in vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive drooling. Prompt veterinary attention is needed or your pet could fall into a coma and possibly die.
Cyclamen 3. Cyclamen: Family Primulaceae. It is the roots (or tuber) of this seasonal flowering plant that are especially toxic to pets. If ingested, cyclamen can cause severe vomiting and even death. They are common plants available for use as indoor plants in the winter months.
Kalanchoe 4. Kalanchoe:  Part of the Crassulaceae family. This popular flowering succulent plant contains cardiac glycosides which can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and heart rhythm disturbances if ingested by pets. It is frost tender so in Canberra is likely to be an indoor or greenhouse plant.
Lilies 5. Lilies: Not all Lilies are toxic. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies contain oxalate crystals that can cause minor signs, such as irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and oesophagus – this results in drooling.
The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies, and these include Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions can result in severe kidney failure. If your cat is seen eating or chewing on any part of a lily, take your cat (and the plant) to the veterinary hospital immediately for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better the chance to treat the poisoning. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving binders like activated charcoal) is imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can improve the prognosis.
Oleander 6. Oleander: It is a very popular outdoor shrub, with evergreen leaves and delicate flowers. However, the branches, leaves and flowers contain cardiac glycosides and these are extremely toxic if ingested. Ingestion of the plant can cause severe vomiting, slowing of the heart rate and potentially even cause death.
Dieffenbachia 7. Dieffenbachia: Popular indoor plants in many homes and offices, dieffenbachia can cause intense oral irritation, drooling, nausea, vomiting and difficulty swallowing if ingested.
Daffodils 8. Daffodils: These flowers contain lycorine, an alkaloid with strong emetic properties (substance that triggers vomiting). Ingestion of the bulb, plant or flower can cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and even possible irregular heart rate or respiratory depression. Crystals are found in the outer layer of the bulbs, similar to hyacinths, which cause severe tissue irritation and secondary drooling. Daffodil ingestions can also result in more severe symptoms so if you see your pet chewing at a daffodil plant or bulb or symptoms are seen, we recommend you seek veterinary care for treatment.
Lilies of the Valley 9. Lily of the Valley:The Convallaria majalis plant contains cardiac glycosides which will cause symptoms similar to digitalis (foxglove) ingestion. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, a slowing of the heart rate, severe heart rhythm disturbances, and possibly seizures. Pets with any known exposure to this plant should be examined and evaluated by your veterinarian and treated if needed.
 Palm 10. Sago Palm: In the Cycad family, this very popular household and outdoor plant (in warmer climates) can be very harmful to pets. If ingested, the leaves and seeds can cause vomiting, bloody stools, damage to the stomach lining, severe liver failure and, in some cases, death.
 Tulips and grape hyacinths 11. Tulips and Hyacinths: Tulips contain allergenic lactones while hyacinths contain similar alkaloids. The toxic principle of these plants is very concentrated in the bulbs (versus the leaf or flower), so make sure your dog isn’t digging up the bulbs in the garden. When the plant parts or bulbs are chewed or ingested, it can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and oesophagus. Typical signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, or even diarrhoea, depending on the amount ingested. There’s no specific antidote, but with supportive care from the veterinarian (including rinsing the mouth, anti-vomiting medication, and possibly intravenous fluids), animals do quite well. With large ingestions of the bulb, more severe symptoms such as an increase in heart rate and changes in respiration can be seen.

This is only a partial list of poisonous plants.  For a more complete list of plants poisonous to cats and dogs, visit

If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these plants or any other questionable substance, call Weston Creek Veterinary Hospital for assistance. Accurate and timely identification of the ingested material is very important. Having the container, package, or label will save valuable time and may save your pets life.

How to make a puzzle box toy for your cat

Making a puzzle box is simple, quick, inexpensive, and can provide hours of fun for your cat.

1 Supplies 1) All you need is an old shoe box  or small cardboard box, a feather, ping pong ball or other small cat toy, a sharp knife and some packing tape.
3 Cut Holes 2) Simply cut 2-3 holes into the sides and top of the box with a sharp knife.
2 Mark Holes 3) Make the hole large enough for the cat to fit its paw inside, about the size of a 50 cent piece should do it.
which_toy_do_i_want 4) Place 1-2 small toys in the box.
4 Taping Box 5) Put on the lid and tape it securely to the box (making sure not to occlude the holes) and your puzzle box is complete.

Why not get the kids involved and decorate it with non toxic marker pen.

Now show your cat the box tilting it so your cat can hear and see the toys moving. With most cats curiosity takes over and they start fishing through the holes. If they are reluctant, add 2-3 favourite treats into the box and see if that gets her interested. Now your feline can expend some energy trying to get those toys out

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