Going on holidays with your dog

Traveling with your pet can be a very special time. However, there a few things you need to consider before hitting the road.

Is your pet healthy and well? Give your pet a thorough once over, or get your vet to do a check to ensure it has no health concerns that will effect him whilst traveling.

Vaccinations: Is your pet up to date? If you know your dog is going to be mixing with other dogs it is especially important to make sure you are up to date with your kennel cough vaccination. This is an annual vaccination.

Accommodation: Check that the places you will be staying allow for pets all year round. Some have special "no pet" periods in peak season.

Identification: Make sure your pets collar is in good condition and clearly shows your contact details. Ensure your pet’s microchip details are up to date. For interstate travelers, register your pet with the national pet registry.

What to pack: Food, fresh water, water bowl, dog lead, doggy bags, bedding and any special comfort toys to make them feel at home. If you plan to feed your dog fresh meat, still pack some dry food for emergencies.

First Aid Kit: Include basics like tick remover tool, bandage, gauze, antiseptic wash, antibiotic ointment, toenail trimmer, ear & eye wash, thermometer, tweezers, topical gel and emergency phone numbers.

Restraints: There are laws for restraining your dog, and they differ from state to state. Check the laws that apply to your trip before you head off. It is highly recommended you restrain your pet in your car with a harness or crate/box secured to the car. Unrestrained pets are a potential hazard and in an accident they can cause serious injury, often fatal, to passengers and themselves. Ensure your pets have plenty of space and air. Establish whether or not your pet gets car sick before you depart. Consult your vet for medications to treat car sickness.

Courtesy Dr Bruce Syme, "Vet's All Natural"

Bruce is a practicing vet and animal lover who founded Vets All Natural 20 years ago with a simple mission, to “Improve the health and longevity of dogs and cats”. Dr Bruce is an expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.

Do you know how often you should be feeding your dog? Article by Dr Bruce Syme

"This is a frequently asked question by dog owners universally, and is totally understandable. 

A dog that is overfed will more than likely end up obese and could suffer some extremely unpleasant health conditions including degenerative joint disease and cancer.
The complete opposite to canine obesity is, of course, malnourishment due to underfeeding which can lead to a condition that suppresses the immune system, leaving dogs prone to infection, disease, vulnerable to parasites which, the majority of the time, place more strain on their body function. 
Key feeding factors



  • Puppy metabolisms require more protein and energy in their diets than adult dogs whose intake is less.
  • Puppies should have at least three meals per day until they are between eight and 10 weeks old, then you can reduce their feeds to twice or even once daily, once their rapid growth phase has passed.


  • The only difference between feeding large and small breed dogs should be portion size – assuming their diet is perfectly balanced!!
  • Adult dogs, in particularly the large and giant breeds, can be maintained on one meal a day
  • Small breeds, which have a higher metabolic rate, may require two feeds a day to meet their energy requirements.


  • It’s important to ensure your choice of diet is at the highest level of nutrition,  as this influences how much to feed your dog per day. I recommend a balanced fresh meat diet. 
  • Vets All Natural products carry nutritional guides that include feeding frequencies. Frequency can also depend on your dog’s exercise routine and metabolic rate - which will vary from dog to dog. 

Nutritional boosting

Evidence shows that if you replace your dog’s regular meal once or twice a week with a feed of meaty bones (AKA a bone fast) it will benefit your pet's body function including joint health, oral hygiene and bone strength. Fasting promotes and activates healing mechanisms in the body, and it improves overall health and longevity."


Bruce is a practicing vet and animal lover who founded Vets All Natural 20 years ago with a simple mission, to “Improve the health and longevity of dogs and cats”. Dr Bruce is an expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.







One of the most common questions we are asked with respect to settling in your new puppy is the practice of crate training. Read this excellent article from RSPCA Victoria.


Crate training your dog 

CrateTraining1.jpg - large   Crate training is a new concept for many, but is a very effective training tool for adult dogs and puppies. It may take a CanvasCratetraining.jpg - largelittletime and effort to train your dog  to use the crate, but it can prove useful in a variety of situations. For instance, if you have a new dog or puppy, a crate is a fantastic way of teaching it the boundaries of the house and keeping it safe. When you’re travelling in the car, visiting the vet or any other time you may need to confine your dog (eg. after surgery or if it has been injured), it’s much easier and safer if your dog has been trained to enjoy being in a crate.

How big should my crate be and what type should I get?

A crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down. Crates can be plastic (used on airlines), wire (collapsible, metal pens) or collapsible fabric crates. It is not recommended to leave your dog for long periods in a fabric crate unless you are certain that your dog will be happy and calm inside it and will not scratch its way out.

I don’t like the look of a crate! What will my dog think?

A crate is intended to be a ‘safe haven’ or ‘security blanket’ for the dog. By nature, dogs like small, enclosed spaces, especially when they are feeling a little bit unsure. By providing your dog with an area where it can ‘escape’ and know it won’t be bothered, it can readily seek out this area when it needs a bit of a break or time-out.

Training your dog to use the crate

The duration of crate training varies from dog to dog. It will depend on the dog’s age, temperament and past experiences. It is very important to remember that your crate should be associated only with something pleasant and training should always move at your dog’s pace. Always vary the length of time that your dog will spend in its crate, especially during training. This will prevent your dog from ‘expecting’ to be let out at a particular time and reduce any issues such as whining or scratching at the crate door.

Introduce your dog to the crate

Place the crate in a central part of the household (living room, TV room, etc). Make the crate inviting and comfortable for your dog. Usually, dogs will go over and investigate. When your dog goes near the crate, reward it by throwing a food treat into the crate or near its entrance. Repeat this every time the dog goes near the crate. If the dog settles down inside the crate, reward this behaviour either with your voice or with food rewards. You want the dog to view the crate as a wonderful place to be, full of goodies and fun. You don’t want to shut the door of the crate just yet. Your dog needs to understand that it can come and go as it pleases, therefore reinforcing it as a good place to be.

Increase the length of time spent in the crate

Once your dog is happy in the crate for about 10 – 15 minutes after finishing its meal, you can start to confine it to the crate for longer periods. Get the dog into the crate using a command such as “crate” or “bed”. As the dog enters the crate, give it a treat, praise it and close the door. Quietly sit nearby for a few minutes and reward the dog for remaining calm and happy. You might even want to open the door and give the dog a rewarding treat-dispensing toy such as a Kong. Continue with your daily activities and return regularly to reward the dog, either verbally or with a food treat, for its calm behaviour inside the crate.
Start with short sessions and gradually increase the length of time that you leave the dog inside the crate. This may take several days or weeks.

Crating your dog at night

Once your dog is happy spending time in its crate with you around, you can introduce it to crating at night. Make sure your dog has toys or treat-dispensing toys with it to initially settle it into the routine. Keep the crate in a familiar, central area so the dog feels comfortable and settled. With young puppies or older dogs you may need to take them out for toilet breaks during the night. By making the crate a ‘fun’ and enjoyable place to be, night time crating should be an easy transition.

Potential problems

Too much time in the crate

Be careful that your puppy doesn’t spend too much time in its crate. While it is a fantastic tool for toilet training puppies and preventing destruction, a dog of any age should not spend all day in a crate while you are at work and again when you go to bed. This can affect your dog’s muscle development and condition. Young puppies shouldn’t spend more than 2-3 hours in the crate without a toilet break as they cannot last that long without relieving themselves.


If your dog begins whining in its crate, the best thing to do is ignore it. For a young puppy, whining may occur because it needs to relieve itself, so quietly take it out to the toilet on a lead, making sure not to play with it. Place it back into its crate once it has gone to the toilet. Remember that any sort of interaction, positive or negative, will be a ‘reward’ to the dog, so ignoring the whining is best. However, make sure that you reward the dog appropriately when it has settled and is quiet. Using a towel or sheet to cover the crate if the whining persists can also help settle the dog.
By following these steps, you can train your dog to not only love its crate, but also see it as a safe haven. Your dog’s crate can be a place to escape for a much-needed rest, a break from kids or other dogs, and even a portable home that will always be familiar no matter where you are.




Lightningimage.jpg - small

The changing of the seasons can bring with it dark skies, high winds, heavy rain, lightning and thunderclaps that can strike terror into the hearts of some pets.

If your pet gets distressed during stormy weather, here are some tips for minimising their stress.
Make them feel safe and protected
Cats that are susceptible to storms (and other stress-inducing situations) are likely to dash for their ‘safe place’ the minute they feel threatened.

Work out where their favourite bolt-hole is - be it under a bed, in a wardrobe, or behind a sofa – and deck it out with comfy, familiar bedding that feels cosy and protective. Warmth, elevation and security will help ensure your cat makes it through stormy weather with minimal distress.
Storm-phobic dogs tend to be more vocal than their feline counterparts, growling and barking, trembling, pacing, and displaying other fear and panic symptoms.

The first step in alleviating their distress is very similar to that with cats: identify a zone in your home where you can insulate them from the noise of thunder and high winds and the sight of lightning.

Somewhere with small (or no) windows, double-glazing and heavy curtains is ideal and a basement can work really well. Furnish the space with a dog bed or crate that has nice high sides to help your pet feel sheltered from the storm, and fill it with familiar bedding so your dog feels warm and safe. 
Try a dog anxiety shirt
I’ve never used an anxiety shirt on my own dogs but a Locum vet I work with bought one for his dog and swears by it. I imagine the sensation for the dog is very much like being cuddled or held tightly which they find very reassuring.

My vet colleague said it works fantastically, keeping his dog quiet and calm during storms. A few drops of Rescue Remedy™ or even a pharmaceutical sedative can be an effective supplement to this type of device.

The herbal - and pharmaceutical - approach
Calming herbs like chamomile, passion flower, valerian and skullcap can be effective in modifying your dog’s mood. 

You need to give these supplements time to kick-in so, unless you have plenty of warning that a storm is approaching, a few drops of Rescue Remedy™ can work much faster than the herbs and can be very effective for some cases of fear and phobia.
As a pet owner it can be incredibly upsetting to see our pets in distress, but we’re not helpless to ease their fears.  Follow my tips above and you can help your furry friends weather the storm.


Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and animal lover who founded Vets All Natural 20 years ago with a simple mission, to “Improve the health and longevity of dogs and cats”. Dr Bruce is an expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.


We are one of the largest suppliers of "Vet's All Natural" food products in Western Australia.


We sell and recommend the "Thundershirt" for cats and dogs. We have also had a lot of positive feedback for "Feliway" and "Adaptil" room diffusers for cats and dogs and the "Adaptil" collar for dogs. This last product is excellent if your dog is travelling any distance, say intra or interstate. Call us for advice.


Dogs bark for many different reasons but in most cases barking serves as a form of communication. Dog owners will generally recognise four different types of bark: warning, alarm,playful and need. for instance, continuous fast barking is a warning, perhaps alerting that someone is entering their home territory, whereas long drawn-out barks at a high pitch, with pauses between each one indicate that the dog is in need and is possibly lonely.


It is important for dog owners to try to establish why their dog is barking. Some barking may be completely normal, such as when someone knocks on the front door, but other barking may be associated with behavioural problems such as separation anxiety. Bark control systems should not be used on dogs whose barking is a consequence of anxiety or stress related condition. Pets don't figure out basic obedience on their own; it must be trained. bark control devices provide this training automatically.


What Types of Bark Control systems are there?

The stimulation offered by Bark Control systems are:

   - Ultrasonic and sonic stimulation emit a harmless but annoying high frequency sound to distract the dog from barking.

   - Spray stimulation uses a citronella scented mist which is sprayed forward to interrupt a dog's barking.

   - Static stimulation is the most extensively researched system and uses a safe pulse of static which passes between two skin         contacts on the underside of the neck.


What are the advantages of Bark Control systems?

-They deter nuisance barking preventing stress for both owners and neighbours

-They avoid uncomfortable situations between neighbours or tenants and landlords.

-They enable owners to keep their dogs rather than having to relinquish them because of nuisance barking. 

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What causes heartworm disease?

What effect does heartworm disease have on a pet?

How can heartworm disease be prevented?


Heartworm disease is a silent killer of dogs and cats. It's a slow, insidious disease that gradually incapacitates pets. By the time you notice the telltale signs of the disease, the damage that has been caused is serious.

This is one disease that can be easily and totally prevented.

Initially, heartworm disease was a condition mainly found in subtropical/tropical areas such as Darwin and Brisbane, and northern temperate areas like Sydney. However, the disease has been gradually squirming southward and is now widespread over much of Australia, including Melbourne, Adelaide and Western Australia. This can be explained by the movement of untreated dogs from endemic areas and suitable mosquito vectors becoming more resistant to the cold.


What causes heartworm disease?   

Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes.

After injection by a mosquito, adult worms eventually start to grow inside a pet's heart and lungs, causing very serious damage. Being so large, they are a major barrier to the free passage of blood from the heart to the lungs. The infection slowly progresses. The heart dilates and becomes weak and in the lungs, the worms cause scarring and pneumonia.

What effect does heartworm disease have on a pet?   
In a dog, the disease initially causes a cough which progressively becomes worse. The dog becomes inactive and lethargic due to the weakening of its heart. It will not be able to tolerate exercise without coughing. In severe cases, fluid leaks out of the blood vessels and accumulates in the lungs and the lower part of the abdomen. This fluid gives the dog's abdomen a 'pear-shaped' appearance, resembling the shape of a balloon filled with water

Sometimes, the animal will suddenly collapse. This occurs with no warning. It is associated with deep, laboured breathing, extreme weakness and a blue appearance to the tongue, and very pale gums.

In cats, heartworm disease is well recognised as a problem. Serious disease can be caused with just one worm, whereas in dogs, one or two worms are usually well tolerated. Tragically, the most common sign of the disease in cats is sudden death, but if your cat is breathless or develops a cough, you should also be concerned.

How can heartworm disease be prevented?  
Thankfully, preventing heartworm disease is easy and all dogs and cats should be on some form of preventive medication.

There are several choices. A daily heartworm preventive has been available for dogs for many years, but the monthly preventive medications are more popular.

Monthly heartworm medications include Proheart, Revolution, Heartgard, Sentinel and Interceptor, Panoramis, Milbemax and Advocate. Many of these are available in a chewable treat form which makes them easy to administer, while Revolution and Advocate are available as a 'spot on the back of the neck' preparation. In addition, several of the monthly preparations also help to control intestinal worms.

There is also a yearly option in the Proheart yearly heartworm prevention injection. This product represents an exciting breakthrough for modern science because of the unique way it works. The active ingredient, moxidectin, is enclosed in minute beads called microspheres. After injection, the microspheres slowly release moxidectin which then diffuses into fatty tissues. From there, the moxidectin kills the immature forms of the heartworm menace for a full twelve months.

The ideal time for your dog to receive the injection is at the time of its annual vaccination. The yearly heartworm prevention injection can be given to pups as early as three months of age. Due to the pup's rapid growth it needs to be repeated at six months of age. If your dog is currently on a monthly or daily heartworm preventive, it can be easily switched onto this new injection. While it is not suitable for cats, the yearly prevention is useful for dog owners that have difficulty remembering to give their dog its monthly or daily heartworm preventive.

It is very important that you know with certainty that your dog is free from heartworm disease before starting on any heartworm preventive medication, including yearly heartworm prevention injections. Therefore, unless your veterinarian knows that your dog is free from heartworm disease, he or she may advise that your dog is tested for heartworm infection before the medication is sold to you.

For more advice on heartworm prevention, contact your veterinarian.


Provet Resident Vet
Contributors: Dr Julia Adams BVSc
Image kindly supplied by Bayer Australia Limited



Did you know four out of five Australian dogs and cats over the age of three years suffer some sort of dental disease? Or that about 80 per cent of adult animals have some degree of dental disease that becomes more severe with age?
August is the Australian Veterinary Association’s pet dental health month and, as dental disease is one of the most common reasons that your dog or cat may require costly surgical and medical treatment, it’s timely that we shine a spotlight on the importance of caring for your pets’ teeth.

What causes tooth decay in cats and dogs?

Basically, cats and dogs no longer eat the diet they’ve evolved on for millions of years. Instead of raw meat and bones, we feed them high levels of carbohydrate-rich, processed dry and tinned food. This results in the accumulation of plaque on the tooth surface which in turn calcifies to become bacteria-rich tartar. When that bacteria invades your pets’ gums it causes painful gingivitis and erodes the tooth root attachment, resulting in damage and tooth loss.

How can you tell if your dog or cat has a toothache?

Dental issues can go unnoticed by pet owners as pets with sore gums, infected mouths and broken teeth may not show pain, and might well continue to eat. Bad breath is one likely sign of infection, as are red inflamed gums, and tartar-stained teeth.


Myth: It’s a common misconception that giving pets dry food to crunch on cleans their teeth. In fact, processed foods leave more particles on the tooth surface than raw foods. Would you eat a cookie or biscuit to clean your teeth???

Tackling dental health the simple way

There is a simple and inexpensive way to maintain your cats’ and dogs’ dental health! A natural, balanced raw food diet based on fresh meat and raw bones, will naturally maintain your pets’ teeth and gums by balancing saliva and creating a self-cleaning oral environment. A raw meat diet prevents plaque formation and the physical effect of chewing raw bones massages gums and de-scales teeth, removing deposits and build-up.
This natural approach can maintain your pets’ teeth for a lifetime, while preventing doggy breath and tooth pain. Best of all, you may save yourself thousands of dollars in vet’s bills!


Article by Dr Bruce Syme

Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and animal lover who founded Vets All Natural 20 years ago with a simple mission, to “Improve the health and longevity of dogs and cats”. Dr Bruce is an expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio. Click here to read Dr Bruce’s Articles


5 effective natural home remedies for your pet 

Since deciding to focus on natural holistic solutions to pet health more than 25 years ago one of my stated objectives has been cutting down the number of times my clients have to bring their pets to see me at the clinic.
Of course, if your pet has a serious issue, a visit to their friendly vet should be the first port of call, but for minor injuries and ailments there are some very simple effective home remedies I thought I’d share with you here today.
All items mentioned in this article are easy to buy at your supermarket or health food store, or you may even have them in your cupboard already!
A great soothing agent for sore, irritated skin, pour cooled chamomile tea in a clean spray bottle and apply liberally to relieve itchiness. Cold chamomile tea is also safe for use as an eyewash for complaints such as conjunctivitis (but make sure there is nothing more seriously wrong with the eye, like an ulcer or foreign body lodged within). Naturally, if the eye is still sore after a few hours, please seek veterinary attention. You can also combine chamomile with calendula, to make a “super brew” topical body wash.
Neem Oil
I always recommend targeting only the parasites present on your pet (rather than a year-round pest control regime) and neem oil can be quite effective against fleas. While you can use it topically, I recommend using a pet shampoo containing neem oil and simply washing your dog every couple of weeks. Adding a few drops of cedarwood essential oil (aim for 2% oil in a shampoo base) will make the super flea killer !!
Tip: A natural diet of balanced fresh meat and vegetable matter is the best way to optimise your pet’s health, and to minimize worm and flea infestation.
Rose Geranium Essential Oil
A prevention protocol is vital if you live in a tick-prone. That protocol should include daily grooming and checking for ticks. Rose Geranium essential oil can serve as an effective tick repellent. Simply add a few dabs to your dog’s collar and on the base of their tail before they head outside.

Tip: Rose Geranium Essential Oil is not recommended for cats as they can be more sensitive to topical treatments and will lick a lot more off their coats.
Aloe Vera
Pure Aloe Vera jelly speeds the healing of all sorts of cuts and skin injuries. When combined with Manuka honey it also makes a fantastic healing gel for large wounds. Aloe Vera juice is also a potent laxative and can aid with constipation. A dilute version of this combination (20% aloe vera, 10% Manuka honey, 70% sterile saline) makes a fantastic and highly safe eye wash – keep refrigerated. Adding 2% lemon grass oil to this combination makes an awesome ear cleaner also – BUT not to be used in the eyes !!
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a powerful natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. It can be used on skin lesions and you can also use a drop or two in your pet’s ear canals. However, it’s important to avoid using it where it can be licked off (again especially relevant to cats). Dilute it to about 25% if in doubt. Add lemongrass oil as above to make a super mix. You can always fit a head collar for a couple of hours after application to prevent any chance of your pet licking and ingesting the oils.
To reiterate, these hints are designed to treat minor ailments only. For serious problems please always seek veterinary advice.

Article by Dr Bruce Syme

Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and animal lover who founded Vets All Natural 20 years ago with a simple mission, to “Improve the health and longevity of dogs and cats”. Dr Bruce is an expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio. Click here to read Dr Bruce’s Articles



Our dogs eat grass. Our cats do too. Why on earth?


Confused? We’ve just been looking at the carnivorous question. And now this. If you’re like us – like dog owners everywhere – you’ll have seen your dog wolf down a mouthful of grass some time or another. And cats are the same. They’re just as keen on tearing up grass blades too. What’s going on?


Why do our dogs and cats eat grass? Well, it seems there’s no one answer. There are plenty of theories, based on detailed animal science and on plain old observation. Let’s have a look at some of the answers that are out there.


It’s certain that grass has no nutritional value for a dog. They don’t have the means to digest grass. They lack the enzymes needed to break down the fibres.


So the usual explanation, understandably, is that eating grass may be due to a feeling of nausea. Grass may help dogs purge their systems. Just like us, dogs can suffer from gastrointestinal issues such as upset stomach, nausea, bloating and illness from pathogenic microbes. Perhaps, somewhere, somehow, dogs picked up the grass eating habit as a temporary solution for stomach irritation. A sort of natural aspirin.


There’s another theory, one related to their evolutionary past. It goes like this. For dogs to have survived successfully aeons ago, they would have needed good hunting abilities. They needed the advantages of surprise. It’s possible, so this theory runs, that grass eating may have evolved to help conceal their scent from their prey. The habit of rolling in anything particularly mucky is thought to have the same origin. It’s not quite like a dab of Chanel behind the ears.


Another theory has it that dogs will eat indigestible matter if their nutrition is poor. Possibly a grass eating dog may be searching for nutrients missing in processed commercial diets. Well, that rules out dogs fed on ZiwiPeak!


Cats too may eat grass for a variety of reasons. Like dogs they lack the necessary enzymes to break down vegetable matter. But there’s no evidence to suggest that grass will harm your cat.


It’s suspected, based on observation, that they’ll seek out grass when suffering from some digestive upset. We know that ingesting grass may stimulate purging or vomiting for a cat. Presumably it’s a help to get rid of any toxins in the digestive tract. So an occasional chew on succulent long green blades may be beneficial to managing its own health.


After all, even the best fed cat will go out and find its own takeaways now and again. And they’ll eat their prey whole, including both the edible and inedible parts, such as fur, bones and feathers.


So grass may act as a natural laxative, dealing with feline indigestion. Certainly they need to rid themselves of fur balls, and when the fur’s deep into the digestive tract, a cat may seek a little help to break it down and pass it through its system.


Some scientists wonder if there’s another, precise reason for a cat’s occasional taste for grass. They reason that the juices in grass contain folic acid. This is known to be an essential vitamin for a cat’s bodily functions. It also assists in the production of hemoglobin, the protein that moves oxygen in the blood. So grass eating, in this theory, may be like a trip to the health store, or a fresh juice bar.


So, after all this talk, what’s the answer? It seems to be, simply enough, that there are some things that animal natures know to sort out for themselves. It’s worth making sure, though, that your dog or cat isn’t dining on grass heavily treated with pesticides or harsh chemicals. Otherwise, there should be no health problems. Just the reverse.

- See more at: http://www.ziwipeak.com/our-dogs-eat-grass-our-cats-do-too-why-on-earth/?utm_source=PawPrints-August13&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PawPrints-August13#sthash.y71JDCZp.dpuf

Health Benefits of Pet Ownership for Older Australians

Historically, Australia has been considered a relatively youthful country. In more recent times, the demographic has changed to a higher proportion of older citizens. Generally, older Australian’s would prefer to live healthily and independently for as long as possible. An ever-growing body of research has now established links between pet ownership and better physical and mental health in our senior citizens.
There has always been a general belief that having pets around enhances one’s life: “Man’s Best Friend”. But is there more to it than just a sloppy lick on the hand? Apparently the physical benefits are numerous including: reduced risk of developing heart disease with pet owners showing lower blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-owners, according to the Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne. An International Federation on Ageing (IFA) report says pet ownership encourages exercise. This can be by getting older folks out and about on walks or playing in the garden at home. A Canadian study showed that older pet-owners had a slower deterioration of their abilities to perform activities of daily living - really important when one is wanting to remain independent as an older person. Pet owners have better self-reported health, visit the doctor less often and have lower pharmaceutical expenses too.
The IFA report also suggests that the mental health and social benefits may be even more numerous: including decreased feelings of loneliness, increased social interaction with others, increased confidence and sense of responsibility. Pets provide a wonderful physical outlet for cuddling and caring for another being, something that is often missing for older people living on their own. Studies have shown that pets play an important role in reducing stress and bereavement in older folks, especially those that had recently lost a spouse. Furthermore, investigating the effectiveness of Animal-assisted Activities in nursing homes showed ‘significant improvements in depression’ in patients suffering from the illness and improvements in alertness and interaction in dementia patients are well known too.
In this context, veterinary care for animals living with older Australian’s is particularly important. Regular veterinary checks to ensure healthy pets as well as avoiding transmission of infections or parasites between pets and their owners is absolutely necessary. However, caring for a pet as an older person can be a bit challenging, particularly if owners no longer drive or if the pet is difficult for them to transport. Recently however, a mobile veterinary service, Healthy Pet Mobile Vet, has begun offering Northside residents and their pets a solution to their vet check troubles. Dr Bronwen Bollaert, the owner of Healthy Pet Mobile Vet, in her 14 years working as a vet has recognised that these challenges need to be addressed.  Healthy Pet Mobile Vet (HPMV) offers a full service veterinary consultation in the comfort and convenience of clients’ homes. HPMV also offers Senior’s Card and Carer’s Card holders a 10% discount. Appointments are available between 7am and 6pm weekdays. To book, call 0481 527 678 or visit www.healthypetmobilevet.com.au to find out more.