Vaccinating? First, check for general health!

“My pet seems healthy – do they still need a general health check with their vaccination?”

There are three reasons why we recommend a full consultation and health check for every pet at the time of vaccination:

It’s best only to vaccinate your pet if they’re in reasonable health

When we perform a general physical examination on your pet before vaccination, we check that it shows no apparent signs of systemic illness (particularly any significant infectious diseases). We do this because your pet’s immune system may not respond adequately to the vaccine if they are already fighting another illness. Additionally, vaccines should only be used in generally healthy pets to reduce the likelihood of any (uncommon) potential side effects.

6-monthly consultations allow us to check on your pet’s general activities and healthcare routines

During your pet’s vaccination consultation, we will ask about their care routines and general activities.

Discussing your pet’s health care routines will include asking about their parasite control regime against fleas, intestinal worms, ticks, and heartworms, if applicable. It’s easy for regular parasite control to slip through the cracks of daily life due to busy routines or simple misunderstandings about various product coverages or the required frequency of administration. Additionally, we can recommend easier or more effective routines for your pet!

When we enquire about your pet’s general activities, we will particularly ask about any potential changes in their behaviour, eating, drinking and toileting activities, and any recently noticed symptoms such as coughing or vomiting. In some cases, these questions can raise suspicions that help us to detect potentially serious diseases earlier, such as:

  • Increased drinking indicates potential kidney disease, diabetes or hormonal imbalances
  • Behaviour changes indicating the onset of cognitive decline (“dementia”) in older pets
  • Urination frequency changes indicating urinary tract infection or inflammation
  • Appetite and defecation changes indicating chronic gastrointestinal illnesses such as food allergies or gut parasites

Physical examination of your pet allows us to spot any developing health problems sooner

In addition to enquiring about your pet’s activities, we will perform a complete physical examination to check your pet for common “hidden” issues, such as:

  • New lumps on your pet’s body, within their belly, or in their mouth
  • The progression of dental disease, which we can reverse if treated early with veterinary dental cleaning
  • Progressive, painful joint disease such as arthritis or chronic cruciate ligament disease
  • Heart murmurs or arrhythmias (abnormal heart sounds or rhythms) that could suggest heart disease
  • Ear infections

For pets seven years old or above, we may also recommend general blood tests and blood pressure checks to screen your pet for common internal organ problems such as chronic kidney disease, liver disease, or high blood pressure.

Early detection and treatment of these issues will help ensure your pet’s best health outcome.

So, when it comes time for your pet’s vaccination, we recommend sticking to routines to help keep things routine!

Unexpected allergies

Unexpected allergies

If we surveyed pet owners about potential allergy symptoms in dogs and cats, most would list signs such as recurrent ear infections, generalised itchiness, paw licking, or tummy upset. But did you know that allergies can also cause problems with your pet’s eyes, mouth, lungs, or bottom?
Here are some lesser-known allergy issues to watch for in dogs and cats.

1. Allergic conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis involves inflammation of the conjunctiva, the pink tissue that lines the inner eyelids and covers the eyeball.
Airborne particles such as pollen can trigger allergic conjunctivitis in pets. As a result, they develop eye redness, abnormal eye discharge (which may be watery or cloudy and yellow-green), squinting, and sometimes itchiness around the eyes or face.
Vets commonly treat allergic conjunctivitis with steroid eye medications and saline cleaning. However, some cases may also require antibacterial medicines for secondary bacterial infection. Before prescribing eye medication, the vet may need to perform a fluorescein test, where dye is dripped into the affected eye/s to check for any scratches or ulcers on the surface.

2. Feline asthma
Feline asthma is a chronic (long-term) condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways within the lungs, leading to breathing difficulties and symptoms such as recurrent coughing, wheezing, or increased breathing effort.
Cats with asthma can rapidly worsen if exposed to a particular allergic trigger (such as dust or cigarette smoke) or a stressful event. They may require emergency oxygen therapy and medications to relieve their airway spasms and swelling.
Long-term management of cats with asthma relies on steroids to settle airway irritation. Cooperative cats may be switched from oral medication to a steroid puffer in the long term for ongoing maintenance with fewer adverse side effects.

3. Feline rodent ulcers
Feline rodent (indolent) ulcers are inflammatory lesions in some cats due to underlying allergies or parasitic infections.
They usually appear on the margin of the upper lip as a firm, raised lesion with an ulcerated surface. The cat’s lip is often swollen in this area, sometimes significantly. Cats affected by this condition may also develop other lesions in their mouth or elsewhere on their body.
Cats with rodent ulcers require investigation and treatment for underlying allergic or parasitic conditions, including rigorous flea control, anti-inflammatory medicine and sometimes a hypoallergenic diet.

4. Bottom scooting
The most common causes of recurrent bottom scooting in dogs are allergies, or anal gland problems.
If your pet shows frequent bottom-dragging behaviours, check their anal glands for any signs of blockage or infection, and assess them for other symptoms of allergies.
Depending on your pet’s underlying trigger, treatment may consist of anal gland emptying or flushing, or long-term management of allergies with anti-itch medication.

So, if your pet demonstrates any of the above more unusual allergy symptoms, hurry into our clinic so our experienced vets can get to the bottom of your pet’s issue!

Dental health duties

Dental health duties

Whilst most owners understand the impact of their pet’s oral health on their general health and quality of life, many may still need clarification on the practical ways to achieve excellent pet dental hygiene.
After all, it’s not just a matter of handing your pet a toothbrush and setting a two-minute timer!
Here are some of the best ways to keep your pet’s mouth fresh, clean and healthy!

1. Veterinary dental care
We recommend dental check-ups for every pet every 6 months. Why so frequently? Because:

  • You’re likely not brushing and checking your pet’s teeth twice a day as you would for yourself – this means that dental disease will develop rapidly, with plaque (gooey, bacteria-containing film) accumulating on your pet’s teeth within a few hours of a meal and starting to harden into calculus within 24-48 hours!
  • Early dental disease is reversible with a proper veterinary scale and polish (professional cleaning)
  • If your pet has any painful teeth, we can spot them sooner and perform prompt treatment to spare them long-term pain and infection
  • When we perform a dental check-up, we can also check your pet for any other potential health issues (such as lumps in their mouth) and advise on general proactive health care measures such as vaccinations, parasite control, healthy weight maintenance and joint support

If we spot dental disease in your pet, we’ll recommend a dental procedure performed under anaesthetic – this will minimise your pet’s discomfort and stress and allow the most thorough examination.

Depending on your pet’s degree of oral disease, they may require anything from just a scale and polish to more serious interventions such as tooth extractions. Rest assured that for any extractions, your pet will receive multiple types of pain relief during and after the procedure to facilitate a comfortable recovery.

2. Home dental care
We recommend regular home dental hygiene measures that slow the development of gingivitis and periodontitis (inflammation around the gums and tooth roots) in your pet.

The most effective means of keeping teeth clean is mechanical abrasion, a.k.a. brushing! If your pet is good-natured, consult our team on how to gradually train them to accept brushing. You can start by using a very soft toothbrush with water or a pet-safe toothpaste). We recommend daily 30-60 second brushing sessions, starting with a soft face flannel wrapped over your finger and frequently offering your pet small, tasty treats for bribery.

Once your pet accepts flannel brushing (usually after a week or two of training), you can gradually introduce a soft toothbrush. It’s essential to ensure that your pet has no gum redness or loose teeth before brush training. Otherwise, they will be uncomfortable and naturally resistant to the process.

If daily brushing isn’t possible, we strongly recommend using a prescription dental diet, which will provide some cleaning action.

Additionally, our team recommends the use of safe dental hygiene aids, such as:

  • VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) approved dental chews
  • Treats or powders containing Ascophyllum nodosum, a type of seaweed that can help reduce tartar build-up (provided your pet has not been diagnosed with an overactive thyroid condition)
  • VOHC-approved water additives or oral care gels/solutions

For more personalised dental health care advice for your pet, consult our knowledgeable vets!

Blog image _ 2023 - July

A recommendation for regular rechecks

Our team recommends 6-monthly rechecks for cats and dogs of all ages, and it’s especially important to maintain this regular health routine as pets grow older. Why? Read on to find out!

Aging rate

It is thought that a one-year-old medium-sized dog is the equivalent of a 15-year-old human (i.e., a teenager!). We believe a two-year-old dog is approximately equivalent to a 24-year-old human. After that, each year of a dog’s life equals roughly five human years.
This age rate means that at eight years old, a medium-sized dog would be the equivalent of a 51-year-old human, and one year later, they would have aged to around 56 years old!

Whilst some people may be lucky not to experience any health problems from 51 to 56 years old, we’re betting that most would benefit from a couple of proactive medical check-ups during this period. The same goes for older pets too.

Weight monitoring

A few of the most common health issues in older cats, such as chronic kidney disease, an overactive thyroid, or gut problems, may cause only subtle outward symptoms at the beginning until these conditions reach a moderate stage of severity.

However, in many cases, gradual weight loss is seen relatively early in these disease processes. A 6-monthly health check (including a weigh-in and a body condition check) is a great way to monitor an older cat’s health.

Monitoring joint comfort

Most vets agree it’s likely that arthritis will affect 80-90% of elderly pets in at least one joint, causing stiffness and pain. Rather than exhibiting overt limping, affected pets usually show more subtle symptoms, such as reduced activity or playfulness, changes in behaviour, or hesitation before jumping up or climbing stairs.

Our vets can check your pet’s joints for early signs of arthritis and recommend various joint health support options to keep them feeling their best.

Checking for lumps

Lumps are common in older pets but may not always be obvious under a thick furry coat. As part of your pet’s 6-monthly health check, our vets can check for any new masses that might have developed on your pet.

Early detection and treatment of cancerous lumps give your pet the best chance of a complete cure.

Maintaining dental health

With dental disease being one of the most prevalent health issues in pets and progressively more common with age, your older pet will benefit from 6-monthly dental health checks.

With advice on home dental care and regular dental cleanings as required, we can help minimise any dental discomfort or tooth extractions for your pet and keep their breath smelling sweet.

Assistance with grooming

Older cats and dogs tend to wear their claws down more slowly and can be at risk of painful claw overgrowth and (in the case of older dogs) a tendency to slip on smooth floors. Long-haired elderly cats may also have trouble keeping up with self-grooming requirements. They may need some assistance to prevent matting.

As part of a general health check, our vets can advise how best to keep your pet clean and comfortable.

With 6-monthly checks, we can proactively maintain your pet’s overall health and quality of life and treat any developing issues as early as possible, helping them live their best lives throughout all life stages.

Understanding blood and urine tests

Morris’ graze with danger

Morris’ graze with danger

How many amazing medical skills and services do our veterinary hospitals have to offer? To show you, we’d like to tell the story of little Morris, who had an unfortunate run-in with a car.


One day, Morris the six-month-old Schnauzer pup was full of beans and feeling adventurous. When his owner Sarah opened the front door to receive a delivery, Morris took his chance and gleefully dashed outside. He ran onto the street, with Sarah running along behind, trying to call him back. Before she could catch him, Morris darted through a gap between two parked cars and into the path of an oncoming vehicle.


Sarah heard the skid of tires, a bump, and Morris’s pained yelp. She ran onto the street to find Morris sitting by the gutter, trembling, and bleeding from a wound on his forelimb.


After a brief exchange with the devastated car driver to assure them it wasn’t their fault, Sarah scooped up Morris (who yelped again) and rushed him to the local veterinary hospital.


Sarah arrived at the clinic in tears. The veterinary nursing team quickly jumped into action, and while one nurse took Morris through for immediate triage (a brief assessment of his vital functions and injuries), another nurse fetched a vet to quickly assess him, and a third stayed with Sarah to calm and comfort her and discuss the immediate healthcare options for Morris.


Sarah gave permission for the vet, Dr Moss, to administer some pain relief to Morris, and perform any treatments or diagnostics required to stabilise and assess him.


After the pain relief injection, Morris relaxed considerably. Overall, he seemed to be stable but was limping on his right front leg (which had some deep wounds contaminated with road debris) and he seemed sore around his chest.


The vet started Morris on intravenous fluids to support his blood pressure and quickly flushed his wounds with saline before applying temporary bandages. Dr Moss performed chest and forelimb x-rays (which showed only mild lung bruising), and a brief ultrasound scan of Morris’s belly to ensure there were no signs of internal bleeding or bladder damage. Luckily, it appeared as though the car had only contacted Morris’s leg and chest at a relatively low speed, causing tissue damage but no bone breakages.


With Morris in a stable condition, the veterinary team treated his deep skin wounds under anaesthetic. Whilst a nurse monitored Morris, Dr Moss cleaned the wounds of debris and applied medical-grade honey (to help prevent microbial infection and promote wound healing) and protective dressings.


Morris stayed in the hospital for two days before he was deemed healthy enough to go home, requiring another three weeks of regular bandage changes for his forelimb wounds to heal. Once he had fully recovered, Morris and Sarah attended an advanced training course to work on Morris’s general obedience!


Sarah was extremely grateful to the veterinary team for their rapid, thorough and compassionate assistance. On behalf of Morris, Sarah and other pet families, we’d like to give an appreciative shout-out to all the veterinary teams out there who provide such wonderful professional care.

Joint care through the ages

Our vets are passionate about joint comfort and good mobility for all pets! So, we’ve compiled a list of veterinary recommendations for keeping your pet’s joints in top form throughout their life.

Puppies and kittens

The best way to help your pet’s bones and joints to grow and develop healthily is to ensure they’re fed a balanced, complete diet appropriate for their age, with the correct levels of Calcium, Phosphorus and Vitamin D. It’s recommended that large and giant breed puppies are fed a specific large breed puppy diet, designed to support the slower, steadier growth that is healthiest for them.

Our vets can provide personalised advice on the healthiest diet for your pet at their initial puppy and kitten vaccination appointments.

Keeping all pups and kittens in a lean, healthy body condition during growth will reduce excessive strain on their joints, and can reduce the likelihood of future joint problems.

For certain large breed puppies or any pet showing signs of joint discomfort, we may also recommend the option of hip x-rays to screen for potential hereditary joint conditions.

Adult pets

Even when your pet is fully grown, it’s recommended to keep them at a slim, healthy body weight to help maintain their healthiest joint condition.

If your pet has suffered a significant joint injury (such as a cruciate ligament tear), or has been diagnosed with a developmental joint condition (such as hip dysplasia), our vets will discuss options for joint support supplements, also known as chondroprotective agents. For a pet with an affected joint or joints, these supplements can reduce inflammation and cartilage damage, and help them to remain more mobile and comfortable in the long-term. Although they will generally benefit any pet with joint issues, for the best results, it’s recommended to start these supplements before your pet starts to show significant symptoms.


Older pets

While we recommend six monthly health checks for pets of all ages, these checks are especially important in dogs over eight and cats over ten as many pets will develop arthritis around this age. Often, animals will hide their pain and discomfort until the condition becomes debilitating. Early diagnosis and intervention can help prevent your pet from suffering in silence and slow the progress of symptoms and joint deterioration.

As well as asking you about your pet’s general activities (such as their ability to jump and climb stairs), we’ll also perform an examination of their joint mobility and comfort.
If we find any joint problems, we can make recommendations on the safest and most effective joint support for your pet.

Treatment will usually involve varying combinations of:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as NSAIDs)
  • Long-term joint pain relief injections
  • Additional pain relief medications
  • Chondroprotective injections and supplements
  • Joint-supportive prescription diet

The best treatment option for your pet will depend on the severity of their joint problem, any other underlying health conditions, and your preferred mode of treatment administration (e.g. injections vs oral medications).

You can also support your elderly pet’s mobility at home by keeping their claws short and providing them with warm, padded bedding to sleep on. Elderly dogs will generally benefit from tracks of non-slip matting being placed over smooth floors.

At all ages, it’s recommended to exercise your pet daily at a level appropriate for their age and abilities, as this will support a healthy weight and keep their muscles strong for joint support.

For more personalised recommendations on supporting your pet’s joint health and comfort, consult our veterinary team.

Good quality of life for all pets? It’s a joint effort!

Diet details

Ever feel overwhelmed when you start to peruse all the various dietary options on offer for dogs? Which is going to be the healthiest diet for your pet?

The truth is, there is no one perfect diet to suit every dog. Home-cooked diets can be preferable for some pets, but they don’t always deliver on long-term nutritional requirements without the guidance of a qualified veterinary nutritionist (plus, it’s lots of preparation and work on your part!). Additionally, pet health benefits from the food safety checks, nutritional consultancy, and long-term feeding trials that go into the production of established veterinary-approved pet foods.

With that in mind, here’s what we would recommend feeding your dog for balanced nourishment throughout their life.

Feeding during the puppy stage

For puppies, we recommend feeding a complete and balanced puppy growth diet in accordance with the labelled quantity guidelines. So, what does that look like?

Compared to adult dog foods, standard puppy diets have higher protein and calorie levels for growth, and a specific balance of calcium and phosphorous to support healthy bone development. Interestingly, large-breed-specific puppy diets have different levels of calories and balanced nutrients to support the slower growth rate and lean body condition recommended for healthy bone development in larger pups.

It’s generally recommended to feed a small to medium-sized puppy a regular puppy growth diet until they are 10-12 months old, whilst large- to giant-breed puppies should be fed a large-breed growth diet until 18-24 months old. Feeding a puppy diet for longer than this isn’t specifically harmful, but can predispose your pet to stacking on excess weight!

Adult dietary requirements

The good news is as long as a food states that it is “complete and balanced” for adult pets, you have a larger range of potential diets for your adult dog, depending on your preferences (and theirs).

We recommend that the majority of your adult dog’s diet consists of a veterinary-approved food that meets their micronutrient requirements, and limits their exposure to excess ingredients that could cause health problems in the long-term.


Senior diets

Between 7-10 years of age, some dogs can benefit from a switch to a senior diet.

Senior diets focus on high-quality, digestible proteins combined with reduced overall calories to help your pet to maintain a healthy lean muscle mass. They also frequently incorporate clinically-proven antioxidants and essential fatty acids to support brain, joint and organ health.

For older pets on a regular adult diet and in healthy body condition, we recommend the benefits of a high-quality, veterinary-approved essential fatty acid supplement for long-term anti-inflammatory benefits. Consult our supplement-savvy vets regarding the safest and most effective options for your pet.

Special dietary needs

For pets with specific health concerns, prescription veterinary diets can be a simple way of treating and supporting their condition so that they can continue living their best life.

Prescription diets can help in the management of:

  • Kidney disease
  • Dental disease
  • Intestinal sensitivities
  • Brain health
  • Liver disease
  • Arthritis

For more personalised advice on the healthiest diet for your pet, have a chat with our nutritionally-knowledgeable veterinary team!

Planning properly for your new pup (or rescue pet)

Whether you’re purchasing a special breed pup or scouting out local rescues to adopt a canine companion, it’s important to research and plan for your future dog’s specific care needs. Doing this will ensure that you’ll have the time and resources to provide the best possible care for them throughout their life.

As well as checking that you can meet your four-legged friends’ day-to-day care needs, you’ll also have to consider any special breed care requirements and any breed-related health issues they may be prone to.

Here are some tips on how to thoroughly prepare for a new pup, and how we can help you through the process!


1. Consider your available time, resources and energy

If you want to be really certain that you can properly care for a new furry family member, it’s worth considering a few practicalities, such as:

  • Do you have time to exercise your pet daily according to their breed activity requirements? If not, can you afford to pay a professional dog walker or send your pet to doggy daycare instead?
  • Do you work long hours? If so, does your pet have access to a safe, confined area where they can eat, drink, rest and go to the toilet regularly, with appropriate shade in summer and warmth in winter?
  • Have you budgeted not just for upfront puppy costs (i.e. a collar, bedding, toys), but also for ongoing dietary requirements, routine health care (such as vaccinations, desexing and parasite control), and semi-regular healthcare procedures (such as dental procedures)?


2. Consider your pup’s specific requirements

If you’re planning to buy a particular breed of dog, it’s important to source them from a responsible breeder. In terms of general tips when choosing a breeder, it’s recommended to:

  • Ask the breeder about that breed’s health issues – a good breeder will be happy to acknowledge any special breed needs (e.g. predisposition to hip dysplasia) and will have a regular vet whom they work with to perform any available screening tests or special breed maintenance
  • Attend the premises on at least one occasion to assess the puppies’ parents for good general health and temperament, and check that the puppies are being brought up in a clean environment with lots of positive handling

Even when obtaining a mixed-breed dog from a rescue organisation, you should be able to check with the staff regarding the suspected breed genetics your canine may carry, and any known individual behaviour quirks they may have (e.g. thunderstorm anxiety).


3. Consider pet insurance

Unless you have a significant buffer of money for any unexpected injuries or health problems in your pup, it’s a great idea to consider pet insurance, activated as soon as your pup is obtained for the best coverage. This can help to ensure you’re never financially caught short in an already distressing situation.


4. Attend regular veterinary checks

We recommend regular veterinary health checks for all dogs – this involves monthly checks during the puppy vaccination period and general health checks every six months for dogs of all ages.

These regular checks allow us to monitor your pet for any known disease predispositions, and proactively manage their general health (e.g. joint and dental health). With careful preparation and ongoing support, you’ll be helping to ensure the best quality of life and health for your four-legged family member.

For more information on special breed care requirements, consult our knowledgeable team.

Treatment vs palliative care – our guide

Trigger warning: this blog post discusses terminal illness in a pet.

Frankie was a beautiful 11-year-old greyhound, who loved nothing better than being with his family. Wherever the family was, Frankie was too: watching with interest and with a wagging tail, doing a few zoomies, or lying down comfortably “pancake style”.

One day as Frankie was walking down some stairs, he suddenly went lame in one of his forelimbs. His concerned family brought him in to see his regular vet the next day, as he still seemed very sore.

Frankie was stoic for his exam but yelped when the vet palpated around his upper left forelimb bone (humerus). Unfortunately, given Frankie’s breed and age, an aggressive type of bone cancer known as osteosarcoma was a strong possibility.

Frankie’s owners consented to blood tests to check his general health, and x-rays of his forelimb were performed, which unfortunately confirmed the likely diagnosis of osteosarcoma.

In cases of severe illness like Frankie’s, owners are often faced with two initial choices: treatment or palliative care.

Treatment aims to cure the illness or extend the patient’s lifespan and may involve further diagnostic testing to investigate the type and stage of the disease. In this case, Frankie’s owners were offered:

  • Needle biopsy of the tumour under a general anaesthetic, to confirm the cancer type
  • Local lymph node biopsies and chest x-rays to detect signs of the cancer potentially spreading elsewhere in Frankie’s body

Depending on the results of these tests, Frankie may or may not have been a good candidate for treatment, such as leg amputation surgery followed by chemotherapy.

However, in palliative care, the goal changes from extending the patient’s lifespan to aiming for the best quality of life for that pet for the time they have left. This involves providing necessary pain relief, treating other symptoms such as nausea, and making lifestyle changes to help the patient to live comfortably. There is a misconception that palliative care is “giving up on the pet” – indeed, nothing could be further from the truth!
Good palliative care involves caring for and supporting the pet as best as possible during their illness and sometimes making the decision to help them go peacefully.

In Frankie’s case, palliative care may have involved:

  • Leg amputation without chemotherapy (to eliminate the tumour-related bone pain, but not fight the spread of the tumour), or
  • Referral for radiation therapy of his tumour site to reduce his pain
  • A combination of pain relief medications to help manage his pain


So, what is the right choice for patients like Frankie?

The right choice is usually whatever the family deems best for their pet under the guidance of their veterinarian. Every case is different, and every patient and family will have different boundaries of what they can cope with, and what feels right.

Frankie’s family elected to keep him comfortable, and then put him to sleep when his physical pain became too much. Surrounded by the love of his family, he went peacefully.

Rest assured that if you and your pet are ever faced with difficult times, our caring team are with you – with knowledge, advice, and support for you and your pet.

Dedicated to the memory of Frankie, and beloved furry family members everywhere.

Nervous nellies: pet anxiety explained

Is your pet a bit of a “nervous nellie”? Pet anxiety can be a worrying issue for pet owners, not to mention the pets themselves! 


Anxiety may be situation-specific (such as when the pet visits unfamiliar environments or the veterinary clinic), or can be a generalised issue. Read on to learn more about anxiety in dogs and cats, and how our team can help!


Symptoms of anxiety

Pets with anxiety may:

  • Show a crouched body posture, with a tucked tail and ears
  • Pace around or act restless
  • Be hypervigilant or “jumpy”
  • Pant excessively (dogs)
  • Tremble
  • Vocalise
  • Salivate excessively
  • Hide or be evasive
  • Drink or eat less
  • Groom excessively (more common in cats)
  • Show inappropriate toileting behaviours
  • Lash out with aggressive behaviours if pushed too far out of their comfort zone


Unfortunately, if ignored or treated incorrectly (e.g with punishment), anxiety tends to progress and worsen over time.


Why are some pets anxious?

Pets can develop anxiety for several reasons.


Firstly, some pets may simply be born with a more “anxiety-prone” disposition. This can be due to general breed-related factors (with some breeds being more prone to “highly-strung” behaviour) but is also influenced by a pet’s unique genetics, as fearfulness is a moderately heritable trait from parents to offspring.


Pets can also develop fears or anxiety due to a lack of appropriate early socialisation in their peak socialisation period (around 6-16 weeks old). This may involve a lack of positive handling or a lack of positive exposure to a variety of unfamiliar people, animals, or situations, meaning the pet never habituates and becomes comfortable with these experiences.


Lastly, traumatic events in a pet’s life can also result in fears or phobias – this can involve repeated exposure to a negative situation or one highly traumatic event (e.g. severe or painful illness or injury, requiring intensive veterinary hospitalisation and treatment).


How can we help pets with anxiety?

If you suspect your pet to be suffering from anxiety, the best course of action is to book a behavioural consultation with one of our knowledgeable veterinarians. During this consultation, we will take a detailed history of the pet and perform a thorough physical examination (which may also involve blood and urine tests). This will help us to rule out any other medical issues which could be behind changes in your pet’s behaviour (such as urinary tract disease causing your pet to urinate indoors, or chronic neck pain causing your pet to act evasively or lash out). 


If we confirm a diagnosis of anxiety in your pet, our treatment plan will depend on the severity of their issue, and whether their anxiety is situation-specific or generalised. In general, treatment for anxiety may include:

  • Short- or long-term anti-anxiety medications, so that your pet feels less fearful on a day-to-day basis
  • Positive behavioural modification training, involving various relaxation exercises to “retrain” your pet’s brain to encourage a more calm, confident state in the long-term
  • Creating a stable and safe environment for the pet, with predictable routines and no punishment for anxious behaviours
  • For more severe cases, referral to a veterinary behavioural specialist


With a little  dedication and our veterinary assistance, you can help your nervous nellie blossom into a more cool, calm, and confident canine or kitty!