Summer in Shepparton sees many people take a break from the routines of life by escaping to the river or beach or flying somewhere exotic leaving the heat and insects behind. It is amazing how many also take their pets as it does reduce the worry when you know what they are up to. “ Flopsy”, our miner disguised as a rabbit, caused more dramas with another abscess soon after we left her in the care of a family who also has a loved rabbit. Several visits to the vets and medications with strict instructions to “make sure she eats” put the fear of God into them so she was put under close observation in their en-suite!

When we picked her up she had her litter tray (which she sometimes used), a box full of hay (which she also used) spread all over the floor. That is
dedication to following instructions and it all paid off as she recovered without major surgery this time.

Last year when we went away our little dog developed a huge grass seed abscess under her chin which appeared on our return and we were able to sort
out. One hates to think of our loved pets pining or suffering because the kennels/house-sitter/neighbour does not notice they are sick. They can’t talk but an observant owner knows when something is wrong immediately. I had noticed our little dog had been having sneezing fits lately – a common cause is a grass seed up the nose but usually if this is not removed in a day or two it will cause a discharge. There was no discharge so I had not done anything about it.

She also has marked periodontal disease and she needed her annual treatment as I had noticed that one tooth had changed colour and wasn’t looking good.

So off she went to the vets. In the year since her last visit her bloods were still good but she had developed a heart murmer, the tooth had a huge pocket and on dental x ray was unsalvageable, so had to be extracted. This happens every day but what was so interesting was that when I was cleaning out the large hole left by the root before suturing the flap I thought “what is this?” I wear magnification loupes so do see a lot more and, blow me away, out I pulled 2 huge grass seeds! I felt quite bad that I had ignored her sneezing for so long as I am sure they were the cause and she hasn’t sneezed since. It does make me appreciate the trouble we as vets make for our pet owners – soft food for 2 weeks, no hard object chewing, squirt this liquid in her mouth daily – what a pain in the neck! We have 2 dogs and they eat hard food and there are loads of things lying around that they chew on. The small dog is very good at avoiding her daily squirt too! But I need the flap with sutures to heal so I am trying hard. The final insult would have been to endure an E collar too but luckily we haven’t. Not just the dog, but the owners suffer these things too. I hope you and your pets stay cool, safe and healthy for your summer holiday.

What to do with your pet when you go on holiday? It pays to consider your options closely. Leaving your dog at home and having someone visit once or
twice daily to feed and check over keeps the pet in its home environment and can be less stressful. Other advantages your home is being checked at the same time. The big problems arise when the person doing the checking is not experienced in pet care or is in too much of a hurry to pick up on subtle things that an owner would notice immediately. People have the tendency to offer explanations for the abnormal which although may be possible, does not rule out other causes. A common thing we hear at the vets is the pet was not eating normally and the carer put this down to the pet missing the owner.

The biggest risk is sending your pets to another house to be looked after. The risks rise sharply if the carers are not that experienced. The home has to be very secure as pets will often try finding their way back home and get injured or lost in the process. It is just not kids that feed the wrong things but adults too. Care must be taken if other pets are at the house as fights are possible.

Sending your pet away to the kennels or cattery may feel stressful but surprising how well the majority of pets settle down. The advantages are that
your pet is secure and is being checked regularly and can be fed the exact food and the correct amounts. Boarding operators typically are experienced in what they do and will follow up on any issue early.