Category Archives: Dogs

Skin checks at Kingston TAH

You’ve checked yours, now what about theirs?

Australians know the importance of regular skin checks for their own health and well being.

Many dogs and cats have skin lumps that worry their owners.  If you find any unusual lump or swelling on your pet you should ask your vet to check it out.

Skin lumps in dogs and cats can be sampled easily and examined microscopically to determine their exact nature.  Many worrying lumps will be benign, but some may be malignant and potentially life threatening.


Skin Checks

Cost concerns may leave these bumps unchecked by a vet so at our Kingston Tasmanian Animal Hospitals clinic we are offering a 20% discount off all lumps and bumps consultations until Christmas.

Visit our Kingston clinic at 2/11 John Street.  Phone 6229 9345 for an appointment.

Contact us for more information or visit our facebook page.

Teeth Brushing for Dogs and Cats

Teeth Brushing for Dogs & Cats



Why brush?


Dental disease is very common. Almost all dogs and cats are affected by it by the time they are 3 years of age. The build up of food and bacteria in the mouth can often progress into painful infections.


Teeth brushing is the most effective way to keep your pets teeth clean. When used on clean, healthy teeth, brushing can help prevent or slow the progression of dental disease.


Please note that brushing is only useful for keeping “clean” teeth clean. It targets the “yellow fuzz’ stage (plaque).


If your dog already has dental disease, with a layer of a hard, brown crust (tartar), then brushing will NOT work to remove it. The only way to remove tartar is to have it professionally cleaned under anaesthetic. Most dogs require this procedure every 1-2 years. Once the tartar is removed, brushing can help to prevent further build up.


Will my pet tolerate brushing?


Most dog and cats will tolerate teeth brushing if it is properly introduced with a gradual ‘desensitization’ program. It is ideal to start at the puppy or kitten, although it can be trained at any age.


WARNING – Know your pet. If your pet is prone to biting, attempted brushing may put your fingers at risk. Teeth brushing is tolerated by most BUT not all pets. Your safety is very important!


What should I use?


Choose your toothbrush:

  • “Finger brushes” are usually the easiest to use. They slip over the finger like a thimble.4 tooth brush
  • “Dog toothbrushes” are also available. The handle is a longer and shaped for easier access to those back molars.
  • A soft children’s toothbrush can also be used – but don’t get it mixed up with your kid’s brushes!


Choose your toothpaste:

  • Do NOT use human toothpaste. Dogs do not enjoy the mint or frothiness!
  • Meat flavoured toothpastes are available, and act as a reward.
  • You can use no toothpaste if you find it easier.



Teeth Brushing Training Program


Phase 1 – Gum Touching

Find a calm time of the day (such as the evening) when you pet normally enjoys a nice pat. Stroke their head and the sides of their face till they are contented. Now lift the lip a little and gently touch their gum line for a second or two. Give them praise, pats or a small food treat straight away, so that they learn to associated the process with good things!


Repeat this process for a few minutes each daily. As they become comfortable with the gum touching, gradually increase the amount you are doing. The goal is to be able to touch the gums all over without distressing your pet. This may take a few weeks.


Phase 2 – Tooth paste.

Repeat Phase 1, with a little flavoured tooth paste on your finger. Once again slowly build up to the point where you can now massage a pet toothpaste around the whole gum line.


Phase 3 – Brushing

This is the hardest step. It is very important to start off slowly with brushing. The canine teeth are usually most accessible. Gently massage the gum line with the brush for a few seconds, and reward. Stop as soon as your pet starts pulling away or becomes irritable. Slowly build this up over the next few weeks till you can brush all the teeth.


Note – you only need to brush the OUTER surface of the teeth (next to the cheeks). Don’t worry about the inner surface as the tongue tends to clean this pretty well. The major areas of concern are usually the upper canines and the big back teeth.


Brushing should become a routine. Try and brush at round about the same time each day and make sure the routine is always rewarded by pats, encouragement and treats if required.


If you find tooth brushing too difficult, there are other alternatives for preventative care. However, remember that brushing is the cheapest way AND the most effective!




Make sure to get your dog’s teeth checked every 6 months or so by your vet. If the brushing is going well, hopefully we won’t need to do a dental procedure for a while!

Veterinarian examining dog in office

August is Dental month

dog-and-cat-dental 1

August is dental month at Tasmanian Animal Hospitals.

Dental treatment is important to ensure your pet’s mouth is free of infection and pain. Most pets require a dental procedure every 1-2 years. Our dental procedures include

  • Pre-anaesthetic blood tests for animals over the age of 7 to check their kidneys, liver, blood glucose and proteins.
  • General anaesthetic using the safest agents and monitoring equipment.
  • X-rays of all teeth to look for infection or bone decay underneath the gums. At Tasmanian Animal Hospitals we have special dental x-ray equipment. This means we can pick up decay and cavities, that would otherwise be missed.
  • Ultrasonic scaling to remove calculus from teeth and infection from surrounding gums.
  • Polishing of all teeth to help prevent future build-up of tartar.

Your pet’s teeth, just like human teeth, require a lot of care to prevent disease.  Dental disease is a very common and often neglected problem.  By three years of age, 4 out of 5 of dogs and cats are suffering from painful infections that require veterinary attention.

Dogs and cats usually continue to eat and show no outward signs of pain. It is not until we examine their teeth and gums that we realize there is a problem. If only they could talk!

Some dogs and cats are more prone to disease due to their diet, genetics and/or age.

 The progression of dental disease

Grade 0: Clean, white teeth and healthy gums.teeth-with-staging

Grade 1: Food and bacteria stick to teeth and form plaque (yellow fuzz).  This hardens into a permanent layer of grey tartar, forming a perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

Grade 2: Infection forms under the gums causing gingivitis (red, inflamed and painful gums).

Grade 3: Severe infection causes the gums to recede, the tooth ligaments to loosen and the surrounding bone to decay. This is very painful.

Grade 4: The surrounding bone rots and the teeth start to fall out.

Other problems can also occur, such as fractured teeth or tooth root abscesses.


Treatment for mild disease

Treatment is important to ensure your pet’s mouth is free of infection and pain. Most pets require a dental procedure every 1-2 years. This may include:

tooth radiographPre-anaesthetic blood tests to check the kidneys, liver, blood glucose and proteins.

General anaesthetic using the safest agents and monitoring equipment.

X-rays of all teeth to look for infection or bone decay underneath the gums. At Tasmanian Animal Hospitals we have special dental x-ray equipment. This means we can pick up sore teeth that would otherwise be missed.

Ultrasonic scaling to remove tartar from teeth and infection from surrounding gums.

Polishing of all teeth to help prevent future build-up of tartar.

Dental surgery for severe disease

If your pet is suffering from infection of the tooth root or bone decay around the tooth, extractions may be required. The procedure involves:

  • Nerve blocks with local anaesthetic
  • Careful removal of diseased teeth, including roots
  • Gums are closed with absorbable sutures
  • Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication

Dogs and cats cope well with missing teeth and are usually much happier when a sore tooth has been removed!



Prevention only works before disease develops. These methods target the early stages of disease by removing plaque (yellow fuzz).

  • Tooth brushing1pets-dental-care
  • Special diets, eg. Hills T/D.
  • Dental chews, eg. Greenies.
  • Antibacterial water additives, eg Healthy Mouth.

Prevention can help to slow the progression of disease and delay the need for a full dental procedure. It is NOT effective for disease of Grade 2 or higher. Once tartar forms, it is as hard as concrete. Only an ultrasonic scaler can remove tartar and resolve the associated infection and pain.

Don’t forget regular dental checks.

Just like humans, dogs and cats should have a dental check at least every 6 months. At Tasmanian Animal Hospitals, we offer free dental health checks to make it easy to look after your pet’s teeth.

Please call us if you have any questions about your pet’s teeth.


Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear Infections in Dogs

Has your dog been diagnosed with an ear infection? This is a common and frustrating problem in many dogs.An understanding of why infections occur and how they can be managed may help you to keep your dog comfortable and itch-free.

Causes of infectiondog ear

Ear infections are usually caused by “opportunistic” bugs and are not contagious. There are many factors that can predispose a dog to infections. These include:

  • Allergies to certain foods, plants or environmental allergens

  • Poor air flow due to hairy or floppy ears

  • Water in the canals from swimming or bathing

Ear infections can be a recurring problem. If your dog has one now and then, we usually just treat them as they flare up. If you dog has infections very frequently, it may be worth trying to figure out if there is an underlying cause such as an allergy. Allergies are common in dogs and it can be very difficult to figure out what they may be allergic to.

Diagnostic tests

If your dog has been scratching or shaking its head, pop in to your vet for an ear check. This involves:

  • Ear swab (Cytology). A swab is used to collect a sample from the ear and examine it under the microscope to look for bugs. This picture shows a yeast (fungal) infection, however bacterial or mite infections are also common.

  • Ear scope (Otoscopic exam). This means putting a small scope with a light source into the ear canal. This checks for inflammation, narrowing canals, foreign bodies (such as grass seeds) and ear drum rupture. Some dogs will allow this exam while wide awake, but others may need a sedative or anaesthetic to have a proper look.


  • Ear ointments may be prescribed by your vet. An accurate diagnosis is required to ensure your dog is getting the right anti-fungal or anti-bacterial ointment. In simple cases, we recommend treating for 10 days and then rechecking the ear to ensure the infection is cleared. In some cases, longer treatment may be required.

  • Ear washes. If an infection is severe or does not respond to ointment alone, your vet may recommend an ear wash to be used at home. This can help clear up an infection and also to prevent furture infections.

  • Thorough ear flushing may be required in severe infections. This involves a general anesthetic and thorough, gentle cleaning of the ears.


  • Avoid swimming or getting water in the ears during bathing.

  • Some dogs benefit from using a gentle ear cleaner at home every few weeks.

  • Dogs with very hairy ears may benefit from “ear plucking” by your groomer. However, this is quite irritating and it can sometimes make things worse! Talk to your vet about whether this may be appropriate for your dog.

  • If food allergies are suspected, your vet may recommend a special diet.

  • Make sure to get your dogs ears checked as soon as they show any signs of irritation. Early treatment with the right medication gives us the best chance of success.


Dr Grace Woodward 2015

Tasmanian Animal Hospitals



Pug coughing We have seen many cases of Kennel Cough lately and suspect it is going around the community.

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough (also known as Canine Cough) is a highly contagious disease spread that can be viral or bacterial. It causes coughing, sneezing and occasionally vomiting. Dogs often sound like they have something stuck in their throat, or cough up white frothy material. 

Affected dogs are usually otherwise happy and well with a normal appetite and no fever.

How is it spread?

The worst part about Kennel Cough is that is is highly contagious. It is spread by direct dog-dog contact and is often picked up during boarding, grooming, day care or at the dog park. Infected dogs can spread the bugs for up to three months, even after they stop coughing.

How is it diagnosed?

If your dog is coughing, see your vet to determine if Kennel Cough could be the cause. There are many other causes of coughing, so it shouldn’t be assumed to be the case without at least a vet check. More serious heart or lung issues should be ruled out first. Usually a thorough physical exam is all that is needed to reach a diagnosis of kennel cough. If the exam is not conclusive, your vet may recommend further diagnostic tests to determine the cause the coughing.

How is it treated?

Most dogs recover without any treatment. The cough usually runs for about a fortnight. In severe cases, antibiotics may be recommended, but mostly this is not necessary.


1) Vaccinate! Fortunately, there is a vaccine against Kennel Cough which helps to reduce the chance of infection. However, there are no guarantees, and some vaccinated dogs can still become infected. Vaccinated dogs usually have much milder symptoms and recover more quickly. The vaccine must be given every 12 months to be effective. Call your vet to check that your dog is covered.

2) Avoid high-contact areas such as boarding, grooming, the dog park or day care for the next few months until the outbreak settles down.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Dr Grace Woodward BVSc (Hons 1)