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Heartworms are parasites that live inside the arteries of lungs and chambers of the heart of infected animals. Dogs and cats are both susceptible to heartworm no matter the breed, sex or age but infection in dogs is more common. Heartworms can grow up to 30cm long and 2cm thick in servere cases. Microfilariae are the offspring of heartworm and can be found in the blood of an infected pet. The microfilariae are ingested and spread by mosquitos when they bite and feed on the blood of an infected pet. The mosquito becomes a host and the microfilariae mature. The same mosquito then bites another pet and infects the healthy pet with the microfilariae. The larvae migrate through the pet’s circulatory system and tissue which eventually reaches the lungs and heart. The heartworm then matures, grows and reproduces.

Heartworm affects the heart, liver, kidneys and general circulation. The lungs are the main area the heartworm affects. The pets react to the presence of the heartworm and can show many symptoms such as a dry and persistent cough, lack of stamina while exercising, dry coat, weight loss and weakness.

Heartworm is slowly fatal which is why it is important to recognise the symptoms and diagnose as soon as possible. By the time a pet starts showing symptoms half the pet’s lungs are impacted. A blood test can be done to tell if your pet has heartworm disease. This is the best way to ensure a quick diagnosis. There are many products to ensure heartworm prevention. Choosing a prevention method that is convenient for your lifestyle is best for your pet. There are once-a-year needles administered by your vet, monthly heartworm treatments in the form of spot-on treatments and chewable tablets.

Puppies should begin their heartworm prevention by three months. After three months the puppy may have been affected and will need to have a blood test to ensure they don’t have heartworm before treatment, as the treatment can cause side effects if the puppy is already infected.

Pet therapy

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Pets visit retirement care homes

Cheeky birds, devoted dogs and even a tiny horse brighten the lives of residents in Fraser Coast retirement homes each week. The team of furry and feathered friends and their human carers visit a nursing home or retirement centre each week.

Pet and Engagement Therapies (PET) is a group of volunteers that delivers community engagement to those in residential care. The volunteers, including children and pets, meet each week at a chosen nursing home and visit for an hour or two. There’s no set time limit, so they stay while everyone is enjoying the interaction.

Every moment can bring happiness and a smile to a resident’s face. Their flexible approach is modelled around the diverse features and characteristics that each volunteer brings. The team encourages the participation of young people in activities as the residents in the nursing homes love to see children play and to even join in playing a board game with them. It can also strongly benefit the children as they connect with other generations and bond.

The group is supported by the Hervey Bay Animal Refuge and is run by volunteers. The group used to just be pet therapy but now incorporates more than just animals.

The team is always looking for eager volunteers to join with their children and animals. To bring along your pet you require the animal’s injections certificate to ensure all animals are up-to-date. All animals are welcome whether they are furry or feathered. The residents have been visited by dogs, cats, mini horses, chickens, ducklings and birds. If you are interested in your child being a part of the team, please remember that parental supervision is needed at all times.

On a typical visit, the team assembles in the foyer where members meet and sign in. They are then escorted to the common room where the residents are eagerly waiting. Owners of pets walk around the room with their animals greeting each resident and chatting about their pets. Young children may choose to play a board game such as snakes and ladders while the residents watch on enthusiastically or may even choose to join in. Others from the team play the piano provided by the facility and have a sing-along with the residents. Some of the team or children bring along other instruments and play while some residents join in or tap their feet and clap along. The residents find joy in the shared experiences.

The visits don’t just benefit the residents but can also help volunteers.  The group approach is supportive and encouraging, which means quieter volunteers can participate at their own pace by clapping along to music and progressively become more involved with each visit.

Even with residents who have a difficult time communicating, a smile or even eyes widening with recognition is evidence of the difference they are making to the lives of others.

If you would like to contact the team you can call them on 0457 056 772 or email or alternatively like their Facebook page PET Team Hervey Bay

Parvo virus tips for a new puppy

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Parvovirus is a deadly disease that can be spread from one dog to another through direct or indirect contact with a dog that has been infected.

Anything that has come into contact with a dog that has had parvovirus including a leash, bowl, bedding, an owner’s shoes or clothes and grass that the dog has walked on can cause an unvaccinated dog to be infected.

If you have an unfenced yard that could have had other dogs walk through and you are bringing home a puppy you should ensure that your house and yard have been disinfected until the puppy is old enough to receive all of their shots. A disinfectant solution of one part bleach to 32 parts water, in order to disinfect the area, is the best way to ensure your backyard is safe. An alternative is using puppy pads inside until your puppy is old enough to go outside.

While it can be treated it can be fatal. Puppies don’t have a strong enough immune system and are not tough enough to defend the infection themselves. It is important to know the signs of parvovirus, as time is vital to the puppy and going to a vet quickly could give the puppy the best chance. The symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, fever, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.

The best prevention is getting the parvo shot at 12 after adopting a puppy while the breeder should have had them vaccinated at 6, 10 and 12 weeks so it’s best to ask for a vaccination history. After 12 weeks the puppy should have their parvo shot annually to keep them up to date.

The Joy of Puppies

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On September seventeenth 2018 my five-year-old toy poodle, Maisy had three puppies. We adopted Maisy at the end of 2017 when we saw an ad on gumtree saying she needed to find a new home. We already had Chester, a Tibetan spaniel X toy poodle, who at the time had just turned one and really needed a companion during the day. Maisy wasn’t desexed so we had to register her with the local council and get a breeders permit to own her

Most of the pregnancy had been easy but in the last few weeks, she was starting to be affected by it. She was no longer able to jump up on the bed each night or even on to the couch to watch TV and snuggle up. We tried building a ramp but she didn’t like it because it wasn’t wide enough for her. She also got an ear infection which meant she needed to have ear drops each day which she didn’t enjoy. On the sixteenth, we took her and my 2-year-old spoodle for a walk along the beach which they love but she had to be carried on the way back. She went from being three kilos to over five kilos which we now had to carry along the sand. Each night we would haul her onto the bed and she would lay on her back and let us feel the puppies kicking. On the seventeenth, she spent the day not wanting to move or be alone. I stayed with her all day and we watched children’s movies which seemed to actually calm her. Just before midnight, we had three tiny puppies that could fit in the palm of my hand. She had two beautiful black boys, one a bit browner than the other but each with a white paw and a black and white girl. We named them Finn, Bellamy and Octavia from the tv show ‘The 100’.

Over the next 10 days, Over the next 10 days, Maisy stayed with her puppies all the time. Feeding them and keeping them warm. The two year-old spoodle wasn’t allowed anywhere near where the puppies were sleeping but she still loved to play with him in the backyard. After 14 days the puppies started opening their eyes and ears. Each morning we would go in and see the puppies and now that they could see they would recognise us and try to wriggle over. It took a bit more time but at three weeks the puppies started to find their feet. They would wriggle around and their back feet and front feet would go in different directions and the puppies would land on their face. With a few more days they started to really find their feet and the next thing we knew they were running and playing as well as growing their sharp puppy teeth.

At 4 weeks the puppies could no longer be contained to a room and could climb over any barrier we tried to put in their way. Because their mother is so small she had to be able to jump the barrier to get back to them but they were big enough to climb over. The puppies now have free range of the house and we just have to keep the bedroom doors closed and have put a table across our carpeted living area which we have to move to get in and out.

We began to notice each of their personalities shining through and loved each of them in their own special way. Finn, the most terrier of the lot according to the vet, is the most playful, bouncy independent boy. Bellamy (Nicknamed Baby Bellamy because he’s the smallest and had short legs) is sweet, cuddly and quiet and loves to run with a toy in his mouth and to cuddle up with Maisy. Octavia is cheeky, spirited and loves to play a bit rough with her brothers but is also the most scaredy-cat as she will run for the cover of the couch when the phone rings.

At six weeks we had to take them to the vets to get their first round of vaccinations and microchips. They were all so brave and loved the liver treat at the end like a child and their lollypop after the doctors. The next day we received a call saying that Bellamy’s Microchip must have come out as they found it on the floor of the vets. We had to take them all back and make sure Finn and Octavia’s were still in and put Bellamy’s in again.

It’s now seven weeks and we’re teaching them as much as we can before they go to their forever homes next week. They’re learning how to play with each other, sit, eat solids and use a toileting pad. We know we’re going to miss them so much but also know that they will love their new homes and they will be much loved there.

Threats to your pet this summer

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The paralysis tick is found on the east coast of Australia and generally become a problem in the warmer months of the year between August and March. Though they are more likely to attached themselves to your dog, they can also be a problem for cats. Outdoor domestic animals who interact with wildlife or have access to long grass or bushy areas are most at risk.

The danger of a paralysis tick is that once they attach themselves to your four-legged buddy is that they then release a toxin that over time targets the cardiac system, lungs, bladder etc effectively causing paralysis of these organs.  Symptoms to look for if your pet could be suffering from a paralysis tick:

Vomiting excessively – frothy vomit could also be a sign. If your pet is a little wobbly and unsteady on their legs, shows weakness especially in hind limbs.  Heavy panting for no obvious reasons or excessive drooling.  Change in bark or meow – if pitch or tone of bark or meow is altered in any significant way.  Paralysis and death. If poisoning continues unnoticed over time your pet’s gums will begin to turn blue and breathing will become difficult. Seek immediate medical attention should you see these symptoms.

Diagnosis of paralysis ticks is often made by observing the symptoms above and doing regular, systematic checks through your pet’s fur looking for unusual bumps and sores. Be sure to check folds in the neck and under the collar. Ticks also like more difficult places such as deep inside your pet’s ears, anus and between their toes. A flea comb is also useful in the search.

If you find one tick do not give up the search as you will more likely find more. There are numerous effective tick preventive medications available (sprays, washes and tablets) to reduce the threat of the paralysis tick. See your local pet store or veterinarian should you need advice.

Zander rules the roost

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Picture this: Tuesday morning at 9am, my first meeting with our new accountant Susan Dodd from the Tax Store. This is serious stuff. There were important issues to discuss and focus was mandatory. Facts needed to be accurate, concentration required on both sides of the desk. Both Susan and I attentive, each evaluating the other, scribbling facts furiously on paper as we outlaid the dry and some would say “boring” questions I had relating to tax responsibilities and the proper business setup to ensure that all my obligations would be met. This was riveting stuff, no one would dare interrupt such an important discussion.


What was that scratching on the door?

I turned to listen more carefully. Susan’s expression remained deliberately blank, nothing breaking the consummate professional concentration. Shaking my head I turned back to Susan, intent on continuing this most interesting and serious business discussion, when the scratching started again. Confused I turned around again. Curious my hand reached for the door handle, only to by stopped by Susan’s quiet request: “Don’t open it.”

Surprised, I again looked at Susan, who shrugged. Upon hearing Susan’s voice, the scratching on the door became more insistent. My interest now piqued, I asked, “Why? What’s on the other side?”

With a sigh Susan whispered, “Zander…”

“What’s a Zander?” I asked, intrigued.
“He is our eclectus parrot,” Susan replied. “He’ll ruin our meeting if we let him in.”

It is difficult to envisage what horror could possibly ruin a discussion on tax, but I found I could not simply ignore this perplexing conundrum.

So there I was, 9am in the morning sitting in a closed office, surrounded by lots of office-y things, talking about tax, while just a closed door away was an eclectus parrot scratching away, wanting to come in.

Surreal you might say, definitely unusual, and suddenly I was needing to make the most difficult decision of my life: talk tax or meet a parrot. Oh the dilemma! My head pounded as my mind deliberated furiously. Tax? Parrot? Tax? Parrot? Tax? Parrot!

Nearly faint from the battle it seemed my mind no longer had the power to stop my hand as it reached cautiously forward and turned the door handle.

And there as the door slowly opened stood Zander, foot still raised in the air preparing for his next door-scratching session.

With a squawk and a disgruntled shake of his head, the cocky green parrot strutted into the room and promptly took over.

And I was instantly in love.

Forgotten was any talk of tax as the curious parrot chewed shoe laces and the hems of my pants, investigated the contents of my handbag and then flew up and landed on the desk. Brazen and confident he then climbed on my finger, walked up my arm to sit on my shoulder to chatter quite happily in my ear. It was here that I discovered an unknown talent of tittering back in rare and quite expressive “parrot speak” that some might say sounded very much like gobbledygook, and perhaps made me sound slightly deranged.

As a pet, Zander is colourful, entertaining and funny. And let’s not forget cute. He is even toilet trained – going back to his cage when he needs to poop. He has free range of the house, and commands it as if he owns it. His wings need to be clipped regularly to ensure he does not injure himself if he flys too much within the house. He still has the ability to fly short distances.

He is wonderful. And I now want one.

I will probably never be able to say or think about the word tax again without thinking of him, which I am sure you can all agree is not such a bad thing.

Thank you, Susan and Zander, for a most enjoyable morning!