Telling tails…


What is 1080?

1080 (pronounced ten-eighty) is a solution containing a synthetic toxic compound (sodium fluoroacetate) based on the same toxin found in more than 30 different native Australian plants. It is commonly used in prepared or fresh meat or grain-based baits. The toxin is highly biodegradable so is broken down by natural soil bacteria over time (1-2 weeks under average conditions, but faster in hot and humid weather).



Why is 1080 used?

In Australia, 1080 is targeted at rabbits, wild dogs, foxes, feral pigs and feral cats to manage their populations and protect native wildlife and livestock. It is used for baiting feral species in Australia because our native species are relatively resistant to it (as they have evolved with it present in native plants), meaning that ferals can be removed without poisoning our unique Australian wildlife.



Where is 1080 used?

Commonly in National Parks, near beaches, on private land or anywhere that pest animals are threatening native wildlife or livestock. As a pet owner, stay vigilant and look out for warning signage for recent baiting. That said, baits may be picked up and spread by birds so don’t rely on baits only being present in signed areas. The toxin is assumed to stay active for around 4 weeks after distribution.



How much 1080 does it take to poison a dog?

Dogs are particularly susceptible to 1080 poisoning and may be poisoned directly by eating baits or indirectly by scavenging on poisoned carcasses. Unfortunately, 1080 poisoning is commonly lethal due to the delayed yet severe effects, but is treatable in early or mild cases.

The LD50 of pure 1080 is 0.11 mg/kg for dogs, meaning that a dose of 0.11 mg/kg would be lethal for 50% of dogs. Baits are recommended to contain 6mg of 1080, which would be lethal to most dogs up to 60kg, but this can vary. On a practical basis, as different baits contain different concentrations of the toxin, it is safest to assume that any dose ingested could be lethal.

1080 must be digested in order to cause toxicity, meaning that most clinical signs occur 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. But, this also means that the vomit of an affected animal can be immediately toxic, so ensuring that other pets don’t have access to an affected animal or their vomit is imperative.



What are the signs of 1080 poisoning in dogs?

Signs can appear 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion, with the timing and severity of signs depending on the dosage consumed. After the onset of clinical signs, they tend to progress quickly, making it very difficult to treat or save a dog that is already showing signs, even if a veterinary hospital is just around the corner.

Signs include:

  • disorientation or anxiety
  • frenzied behaviour such as running or howling
  • hypersensitivity to sound or light
  • failure to respond to owner
  • vomiting
  • urinating and defecating inappropriately
  • unconsciousness
  • sudden death



I think my dog just ate something, what should I do?

  1. Act immediately. Don’t wait for your dog to show symptoms, which could take 30 minutes to 12 hours to occur. Better outcomes occur from faster intervention and treatment.
  2. Induce vomiting immediately, but ONLY if your dog is fully conscious and not showing any clinical signs. There are risks associated with making your dog vomit.
  3. Call your closest vet or the Australian Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738. Treatment is possible in early or mild cases, so drive carefully but get to a veterinary hospital quickly. Provide the vet with the following information:
    1. What poison or bait they ate
    2. An estimate of how much bait was eaten
    3. The time that your dog likely ate the bait
    4. Your dog’s weight
    5. If your dog has any existing health conditions or is on any medications



How to make a dog vomit:

  • Always contact a veterinarian for advice first. Some situations and poisons can cause more problems if vomiting occurs.
  • DO NOT induce vomiting if your dog is already showing signs of toxicity.
  • Salt water is no longer recognised as a safe way to induce vomiting as it can cause salt toxicity.
  • The safest method is Hydrogen Peroxide 3% – this can be purchased at a supermarket or pharmacy. Ensure that it is not expired by pouring a little down the sink and watch for bubbling. If there is no bubbling then it is unlikely to work. Do not use hydrogen peroxide in cats.
  • Use a syringe to give 1ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 1kg of your dog’s weight into their mouth (example: a 5kg dog will get 5ml; a 10kg dog will get 10ml; a 20kg dog will get 20ml). Do not give more than 60ml per dog as this can cause other problems.
  • The peroxide may start foaming in their mouth and within 5 to 10 minutes your dog will likely start licking their lips, drooling and looking nauseous.
  • Most dogs will vomit within 15 minutes.
  • If no vomit occurs after 15 minutes, repeat the same dose.
  • Most dogs will vomit a few times then stop within 45 minutes. If vomiting continues, then seek veterinary assistance.
  • Make sure your dog and other pets cannot access or eat the vomit.
  • Wearing gloves, collect a sample of the vomit to take to a vet.
  • Call a veterinarian for advice as further assessment and treatment will likely be required.



Prevention is better than treatment:

  • Be vigilant. Be aware of areas where 1080 may be used. Local councils should have a record of any planned recent baiting, so call ahead before visiting a new location.
  • If you’re camping or walking in an unknown area, keep your dog on a short lead or in an enclosed area. Don’t allow them to roam freely without supervision. That includes to go to the toilet.
  • Teach your dog to wear a muzzle. A basket-style muzzle is best as it allows your dog to pant and drink whilst wearing it. Do not use restrictive muzzles that hold your dog’s mouth closed, they do not allow panting so your dog is at high risk of overheating (especially if exercising, in warm weather or if they are a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed). Muzzles are useful for all dogs, but imperative if your dog likes to scavenge and eat random things.
  • Carry a pet first aid kit. Add a bottle of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide to your Pet First Aid Kit when travelling to use as a first aid measure if necessary.



Can cats be poisoned by 1080?

Cats are slightly less susceptible to 1080 poisoning (the LD50 for cats is about 0.28mg/kg) but feral cat baits are recommended to contain 2mg of 1080 per gram of bait as a lethal dose, so this is still only 1.2mg of 1080 (or 0.6g of bait) that would be lethal to the average 4kg cat.

The main symptoms of 1080 poisoning in cats are disorientation and lethargy, followed by death.

The positive is that cats are much less likely to scavenge like a dog, so less likely to eat something random like a bait. Cats are also less likely to be allowed to roam in a travel situation. That said, some cats will do both if given the chance, so it is worth keeping them contained or supervised on a lead at all times if you’re in a high risk location.

Do not use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cats. Cats respond differently to medications and chemicals used to induce vomiting – hydrogen peroxide has a high potential for causing internal gut damage in cats. Unfortunately, there are no safe ways to induce vomiting in a cat at home.

If you suspect that your cat has eaten a bait or something that they shouldn’t, get them to your closest veterinary hospital as soon as possible for medical treatment.


* The above information is provided to inform and educate, it does not replace individual veterinary advice for your pet. Always seek veterinary advice before inducing vomiting as some toxic effects and health conditions can be made more severe by vomiting. Inducing vomiting in animals is associated with risks that should be assessed and managed by a veterinarian.


Whether you’ve just adopted a new puppy, have had a dog in the family for years, or love snuggles of the cat variety, you might have thought about investing in a pet first aid kit. You never know when it may come in handy, for those random accidents at home, playing at the dog park, or when camping or holidaying without a vet nearby. There may even be minor pet health situations which can be managed at home.


What should be included?

If you’re putting a pet first aid kit together, then the essentials include:

  • your pet’s vaccination records and a brief description of their health history
  • your pet’s usual medications
  • pet first aid guide or instructions
  • tick remover
  • thermometer
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • gloves
  • electrolyte mix
  • antiseptic solution
  • saline
  • bandaging materials
  • gauze
  • syringes
  • ask your vet about antihistamines, pain relief or other items which might come in handy


Why should I buy a pet first aid kit?

If you have a furry family member, there are several reasons why you should consider buying a pet first aid kit:

  1. Emergency situations: Just like humans, dogs and cats can get into unexpected situations that may require immediate medical attention. Having a pet first aid kit on hand can help you provide prompt care to your furry best friend in case of an emergency.
  2. Quick response: In an emergency, time is critical. Having a pet first aid kit readily available can help you respond quickly and efficiently to your pet’s medical needs, potentially saving their life. Veterinary telehealth advice can be sought and you’ll have the equipment on hand to follow their instructions.
  3. Minor injuries: Dogs are prone to minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Cats commonly get bitten or scratched in fights, resulting in nasty abscesses. Dogs and cats can easily suffer an upset tummy with a change in their food or water source. With a pet first aid kit, you can quickly attend to these mishaps and prevent them from becoming worse.
  4. Save money: A pet first aid kit can help you manage minor situations at home (or in the car or caravan), providing reassurance and appropriate treatment when a vet visit is not necessary.
  5. Travel: If you like to travel with your dog or cat, having a pet first aid kit can provide peace of mind knowing that you are prepared for any medical emergency that may arise whilst on the road and hours from the closest veterinary hospital. A lot of dogs will develop ear or skin infections when swimming a lot, out in the dusty outback or heading north into the humid tropics. Ticks are an issue in most states and territories. A small injury can be easily managed without the need to pack up camp and trying to find the closest vet.
  6. Expert guidance: A good pet first aid kit usually comes with instructions or a guide to help you know how to use each item in the kit properly, and that can be crucial, especially if you are not familiar with basic first aid procedures. How do you know if that bout of vomiting or diarrhoea is serious or not? There’s no point having a pet first aid kit if you don’t know how and when to use it!

In summary, a pet first aid kit is a valuable investment that can provide you with the tools and knowledge needed to respond effectively to medical emergencies that may arise with your furry friend whether at home or out and about.



Buy yours now!

Dr Tania has expertly collaborated with Navigator to develop a pet first aid kit, based on common problems that she has seen working with pets all around Australia.

Watch the video to learn more about our Pet First Aid Kit here: Watch now

Get your paws on one here: Vet in a Van x Navigator Pet First Aid Kit


We can all admit to giving in to those puppy dog eyes at some point and slipping some of our dinner to the furry family member under the table. Or maybe the dinner table scraps are destined for the dog bowl. Along with being aware that this may not be providing a balanced diet for your dog and contribute to them gaining a bit of extra weight, there are a few food items that shouldn’t be shared as they can be toxic or cause illness in dogs.

Whether you feed your dog a premade or homemade diet, always make sure that it is balanced for your dog’s nutritional requirements. Random scraps are not a balanced diet.


Here are our top seven human foods that can be dangerous for dogs:


Grapes, sultanas, raisins and currants

Whilst it is still unclear as to why these fruit snacks are toxic to dogs, we do know that they can be responsible for causing severe kidney damage if eaten. Some dogs seem more susceptible than others, so even one grape or sultana could have serious effects.

This also applies to any other foods containing them, like raisin toast, fruit cakes and hot cross buns.

Signs of kidney damage can take days or weeks to become obvious, and by then it may be too late and could progress to kidney failure. So, if your dog has eaten grapes, sultanas, raisins or currants, please seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.



Chocolate and caffeine

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine and caffeine is also found in drinks like tea, coffee and cola. This also includes cocoa and cacao and foods that contain them, like chocolate cake. Dogs are quite sensitive to these substances, known as methylxanthines, as they cannot metabolise theobromine properly so even eating a small amount means that it builds up in their body and can lead to signs of toxicosis.

The darker the chocolate, the more methylxanthines it contains, whilst white chocolate contains a negligible amount so is not a concern.

Signs of chocolate or caffeine poisoning include:

  • Vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Restlessness or hyperactivity
  • Rapid breathing / panting
  • Increased heart rate or arrhythmias
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures



Onion and garlic

Along with other related plants, like leeks and chives, onions and garlic contain compounds called disulfides and thiosulfates which are harmful whether raw, cooked or dried. Cats are most sensitive but dogs are also susceptible, especially if these foods are eaten in large amounts.

Immediate mild effects result in gut upset but the compounds affect the red blood cells and in severe cases can lead to a life-threatening haemolytic anaemia a few days later (effectively damaging the red blood cells so that they can’t function or carry oxygen).

Signs of onion or garlic toxicity include:

  • Vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums and tongue
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate




All parts of the avocado plant contain persin, a fungicidal toxin, that is found in the leaves, bark, seeds, skin and fruit. The leaves contain the highest levels and unripe fruit contains a much higher concentration of persin than ripe fruit.

Although persin is toxic to most animals, particularly birds, serious avocado poisoning in dogs is rare, the most common issue that we see is the avocado seed causing a gut blockage if eaten.

Signs of avocado poisoning include:

  • Gut upset / vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mastitis in lactating animals (inflammation of the mammary glands if they are producing milk)
  • Heart muscle damage within 24 hours appearing as
    • Lethargy
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Cough
    • Tongue and gums turning blue
    • Death




This is an artificial sweetener commonly found in foods like chewing gum, sugar-free lollies, toothpaste, human medications and some foods. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts cause a sudden insulin release into the bloodstream resulting in a massive drop of blood sugar levels within 10-60 minutes of ingestion.

Signs of xylitol poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Liver failure



Fatty foods

Think twice before handing your dog a sausage at your next barbeque. When we eat fat it stimulates the pancreas to release digestive enzymes, an entirely normal process, but in dogs a random fatty meal might cause an overstimulation of the pancreas leading to inflammation and a condition called pancreatitis. This can be incredibly painful and lead to dehydration, infection and ongoing issues.

Beef, lamb, fatty offcuts and barbequed meat are typical culprits, but pancreatitis can also be secondary to obesity, food poisoning, long-term steroid use or trauma. A dog who has had a previous case of pancreatitis may be more susceptible to it happening again.

Signs of pancreatitis include:

  • Vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reluctance to move
  • Collapse


Whilst we’re on the subject of barbeques… keep those corn cobs and kebab sticks away from your dog too. That includes keeping the scraps and rubbish bag out of reach! These items are renowned for being eaten by dogs and getting stuck in their gut, causing an emergency.


Cooked bones

The suitability of feeding raw bones to dogs needs to be assessed on an individual basis as it does carry some risk and different bones may be suited to different dogs, both due to their size and eating habits as well as the type of bone. Cooked bones should never be fed as they are more prone to shattering and splintering with the potential to get stuck in the mouth or throat, or cut or puncture the gut as they pass through.

Signs that feeding bones are causing problems may include:

  • Broken teeth
  • Vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Blood in the poo
  • Abdominal pain


I think my dog has been poisoned, what should I do?

As with any potential toxin, the sooner that detoxification and treatment is started, the easier it is to treat and the better the outcome for your dog.

If you suspect or notice that your dog has eaten any of these foods or has been poisoned by something else, please call the FREE Australian Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (1300 TOX PET) or your veterinarian for advice as soon as possible.

It is also helpful to ensure you have a Pet First Aid kit on hand in-case of an emergency, check out the Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit.



Whether it’s chasing the sun for a Winter get away or warming up for Summer, the beach is a favourite holiday destination for many of us, including our pets. But, not every dog-friendly beach is without risk. There are a few things that you need to be aware of to help keep your dog safe amongst the fun of sun, sea and sand.

Here are our top six risks to be aware of when taking your dog to the beach:


1. Sun protection

Just like us, our pets can get sunburnt and develop various types of skin cancers. Fortunately, cats and dogs are covered in hair which offers some protection from the sun. So, that gives you the hint – the most likely spots that need some extra sun protection are areas where the haircoat is thin, the top of the nose, ears, tummy and inner thighs. Pets with white hair and pink skin in these areas are most at risk of getting sunburnt.

The best prevention is to use a pet-friendly sunscreen, just in case they decide to lick it, and try to discourage your dog or cat to lie in the sun in the middle of the day. A zinc-based barrier cream like Sudocrem is also a good option. Monitor these higher risk areas of their body for any new spots, lumps or scabs and have them checked by your vet as soon as possible if you do notice any changes.


2. Sea hares

Sea hares are a species of large sea slug that are usually a purplish brown colour and around 30-40cm long. They are found in intertidal rocky shores and seagrass areas in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Under certain weather conditions, large numbers can be washed ashore onto beaches and this is when they pose a risk to dogs.

Sea hares are coated in thick slime and will squirt a purple dye if threatened. Both the slime and the purple dye contain toxins, thought to be accumulated in the sea hare from the algae that they eat. Unfortunately, this algal toxin is highly toxic to dogs so even a small lick of a sea hare can lead to signs of toxicity.

Signs include:

  • Leg weakness
  • Over-excitement
  • Tremors/seizures
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Quickly leading to death

If you see or suspect that your dog has licked or eaten a sea hare, act immediately, don’t wait for signs of intoxication:

  • Wipe the slime out of your dog’s mouth and off their tongue with a wet cloth
  • If your dog has already developed signs then use a dry cloth to wipe their mouth and tongue, don’t use water as they may choke
  • Get to the closest vet as quickly as it is safe to do so, calling them to let them know that you’re on your way
  • Sea hare intoxication is treatable if caught early


3. Blue-ringed octopus

It’s hard to believe that the colourful and tiny blue-ringed octopus is one of the most venomous marine animals in the world. Smaller than the palm of your hand, these critters hide out in tide pools, rock pools and coral reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, meaning that they are found most of the way around the east, south and west coasts of Australia. They are quite shy so will only bite if provoked or handled, painlessly envenomating the victim with a tetrodotoxin, produced by bacteria within their salivary glands. Each blue-ringed octopus carries enough tetrodotoxin to kill 26 adult humans so keep a close watch on your dog if they like to play in rockpools.

Tetrodotoxin envenomation acts by causing muscle paralysis within minutes, so signs and death can occur very quickly whilst the victim is still conscious.

** Please be careful as tetrodotoxin is also a risk for humans **

Signs to watch for in dogs include:

  • Leg weakness or wobbly walking
  • Dilated pupils (the black part in the centre of the eye)
  • Floppiness or paralysis
  • Paralysis of the breathing muscles leading to death

If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by a blue-ringed octopus, don’t wait for signs:

  • Get to the closest vet as quickly as it is safe to do so, calling them to let them know that you’re on your way
  • Treatment is possible if breathing can be maintained. Artificial respiration (chest compressions in large dogs or mouth-to-nose resuscitation in small dogs) can be effective until you reach a vet
  • If paralysed, keep your dog’s head elevated above their body on a folded towel to reduce the risk of regurgitation


4. Pufferfish

Most people are familiar with the inflating family of pufferfish and toadfish. They are commonly discovered on beaches and jetties, washed up or left behind by fishermen.

These fish species have an internal gland which produces tetrodotoxin, the same toxin as the blue-ringed octopus as listed above. Some species also have external spikes which carry the toxin. No matter if the fish is alive or dead, they are highly toxic and can be deadly to dogs if eaten, chewed or licked.

Refer to the signs to watch for in the blue-ringed octopus section above. Clinical signs may occur quickly or slowly depending on whether the fish is swallowed whole or chewed.

As for a blue-ringed octopus bite, pufferfish toxicity is treatable if caught early and the dog’s breathing can be maintained


5. Jellyfish

Types of jellyfish vary with season and location, with some more venomous than others, although the most dangerous jellyfish tend to occur in warmer waters. Although dogs are at a lower risk for jellyfish stings than humans due to their fur coats, stings are still a possibility especially on thin-haired areas like their face and tummy.

Prevention is key, so keep an eye out for jellyfish warnings or signs. If jellyfish are present in the water or washed up on the beach, avoid swimming and keep your dog on a lead to reduce the risk of contact.

First aid for jellyfish stings in dogs:

  • Wash tentacles off with sea water, taking care not to be stung yourself
  • If hives (a bumpy skin rash) are present at the sting sites, an antihistamine can be given – please ask your veterinarian for the type and dose of antihistamine as some aren’t suitable
  • Pour warm-hot 41C water over the sting site for 20 minutes – this denatures the venom – this is not boiling water, you should be able to tolerate it on your skin, we don’t want to treat your dog for burns as well as the sting!
  • Monitor your dog closely. If they experience extreme pain, breathing problems or vomiting – get to a veterinary hospital as soon as is practical and safe to do so.


6. Sharks and crocodiles

These apex predators don’t take no for an answer and can both swim quite close to the shoreline, so stay alert for signs indicating that they may be present in your location. Crocodiles inhabit the warmer waters (ocean and inland) of northern Australia and tend to be more active in the warmer seasons but they are a risk at all times. Many species of shark are present in all Australian ocean habitats.

This is another risk where prevention is definitely the best option:

  • Don’t allow your dog to swim or sit by the water in high risk areas – dogs tend to splash and attract attention
  • Keep your dog secured, on a leash/rope or within a fenced area, if they are prone to wandering off or have poor recall



So, in general, be aware of the risks at the individual beach you’re heading to and only allow your dog to explore beaches off lead if they have good recall and you’re paying close attention to them. We don’t need to be worried about taking our dogs to the beach, just aware so we can all relax and have fun in the sun! Make sure you pack your Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit in your beach bag for extra peace of mind.


Whether you’re travelling, camping for the weekend or enjoying a staycation at home this Easter, please be aware of any pets that may be around so that they can stay safe and enjoy the holidays too.

Don’t share your Easter treats

Chocolate is particularly toxic for dogs, cats and birds, as is xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in some low sugar chocolates and lollies.
Easter egg hunts are fun for kids but, unfortunately, our doggy friends are pretty good at sniffing out the treats too. Make sure all of the chocolates and lollies are kept safely out of reach and none are left behind if you’re organising an egg hunt. Ensuring all wrappers are picked up not only helps the environment but will help prevent them getting eaten by pets and creating a blockage in their gut.
The signs of chocolate toxicity can include
  • increased heart rate
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • hyperactivity
  • seizures
  • potentially death.
Hot cross buns should not be shared with pets either due to the sultanas which may lead to kidney failure in some dogs.

Celebrate with flowers

The Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum), otherwise known as the Christmas Lily, November Lily or November Lily, is commonly potted or in cut flower arrangements for the holidays. Unfortunately, it is one of the true lily species that are extremely toxic to cats. All parts of the lily plant (leaves, stem, flower and pollen) are toxic and can cause kidney failure in cats if eaten. This includes licking pollen off their fur if they brush past the flowers.
Signs of lily toxicity in cats can occur within hours and include:
  • drooling
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • possible death

Has my pet eaten a toxic amount of chocolate or Easter treats?

The toxic amount varies with the type of chocolate or treat, along with the underlying health and size of an individual animal.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten any Easter treats, don’t wait for symptoms, please contact a veterinarian immediately as the sooner that your pet is treated the better the outcome will be.
If you are heading off with your pet over the Easter break, make sure you have packed your Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit
Have a happy, safe and pet-friendly Easter!!


Amongst the devastation caused by recent rain and flooding on the eastern coast of Australia, a naughty little bacteria called Leptospira has reared it’s head again and an increase in animal and human illness has resulted. If you’ve spent time in the tropics of the Northern Territory or Queensland then this is a bug that you’re probably already familiar with but it has also had a history of popping up in other parts of the country too.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can infect both humans and animals. It is caused by a bacteria (genus Leptospira) that thrives in moist and humid areas, and is spread through animal urine and animal tissue. Rats are the most common carrier but mice and some wildlife are also a risk.

Leptospirosis is a common problem in areas after flooding or heavy rainfall, which is why most cases in northern Australia occur during the wet season.

How is leptospirosis transmitted?

You or your pet can catch leptospirosis if you are bitten by a carrier or if you come into contact with water, mud or soil that has been contaminated with infected urine. For example, if a rat urinates into a body of water and your pet drinks that water, they are at risk of infection.

The bacteria can also enter the body through cuts in the skin or occasionally via the gums, mouth, nose and eyes. So a dog that swims in infected water or even just stands in infected mud is at risk.

Cats are more likely to become infected by eating infected rodents or their carcasses.

Sugarcane and banana plantations are recognised as a high risk areas due to their attraction of rodents. 

Traditionally, farms are a risk as cattle and pigs can transmit leptospirosis, but most commercial farms vaccinate their animals so it’s mainly backyard or lifestyle properties with a few animals that may not be vaccinated that pose a risk.

What are the symptoms of leptospirosis?

The incubation period, from infection to signs appearing, is approximately 7 days (although they can be seen between 1-14 days).

Leptospirosis mainly affects the liver and kidneys. Signs of leptospirosis in dogs and cats include being generally unwell, lethargic, have a mild fever, walking stiffly or reluctant to move, refusal to eat, vomiting or diarrhoea, increased thirst or urination and jaundice.

Owners are encouraged to be especially mindful of these symptoms if their dog has recently been in contact with a body of stagnant water, areas where wildlife inhabit, near a rodent infestation or if their cat likes to hunt rodents. Please seek immediate veterinary treatment for your pet if you notice any of the above signs and think your pet may be at risk.

How long does the Leptospira bacteria survive for?

Leptospirosis bacteria can survive in moist or humid areas for months. Reservoir hosts (such as rats) allow for the continued spread and contamination of the environment.

How do I prevent my pet from catching it?

Preventing pets from drinking or swimming in stagnant water and avoiding areas where rats, mice, wildlife or farm animals congregate is advisable. Owners are encouraged to get their pets vaccinated against leptospirosis at their local veterinary clinic if their pets are visiting or living in high risk areas.

There are different strains of leptospirosis bacteria which occur in certain areas and different vaccines for each strain. Local veterinarians will stock the vaccine relevant to their area. An initial 2 doses are given, 4 weeks apart, then 6 or 12 monthly boosters will vary with vaccine type and individual risk factors. Generally, one vaccine (Auslepto) covers the main Leptospira strain in the Northern Territory and Queensland, and another vaccine (Protech C2i) covers the main Leptospira strain in NSW and Victoria.

Cases have been previously reported in the Northern Territory, Queensland, Northern NSW, around Sydney and eastern Victoria.

Can leptospirosis be treated?

If caught early, yes, leptospirosis responds to antibiotic treatment and supportive care. But the disease may be severe with long term damage done to kidneys, liver and other organs so early treatment is most effective and intensive care may be necessary.

Am I at risk of catching leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a zoonosis, meaning that it is a disease that can be passed from animals to people. So, keeping your dog safe and healthy plays a part in keeping you and your human family members safe as well.

Symptoms in humans can include fever, severe headache, sore muscles, chills, vomiting and red eyes.

What should I do now?

For the majority of the population, leptospirosis is not something to be worried about, just be aware and proactive for prevention. If you are travelling or living in a high risk area with your dog then vaccination is advisable.

Chat to your veterinarian about whether vaccination is appropriate for your dog and situation.


For peace of mind, keep a Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit at home and in your car.


Why do I need to perform a tick check on my pet?

Ticks carry infectious diseases and some, like the paralysis tick, can cause direct toxic harm to your pet so this is one topic where prevention is better than treatment. Unfortunately, no tick preventative medication is guaranteed, so if you’re living or travelling in a tick-prone area then you need to physically check your pet for ticks at least once a day and carefully remove any as soon as possible. The sooner that any attached tick is removed then the less effect it will have on your pet.


When it comes to a tick prevention program for your dog, it’s all about the three step approach:

  1. An oral or spot on tick preventative medication (like Nexgard or Bravecto)
  2. A tick repellent product (like the Seresto collar or Advantix spot on)
  3. A daily tick check (twice a day if you’re in a high risk area)


How to perform a tick check:

Ticks are easier to feel than see amongst your pet’s fur, so use your finger tips to feel everywhere along your dog’s skin from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail. This is called the ‘Finger Walking’ technique. Be systematic and follow the same pattern each time so that you don’t miss any spots. It’ll be awkward at first, but you and your dog will get used to it with practice. You can add a few treats, toys or enrichment distractions (like peanut butter or kibble in a Kong ball) to make it easier for you and a more pleasant experience for your dog. You’re feeling for something that feels like a warty lump that is between 1 and 5mm in size, so they can be tricky to find amongst the fur. Even though ticks have favourite places that they like to hide in, they can be found on any part of your dog’s skin.


The step-by-step tick check:

Start at your dog’s nose, walking your finger tips all over their face. The places where ticks like to hide on the face are under lip folds, so feel in the folds and lift their lips up for a peek, then around and under their ear flaps and around the ear cartilage knobbly bits.

Next, feel under the chin, down the neck and run your fingers across the shoulders. Being sure to run your finger tips all around under their collar, if they are wearing one.

Feel up under their arm pits then down their front legs. The main hiding places for ticks here are between the toes and pads so creep your finger tips into all those little nooks.

Most dogs love a belly rub, so giving a lovely slow massage all over their tummy and back should be the easiest part, carefully checking any skin folds closely and up around their groin area.

The back legs have the same hiding places as the front legs, so feel all the way down the legs and be thorough in the gaps between those toes and pads.

Keep going, you’re nearly there! A lot of dogs are sensitive around their bottom and tail, so a few extra treats or distractions may be needed here. Even if your dog won’t allow you to feel around this area (I don’t want you to get bitten if your dog really doesn’t like it), ticks may be visible if you lift their tail, checking directly under the tail as well as around their bottom and any skin folds. Then walk your fingers all the way to the tip of their tail and you’re done.

Great work!


What do I do if I find a tick on my dog?

Do not squeeze the tick – if it is a paralysis tick then squeezing the body can force more toxin into your dog.

Ticks can bury their mouth parts quite deeply into the skin when they attach, so you need to be sure that you’ve removed the entire tick with it’s mouth parts. Using a tick removal device makes this easier, there are a few different products available so follow the instructions on the label. It is possible to use tweezers but be sure to grab the head, not the body, of the tick to gently twist it out.

If you’re not able or confident in removing the tick, call your local veterinarian for help.

If your pet becomes unwell after you’ve recently removed a tick from them, call your veterinarian immediately as both paralysis tick toxicosis and tick-borne diseases can be deadly. Early treatment leads to better outcomes.

Want to be prepared? The Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit makes removing ticks easy!


Protect your dog now:

Check out our other blog articles for more information about ticks or Ehrlichiosis then head to and enter the unique code VIAV100R at the top left of the screen for an exclusive discount on tick prevention and other pet supplies.


Would you like to be walked through this Tick Check with Dr Tania?

Grab your dog and click here if you’d like to watch a video version of Dr Tania performing this tick check on our YouTube channel.






*Information provided here is based on information available to us at the time of publishing and not intended as an individual veterinary recommendation for any product or action. You should consult your veterinarian for advice regarding your individual pet and read all product labels and instructions prior to the use of any product.

**By using our discount code, you save money and Vet in a Van receives a small margin on each sale which helps us to keep helping you and your pets.


Heat stress affects all species

Heat stress, or heat stroke, can develop quickly in pets in the warmer months, and can be life threatening. Over-strenuous exercise is the most common cause of overheating, usually in the warmer months, but it can happen in any weather if your pet is at increased risk. Heat stress is commonly recognised in dogs, specifically older, overweight, thick-coated, and brachycephalic (shorter nosed) dogs, such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boxers, but rabbits are particularly sensitive to heat and all species are potentially susceptible. Even though reptiles like to bask, it’s only to reach their preferred body temperature then they will seek shade otherwise they can overheat.

Our pets don’t have the same ability to sweat like humans and rely on other methods to regulate their body temperature. Dogs pant, whilst cats sweat through their foot pads, seek out cool surfaces to lie quietly on and may pant if very hot. Rabbits regulate their body temperature via blood vessels in their ears and will lay outstretched. Reptiles seek out shade and cool surfaces.

Never leave your animal locked inside a car, caravan or tent without air-conditioning turned on. The temperature inside can rise rapidly beyond what your pet can cope with, even if it is parked in the shade with the windows down.


What signs should I watch for?

Signs of heat stress include excessive panting, bright red gums, vomiting, uncoordinated walking, lethargy, seizures, collapse, and unconsciousness which may result in death. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stress, immediately seek veterinary advice whilst you start cooling your pet with running water and a fan for a maximum of 10 minutes, if you are unable to reach a veterinary clinic within this time.


Here are some tips to help your pet keep cool during Summer or warmer weather:

  • Provide extra bowls of water in case one is accidentally knocked over. A few outside for local wildlife is always a nice idea too.
  • Freeze half a bowl of water overnight and add half a bowl of cool water before giving it to your pet.
  • A frozen plastic water bottle collects external condensation which can be licked off during the day.
  • Provide extra shade areas using shade cloths or sun umbrellas.
  • Let your dog play in paddling pools filled with water, or a safe river or lake if you have one nearby. Just make sure they are always supervised.
  • Never leave your pet in the car, even with the windows down. They could quickly be in trouble, as temperatures in a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels, even on mild days. Leaving the windows open, parking in the shade and tinting do not help to reduce the inside temperature significantly.
  • Always walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when it’s cooler. Skipping a walk on very hot days may be safest. Be aware that pets can burn their foot pads on hot concrete too.
  • Ensure your pet always has easy access to shade and water throughout the day. This is important for every species, no matter the temperature.
  • Spray your pet bird with a mist pump spray bottle (only if he likes it!) or install a bird bath. Just make sure they are always supervised.
  • Your snake or lizard may appreciate an extra cool water bath to soak in to cool down and keep them hydrated. Be sure they can hold their head above water, climb out if they want to, and are supervised.
  • Check the temperatures of your reptile or amphibian enclosures, they can get too high if the room temperature increases so their heat lamp may not be needed for as long or at all on hot days.
  • A ceramic tile or oven pan cooled in the fridge or freezer can be refreshing to lie on.
  • Rabbits and guinea pigs will appreciate a cool wet face washer or tea towel to lie on, and you can help them by wiping down their ears with a damp cloth.
  • Cooling mats and coats can help to provide some extra evaporative cooling, as does a wet towel to lie on.
  • Allow any outdoor pets to come inside the house to share the air conditioning or electric fan (being careful they stay a safe distance away).
  • Dogs, cats and ferrets who aren’t keen on drinking water may be convinced to lick a frozen bowl of diluted low salt chicken, beef or fish stock, or you can add extra water to their usual food, make rice a bit more soggy than usual or soak dry kibble. Rabbits and guinea pigs can increase their water intake by wetting their vegies or lightly misting their hay.
  • If your dog is a breed with a short nose, tends to snore, pants excessively when exercising and prefers to breathe through their mouth, have a chat to your vet about possible surgical corrections that can be performed to reduce their risk of heat stress and breathing difficulty.


It is always helpful to have a Pet First Aid kit on hand in case of an emergency, check out the Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit.


What other ideas have you tried for keeping your pet cool?

Share them with our community on Facebook or Instagram


Copyright by Vet in a Van PTY LTD. All rights reserved.