Telling tails…


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



Nothing gives us the imaginary (or real!) itches like knowing that a pet has fleas. These pesky critters can be a bit tricky to eradicate once they take hold so a consistent approach is needed. For every flea that you see on your pet, there may be up to 2000 eggs in the environment, so don’t expect them to go away instantly, it can take some work.


Where does my pet catch fleas from?

Fleas are species specific, there are cat fleas, dog fleas, rabbit fleas, and many more. That said, individual fleas may jump to a different species pet in the same household and bite them but they are unlikely to survive and breed unless they return to their host species. This is why it is important to treat all pets in the family at the same time to avoid fleas ‘hiding out’ on untreated pets.

Fleas can be transferred in the environment from other pets and wildlife. So, if your pet ventures outside they may pick up an unwanted hitchhiker from the grass or other animals and bring them home.


How do I know if my pet has fleas?

Pets that can be affected by fleas include:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Ferrets (commonly affected by the cat flea)
  • Guinea pigs
  • Rats and Mice


The common signs which may indicate that your pet has fleas include:
  • Your pet suddenly scratching, chewing or biting at themselves
  • Small black dots on their skin, fur or bedding (which may be fleas themselves or flea dirt, the digested blood the fleas have fed on)
    • To check if any small black dots are flea dirt or just dirt, place some on a wet paper towel, where flea dirt will turn red
  • Red or crusty patches of skin (some cats and dogs have an allergy to flea saliva which makes them super itchy and sore)
    • If your pet has a flea allergy, it can take just one flea to flare up a big reaction
  • Seeing fleas hopping on your carpet or furnishings
  • Patchy hair loss (where your pet may be excessively scratching or licking)
  • Small itchy bite marks on family members
  • If your dog or cat has been diagnosed with tapeworm (or you have seen flat, white, rice-sized, wriggly bits in their poo) then they may have caught tapeworm from ingesting a flea


Is prevention necessary?

Although warmer weather is assumed to encourage higher flea populations (flea eggs like to hatch with warmth, humidity and vibration), we see flea infestations occurring year-round not just in the Summer months. This is because of the use of heaters, rugs and carpets that tend to create cosy flea breeding spaces.

Not only do fleas annoy our pets, they can leave us with a few itchy reminders of their presence too.

For this reason, year-round flea prevention is recommended. There are a lot of flea products available and many treat multiple parasites, so ask your vet for a product that suits your pet and their situation.


Follow this treatment plan thoroughly for a flea-free home:


  • Treat all animals in your household with a veterinary product suitable to their species all year-round, check the label for how often this should be done as products differ (plus, some dog products can be toxic to cats and rabbits so ask your vet first and follow the label)

If you see fleas on your pet or in the house:

  • Throw out any cushions or bedding that may be severely infested
  • Wash pet bedding and all household bedding in hot water (over 60C) for at least 10 minutes
  • Clean out your pet’s bed
  • Clean out the kennel, basket or rabbit hutch
  • Vacuum lounge chairs and cushions
  • Vacuum the car
  • Vacuum or wash rugs
  • Bin or burn the vacuum bag immediately after vacuuming
  • Speak to your vet, as there are some extra medications which can be used (in conjunction with your current flea preventative) to help eradicate a current infestation or reduce the itch that your pet is experiencing



Keep your chosen parasite preventatives handy by storing them in your Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit

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