My dog is scratching! What causes itchiness in Dogs?

Broadly speaking there 3 reasons for itchiness in dogs:

  1. Infection (bacterial or fungal)
  2. Parasites (fleas or mites)
  3. Allergy

Let’s explore each of these in turn.


Bacterial and fungal skin infections can take various forms so simply showing you a picture of a dog with either of these skin conditions will not help you diagnose your dog correctly. Your veterinarian will perform confirmatory tests if they suspect a bacterial or fungal skin infection. Only then can you be confident that this is the cause of your dog’s itchiness. Most bacterial and fungal skin infections are easily treated and (depending on the location and severity of the disease) your vet may prescribe topical or oral medications or both.


The most common parasites causing skin disease in dogs are fleas and mites. To identify a flea infestation look carefully around your dog’s hind legs, particularly down the back of the legs and underneath – you will have to roll your dog on his/her back to do this properly. Make sure you part the fur. If you see small, dark granules in the fur collect some and place them on a piece of wet, white tissue paper – if the paper turns a brown/red colour this identifies the granules as flea faeces (digested blood). If flea faeces is present then so are fleas! If you have identified a flea infestation then the next step is to discuss the most appropriate strategy to eradicate the fleas. Unfortunately, it’s not just as simple as using a “spot on” liquid applied to your dog’s skin to kills all the fleas. The most appropriate course of action will depend on many factors such as how long your dog has had skin issues, the number and species of other animals in the household, if the dog/s are allowed indoors or only outdoors etc. Therefore, this warrants a conversation with your veterinarian.

Mites will be diagnosed by your veterinarian by performing a skin scrape or a trichogram – (pulling a small tuft of fur out and examining the hair follicles for mites). Both these tests require a veterinarian’s expertise and a microscope so there’s no real DIY option. Demodex (pictured below) is one of the most common mites seen in growing puppies, and is not contagious to other dogs or humans.

Demodex Mite
(Credit: School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland)


Allergic skin disease is undoubtedly the most common cause of itchiness in dogs seen at My Local Vet. There are four categories:

FFlea allergy dermatitis (FAD)

Some dogs develop an allergy to the flea saliva and this means they may only require a single flea bite to cause severe itchiness and fur loss. The area of skin disease doesn’t necessarily correspond to where the fleas are on the dog’s body either so you can have fleas biting a dog under the hind legs yet the dog appears most itchy over the base of the tail. Some of these dogs develop a secondary bacterial infection as well.

Food Allergy

There are a variety of things that dogs can become allergic to in their food. The way to identify if your dog has a food allergy is to do a “food trial” using a specifically formulated dog food. The details of the food trial are best discussed with your vet because there are many things to consider before starting one. Firstly, your vet will take a thorough history in order to ascertain if food allergy is likely. Then he/she will examine your dog, taking into consideration if there is a secondary bacterial infection present or if there is evidence of some other skin disease. Food allergies in pets are often caused by various proteins which may be found in multiple foods (even if the label looks different) so changing your pets food without expert advice is unlikely to help, even if food allergy is the culprit. Many of the foods marketed for ‘sensitive skin’ contain some omegas which will benefit itchy skin but may not be appropriate for an actual food allergy.

Contact Allergy

some dogs will develop inflamed skin when they come in contact with an allergen in their environment. Contact allergy is often suspected when a dog develops skin disease exclusively on their paws, face and belly as these are the areas of the body most commonly in contact with their surrounds. If contact allergy is suspected by your veterinarian they will treat the allergic skin disease and discuss the typical plants that cause allergy in dogs as well as ways to prevent your dog from exposure to these allergens.

(Credit: Dermcare-Vet)


Think of atopy as hay fever for dogs but instead of developing itchy eyes and sneezing, they become itchy and often develop ear infections. These ear infections are due to allergens in the environment (including the air) causing spontaneous inflammation of the ear canals which inevitably leads to overgrowth of bacteria and yeast in the ears! Every spring we see a wave of new atopy cases walk through our door due to the increased plant reproductive activity (pollens and grasses). There are dozens of other potential allergens in the environment including dust mite and cockroach faeces. It’s important to note that a diagnosis of atopy may involve special testing along with a careful history and examination to exclude other issues. If you suspect your dog to have seasonal skin allergy, consult your veterinarian to confirm this and to create a therapeutic plan. Unfortunately pets can’t avoid inhaling pollens as they can blow in the breeze for miles, so there’s no way to prevent exposure.


Having discussed the three broad causes of itchiness in dogs, it’s worth mentioning that there are often be multiple pathogens involved all at the same time. Therefore, killing fleas or using an antimicrobial shampoo might only be part of the answer. This is where your veterinarian can help! Your vet will have the knowledge and expertise to consider all potential causes, identify which ones are relevant and treat your dog accordingly. Of course there are other, less common causes of itchiness in dogs but the ones discussed here are those we see most commonly.

Our New Clinic

We have some VERY exciting news!


In June this year we will be moving into a brand new purpose-built veterinary facility!

The new clinic is only 7 minutes away and comes with plenty of parking, an entrance at the front and rear of the building as well as a separate entry and waiting room just for cats! Cats always get what they want haha.

We’re not changing ownership. My Local Vet will remain family owned and operated so you’ll continue to enjoy personalised service every time you visit.

– Dr Sam Jones, Founder of My Local Vet

The new My Local Vet will be three times the size of the current clinic, complete with soundproofed rooms, a large waiting area for dogs, and separate cat and dog wards, ensuring our inhouse patients get a good night’s sleep.

Things to know:

Our phone number will stay the same.

– All our patient files are stored securely in a cloud server and accessed by remote desktop so the “transfer of files” will be seamless.

The whole team is coming with us! It’s our people that make My Local Vet so special and we’re pleased to say you’ll see all the familiar faces at the new clinic.

Once the move is complete the current clinic will no longer be operational.

We will continue to offer our house call service.

We’re confident that our new clinic will confer an improved customer and patient experience – Everyone likes more space including pets!

If you have suggestions for our new premises, please don’t hesitate to send us an email at or a message via our Facebook page.

Lastly, we want to thank you for your ongoing support and trust in us to deliver an outstanding veterinary service to you and your pets. We promise to keep striving to exceed your expectations.

We look forward to sharing this journey with you. Look out for all the updates on our Facebook page!

Storms and Fireworks

Our furry friends are blessed with extremely sensitive hearing – unfortunately for us, this means they can also be extremely sensitive to scary sounds!

Noise Phobias

Storms and fireworks are some of the most common noise phobias that we see in dogs and cats. Unfortunately, these fears are what we call “self-reinforcing” behaviours – every time your pet has a stressful experience during fireworks or bad weather, they will remember it next time around, and become even more anxious every time. Thankfully, we have plenty of options up our sleeve to avoid this and help them get through these scary events.

Body Language and Signs of Stress in your Pet

1. Make sure you are looking out for signs of stress in your pets – they can be subtle! Your pet may hide, or pace restlessly, or seek out comfort from you. Many dogs will yawn or lick their lips when they are stressed. There is no harm in calmly comforting your pet when they behave in an anxious way – contrary to popular myths, this will not worsen their anxious behaviour, so long as you remain calm yourself.

2. If you know your pet is afraid of the sound of storms, it is imperative to keep them securely contained on days when we know they are forecast, or when fireworks are expected (like New Years Eve). Bring them indoors well before the storm arrives, or make sure that your fences and gates are secure, especially if you are not going to be home that night yourself.

3. Make sure your pets have a safe, quiet place in the house to retreat to, with a comfortable bed and the windows closed to dampen the noise. Bring their food and water close to this spot so they don’t have to venture out too far. Turning the TV or some music on at a low level may also help to block out the sound.

4. Some pets can benefit from the use of calming pheromone products – such as Feliway for cats, and Adaptil for dogs. These are odourless sprays that mimic natural pheromones mother animals release to their young, and can help your pet feel calmer in their environment.

When its Time to Seek Help from your Vet

5. For some pets, the noise of fireworks or storms is just too much to handle. For these animals, anti-anxiety medication and desensitisation training is often needed. If you feel your pet may be this affected by the noise, please call us to arrange a consultation. Anxieties need to be taken just as seriously as any other health problem in our furry friends. It’s our job to make sure they feel as safe and comfortable as they can be. It is much more effective if we intervene earlier in the process, before their anxiety can spiral out of control.

Early Finish Puppy Vaccinations at My Local Vet

What are puppy vaccinations?

We all want our furry family members to live long and healthy lives! Responsible pet ownership means giving our pets the best chance possible to avoid sickness, starting from the moment we first bring them home. Vaccination is one of the most important ways that we achieve this. At My Local Vet, we vaccinate our puppies with two key components:

  1. The DHP component, which protects against Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, and Canine Hepatitis, which are three of the most deadly transmissible diseases in dogs.
  2. The KC component, which protects against Bordetella and Canine Parainfluenza, two of the most common and nasty upper respiratory diseases in dogs.

Historically, three separate sets of vaccination would be required to provide your puppy with immunity to these diseases. However, this would have puppies finishing their vaccinations at 16 weeks of age – which is at the end of their socialisation window.

What is the socialisation window?

The socialisation window is the key stage in a puppy’s mental development where they are the most receptive to new experiences. This is a critical time in their lives where they learn how to interact with the world around them in a positive way, to reduce the chances of developing fearful or aggressive behaviour to stimuli later in life.

We only have a very limited window to properly socialise our puppies – this window begins to close at between 14 and 16 weeks of age. Once it has done so, it becomes a lot harder to accustom a puppy to new places, people, and experiences.

Because this window is so small, early finish vaccines are now recommended.

What is an early finish vaccine?

The brand of vaccines used here at My Local Vet is Nobivac. This brand is extremely effective at stimulating a dog’s immune system to reliably produce enough antibodies to provide protection. This means that for puppies we can give one DHP from 6 weeks of age and one DHP and one KC from 10 weeks of age, and that’s it until the next year!

Not only does this mean your puppy will receive fewer unpleasant needles, but it means they will be ready to go out and explore the world safely from as early as 11 weeks of age – which is still within their socialisation window. This means our puppies have a much better chance of growing up into stable, well-behaved, confident dogs!

Paralysis Ticks and Your Pet

What is tick paralysis?

Australia – especially southeast Queensland – is home to one of the most deadly species of parasite, Ixodes holocyclus, commonly known as the Paralysis Tick.

These opportunistic parasites can be found everywhere, from the bush to our own backyards, and will attach themselves to our cats and dogs in order to feed on their blood. While doing this the ticks inject a deadly toxin via their saliva. This toxin can cause life-threatening paralysis in dogs and cats within a matter of hours to days if not treated.

Here at My Local Vet, we unfortunately see a number of tick paralysis cases every year. While we see a larger number of tick paralysis cases in the hotter, wetter months, paralysis ticks are active all year round.

What symptoms do affected animals show?

The symptoms associated with tick paralysis can be quite variable, and the early stages of the disease they can be easily missed. Furthermore, the symptoms of tick paralysis can be delayed – we may see these signs developing or worsening for up to 24 hours AFTER the tick has died or been removed from the animal.

In the early stages of tick paralysis, animals may demonstrate any of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing, retching, or regurgitating
  • A change in their breathing patterns
  • Weakness or wobbliness in the back legs (an un-coordinated walk)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A change in the sound of their bark or meow
  • Difficulty blinking

In later stages of the disease, we see:

  • Severe breathing difficulties (due to paralysis of the breathing muscles)
  • Paralysis of the limbs and body (a partial or total inability to stand or move)
  • Death

If you are concerned that your dog is demonstrating any of the above signs, please contact us immediately on (07) 3824 7788

Time is critical when it comes to treating tick paralysis. If you think your pet has a tick, or is showing signs of tick paralysis, the first thing you should do is pick up the phone and give us a call. Tick paralysis is treatable, but we must act quickly – the faster we can start treatment, the better the outcome for your furry loved one.

How can I keep my pet safe?

The three most important things you can do to keep your pets safe from tick paralysis are:

  1. Have them on a tick preventative product all year round. Here at My Local Vet, we recommend Bravecto as the safest and most effective tick preventative for both cats and dogs. Please contact us if you need more help in choosing the best product for your pet’s needs.
  2. Check for ticks daily! Run your hands over your pet every day, focusing on warm nooks and crannies like the space between their toes or under their collar, to check for ticks.
  3. Be aware! Keep the symptoms of tick paralysis in your mind, and act quickly if you suspect your animal might be affected.

Ticks are an unfortunate part of Australian life, but by following these simple recommendations, we can keep our furry loved ones safe!

My cat is urinating outside the litter tray

As part of a thorough health check, I always ask my clients about common behaviour problems they may be experiencing at home. The most common problem reported to me is that the cat urinates outside the litter tray. I often hear the comment “he only does this when he is mad with us”. There are some small changes that can be made to the litter tray setup that will often resolve the problem behaviour and also make for a happier and more relaxed kitty.

These are my top tips for overhauling your litter tray setup and creating a great toileting experience for your kitty.

1. Make sure you have enough trays

You should have one tray for each cat, and then a spare tray. This means that one cat should have two trays available.

2. Put the trays in an appropriate location

The trays should each be in a separate location, two trays in the one spot is just the same as one big tray. Trays should be placed in a quiet location, away from a thoroughfare and away from anything too noisy like a washing machine.

3. Make sure the trays are large enough

Many commercial litter trays are not large enough for the average sized cat. Your trays should be 1.5 X the length of your cat at least. For some cats, this means getting a bit creative. An underbed storage container can make a great litter tray, and is readily available.

4. Keep the trays clean

Once a litter tray is soiled, most cats will not use it. Faeces and urine should be scooped out daily, and the whole tray should be cleaned twice per week. Make sure to use a gentle detergent that doesn’t smell too strongly.

5. Use a litter substrate that is appealing to your cat

Most cats become quite fussy with the litter substrate they like in their trays. Sticking to the same litter, if this works for your cat is the best thing to do. If you have adopted an adult cat, try to use a litter substrate that they are used to. If you are unsure what they have used in the past you may need to trial a few different types to find out what they like.

6. Seek veterinary advice!

If your kitty has issues urinating outside the tray, this may indicate a medical problem. It is best to have your cat assessed by a vet to rule these causes out before embarking on a plan that is right for you and your cat. Your vet will be best able to assess your individual situation and make recommendations to best help you. Seeking help sooner rather than later will give you the best chance of fixing this issue.

Heat Stress

Queensland summers are hot, and each year here at My Local Vet we see a number of cases of heat stress. Heat stress, if left untreated can cause organ damage or it can even be fatal. It essential to know the signs of heat stress so you can seek veterinary assistance before  serious damage occurs.  

Do dogs sweat? 

Unlike humans, dogs do not rely on sweating to regulate their temperature. Dogs regulate their temperature primarily through panting. They also have a small number of sweat glands on their paws that they can lose heat through. When a dog is unable to lose sufficient heat through these mechanisms they can develop heat stress.  

What is heat stress? 

Heat stress occurs when the body’s temperature rises above the normal range. The body relies on maintaining a very narrow temperature range for organ function. When a dog’s temperature rises for prolonged periods, irreversible organ damage and death can occur. 

What signs should I be looking out for? 

  • Excessive panting 
  • Increased water intake 
  • Bright red gums 
  • Salivation 
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea 
  • Uncoordinated behaviour, pacing, wobbliness 
  • Seizures 
  • Collapse/Coma 
  • Death 

When should I call the vet? 

If you identify any of the above signs, you should move your dog to a cool area and then immediately contact your vet for advice. 

Is there anything I can do at home? 

If you have a friend or family member who can contact the vet for you, you can start cooling them off at the same time. You can do this by hosing them down and moving them in front of a fan.  

How do I prevent heat stress? 

  • Never leave your dog in the car alone, even if the windows are open. Cars are like ovens and over heating can occur very quickly 
  • Avoid exercise on warm days, or go very early in the morning or late in the evening if it is cool enough 
  • When kept outside ensure dogs have access to shady areas 
  • Short nosed breeds (eg. Pugs, French bulldogs and Boston Terriers) are more prone to heat stress than other breeds and extreme caution should be taken on warm days. Keeping them in air conditioning is advised.  

Saving Digby from Dental Disease

We all know how important it is that our pets have plenty of exercise and a complete and balanced diet but not every pet owner is aware of the importance of pet oral hygiene. Most people visit their dentist about once a year despite brushing their teeth twice a day. Its not hard to imagine how important it is that your pet’s teeth are checked every six months in order to catch dental disease before its too late!

Digby gets the lead role in his first home made TV commercial, featuring Orovet Dental Hygiene Chews!
Check it out below!


SPECIAL OFFER: My Local Vet is offering FREE ORAL VET CHECKS for your pets! That’s right, absolutely free! All you have to do is give us a call and make an appointment for a time that suits you. The receptionist will allocate 5 minutes for the vet to examine your pet’s mouth and discuss any treatment required.

Take control of your pet’s health and prevent serious oral infections as well as organ damage – call us and do your pet a favour!

How to Tablet a Cat

For most people giving their cat a tablet is a complete circus at best. The cat usually gets the drift that something is awry early on and the struggle that ensues invariably leaves the owner frazzled +/- covered in saliva and the cat wondering how their owner came to be possessed by the devil. Here’s a helpful step by step process that will make tableting episodes less of a palaver and more of an exhibition of feline whispering prowess!


1. Pat the kitty
2. Give the kitty a little treat ( Dine Treat Sachets work a charm!)
3. Once treat has been consumed pat the kitty some more
4. Hold tablet in right hand in-between thumb and index finger
5. Have someone hold kitty’s body
6. Place index finger and thumb of left hand just behind the canine teeth on the upper jaw
7. Swivel remaining fingers of left hand around such that little finger and ring finger are spread apart at the back of kitty’s head
8. Tilt kitty’s head back so that nose is pointing towards the sky
9. Open lower jaw with middle finger of right hand and either place or drop tablet at the back of the mouth where the tongue is touching the roof of the mouth
10. Close kitty’s mouth gently and stroke under chin
11. High five person holding kitty