Local Information


Snake envenomation

The Castlemaine area is notorious for dog and cat fatalities secondary to snake bites. Typically from brown or tiger snakes, but black snakes, red bellies and copper head snakes are present and dangerous too.

Between the months of September to April snakes may be out in this area. Inquisitive cats and dogs who chase and hunt snakes can receive a lethal dose of venom and in some circumstances die within 20 minutes. Avoid walking your dog off leash in the bush during hot months or along water sources. If your cat is a hunter consider keeping him or her inside during the hot days.

If you see your cat or dog with a snake it is best to go straight to your vet for assessment. If you are uncertain if your pet has been bitten it’s still better to go to the vets immediately. In the event that more than one dog was involved bring both, or all of them, there have been cases when the wrong dog was brought in. Vets can run a quick blood test to help determine if your animal has been bitten.

If you choose to monitor your pet the clinical signs may be immediate or delayed for up to 8 hrs in dogs and 24-48hrs in cats. Clinical signs for a dog may include, a yelp, vomiting, shaking or trembling, respiratory difficulties, collapse and ultimately death. Clinical signs for a cat may include wobbly gait, walking as if drunk, limp, listless, dilated pupils, not eating or drinking. Commonly a cat will be bitten, walk home and go to sleep for several hours, when she awakes she can’t walk. If you see your cat with a snake it’s advised to seek veterinary assessment straight away despite the delayed onset of clinical signs.

Anti venom treatment for snake bites is crucial early after detection to improve chances of survival.

Grass seeds

The Castlemaine area is also renowned for grass seed wounds. Usually in the dryer hotter months. The innocuous grass seed can catch on long or short hair and then penetrate the skin and burrow in and track through the body, ears, nose, eyes, throat, prepuce, penis, anus, vulva and vagina causing a lot of damage. Grass seeds in the eyes are emergencies, while in the ears they can rupture the ear drum.

Precautions to take: Before the onset of every grass seed season ensure you shave your dogs feet so you can clearly see the feet and in between the digits where grass seeds lodge. If your dog is a hairy breed, a general all over clip can help reduce the risk of grass seeds and help early detection.

During grass seed season you can limit the areas in which you walk your dog to reduce the risk of picking up a seed.

Clinical signs for grass seed wounds vary depending on location. If lodged in the ears typical signs will include head shaking, head tilt, ear down and scratching at one or both ears. If in the eye the clinical signs may include a closed eye, or inflamed conjunctiva, or rubbing at the eye. This is a an emergency because damage to the cornea can be the result.

If grass seeds have penetrated the feet, or between the digits your animal may be licking persistently at the paw, limping or have a small discharging swelling in the skin.

If in the nose, your animal may sneeze furiously and have bloody discharge

If in the throat or lodged in the gums your animal may have a throat clearing cough or bad breath.

If lodge in any part of the skin you may see a swelling, or your animal licking at the site.

Quite often your animal will need sedation or an anaesthetic to retrieve the grass seed. If the grass seed has resulted in an abscess then antibiotics are often required.

Heat stroke

Castlemaine like any hot area in spring and summer can pose heat stroke risks.

Animals left tied up must have shade and plenty of water. Castlemaine can get scorchingly hot. But even moderately hot days can pose a risk if your animal is left in the car.

Animals left in the car

You know that feeling when you get into your car on a hot day, skin sticking to the clammy seat, gasping for breath, that urgent feeling of wishing the air conditioning would kick in straight away, and burning yourself on the hot belt buckle. Add a fur coat and that’s what it’s like for your dog left in the car on a hot day.

On a day when the air temperature outside is 20 degrees Celsius, inside a car the temperature is more like 36 degrees; a 30 degree day would be 54 degrees inside the car, and a 32 degrees day would see temperatures soar to 60 degrees Celsius inside the car. There is very poor ventilation, even when the windows are down. In fact, opening the windows makes negligible difference to the temperature inside the car.

Trapped inside a hot car, with poor ventilation already, your dog’s only way to cool down is to pant which makes the air inside the car even hotter. With in minutes your dog becomes miserable and sad, gives up on panting altogether, then rapidly becomes desperate, wilted, melted and dead.

The grim reality of what happens to dogs trapped in a hot car is worth knowing so we are never ever tempted to just leave our dog in the car on a hot day, not even just for a second.

In a hot car a dog’s cooling system kicks in: panting, drooling and blood vessels dilate. If left in that car their heart works harder to get blood to the dilated vessels. Blood starts to pool in the organs, blood pressure drops, the kidneys and liver suffer thermal damage. The cells lining the intestines and stomach also suffer thermal damage, leading to severe bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. Tiny blood clots form in the brain and the brain swells. Once the body reaches a temp of 43 degrees celsius irreversible brain damage occurs, seizures, coma and death.

The best way to prevent this sad event from happening is to leave your pet at home on a hot day in the shade with plenty of water. And never in a car.

Also avoid leaving your dog tied up on a scorching hot ute tray.

If you think your dog is suffering heat stroke, urgent veterinary attention is required to safely and slowly reduce body temperature, provide Intravenous fluids and oxygen support.


Castlemaine area can be a hot spot for myxamatosis depending on the weather.

Myxamotosis is a nasty viral disease which kills rabbits in an agonizing manner. It can cause death within 7 days of infection and within 48hrs of then first clinical signs.

It is a disease deliberately encouraged to eliminate wild rabbits. It is transmitted by blood-sucking insects, including mosquitoes, fleas, lice, ticks, and mites. Direct transmission is also possible, usually by the aerosol route. Those rabbits infected via this route usually develop nasal & eye discharges as part of the disease process. Transmission is also possible via infected hutches or enclosures. An owner may spread the virus from one rabbit to another. Similarly, animals that are congregated at rabbit shows or fairs may become infected if one of the rabbits has the disease and is shedding the virus.

To reduce the risk of your rabbit contracting this killer virus, keep your rabbit indoors during the warm months and peak insect seasons when mosquitos are present, and at dusk and dawn when mosquitos are active.

Ensure their cage is mosquito proof and they have no access to contact with wild rabbits or affected rabbits. If you have an affected rabbit quarantine him immediately for 14 days with a mosquito net over his cage, and practice good hygiene to prevent cross infection from one hutch to another.

Clinical signs of myxamatosis vary but often include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, swollen ears, eye lids and genitals which are hot to touch, and possibly but not always discharge from the eyes.

Sadly very few rabbits will survive the virus. Treatment almost always fails. Immediate veterinary attention is required for euthanasia.

Contact us today for:
Repeat Prescriptions
Food orders

For an appointment to assess your pet's needs.

(03) 5470 6300 or (03) 5472 2268