Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Musings of Dr Liz - Welcome to 2018, and Goodbye to 2017

2018 - we welcome your arrival. We have alot of high hopes for  you this year, as after all, you are very very special year.

You are the year that converts Russell Vale Animal Clinic into "Celebrating 20 years" fever!

2018 - you have to deliver! You are not like any other year... you are not going to get away with the usual procrastination or "there is always next year" that many other years have got away with.

Just to remind you, 2018, as you were not there at the time  - Russell Vale Animal Clinic opened in April 1998 when the only kids Dirk and I had were Tegan and Haiden, with Jenna, the dog, and Jaime, our cat.

Sean was born in the first year of our vet hospital, whilst Paige came along in the second year of our opening.  A huge challenge in any business, let alone one that cares for animals. Don't forget that 2018. We have face some decent challenges, so no need to give us any more.

2018, this is the year that also celebrates all of the children of Dr Liz and Dirk are now all adults!  Woo Hoo!

This is also the year that our eldest daughter is engaged to be married to the love of her life, two of our kids are in their second year of university, studying hard towards their future life, and our youngest - is on her "gap year" until she figures out what part of the art world she is going challenge. 

Tegan and Grant - Congratulations!

2018, we hope that there is going to be alot more to celebrate this year,  but we will give you updated performance appraisals as the year goes on.  It's the least we can do in anticipation of how great you are going to be in your role as "the new year of the mad house".

2017, your predecessor, well, they left alot of things undone, and whist their performance was overall outstanding,  they really failed to live up to their potential. They didn't get new signage, the landscaping is only half done, and the website? 2017 didn't put much effort into that.  

Maybe I am being harsh!

Yes,  2017 you did bring our KLaser, a Class IV Medical therapy laser, which has helped so many pets on their road to recovery from their illnesses and injuries.  And yes, those goggles do look cute!  Well, actually, this is a big feather in 2017's cap!  Well done in bringing one of many Dr Liz's dreams into reality!

You also brought a new paint job inside and outside of our vet hospital.  The inside walls are no longer "Antique White" but a lovely shade of grey with white trims.  And yes, it took alot to convince me to paint the main window.

Do you realise that 20 years ago, I spent the better half of 3 weeks scraping off 8 layers of paint of those windows? Back to timber, so I could stain it?  I had to succumb to "fashion" and have it painted.   But yes, it does look B....y Great!  

2017, you also brought new flooring too!   Gone is the yellow!  At least the yellow hid the dog's pee well. Unfortunately, dogs don't care what colour the floor is when they want to add to the post it note of "I was here too". 

Outside though, has been the biggest transformation - from painting the roof, new guttering, removing a tree or two,  as well as painting the cladding, the building renovation is almost complete.  

Signage was going to be changed in 2017 too  but getting a design I was happy with has been, well, a challenge. It now becomes 2018's problem.  Sorry 2018! 

2017, we will all agree, was the "Year of the Work Experience Student", as we welcomed so many enthusiastic young, eager and idealistic young ones. 

For them it is all about the animals and what we can do to help them.  It is hard giving them the reality of what we do, in dealing with pet owners who are unable or unwilling to pay for their pet's care, without destroying their idealistic view that everyone cares about animals as much as they do. 

2017 was also the year that we let Dr Andrew from Veterinary Specialists of Sydney visit us - well, 'let" is probably harsh, but as my vet hospital and her pets are like my children, I admit to being fussy who I will recommend or allow to operate on them. He came to see us three times, and operated on 7 pets - ranging from removing salivary glands, repairing broken legs, amputating limbs and cruciate repairs. 

What else did 2017 have in store for us?   The lovely Erin, who spent a week doing work experience with us in 2016, then worked as a volunteer with us soon after whilst she Completed her Cert IV in Veterinary Nursing.  In 2017, she began working for us on a permanent part time basis.  You would've have seen her most Thursdays, as she does alot of the background work that keeps us going. 

And then, Woonona High School gave us another wonderful student, Beck, who did her work placement with us in 2017.  In September,. she joined us under a Traineeship to graduate from High School with her Cert II in Animal Studies. 

2017, you gave us an interesting year! 

It did end with an impromptu media spot on WIN news.  Poor Dirk.  When he said yes to an interview with me,  he thought it was a phone one, so when they turn up with a camera and reporter, well, it was a shock!  He now knows that WIN news is TV!  We never get home in time to watch the news, is our excuse! 

Alot of things went wrong too in 2017  - well, perhaps that is harsh. Worked against us, is probably a better phrase.  The traffic flow changed dramatically on Bellambi Lane, and it had to happen whilst Dirk and I were away at the FASAVA/World Vet Dental Congress in the Gold Coast.  Why do they need two lanes turning north? when most of us usually head south most of the time!  Bureaucracy and money! No need to say anything further. 

It was also the year of the most amazing disgustingly designed graffitti ever - (no, this is not a dare for someone else to do something worse).  I have seen some beautiful graffitti art, but what was done on our building in 2017  was pure vandalism.  You can still see it - it is on our window signage which will cost thousands of dollars to replace. 

Someone also decided they liked my name, my address and my birthdate, and so, ordered two iphones in my name!  It took a weekend or two of multiple visits to JP's, Police and vodafone to get that debacle sorted. How easy it is to order such stuff, and how complicated it is to undo it. 

Then there was the idiot whose girlfriend brought in a stray kitten, but in exchange, stole our bluetooth speaker.  The speaker that we use to send out relaxing music to reduce the fear, anxiety and stress of visiting pet owners and their pets. 

2017 was also the year that I did not blog at all - for some that could be a good thing! The reasons why I didn't share what I had written is long, but I am going to ignore those reasons for 2018.

Warning, 2018... the blogging mad Dr BACK! 

Overall, 2017, I think you did alright, all things considered. I hadn't planned on doing much, but you just had to throw a firecracker or two in to get things happening.

2018, be prepared for a ride!  I am so excited about the plans I have for you.  If you don't like them, that is ok!  My favourite catch phrase is "We plan, God laughs".  So, you will be forgiven for throwing me a few sidecurves, a challenge or four, a hurdle the size of Mt Keira to stumble over. I

All I can say is, I am back and I am excited!

 as well as for Dirk and I with our kids

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi.

Introducing my family
The humans - Tegan, Haiden, Sean and Paige, my children with my life partner, Dirk (it is his thumbs in the photo)
the furkids Pandora, Pumpkin (at the vets)  Piper, Dash, Stone (at home) , Marble (with Tegan) , Bun Bun (our rabbit at home) , Gandalph (the guinea pig at work) and Hobbs (the newest three legged friend of Marble).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Is it OK for my dog to eat Pork fat (and other leftovers)?

Christmas is an amazing time, isn't it.  In fact, it was so great this year, that I ended up spending two days afterwards in bed exhausted - from working right up to Christmas, and then dealing with the cooking and cleaning of Christmas family day. 

How easy is it when you are slicing up the ham, with your dog sitting right next you, looking at you with their big eyes, to slice a bit extra and give them a tid bit.  Or after the family leaves, and you are cleaning up - all of those leftovers might as well go to your dog, rather than chuck them away for landfill.  It won't hurt will it.
"Oops - how did that slice of ham go from my hand to my pet!"

If it wasn't for Piper's food allergies, even if I did know better, I would've slipped her a piece or three of leftovers.  Like many of other loving pet owners - I am human too.  It is hard looking at those big beautiful eyes, and not succumbing to them.

It's also human (and Aussie) to think "She'll be right mate!".  After all, alot of us grew up with our pets just eating the leftovers anyway, and they seemed to do perfectly fine.

At work today, I had several people ask me if it was OK for their pet to have eaten the leftover pork, or ham.

The short answer is "No, its not OK".

The long answer is - ham is very high is salt and fat, and roast pork is equally usually very fatty with extra herbs and spices. They, with the leftover fat of steaks, and the sausages from the BBQ, are the more common causes of  a very common summer digestive problem, called Pancreatitis. 
This is NOT OK!

Pancreatitis is an expensive but in many cases, a preventable problem.  At this time of year, no matter how much we love our animals, there is no need for many pets to succumb to this terrible disease.

Sadly, there are also many animals who are just prone to the condition, and even on a normal diet, may get sick and unwell.

So exactly what is Pancreatitis?  It is an inflammation of the pancreas, which is a small organ that lies parallel to the upper part of the small bowel.  When it is inflamed, it tickles the intestine, and the adjacent stomach and liver. 

What signs will you see?  With many pets with low grade chronic pancreatitis, all you may see is the occasional vomit.  For others, with severe acute pancreatitis, there may be severe vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, abdominal pain and fever. 

For more information on pancreatitis itself, click here.

So, what should you do if you were a bit naughty, gave your pet a few too many fatty treats, but they seem OK?

Well, the best thing you can do is to switch immediately to a low fat highly digestible food - such as cooked chicken with yoghurt.

Feed small amounts often, as we do not want to overstimulate the pancreas, but we do want to give the intestinal lining nutrition.

Other options include steamed white fish. 

If cooking is not your thing, then come in and ask - we have several tasty options available. 
A low fat but tasty alternative.

So what should you do if your pet is vomiting and/or has diarrhoea and/or is lethargic and/or not eating much?

See a vet ASAP - Pancreatitis is not a condition that you should wait and see if they are going to get better on their own.

 If it is severe or aggressive enough, complications can arise - such as adhesions, pancreatic abscesses, liver damage or even death.

 Treatment often involves fluid therapy, pain relief, gastric support and of course, exceptional veterinary and nursing care that every pet deserves. 

Once you have been through it with your pet, you will appreciate how something so little, like a tiny bit of ham can cause serious harm.  If there is one thing that our pets deserve, it is to be loved and looked after - and giving them ham, pork, sausage or fatty offcuts is not the way to do it.

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi.  Wishing all pets to stay happy and healthy this Christmas as we head towards 2017!

Take it easy everyone.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

How Desexing Your Pet can Prevent Serious Disease

It is great working in a family practice like ours. We chat, laugh with , and sometimes swear at, each other all the time. One of the drawbacks however is that it is not uncommon for friends of friends to ring up one of my kids to ask for veterinary advice.

Warning: Pictures of body parts and surgery are depicted - if you have a weak stomach, do not read on.

After all, they are the kids of a vet in a family business - these kids should be able to diagnose the reason why Fluffy did not eat dinner that night, shouldn't they?

If vets  should be available at any time of the day or night to answer any question from any pet owner,  then their children should equally suffer the same fate. (I am being sarcastic in case you missed it).

Recently, my daughter received a phone call on a saturday night from a friend of a friend of a friend asking for veterinary advice. To cut a long story short, the dog did go to an after hours vet, had emergency surgery and is now doing well.   It cost several thousands of dollars to treat a common but serious condition of older undesexed female dogs.

This much loved dog had a pyometron. What has prompted this post, is not the fact that my daughter was rung up on a saturday night, but that the pet owner claimed her vet had never told her, or warned her, about the risks of keeping her female dog undesexed.

I speak to pet owners about this all the time, and the most common reply is "aren't they too old to get desexed".

Oh how I love to be able to say, let us a wait a year or two for them to get younger, but haven't had the guts yet to say that out loud!

I would much rather desex an older female dog in general good health, rather than wait.  If we wait  for the pyometron to develop, they will still need to undergo an expensive emergency surgery but at time when they are toxic from the infection, with possible liver and kidney damage. 

Pyometron is an infection of the uterus, which usually occurs a few weeks after a dog has a heat cycle. The signs can be as vague as being "off colour", to be more obvious such as  smelly vaginal discharge, drinking alot more than usual, with an abdomen looking like they are going to deliver puppies.

I am not writing this to say that every dog should be desexed, and that you are an irresponsible owner if you do not take that step.  What I am trying to say is that EVERY pet owner needs to stand by their decision on whether to desex their dog or keep them entire.

This is a decision which has consequences - some positive, some negative.

What about our male dogs?  Our older male dogs are at higher risk of testicular cancer,  prostatic infections and perianal tumours (lumps around the bum).

A really huge testicle, and then one not so big! This is cancer.
As a vet, I am faced with the difficulty on  determining what is the best thing to do when faced with a younger male dog , as the desexing studies raise some serious concerns of increased risk of lymphoma, cruciate injury and  some other cancers.

As a vet, I am more than willing to discuss the pros and cons of desexing of both male and female pets, as it is a decision that should be never be taken "for granted".

Any questions, let me know. My nurses Dirk and Tegan are available to discuss with you the procedure and what is involved.

Scrubbing up for pretend surgery!
I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi.  We love to play "dress ups" here at the vets, and this photo shows us practicing "gowning" and "gloving" during our many training sessions.

Welcome the mad vet house!