Monday, December 31, 2012

Why do more than 85% of our pets love Russell Vale Animal Clinic

I am going to reveal a secret.  Those who are already part of the animalclinic family, know this to be true. 

It is a simple fact... an astonishing one actually ... it is that more than 85% of our pets actually like us.   Everyone knows that we like 98.9% of the pets that visit us.  I would like to say I like them all, but there are just some dogs and cats that are real hard work, and frankly, between you and me, are just not nice at all.

I am not going to focus on the 15% that put on the brakes when they get to the front door -  we will still work on those everytime they visit, with the huggles, treats and time to chill out and adjust to the smells and sounds of a vet hospital.

I am going to focus on the 85% that get excited when they hear the words " We are off to see Dr Liz"  or "We are off to see Uncle Dirk" (those who know us, know Dirk as the dog/cat whisperer of the place).

Why is it so important to us, as vets and support team, that your pet actually enjoys coming to see us? 

Russell Vale Animal Clinic loves happy pets in WollongongWell, there are several reasons why...
  • the work as a vet is an emotional and physical roller coaster.  There are such high highs, and low lows, that we need happy "every day" visits to make what we do worth while.
  • it is always easier to examine a happy pet.  We can do things to sort out what their problem is faster if we can actually "lay hands" on them.
  • you are more likely to bring your pet in, if you know it is fun, rather than stressful. After all, who would put their pet through a stress if it can be avoided.
But a word of caution.... not all pets love us, and we don't love all pets.  And sometimes, the owners get in the way to... some pet owners, well, are just horrid people when it comes to the care of their pets.  Fortunately, horrid pet owners are rare in my practice, and actually, I can't remember the last time I saw one!

You'll remember I mentioned that over 85% of our pets love coming to visit us.  How is this so?

How can we make a visit to the vet a happy visit?  Well, it all starts with you, the owner.  It all starts with how you talk about it to your pet.  We all know that we like going somewhere where we are made to feel wanted, and like family. 

And then, it continues on with us, with our body language of excitement (we can't fake that), and lots of treats for the pets.  Dogs and cats are really good at character assessment, and they can sense "fake" a mile off.  They either like you, or don't like you.  They don't pretend either way. And neither do we.

And as I said earlier, astonishingly, over 85% of dogs and cats actually enjoy coming in to see us.
Free First Visit to Russell Vale Animal Clinic if booked online

Why not discover the animalclinic difference for yourself?  If you have never been to visit us before, why not take advantage of the limited offer of a FREE first vet visit if booked online.  Of course, conditions have to apply.  This isn't for those pets who have a serious or ongoing illness.  This is more so for otherwise happy and healthy pets.

And, if you are already an animalclinic family member, why not share us with your friends and family?  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A bit of doggie gastric - vomiting maybe? - Blame the Ham!

If the title didn't make you feel a bit queasy, then the rest of this post probably will.  So, sorry in advance! And this is a long post, simply because there is a bit of information included, amongst the preaching.

Vomiting ---- it is something we have all done, and many of us, probably the first time was on  our first day on our own mothers. So, in some situations, it is normal.

Whilst rabbits can't vomit if they eat the wrong foods, dogs and
cats do vomit - and need to see the vet!
Trivia Point:  Did you know that rabbits cannot vomit?

Back to topic.... It is yuck.  We know that horrid feeling.  And we feel our pet's discomfort when we watch them gag and vomit.

Hence,  the phone calls vets all over the world get daily about vomiting pets from very concerned owners.   Good on you for taking the time to call us, as, you are right... you should be concerned. 

Vomiting is such a common sign, which occurs with many conditions, and some pets vomit so regularly, that some owners think that it is normal.

Vomiting is not normal.  Sometimes it is understandable, as it is a protective mechanism of the body (I think the body is an amazing structure.... aren't you in awe of its capabilities?)

What you need to look at when your pet starts vomiting ....
  • their behaviour - are they still running around normally, or lying down flat - 
  • what they ate in the past few days - if you had a BBQ or they snagged something they shouldn't have -
  • their gum colour - if your dog has pigmented gums then sorry this one won't work for you, but with dogs with pink gums, they should still be nice and pink, with no slimy saliva frothing around -
  • their tummy - does it look normal, or rounded like you could play drums on it
  • any diarrhoea - the combo is a double whammy for quick dehydration
Dog at the bBQ
Dogs can go to the BBQ, but they shouldn't eat food at the
BBQ - not even the leftovers!
There are few other things we need to look at but that is why you need to take your pet to the vet.  So, if your pet is a bit flat, ate a few sausages and a kebab or two at the barbie a few days ago, or wolfed down a hot dog yesterday, their mouths are very salivary and they are drooling, with a tense tummy, even without diarrhoea..... your first thing to do is CALL the VET! 

Why, you ask?  These things have happened before and your pet has bounced back, you say?

Then lucky lucky you.  Because all of those things are tell tale signs to vets that we need to go looking for the "P" disease.  That is, Pancreatitis.

I remember the days, many many  years ago, where vets  suspected dogs had this disease (and didn't realise cats get it too), but struggled to diagnose it until it was severe.  These days, we have in-clinic test kits to check, and this is what I do in almost all of my vomiting cases, if there is any hint of upper abdominal pain or, as I call it, a sore tummy. 

So, what is Pancreatitis?  There are alot of information sheets out there on this, but specifically, it is an inflammation of the Pancreas.  The Pancreas is beautifully nestled in the upper section of the small bowel, just a hop skip and a jump from the stomach.  It sits awfully close to the liver too.

It's functions?  Well it has two, actually.  The pancreas is a beautiful organ in that it has two very important functions, working side by side, but when one gets upset it affects the other. Like twins.

One function is the production of enzymes which help in the digestion of what you eat, especially those fatty or high protein foods.  It is these enzymes which leak out which causes the inflammation, as the pancreas starts to digest itself (bit gruesome, as it doesn't really auto digest, but it does stir up trouble).

The second function is managing the insulin levels in your blood stream, so it is perfectly balanced to the foods that you eat.  So if you eat alot of sugary foods, then it produces the insulin to allow your body to use these up. 

Overall, a very very busy organ, that I don't think we respect enough.... unless you get  a bout of pancreatitis, or you have sugar diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus).

The treatment of pancreatitis usually involves hospitalisation, aggressive fluid therapy, pain relief, and time.  Fingers crossed that your pet won't need surgery to treat this condition.  And yes, pets can die from this too.... when there is so much swelling and inflammation that other organs are damaged too.

So, let's respect your pet's pancreas this Christmas.

Don't give your pet a piece of ham, the left over steak, the Christmas pudding, a grape or two (this can cause renal failure), a ham bone (please don't, ever), a sausage or two, Roast Pork (that is too yummy to give them, but even if we love them, no... it will make them sick!).

It's not much, you say?  Well, did you know that a biscuit to a 10 kg dog is the equivalent of us eating a hamburger, in caloric terms?    And you have given your Maltese dog two bikkies?  Can you imagine eating two hamburgers at once? I feel sick at the thought.

Back to respecting your pet's pancreas.  

  • No Ham
  • No Ham Bone
  • No sausages, steak left overs, steak bones, lamb bones.... you know what I mean
  • No Salami
  • No Hot Dogs, Frankfurters
  • No Hamburgers
Well, I don't like the word No, so here is what you can give them
  • Their Dog Food - yup, your dog actually likes its food... so yes, they can eat that on Christmas day too
  • Cooked Chicken (no skin, no flavourings)
  • Cooked Rice
  • Vegetables (not roasted, but steamed nicely)  - they can have peas, beans, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin
And, if you really feel like giving them a bit of pork crackling, why not buy a "Pigs Ear" from your vets? 

Really, what you need to do is to keep your pet as healthy as you can.  That is all that all vets in the world want for you and your pet.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A bunny that ate the butterfly

There is a cute little commercial on TV in Australia at the moment... well, cute is the wrong word, I think. It is quirky.  And it ends with a white bunny rabbit sticking its tongue out (like a frog) to eat a butterfly.

Happy and Healthy Pets
Things are not always as you expect at
Russell Vale Animal Clinic
Just bear with me... I am not mad (much).  Why do you think this commercial is so interesting? And why I like it?

Well, it is basically advertising a drink, which I don't really remember what it is, but this drink is obviously not you would have expected by its appearance or its name.

And that is, you will see, is what that bunny (and commercial) and I have in common. 

All of what we do, at Russell Vale Animal Clinic, is not what you would expect for our size (as a solo vet) or our location (in the boundary corner of Bellambi and Russell Vale) in the northern suburbs of Wollongong.

We aren't fancy, and we don't pretend to be best vet in town.   We don't have the best equipment, or the most staff.  We don't have the longest hours, and we aren't open 24/7.

So, what do we have that makes us the bunny rabbit eating the butterfly.... in other words, what makes us, possibly, the right vet for your pet?

Dirk likes animals at Russell Vale
Dirk, the vet nurse, with Benji - pretending to be twins!

You are our family.
All those who visit us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic, join our animalclinic family.  And with that, comes all that having a family means.  It means that we will treat you honestly, and fairly, with respect, and that we expect there to be some disagreements also.  

But blood is thicker than water, and we will fight for what is right for your pet, every time.

We genuinely like animals
Seriously, we do.  But that comes with its own problems too.  Because we care about our animals, and we see ourselves as their voice in some situations,  we know that sometimes you don't like to hear what your pet (via us) has to say. 

We may not be the right vet for you
This is important.  We don't try to be everything for everyone.   We know that we may not be the right vet for you or your pet.   That may be your choice, or it may be that your pet has a medical or surgical problem, that really needs someone different to deal with that.

That is our guarantee.... if we don't feel that we are perfectly capable of performing the procedure or test on your pet,  then we will tell you so.  Which means, when we do do something, we are confident in our abilities to do it.

And, we respect that even if we do think we have the expertise, we also understand your right to choose another vet.

Our commitment to Continuing Education

Dr Liz with an example of her digital Dental Xray system -
And this dog's mouth looked normal.
Dr Liz (aka moi), is one of a handful of vets in the Illawarra with a CMAVA after her name.  This means that Dr Liz is a Chartered Member of the Australian Veterinary Association - this is an earned title, which is issued each calendar year, in recognition of "Continuing Education"... and Dr Liz has had this issued since 2003 - each year - without fail. And in that, she is unique in the area. An example of this committment, is providing dental xrays since 2005, and digital dental xrays since 2009, and currently, the only veterinary hospital in the Illawarra to provide intra-oral dental xrays. We were the first vet to offer 3 year vaccinations for dogs, as well as titre testing in high risk patients. 

Our commitment to Quality Equipment, Materials and maintenance
Well, this is the part you do not see, but often complain about when you see the bill.  We are committed to purchasing quality surgical instruments, safe anaesthetic medications and machines, single use suture materials, just to name a few.  We could use cheaper drugs, and cheap stainless steel instruments, and this would certainly make the service we provide alot cheaper for you.   But we won't compromise on quality. We believe your pet deserves better.

Our committment to reduce the cost of veterinary fees for you.
So, how do we do this?  I just wrote above that we don't skimp on our surgical tools, or choose cheap medications.  In 2012, it was
-  installing a solar electricity system, as electricity is one of the expenses that has jumped dramatically in the past few years (as it has for you).
-  Switching to txt messages and emails where feasible, without compromising the personal phone call where necessary.
-  Offering an online booking system - means you save money too - just book online, and get confirmation online!
 Just to name a few things.....

 We choose to stay small, family and local.
I used to have employees, and hired locums when I needed holiday time... but that didn't quite fit in with my "family pet vet practice" that was my vision in my head. 

So, we chose to go small, and stay small.  We know in this era of big business, corporate medical facilities, and profit driven practices, that the smaller family based businesses find it hard to compete against the "economies of scale" offered by other veterinary hospitals.

But our committment to you.... is that we are here for your and your pet, and will stay here for your and pet so long as we are needed in the community.  Because without you, there can be no Russell Vale vets.

Let us hope that it is for a long long long time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why is Russell Vale Animal Clinic Closed... for Holidays

Why is Russell Vale Animal Clinic Closed.... for Holidays?

Strange, I know, that a business, a veterinary service provider, will close to take Holidays.

I am Dr Liz, and I am the vet at Russell Vale Animal Clinic.  And, in the days gone by, I used to have a fantastic team of vets and nurses who I could trust my beloved baby, my vet hospital, whilst I took a few days off here and there.

The Russell Vale Animal Clinic Mad House

And then, I had a few unfortunate experiences with Locum Vets, which changed my attitude to providing staff whilst I was away.

I was faced with two choices ---- not take any time off, holidays or breaks, work 65 open hours per week, not including the hours required to run the back end of a business.... and find myself physically and emotionally exhausted..... or

... take time off, and annoy perhaps 30 clients for the week or two I am away  .... or

.. hire someone, pay them $500 per day for no one to really see them, and still annoy the 30 or so clients.

Times when I want to take holidays, are times when I want to clone myself, and just have them operate the vet hospital whilst I am away.  Not forgetting, that we are a family vet hospital, and will need to replace Dirk (or clone him, although some days, one of him is enough).

So, why are we closed?  It isn't because we don't care, but it is because we are here for the long haul.  I want to be a vet to your pet in 2013, 2015 and beyond all of that. 

I don't want to be an exhausted, burnt out, emotionally cold vet, who doesn't care, or who only cares about money. 

I am passionate about my chosen profession, and the animals I look after.  And for this, my family and I have to recharge our own batteries.

I feel the same as you, when you are in need of your family vet provider, you are devastated when they are not available for you.  And I understand how you feel if this happens to you, as you may feel that your pet deserved better.

Your pet deserves the very best of vet care that is humanely possible.  Which means that your pet deserves a vet that is there to fight for them when they need it.

You and your pet needs to know that if I am there fighting for you, I am there, 151% fighting for you. As I do, always!

But sometimes, I need to fight for me and my family to.  So, we take a break, close up shop, go away, and recharge our batteries.

So we can be there for you, totally.

That is why we are closed at certain times of the year.  I am sure you will agree, that family is precious, and time we have with them is short.

We thank you for allowing us to be your family vet.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A piece of Peace

It is almost Christmas 2012.... and for me, I have been on this Earth for 45 years, and my memory recalls the last 42 years.

I remember as a toddler going to a beach in Wollongong where another child was abducted, and the noise of the diggers going through the trenches. It was noisy, I was scared. It was not peaceful.

I remember being in infants school at West Wollongong, hearing about the starvation of children in Africa.  I remember wanting to do something to help them. And my mother saying to me, there will always be starving people in Africa.  I couldn't understand her attitude, but sadly, after 40 years, she is still right.

In Primary School, well those years are vague. I seem to have blocked those years out totally.   In High School, there was conflict everywhere, but I remember the boats coming in with refugees from Korea, and Europe. I remember my parents helping families coming in from Poland, as they were of Polish origin themselves, although Australian Citizens. 

In my Uni days, well, I tried to block out all conflict, as life was traumatic enough within my family, without the outside world.  But I do remember clearly, the breaking down of the Berlin Wall... and the  belief that the "Cold War" was over. 

Pandora, the boss at Russell Vale Animal Clinic
Peace is being comfy with your little corner of the world (or box)
The constant has been that each Christmas, we hope for Peace, and each year, there is conflict, with people dying, with someone else justifying this death.

As a simple vet, I don't understand it all, as I know that there are many diseases which are evil themselves, such as cancer, or infections, or illnesses.  Fighting these take alot of energy and resources.  And resources are thin,

Each of us, at some point in our lives, would've heard the story of the men shaking hands and sharing Christmas songs in the middle of World War 2, or the Secret Santa giving gifts of joy to those who need and deserve it.

These are stories which bring tears to my eyes, and hope to my soul.

Why do we have to wait for Christmas or designated days of World Peace or World Kindness Days for the message of peace to come to the front?  Why can't our news broadcaster include, in every news day, a story of peace and hope, instead of the doom and gloom?


Peace is "too hard" for many people as we think we need to fight it on a global level, and that is just too hard.  What can I do for World Peace when I am just a simple vet. What can you do ? when you have a family, a mortgage, the stresses of surviving day to day.

I am sure you will see that you and I can do alot.  We may not change the world, but we can change our corner of it.  And if more people choose to change their corner of the world, then that is alot of corners that have been changed.

Without going into details, my family and I have alot of reasons to hate the world, and be bitter at what it has thrown at us.  But we choose to stand up strong, and say... evil people exist out there, who only care about money and power, and you may win at some level, but I will not be broken by it.

Stand up and say ... I support a world where everyone has a piece of Peace.

If each of us supported Peace in our little corner of our world, then, we have World Peace.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Get Vets Scanning.... Find the Stolen Pet!

Do you know the number of microchipped pets out there that are euthenased? How about the number of pets that are stolen that never make it back home?

We don't know those figures, because no one is looking at them. As a result, this is a hidden statistic, unless you are the statistic.

Could your missing pet have been one of them simply because you believed that your pet's microchip will get them back home?

I don't want to scare anyone, but the sad reality is, your pet will only come home if your pet's microchip details are up to date on a database... AND in New South Wales, this is the Companion Animal Registry, and only if all vets scanned and checked pet's microchip details.

But, I would be in Heaven if I believed that this was enough... It is not.  Many vets are scanning pets that come in them for their vaccinations and vet checks each year.   This is a great first step.

Russell Vale Animal Clinic promotes Get Vets Scanning, and
also the Lost Dogs home - Pet ID Day! 
Getting Lost pets back home.
But, very few of them, in fact only a handful in New South Wales, are actually checking the microchip registries, to check if the person who brough the pet is, legitimately, the rightful owner or carer for this pet, and/or  if this information is up to date with current phone numbers and email addresses.

The only way your stolen pet is going to get back home, is for vets to start scanning and checking, at every visit.

Russell Vale Animal Clinic is one of those very few vet hospitals which scan and check every pet!

So, what is "Get Vets Scanning" all about?  It is about that.... encouraging loving pet owners to get their vets scanning, and then checking the details on the database. It is about asking your vet to "Scan and Check".

Unfortunately, the line "Get Vets Scanning and Checking the Database for your pet " doesn't sound very exciting, but the reality is the same.  Get Vets Scanning.  Now!

And vets won't do it until they are pressured to do so, and that will come from you, the pet owner. 

It isn't that vets don't care about pets and their owners, but because they care too much.  They trust that the person coming in, saying that they are the owner of this pet, is actually the owner.  And they trust that the system of microchip implantation works, with details being up to date and current.

I am not one of those vets. We know mistakes can happen at so many different steps of the process.  We know, because it happened to us. To our own dog. Our dog Sugar.

What are those steps where things can go wrong?

1. At the point of microchipping - the pet may be microchipped, but the chip itself may travel around the body (for example, down the shoulder or neck) or even out. Which means a difficult to find chip or not able to be found chip.

The NSW Governments 1-2-3
Steps don't talk about the
1-2-3 that can go wrong!
2. The Paperwork - it is either sent in to the local Council or submitted via the internet by the microchipper.  Sending it online obviously means very few errors, but sending via post - well that sets up a few potential mistakes

- Lost in post
- Sitting on someones desk
- Sitting on someones desk who thought they had inputted it.

3. And then, unless the chip is scanned and checked each year, we never know if the chip is still doing what we think it is doing.  And what we think it is doing is getting our pets home sooner.

Teddy  - the face of our Lost and Found Pets
of the Illawarra Facebook Page
- Get Vets Scanning!  he says! Sugar was
his best friend!
Now back to Sugar.  Sugar was our Maltese Terrier from 1999.   A colleague of mine had chipped her for me (as they were my employee at the time).  We hadn't made the point of scanning her (or other dog Teddy).

One time, both her and Teddy, ended up at the local Pound. Even though they had been there all day, I got the call at fifteen minutes to five, and they closed at five.  I never drove so fast, as there was no way they were spending the night in the pound!  I remember my clients looking at me strangely as I said they had to wait.

But, it did strike me as strange (but I didn't act on it), that it was Teddy's microchip that reunited us, but not Sugar's. And they did ask whether Sugar, who was found with him, was also mine.  Well, she was, and I took them both home, after paying the horrendous fine.

When Sugar went missing again, and was never found, I wondered whether the microchip was still there, and doing what it was supposed to do. It never occurred to me to "scan and check" . To this day, I do not know what happened to her, other than a neighbour thought they saw her run over on the freeway near us.

So, we started scanning all pets when they came in to see us.  And we researched, and got ourselves authorised to check registries for microchip numbers and their details.  After all, having lost a pet of our own, it reminded us that the best chance of our lost pet getting back to us, is an up to date microchip.

And over the years (she went missing in 2003), we began to realise that the next best chance of our lost pet getting back, is to Get Vets Scanning.... in Australia.  Australia wide.

We have started our Lost and Found Pets Facebook page, and we actively tell all pet owners who come to pick up their lost pets (and have copped abuse for it too), to get the details up to date.

So, I am sure you will agree... you are an important part of this process.  You need to ask your vet some important questions, other than worming and vaccinations.... you need to get your vet to scan and check your pet EVERY year...

- to make sure the chip is there
- to make sure the details are up to date
- to make sure your pet doesn't get scared when someone goes over them to be scanned.

If you love your pet, then you will do this.

Get Vets Scanning everyone!

I am Dr Liz, from Russell Vale Animal Clinic.  We are all here to help all pets.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

So your pet needs a dental?

You’ve been to your vet (or even us), and they have said to you “ Your pet needs a dental”.  What does “need a dental”  mean?  I don’t like that phrase, but unfortunately it is the lingo of the land, I will go into what “need a dental” means for us (if you remember that it does not mean the same thing in other veterinary hospitals.

So your pet "needs a dental". You never know what
is hiding in your pet's mouth.
At Russell Vale Animal Clinic, a “dental” is the equivalent of a “Comprehensive Oral Cavity Assessment & Treatment” (known as COHAT).  \

Whoa... I have gone too far here....  I bet you don't believe your pet even needs a "dental".  I know you will agree with me when you read the following statement " My pet eats with no problems at all. I can't believe my vet says my pet needs a dental."

Is this you?

Well, you aren't alone in your disbelief.  You are right.... well, half right.  Your pet eats.  It has to.  It is either that, or die, and really, most pets don't want to go there yet.

But, no problems at all?  Be honest with yourself, for your pet.   Over the next few weeks, sit down when your pet is eating... and watch them. 

Do they seem comfortable whilst they are eating, or does it seem like they are pushing food around their mouths, maybe dropping a little food, or seem to be rubbing their muzzle after eating.

 Be honest with yourself.  I am not standing behind you double guessing what you are finding.  You need to be honest for your pet's sake.

So, in your opinion, the owner, what do you think?

Still not sure what you are looking at?  If your pet's teeth are any colour other than white, or gums, any thing other than pink, then that is not normal.

Dr Liz at Russell Vale vets
looking at Dental Xrays of'
what looked like normal teeth when
you looked at them.
If you smell your pet's breath, and you actually smell something... then that is not normal.

As a vet, we are trained for "not normal' so we can easily say "this is not normal". As an owner, I understand that the phrase "your pet is not normal" is uncomfortable.

What grade are your pet's teeth?  Not sure?  There are alot of websites which go through this for you, including ours, with multiple handouts on dental care. Or you can just send me the photos (yes, you can... no need to be embarrassed. My website has the address.

Even better though, most vets are involved in Pet Dental Month, where free dental checks are on offer.   This beats a "match the picture" job for your pet.  And with us, we offer FREE dental checks each six months for all registered patients for the life of the patient, and for new clients, we offer a FREE dental check. When are these months?  National Pet Dental Months are February and August.  For us, well, every month!

Dr Liz is a member of the Australian
Veterinary Dental Society...otherwise
known as the
"Very exciting Society!"
These 'dental months" are not to twist your arm to force you to do something against your will, but purely to raise awareness of the hidden disease that could be hiding in your pet's mouth.

So, check your pet's mouth now.  Lift that lip, breath in the aroma that is your pet's breath, make sure you are sitting at the same time, and be honest with yourself for your pet's sake.

Why not post what Grade your pet's teeth are, to let us vets know what the overall population of pet's teeth out there are like, in your eyes.

And then, in all fairness to your pet, and I am sure you will agree with me that your pet deserves the truth, if your pet has any degree of staining, tartar, brown stuff, red gums, smell or anything like that, then they need professional dental care that only your vet can give.

How can we help you?   As advertised in the Illawarra Mercury in December 2012, we are offering a $249 Dental Clean.   This is not your standard "scale and polish" offered by others, as it also includes dental radiographs (I will not do any dentistry without them), as well as minor extractions (as I can count on four hands the "scale and polishes" that had healthy gums and didn't have any teeth rotten out of 42 teeth.

Your pet's health is the most important thing for you and for me... so let us work together to keeping them healthy. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Is DIY Veterinary Care a good idea?

As a vet, I know that most pet owners genuinely care and love their pets.  I also know that there are times when common sense applies, and things go wrong with your pet that you can DIY (do it yourself) care for your pet, and other times, when a  veterinarian is needed.

DIY Veterinary Care is like getting a kid to be your vet!
The heart is in the right place, but things may not turn
out like you expected.

In other words, there is no such thing as DIY Veterinary care.  Your pet deserves better than a DIY home job when it really counts.

Do you have a car?  Perhaps you are wondering why I asked that question.  I do ... I have an old Honda.  It gets me around.  The engine sounds fine to me, and I haven't had any problems with it (other than regular maintenance stuff).  But it went for its regular check up yesterday, and the mechanic said to me that the clutch is going.  I had noted a bit of stiffening, but put that down to the age of the car.  It is now going in for a new clutch, before it totally seizes up on me.  As I give my car a professional check up at the mechanic, so should you with your pet (not at the mechanic, but at the vets).

 I drive my car every day, and I spent quality time with it, hearing its humming as I zoom (under the speed limit of course) on the freeway to the vet hospital. I put petrol in it, and pump up its tyres.  I speak nicely to my car, as God knows, I can't afford a replacement.   But to identify that the clutch wasn't healthy and needed replacement, well that  required a specialist ( the mechanic) to identify that there was a problem.  I trust my mechanic, and I know he wouldn't say something needed fixing if it didn't.

That is where the challenge lies for a pet owner -  when does your pet need to see a veterinarian.   I think you will agree, that your pet needs to see a vet when there is something with your pet that worries you.   And, you may not agree with this next statement, but at least each six months for a general check up.

It is that simple.

Frankly, many signs of illness are easily missed by owners - you are busy, day in/day out... and there are subtle changes you may miss.  Like the broken tooth, or the lump in the armpit, or that the eyes are hazy - why is that so?

Or perhaps you are scared of what the vet will say when they see your pet?  I had a customer say to me the other week, " I don't like taking my pet to the vet as they always find something wrong with them".  This guy is not a client of mine, but I thought "What a strange thing to say", don't you think?

I don't go out of my way to find things wrong with pets that I see, but I can't help what I find.  I think you will agree, that a great vet is one who does perform a full physical examination, a thorough assessment of everything, and lays it out for you,  honestly.  And when they find nothing wrong, and say so,  you can be elated. That puts a big big smile on my face too.  We all love healthy animals!

And when the vet does find something abnormal, it is not an insult to how you care for your pet, but it is just the vet doing their job properly...  to keep you informed, and give you the knowledge you need to continue to care for your pet the best way you can.

My heart hurts when I see a new puppy, and find things wrong.  But, should I keep my mouth shut? Not tell the owner?  Or should I keep them informed, honestly, and give them the information they need to fix the problem (if it can be fixed).   Frankly, burying your head in the sand, and hope the problem will disappear is not a realistic solution.  And, ignoring it until it is very hard to fix, even in the best of hands, is criminal.

So, DIY is great if you are renovating the house, doing the gardens, or anything where it doesn't really matter if you stuff it up. So what if you try to paint your house, and it turns out splotchy... you can then get an expert to fix that up for you with no harm done.

But where your pet is concerned, they deserve more than DIY Veterinary Care.  They deserve the real deal.  And if your vet is anything like me,  they will help you as much as they can, to keep you informed, in the loop, and help you do all the good animal care things, to keep your pet healthy.  
Dr Liz doing the vet - thing - looking at dental xrays of a dog
whose mouth looked "normal" and "healthy"
on the outside, and on xrays, was anything but.

There are alot of things that vets cannot do.... and that is live with your pet day in and day out.... you are one of the most important parts of the equation of keeping your pet healthy, happy, and with you forever and ever (or for as long as they possibly could be). Your pet (and your vet) needs you to spot when things aren't going well.

DIY Animal Care --- that is you.  You can do that, and vets can help you do it better! But you do that part best.

DIY Veterinary Care - nah, your pet deserves better.  They deserve the real vet. The animal expert. See a vet if you are worried, concerned, got questions about your pet.  We are there to help you and your pet.  So let us! Your pet will give you big licks, big love bites, and a big grin from ear to ear because they know that you are caring about them, and doing the best you can do, for them.

That is all our pets every ask of us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A little story ..... about Burek

I am going to tell you a little story about Burek.   The story is about my first experiences and interaction with a vet, and it wasn't a happy one.  Memorable, but not happy.

Burek was my dog when I was growing up.  He died in 1990, when he was 17 years old.  I make no secret that he is a big part of the kind of vet that I am.

I got him when I was just six years old.  I remember the day he came into my family.  My Uncle John (Jan) knew I wanted a puppy (desperately).  My mother was adamant that we were not having one at all. My young brain didn't comprehend that we couldn't afford a pet.  So my Uncle, brought this one home for me anyway (as Uncles do).  My father fell in love with him, and called him Burek.  My mother, well... not a happy Mummy!
My Dog Burek... on holiday with us at Ulladulla.

When I was about 9, Burek hurt his back leg (he was about 3 or 4 at the time).  He was not using it for a week.  I cried, as I knew he needed to see a vet.

My parents couldn't afford it.  I demanded (as 9 year olds do) my birthday and Christmas present be a vet check for my dog.  I was a very petulant child.  Absolutely, a brat! And I got that vet check.

  I remember, standing in the back room of this veterinary hospital, with the vet and my mother. My mother, as a "New Australian, comprehended what he was saying, but with her strong accent, he struggled to understand her.   I couldn't stop crying.  My dog had a broken bone in his ankle, and it needed surgery or he needed to be euthenased.  Those were the choices given to us. It cost $60 for an xray for my dog. It was going to cost about $600 to fix the leg. 

And it had to be my mother who was there, with me, not my father (who loved the dog as much as I).  And, we were poor. Desperately poor.  My clothes were from the op shop (if I was lucky), or from the suitcase that was left behind from the previous owners of our house (my parents bought a deceased estate with all the stuff left behind)... the food we grew in the backyard, or killed (chickens) or my mum used to dig out of the bins at Westfield Figtree.  Yes, we were that poor. I remember that clearly.  When you are that poor, you don't forget. So $60 was a big deal. And $600.... well, impossible.

Why am I telling you this story?  Read on, and you will see.

Obviously, it wasn't looking like a great birthday after all.  I was in absolute tears.  I had demanded my dog see a vet, and he was going to end up dead as a result of it.  You'll remember I mentioned earlier that he died when he was 17, so he obviously was not euthenased then.

As I've mentioned, my Dad loved Burek, and would not have him euthenased.  My mother, well, she loved my Dad and I, so she put up with it.  Burek came home and my father wrapped a bandage on his leg. I remember the vet's comment being that we have doomed our dog to ongoing pain and suffering.  And as a 9 year old, I was in tears at that thought.

Each few days, my Dad  would change that bandage, and we would keep Burek still. My Dad would lovingly massage that leg, and maintain Burek's  muscle mass. Anyone who knew my Dad, would know that he loved his massage gizmos.

By the sixth week, Burek was starting to place weight on that leg, and by 8 weeks, he was normal.

As I've mentioned, there are times when you need to see a vet, and there are times when you can do it yourself.   But we needed to see the vet to actually know what the problem was, and what our options were. In this situation, that vet gave us only two options, neither of which we could do.    If only he was prepared to work with us, or help us, even if it was a "less than ideal" solution to the problem.

Without the vet, we would never have know what was wrong with Burek's leg.  And without my father's common sense and animal expertise, Burek's leg would never have healed as well as it did.

This is not exactly the perfect harmony between vet and owner. But as a result of this, my first real interaction with a vet, it has made me into the vet I am today.   I think you will agree that Burek deserved better than he got that day in the veterinary hospital, and he deserved better from my parents too - it shouldn't have taken a 9 year old having a temper tantrum for her dog to see a vet.

Perhaps you are wondering if I am anything like that vet from many years ago?  I hope not. But he did leave a very strong, very lasting impression on me. From him, I learnt how it felt to be on the receiving end of an uncaring, unempathetic vet (as I perceived him through 9 year old eyes) And I vowed never to do that with my own pets and their owners.

But from this situation, I also learned a lesson that having a pet is a financial responsibility, not just an emotional one.  And it is something that all pet owners need to remember too.

What is the point I am trying to make?  That vets and owners need to work together to look after the animals of the world.  That we need to appreciate and understand our individual strengths and weaknesses, as that is what our pets deserve... the very best in care.  Our pets deserve vets.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Desexing a female dog involves what??? Really????

Note well.....This is not a debate about whether vets over charge or under charge for this major operation.  A long long blog follows.... all about what desexing a female dog (or cat)  truly involves.

Well, it is that time of the year for your new puppy dog.  Where they are turning close to six months of age, and you need to do some serious thinking about de-sexing (or speying or neutering.... depending on what part of the planet you are on)

But, do you really know what it means? Do you really know what it involves when you ring up the vets in the area,  for the  "just needa price on desexing my dog" call.

We get that call multiple times a day, and while we love to give you "just a price" for it,  it is important for you to know that alot goes into this procedure that some of you are willing to shop around based on price for.

So when you do go to make that phone call (and I am not saying you shouldn't), you really need to ask some other questions also.

Some of the most important questions are...

Who is actually going to do the anaesthetic and the surgical procedure on my dog?

Yup, this is a genuine question  you need to ask.  Many practices that hire inexperienced vets, will often get them to do the procedure (and this  is fine, as we all need to start somewhere).   But you might have a preference.... you might not.   But even if you don't, knowing that Dr Sam is doing the procedure, rather than "one of the vets" is always nice to know.

Does the price include pain relief?  

Now this is as much as a shock to me as it could be to you... but some veterinary hospitals do not give routine pain relief for their desexings (or many other procedures too).  Most do.  But if you are just asking for the price, you don't know if you are getting the price that includes pain relief, or whether you are going to get hit up for another $25 on the day (as of course, you want your baby to have pain relief after this procedure).

What anaesthetic monitoring is performed on my pet?

I used to work in a veterinary hospital, where the vet was monitoring the anaesthetic as well as performing the procedure - that means one person doing two jobs!  And we all know what that can mean!   Happily, this is not a common occurrence these days, but it is still out there... and you need to know!  For me, I would never subject my children (or pets) to an anesthetic unless I knew they were being monitored by a human, as well as modern monitoring equipment.
Russell Vale Animal Clinic anaesthetic monitoring
I love my Surgivet Multiparameter monitor - 

What after care does my pet need?  Who am I going to be able to contact if something does go wrong?

Look, complications are uncommon, but we are talking about major surgery here... and things may not always go according to plan.  Who can you call? Who do you call?

Can my pet have dissolvable sutures? 

Dissolvable intradermal sutures are less irritating for your pet, and the wound usually heals faster too.  And it means your pet doesn't need to come back to have sutures removed (which is uncomfortable).  We do intradermal sutures routinely, as your pet's comfort is my prime concern. But external sutures are faster to put in, and cheaper too.

What other fees may I be asked to incur on the day?

We don't like putting pressure on the spot about whether you agree to your pet having pre-anaesthetic blood work and intravenous fluids.  For us, we like all of our anesthetics to get "the full deal" and we offer you the two packages which give you reasonable options.  But we don't make it a secret that we only reveal to you on the day you come in that your pet we will strongly recommend a full pre-anesthetic blood testing and intravenous fluids, amongst a few other things, and we are upfront about that when you call.   Make sure when you do your "ring-a-round" that you ask these questions too.

Russell Vale Animal Clinic pathology
Our modern pathology laboratory -
 Now, comes  the squeamish stomach stuff.  What does the procedure actually involve?  I can't speak for all veterinary hospitals, and I am not going to include a step by step blow of what we do, but it isn't a "tying of the tubes" which some people assume that it is.

It is a full removal of both ovaries and uterus  - the female reproductive organs.  Now, if you were a human, you would be in hospital for up to a week after your "hysterectomy".  In dogs and cats, it is called an ovario-hysterectomy.

I call it "Major Abdominal Surgery", and with any major abdominal surgery... welll it is Major! As I said earlier, it is not a "tying of the tubes".

So lets start at the beginning.  It starts the night before, when you give your baby some dinner, and then nothing more to eat after 10.  And the next morning, you have two big eyes looking at  you expectedly, wondering what they have done wrong to go without brekky.  But you know!

A trip to their most favourite place in the world (not) is next.... the vet hospital.  We greet them with our excited voices, but whilst they love people, they are not so sure.   A small tail wag maybe, but with their favourite blanky and toy, they are settled into their new home away from home.

The owners don't get away with it pain free either, as a Consent for perform surgery needs to be filled out, with lots of questions answered.

Dirk the vet nurse is checking Benji out.
A full physical examination is given....
 but who is checking out who
After a full physical examination is done, blood is drawn for the pre-anaesthetic blood testing.  This checks the internal stuff, that the external examination may not  pick up.  It is extra information which is very helpful.  We use all of this information to then formulate an "anaesthetic plan" - what this is, is an assessment of the breed, age, activity, stress level, and examination results to determine the right combination of drugs that should be used.

Whilst the sedative is taking effect, Dirk prepares the operating theatre for the  procedure.  We have a dedicated "treatment room" and a dedicated "operating theatre".

The treatment room is where the bulk of the examination occurs, and also doubles as our "prep room"... that is, where your pet is initially anesthetised, and the fur shaved off, and "prepped" for surgery.

A cannula (or catheter) is placed into your pet's vein on their leg, and intravenous fluids is started (going on the drip).

The anaesthetic machine is now all set up.  An injection of anaesthetic drug is administered intravenously, and your pet is patted whilst it drifts off to lala land. A tube is placed into your pet's airway, and they are connected to a gaseous anaesthetic machine, which allows controlled amounts of anaesthetic and oxygen into your pet for the entire procedure.

After this, the monitoring gear is attached.  This never takes away the need for a human body to check, but every little bit helps.  We have, what is called, a multiparameter monitor.... I call it the things that goes beep and bling.  It does alot of things, and is usually found in specialist centres.  We also have another pulse oximeter too, but this is used for short procedures, and measures only oxygenation and pulse strength.

Russell Vale Animal Clinic dog mask
Hair and surgery do not mix... has anyone
 told this dog that? 
So, whilst the machine (and human) monitors the heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, carbon dioxide level, breathing pattern, temperature and ECG (whew)... the haircut happens.  Dogs, as you know, unless they are the hairless kind, have lots of hair.  Hair and surgery do not mix.  A haircut is given around the surgical site area, to ensure maximum sterility.

Alot has happened up until now, and the "desexing" hasn't even started yet.  The skin needs to be cleaned up with specialised antiseptics.  But where is the vet?  What is Dr Liz up to?  I double check that the kit is set up ready to go, that our operating table is in the correct position, and the heating element is on ( this is awesome! - keeps the animals at a controlled temperature).  I don my hat, my mask, and then do the "scrub up".  You know, the tips of the fingers to the elbows thing like they do in the movies.

The scrub up is the part I hate.  A full 5 to 10 minutes is dedicated to this part..... A surgical gown goes on, sterile gloves, and then it is show time.

The patient, by then, is transferred to the operating theatre by the veterinary nurse, and is laid out.  As we have a V Top table, with hydraulic height adjustment, no ties are placed around your pet's feet to keep them in position.  They lie there, comfortably, with the drip drip of the iv fluids going through (or most times, we use our hospital grade infusion pump).

It is the main show!  Scalpel.... forceps.... But first the patient must be draped - this means sterile sheets are placed to keep the only part I need to see in view.  In this case, a little section of the tummy, near the belly button.

An incision is made through the skin.  One layer down.  An incision is made through the fatty tissue (the subcutaneous layer).    And then, the muscle layer of the abomen is found - and we are looking for the fibrous middle section to find a spot in which to enter the abdomen.

This is another scary part - it is at this point, it changes from a minor surgery to a Major Abdominal Surgery.  I am about to enter the abdomen of another living creature.   Everything is humming and buzzing quite nicely, the heart rate is stable, blood pressure is good.  Knock Knock....Enter!

And sitting right underneath my entry point, is usually a big fat purply structure - full of blood - the spleen.  Now, the fishing expedition starts, which is usually successful, quickly - the first uterine horn is found.

The aim is not to touch or minimally touch other organs within the abdomen.... except the parts that you intend to remove.  The horn is tracked back up to an oval structure which is the ovary - and then, we see lots and lots of tortuous blood vessels that come off the aorta - these blood vessels need to be ligated (a fancy way of saying, tying them off).

Scissors finish the job - so only a small section of tissue with a ligature is left behind on that side, and the ovary and horn is gently lifted out of the body.  It is then followed along to the other uterine horn and body, which is also tied off the same way.

I am going to stop here for a second to catch my breath!  
Vets are doing this procedure for $150 or not much more!  

What do you think it is worth?    I have yet to meet a vet that prices this surgery properly.  It is a procedure which vets are heavily subsidising, as we seem to have this stupid idea that people realise that the procedure is priced below its true value. You don't, until now.

I am in the more expensive price bracket for my area, because I have to cover the costs of the materials that I use.... and I don't use cheap materials or cheap tools.    I wonder how other vets could do it for less?  I would love to ask them this question, but I can imagine the look I would get!

Back to the surgery table - both ovaries are now no longer attached to the ovarian pedicle, which should be well ligated, and released.  We know have the base of the uterus to find.  We need to place a suture around the area where the uterus and cervix meet - not a mm on either side, but in this area.... fairly precisely.  Big blood vessels complicate things, but  we deal with them.

It is Major Abdominal Surgery after all.... we wouldn't be there if we didn't know how to handle them.  So that is all tied off, and finally a section of your pet's anatomy is sitting in a sterile tray away from the body.  It's not over yet though......

During all of this, the anaesthetic has been monitored, the local anaesthetic has been administered, the fluids are dripping in, and the surgeon is focusing on each individual task, knowing full well all of the things that can go wrong, and hoping that none of them do.

Closing time..... As we went in, we go out....  in three layers, we go out in three too. The abdominal wall is closed to make sure that no fat or other tissue is captured in the process.  The subcutaneous layer is closed.  And finally the skin.  We do dissolvable intradermal sutures, so what we see on the outside is a thin red line.  And your pet has nothing that irritates them (other than Dirk's jokes!).

Local anaesthetic gel is applied on the skin (we all know how prickly skin can feel after a close shave), and a tummy bandage applied (like an extra large band-aid.... everything feels better when you are hugged).

Extra pain relief is given, and the bed is warmed up ready.  A gentle pat whilst your pet recovers, helps it adjust from the" sleeping, not being aware" phase of the anaesthetic, to the "just woke up, what the hell happened, where am I" phase (at this stage, the tube that was in their airway is now out).

Once settled, they are monitored until they are sitting on their chest, then walking.  All pets are monitored, because, really, what has just happened is controlled reversible poison.  Blunt, but true.

Big breath time.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's all about you...

Every day when I go into my lovely little vet clinic at Russell Vale, I make it all about me.  What is that I can do to make pets better.  What equipment do I need to do a great job.  What knowledge do I need to gain to  be up there to be able to do the best job as a vet.

And in all of that "I" - ing,  I forget about something that is very very important.  And that is.... you.... yes, you.  All that I do as a vet is because I want to help you, be there for you, and help you.  As you see, for you to bring your four legged family member into see me, means that you really really care about that bundle of joy that is either sitting on your lap, or fairly close to it.
Dr Liz at home with Leo - not my most photogenic moment,

That makes you super-awesome, and I want to thank you.  Because without that "you", vets like me, can't do what we do.

So, keep up with that awesomeness.  Remember that all of us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic are here to look after you and your family.

Dr Liz (which is me) looking very tired at the end of the day at home, is supported by her family, which is also her "vet team".

Our family comes first, and we open our arms to you for you to be part of our animalclinic family.

If you have not been to us before, or not for a long time, come in to see us for a free visit and "check us out" visit. Obligation free enquiries are taken online, so please don't ring the vet clinic for this.

Be the centre of our world, as we cannot do what we do, without you.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Tipping Point

For the past few days, when I checked my emails, I saw at least 10 different emails which were telling me that the email I sent couldn't make it so it got sent back to me.  The problem was, I never sent those emails in the first place.  And whilst I knew there was something wrong, and I did everything that I could do, such as run antivirus, and googled it, the problem didn't really bother me until Saturday afternoon.

I said to myself,   "You have tried everything, so obviously, nothing much can be done, you will just have to change your email address."  But I hadn't tried everything.  I hadn't asked someone who actually knows about this stuff.  When it got to 20 emails over half a day, that was my "tipping point'.  That was the point where I knew I had to do something.

But guess what, it was a Saturday afternoon.  Fortunately, my email provider is a great guy, and they are working to sort that out. It made me think about that "tipping point"... that point that makes us realise that we can't fix whatever problem we have on our own... that point where we say "I need help to get this problem fixed".  I am lucky my computer dude is trying to fix this problem on a weekend.  I wasn't expecting anything to be done until next week.

As a vet, every time someone brings their sick pet in to visit me, it is because something happened that "tipped them over the edge'.  Now, with my email problem, ignoring the problem most likely didn't make it worse.  It was just a nuisance. And now, annoying my computer dude because I waited till Saturday to annoy him about it.  But in our pets, ignoring the problem until it is beyond what you can deal with, can make the difference between whether the problem can be fixed, or be beyond the point of no return.
Referenced from accessed 28th October 2012
And sometimes, it becomes an emergency, for you, your pet and the vet.  And like my email dilemma, it may at a time that is most inconvenient for you and the vet.  Like the picture above.  This actually came from a website talking about Biodiversity, but it showcases the "tipping point" problem - leaving the problem until it is too late, may mean that it will take longer to get better, or we may hit the point where we cannot fix the problem.

All vets are there to help you look after your pet, but you need to be part of the process to.  Tip your "tipping point" to the early stages of the disease process, rather than in the middle or near the end.  Many vets are happy to talk to their pet owners on the phone or via email, but most times, we really need to do the "hands on" check.  Our online consults are designed to give advice but it doesn't replace the "hands on" approach.

 That is, when you notice the "ain't doing right", or 'not himself", that is the time you need to take your pet to the vet. Do not  play the "wait and see" if your gut feeling is telling something is wrong.  Most times, it doesn't work.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why a Veterinary Appointment?

"Do I need to make an appointment", asks the customer on the other end of the phone.  A very understandable and legitimate question, which many of us ask any provider of a service at the time of the making the enquiry.

Any business or organisation which deals with people, can either provide a "drop in" service, or an appointment system.  There are pros and cons to both.

At Russell Vale Animal Clinic, we provide a "drop off" service, where you can leave your pet for a day stay with us, go out and about and do what you need to do, and come back, with everything done or examined as per your request.   That is the closest to a "drop in" service we can provide.

Simply, because, we operate on an appointment system, where you do need to make an appointment for the vet (which is me, and I am Dr Liz) time to examine each pet individually. We dedicate at least 30 minutes to each visit (from whoa to go).  This type of examination time is not easy to do with a "drop in system", as if you just dropped in, there could be two pets in front of you, and you end up waiting, well, a long time.  Not fun!

When I go to get my hair cut,   I have the choice of going to a "Cutting Hair Place" where I turn up, they cut my hair, I walk out.   I don't know who I am going to get, or how long I am going to wait, but I could be waiting an hour or only 5 minutes, but you are not long in the chair either.  Now, my hair cut wouldn't get me on the cover of Vogue, but it is cut, and I am happy. It is the type of hair service that suits me, as I am not "hair proud".  

Or, I could choose a ABC Hair Centre, get greeted with staff, and have the experience of a  "Day Spa" setting, with juice or coffee, my choice of hairdresser, lots of time to decide which hair style to take, and leave several hours later, all prettied up ... with the same hair cut style, but a different experience.

It would not be reasonable for me to walk into "Cutting Hair Place" and expect to have the hairdresser of my choice, not have to wait long, have a great hair cut experience.    I just want my hair cut. And if I walked into ABC Hair Centre without an appointment, they will usually say the next one is next week, as they are all full up.

We are a family vet practice, with me at the helm... I  do housecalls, surgeries, as well as consultations for pets.  It is all about being stress free for the pets, and the only way we could do was to make all veterinary visits "by appointment only." A "Doggie Day Spa" experience, if you like, because we can't do each visit properly if the waiting room  has 5 pets all waiting to be seen now.

A Veterinary Appointment means that your pet gets the individual care, attention and time needed, to being able to address the problems that may need to be addressed.    And that is what every pet deserves.

Making an appointment has never been easier, with our online booking system, which means you can make your appointment online, easily.  We also accept appointments via email, and obviously, the age old method of phone.

But then, it all depends on what suits your pet and you.  I like working with and for animals, to make their visits to the vet as happy as we can.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Petshop or Vetshop?

Is your  local veterinary hospital a petshop or a vetshop?

In many instances around the world, many veterinary hospitals also have "retail space" for the flea control, worming, foods, etc for all pets.   This retail space is not to make money,  but to make sure the pet's entire needs are catered for, simply and easily for you, the pet owner.

I was challenged by a web designer the other day in a webinar, that does my website look like a pet shop or a veterinary hospital?  It wasn't directed towards me, as such, but as a general question to all veterinarians during this webinar.

So I looked at some past photos of my veterinary hospital, and I looked at my website, and, I am not sure what you all think of it?

I know I have a beautiful photos of the foods and shampoos that we sell.  It looked very professional, and it was taken by my daughter.

We stock alot of different shampoos, conditioners, flea and tick treatments, pet dental hygiene products etc etc  all of which are products which I use, or have used, or will use, in my own pets if I ever needed to. That is, I stand by these products.

But does that makes me look like a pet shop?  And aren't all pet shops are  same?  Even the online ones all look the same, stock the same stuff, and the only thing you are looking at then, is the bottom line for you... how much is it, can I get it cheaper elsewhere.

Russell Vale Animal Clinic even has its own online shop, called animalclinic. You can visit our store at  It, like our vet clinic, is not a pet shop. If yo come to check us out, you will see that our shop, provides solutions to problems, rather than just product on shelves.

 And then I look at the photos of my veterinary facility...the equipment that I have, from my pathology laboratory, veterinary library, operating theatre with all of its gadgets and things that go beep and flash numbers, to the xray machine, and the pet's bedding and housing just to name a few....  and I know I have a veterinary  hospital.  A full blooded veterinary hospital capable of doing surgeries, blood and urine testing, diagnosing and treating of medical diseases, and loads more.

 But we are more than just the equipment that is in the building.   We are solutions to problems.
 "It is the knowledge and care which we provide which makes all the difference", is what has been written on our bags, our folders and our website for over 10 years.  Recently, we have said we are for "Happy, healthy pets", as it is all about sending the message out that we are for happy and healthy pets, always.

But the situation is the same now as it was when we opened in 1998.  Whether we are a vet shop or pet shop, we are animal lovers, and we have a veterinary facility packed with equipment and stock to allow us to do it to the best of our ability.

After all, we are your first stop to a solution to  your pet's problems. And that, my friends, is priceless.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My pet is perfectly healthy... nothing wrong with them

My pet is totally healthy.  I totally understand that statement.  I look at my cats .... Pusski, Fitz and Dash (and the cat that has decided to visit now and then, Feral), as well as Pandora, to know that the body language from all of these cats are that they are healthy. Nothing wrong them at all.

How do I write this... as a pet owner, as a vet?

We have Pandora at the vet clinic, and at home, we have Pusski, Fitz and Dash. They are eating, drinking, pooping. As a pet owner, they are all ok. No problems.  As a vet, I know better.

Pandora coughs sometimes after drinking the water from the water fountain a bit too fast. She catches, (and sadly chews on) lizards, so she is at high risk of lungworm.  Her preventative care is that she is on Advocate monthly.  Her last blood work was in March 2011 (which means she is overdue), and her vaccinations against Cat Flu and enteritis are current.  Pandora, is "the boss" which means she makes the worst patient.

Pandora can be followed @theonlypandora on twitter. This is because she has her own email address (without the space)  pandora the boss @ animalclinic. com. au.  ...spaces are to avoid the computer trawling thingos which means she gets the spammy stuff. 

At home, we have Pusski, Fitz and Dash.  They chose not to have twitter, facebook or anything else.  Their life is simple. Eat, sleep, purr, snuggle, sleep. Simple.

Previous blogs show photos of Pusski and Dash.  Fitz, is alot like me.  He hides when the camera is out for photos. The health of all pets are important to me.  All pets deserve a preventative care plan.  What is our preventative care plan for our cats? What is yours for your pets? 

If you don't have a preventative health care plan, then you haven't been to Russell Vale Animal Clinic.

All of our cats do have a preventative health care plan... this is all about their vaccinations, heartworm prevention (yes... cats also need this), intestinal worming, flea control, lice, mites. diet, teeth, and the emergency evacuation plan.

All of our cats are on PAW Dermoscent Essential 6 each 2 weeks. This reduces the amount of fur I get to sleep with. I like to sleep with fur on the pet, rather than up my nose!  But there are some things which are just individual to each putty cat.
For our house cats... let's start with Pusski...  he is the eldest, although I shall not reveal his age. He is overweight, and bossy.  He loves to just sit on you.  He gives you that look, as if " consider yourself blessed to have me press my paws, heavily, into your chest, abdomen and private bits", whilst you are groaning whilst he is pressing his very heavy paws into all of those parts.  How can a cat feel so heavy?  Vet mode... his body condition score is slightly overweight, he is current on all preventative care, but is overdue for his blood work.  He absolutely adores to bite Dirk's feet at 4 in the morning... the few times he bit me, made the sleepy me feel annoyed, and the vet me, feel a bit strange about being loved in that way.

Pusski bites Dirk's feet more often than mine... I shall say no more about that love!.

I will jump to Dash.... what a cute line... jump to dash... ok, self love over.  Dash had a severe calicivirus infection as a kitten.  In English, this means, Dash had a severe cold as a kitten which mean we couldn't re-home her until she was better... now 7 years later, she is still with us. When Dash was two, my eldest daughter Tegan noted that Dash' s breath smelt bad.  Pet's breath should never smell.  That day, Dash went to Russell Vale Animal Clinic (aka  my vet practice).. She had a ":COHAT", which is a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment.  She has Tooth Resorption, which the only treatment is appropriate extraction. So far, it has only been her big back teeth that needed to come out.
And then there is Fitz.  Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Of Pride and Prejudice fame... He is the only  noisy cat we have.  He loves to wake me up at 5 in the morning, even though we have a cat flap... why use that when  you can meow and have the door opened for you. After eating what he wants, he goes out through the cat flap, to only want to wake me up to let him in again.  Sound familiar? Most cat owners will know what I am talking about.  He is perfectly healthy too.... so it seems.

Now, I will talk about Feral.  He is not "our cat", in that he belongs to the neighour across the street.  But, he has run up to us when we come home after work, rubs our legs, walks  in and sits on our kitchen floor like he belongs there, and eats our food.   Obviously, likes our cat food.  Feral has a broken tooth (which I will need to speak to the owners about), and a watery eye (which I have been treating myself).   Yes, I admit.... he is so friendly, and sweet, I feel mean telling him that he can't enjoy the freedom that our cats have (so I don't). Which is why he comes back. 

On the surface, all of my pets appear to be healthy.  Let us just see what their vet check shows up!  That is \ overdue, but like any normal human being... life gets in the way.  Now is the time we are getting it done.

So what is your news?