Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A funny/bizarre/is it a full moon? thing happened on the way to, at the, and on the way home from the office, dear!

One of the things that is exciting about the veterinary profession, is that you never know what is going to turn up, or who you are going to meet.  

This post is all about the lighter (or weirder) side!

Just another Sunday at the vets....
Many years ago, before I was the boss of Russell Vale Animal Clinic, I used to work the Sunday shift at another vets. It was usually boring, and mostly consisted of re-checks of the cases seen during the week by the "regular" vets.  And most Sundays, I had no vet nurse for back up or reception.

This particular Sunday started like any other - I cleaned the cages, fed and walked the animals, answered the phone, and served at the counter.  I was in the back kennel room, and I didn't see the elderly gentleman walk in with his dog, but there was an almighty screech of the door bell.

When I walked out to the reception area, there he was, sitting down, with his dog sitting very quietly next to him.  The man looked at me as I walked in, but the dog was very obedient, and didn't move - he was looking lovingly at his owner. 

"How can I help you", I asked, leaning over the big front yellow counter that separated me from the
A bit stuffed!
rest of the room. The counter was quite tall and wide, which meant that I couldn't see the bottom half of the owner nor of his pet.

"My dog is stuffed", the owner said. As a vet, I am used to  a lot of different comments on what the owner thinks the problem is, but I had never had anyone say that before.  They usually say or "they are not well", or "I think it is time", or " you tell me, your the doc".

I walked around the counter to face the gentlemen, and said " I am sorry to hear that, let me have a look at him, what is his name". All the while, the dog's loving gaze doesn't shift.

And as I start to move closer to the gentleman and his dog, I realise that something is amiss.  The gentleman grabs his dog, on both sides of him, lifts him up and swings him around, so he is now facing me, with two glass eyes, and a loving expression.

The dog, literally, was stuffed!  This dog had cancer, which was treated by one of the other vets in the practice, who the gentleman thought was working that Sunday. Alas, it was me.... facing a stuffed dog.

The look on my face was priceless, and fortunately, the vet hospital did not have CCTV, otherwise, I have no doubt, it would've made it onto youtube!

The sex change -
The consultation room can be a magic room sometimes.  It sometimes doubles as the "sex change room". 

At every vet check, we go through which sex the pet actually is -  there are usually only two kinds - male or female ( though we have see the hermaphrodites - the ones who look like girls externally but are boys internally or a mix of the two)

It is always a funny moment when you lift the tail of the kitten, and instead of it being a girl, it is a boy.  It is even funnier, when the client says "how do you know".  A hard one to answer - the two testicles sitting in the scrotal sac gives it away a little bit, I guess.

Your dog ate what?
TV shows are made of the strange things that dog's eat.  We have had dogs eat tampons, used condoms (gross, I know -  can you imagine what it was like when we made them vomit it up? eeewww).

The strange ones come when you xray the dog because it has a back problem, and find a strange object in the stomach.  Or the dog that is "not doing right", pass a blue coloured poop (on further investigation, it was the arm of a little blue teddy bear).

The Clayton's stitch

Many years ago, a gorgeous dog, named Barry came in with a cut on his leg.  It was a big cut, and you could see the muscle underneath.  It needed stitches.  We anaesthetised Barry soon after he came in, as we know that the sooner you stitch it up, the less likely that it will get infected.

Barry went home the next morning, happy as Larry.  The wound looked great, and he was happy.

But the owner was not happy at all when he saw the wound.  "I am going to sue you". the owner says, angrily, and in a very threatening manner.

I was absolutely dumbfounded.  My associate vet had  worked hard to clean the wound, flush it well, and then close the skin using "plastic surgery quality" dissolving skin sutures, so you can hardly see a wound. They had stayed back to do it, without asking for any extra pay, even though they were paid it.  I stayed back to help him with the anaesthetic, as it was the type of surgery that this vet loved to do.  At the end of the surgery, the wound  looked amazing - all you could see was a shaved area, with a little line where the laceration had been. 

"There are no stitches!" Barry's owner exclaims. " I am going to report you to the Mercury, for
ripping people off.... there are no stitches there at all. How can you rip people off like that."

To this day, I have no doubt the owner still believes he was ripped off because we managed to "stitch up" a really deep laceration with the care and skill to make it look like nothing had been done. 

This is the "Clayton's stitch"... for those who remember the slogan... it is the stitch up you have when you haven't had a stitch up.

The high rise balls! (graphic terminology ahead!)

Desexing a male dog is never a routine procedure. Usually, the boys have two testicles sitting in the scrotum (sac), and the surgery is a routine one (with the little anatomical variations that vets have to deal with, but owners are usually non the wiser).

It is becoming increasingly common that we see the dogs with only one obvious testicle, and then we have to go searching for the retained (or cryptorchid) testicle.

But I was accused once, when I was a newly graduated vet (so over 24 years ago), of pushing the testicles up higher instead of removing them.

"Ya shoved them up higher!" this agro male shouted at me, a few days after the surgery. " I took my
dog home, and he had these two things swelling up every time he saw me"

As a new graduate, I hadn't yet developed the skill of keeping a straight face when the pet owner says something completely stupid.  Admittedly, I still haven't developed that skill, which is one of my faults, but I know I will never win an Academy Award for acting! 

What this owner was concerned about was the swelling of the accessory sex glands which sit on either side of the penis, and become swollen when the dog is excited.  As that area is shaved, coupled with the fact that this was probably the first time this guy actually looked at his dogs abdomen (as he needed to check the surgery wound), the bulbous swelling was a real shock.

Fortunately, my grey haired and bearded boss was walking past and overheard this discussion, and gave his appraisal of this situation " Why would we shove the balls up higher for you to see? Do you realise how  difficult that procedure is, because, technically, that is impossible to do!  If that is what we did, then we didn't charge you enough!"

Welcome to the mad side of my veterinary world - there are a lot more stories, but when I shared them with my  family, I was told that they were "funny weird" not "funny - ha ha", and I guess you guys want "funny ha ha" (but I did share some "funny weird" because I couldn't help myself).

This is mad Dr Liz, signing off... end of November 2013..... thanks for all of you being part of the animal mad animalclinic family.

And the silly season is yet to begin....

Monday, November 18, 2013

Astonishing Secrets - Your New Puppy or Kitten

"You're a cutie"
Welcome to another Astonishing Secret, and this is the practical information you need to help you and your newest family member settle into a new routine.

Puppy licks and kitten purrs are what warms every vet's heart, as we are all driven by the love of our animals.  And everyone loves babies.... of any species.

But what is the most exciting part?  It isn't the puppy breath, the waggy tails, the play stance..... for me it is the knowledge that the future holds so many moments of  joy, companionship and fun times.

We know that many pet owners are choosing their new family pet from ads on gumtree, or pet rescue sites or other avenues on the internet.   And with that, comes a decision on whether they trust the seller's "vet check" of the puppy or not.  My take home message is -  by all means trust, in principle, the seller's vet check, but ALWAYS, for peace of mind, get your own thorough vet check too.

And this vet check should be within 24 hours of picking up your puppy.

What are the common problems we see in new puppies and kittens that are hidden by breeders or missed at the initial vet check?

  • dental issues - we commonly see "base narrow canines" or mismatched jaws which cause problems.  This problem is on the increase, and many pets act in as if they are uncomfortable, making a thorough assessment difficult.

Protecting your pets against parasites also
protects your famiy too.
  • ear mites - these are little creatures with hairs on their legs, which often causes intense itchiness around the head and neck area.  Many breeders treat with an anti-mite product, so the pet appears to be "mite free", and in some cases, we are seeing mite infected pets from a reputable breeder, because of drug resistance.

  • coccidiosis and intestinal worms -  even in the best environments, the immature immune systems of the young ones make them more likely to be infected. 

  • microchip mix - ups. What we mean here is that the microchip in the new baby, does not match the microchip number on the paperwork that has been handed to the new owner. It is easier to sort out before the papers have been sent to the government, rather than trying to fix up weeks later. One of the things we do at Russell Vale Animal Clinic is to "scan and check" every pet at every visit to check that everything is up to date.

  • heart problems - it is well known that the most common age to diagnose a congenital heart problem is at 12 weeks of age, but many puppies or kittens will show problems at a younger age too.

  • umbilical hernias - the little "cysts" on the tummy which can come and go. They may seem normal to breeders as they are common, but they are not normal.

Of course, there are many things that our puppies and kittens can get that I haven't listed... that is why a vet check within a day of getting your new baby is sooo important.   After all, after spending many hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on your little baby, what difference does spending $50 or $60 make (depending on where you go)

At Russell Vale Animal Clinic, from Dec 2013 to Dec 2014, we will be introducing something new.

 It is a trial, and it is up to you on whether it is something that is worthwhile keeping.

For puppies or kittens less than 16 weeks old...
  • all pets acquired from a breeder where the puppies parents have been sighted, a complete vaccination certificate, AND a veterinary health certificate has been issued..... the vet check is FREE.

  • all pets acquired from the RSPCA or another registered pet rescue organisation, with a complete vaccination certificate ..... the vet check is FREE.

Our normal puppy/kitten check price is $60, which is a comprehensive physical examination, as well as a complete assessment of your pet's preventative healthcare - such as vaccinations, heartworm prevention, intestinal worming, microchipping information, dental care, what to eat, how to care for them the first few nights, and much much more! It takes about 40 minutes not including your registration time, so it is a very comprehensive and thorough check.  Tests such as skin scrapes or ear swabs are included also (normally $40 each).  But if your pet is acquired through the above places, then your first vet check with your new puppy or kitten is free.

We do not support puppy mills or backyard breeders who do not care for their pets at all.  Often these are sold through pet shops or online.   But these are the ones that definitely need the vet check ups.  These vet checks are at the usual price of $60.


Your new pet checklist

  • The paperwork you should get includes

    • Vaccination Certificate
    • Any genetic tests/checks done on the parents
    • Any hip/elbow/eye scoring tests done on the parents
    • A recent (no more than 5 days old) Veterinary Health Examination Certificate
    • Microchip Certificate of Identification in your name (within 7 days of your pet joining your family) and a Copy of the Change of Owner form (for your peace of mind)
  • Make a list of when your pet is due for their next

    • intestinal worming
    • Heartworm prevention
    • flea control
    • vaccination
  • The usual bedding, collar, tag, kennel, toys

  • As there is a waiting period on pet insurance, get it early - some vets, like us, offer 4 weeks free pet insurance, but we do need to examine your pet first before we can activate your complimentary months pet health cover with PetPlan.

Congratulations on the newest member of your family - we look forward to being part of it all with you and your pet.

Questions?  Why not ask us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic.  Email us or call us on 42 845 988

Monday, November 11, 2013

Obsession with Pet's Body Image

As I was trawling through the net, trying to get inspiration for my next Animail Tails, my monthly e-news, I decided I would do a focus on pet obesity.

Going through google images of all that is out there about this very serious topic, it made me realise that what I was looking at recommending, in terms of the perfect body shape for your pet, could be paralleled into the body obsession of our  human world - the desire for the perfect body.

I began to feel really awful, as we shouldn't be obsessed about how we look, and we shouldn't be aiming for perfection, because each of us are already perfect, in our own unique way.  We should look at our pets in the exact same way - they are already perfect.

We should be sensible about our body weight, knowing the risks that come from carrying more kilos than you should, whether you have four legs or two.

Lily loves to jump on our scales
as she smiles for the camera.
At Russell Vale Animal Clinic, we weigh pets at every visit, and we print off weight charts also. We use this information, as well as examining your pet, to check their Body Condition Score (BCS).  We start this from the first visit.

Fortunately, most of my pets I have known since puppyhood/kittenhood, so if their weight starts to creep up, as it does when they are 2-3 years of age, then we can make helpful suggestions (or Dirk can do the guilt trip speech) to get them down a bit.

It is harder when I see an adult overweight pet for the first time.  My own GP once asked me do I talk to my own pet owners about their obese pet.  "Of course I do I said.  I am not oblivious to the risks of obesity."

Obsession with a pet's body image is wrong, but being diligent in maintaining a healthy weight range is absolutely the right thing to do.  We always go back to what is the healthy weight range for each individual pet, and aim to keep them there from year to year.

Overweight pets are prone to a wide range of health problems, such as

  • Skin problems - overweight pets often have fat folds in front of their necks or at the base of their tail, these areas can sweat and become infected causing skin fold pyodermas
  • Heart disease - the heart needs to work harder to pump blood around. It is only when the heart starts to fail that you may see signs, such as coughing, difficulty in exercising, gagging whilst drinking, and poor appetite.
  • Arthritis and other joint disorders - as expected, the joints will suffer increased "wear and tear" as a result of the overuse

    Please monitor your pet's weight each year, and don't spoil them to the point of obesity. 
    I am Dr Liz, and I am for happy, healthy pets.... always.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Musings of Dr Liz - Pet Owner? Carer? Pet Parent?

Welcome to another one of my musings, but this is one in which I really do need your help to come up with the most sensible answer.
"And whose family do you
belong to? Are you a
child or a pet or both?"

Recently, I read a blog by a much older, more experienced, and overall, very funny veterinarian where he talked about pet parents, pet guardians, pet owners. And it got me thinking (which is awfully hard to do on a Sunday morning, trust me).

I write alot about loving pet owners.... and for me, the important part is the "loving" part, not the "owner" part.  I will admit that I never thought about whether I should use "pet parent" instead, and what you, as loving owners/parents/carers/guardians of those happy smiling animals around you, actually think of it all. Would it make a difference to the overall gist of what I write, and about the relationship you have with your pet if I used a different phrase?

Should we even be using the word "pet" and choosing something else?

At Russell Vale Animal Clinic,  we usually refer ourselves as Auntie Liz (Dr Liz to you humans),
Uncle Dirk, goofing around with Benji (2008)
and Uncle Dirk (Dirk), as it gives us leeway to spoil our visiting pets as much as we can.  But then, I know some people who are attached to the leads of these animals, look at us as if we are mad (and they are right, we are).  My madness hurts no one, my pets gets lots of treats, and actually start to enjoy a vet visit - as who doesn't enjoy a visit with their Auntie or Uncle, and getting spoilt?

The problem lies in that some people think of these terms in the literal sense - so calling yourself a pet Auntie or Uncle is, well (hopefully) not literally true.  But is there a problem in using this phrase?   I don't think so. Or I should say, I hope not, as I often refer to pet parents as Mum and Dad too during the check ups, and talk about sisters etc.

"Family means everything"

The absolutely single most important thing is the relationship, the friendship, the love and respect between kindred animal spirits - human, animal - it is unique for every single one of us. 

Some, like you and me, feel in our bones our connection with animals. It is such a part of us, that the phrases don't matter, as the relationship is at a significantly deeper level... A spiritual connection of kindred or like minded spirits.

As a loving pet owner, the connection is one of kindred spirits. When one half  is absent, the heart feels incomplete. Your thoughts are where they are, and what they are doing. When one half dies, it is a painful, deeply felt loss.  In my head, when I think of people who feel like this about their furry family members,  I write of them as my "loving pet owners".   And in the consultation room,  I think of them as pet parents (the mums, dads, sisters, cousins, grandparents etc, depending on who is the room at the time).  But the relationship is the same.

How do you think about your relationship with your furry family member?  What phrases do you read about that make you feel squirmy, and what phrases do you read that makes you say "yep, that describes me exactly" when it comes to describing your relationship with your pet?

As I am more in tune with animals than I am with people, I really need your help here, so at least I can get it half right with you.

I am Dr Liz, and I am the vet at Russell Vale Animal Clinic. We absolutely love animals, and we are thankful that they (mostly) love us too.