St Kilda Veterinary Centre (03) 455 2042 After-hours/Emergency Phone: (03)455 2042

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PET PAGES  SUMMER 2017

Keeping Your Pets Safe in Summer!

  • Never leave your pet in a parked car!  On a warm day temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels causing organ damage and even death

 

  • Watch out for grass seeds!  Foxtail grasses can embed in eyes, ears, noses, paws and skin and often require surgical removal.   Check your pet thoroughly after being outdoors especially if they have been in long grass.

 

  • Have a “pet safe” BBQ!  Don’t share your BBQ food.  Your scraps and fatty leftovers can cause pancreatitis which may lead to abdominal pain or even death.  Corn on the cob and meat skewers are also a big no-no because they can lodge in a dogs intestine and need surgical removal.   Watch also where you throw waste BBQ juices and fat wastes, don’t discard on indigestible materials like gravel that your dog may be tempted to eat.  

 

  • Be aware that Christmas and holiday treats like chocolate, fruit mince pies and grapes are some of the foods that are toxic to dogs.

 

  • Be water wise!  If you’re a boatie consider having your pet wear a life vest in a bright colour.  Beware of currents or riptides.  If your dog gets into trouble in one of these whether swimming or caught in a wave while fetching a ball they can be swept out to sea in minutes.  The same goes for  the current in a river as well.

 

  • Provide water and shade!  Anytime your pet is outside make sure they have protection from the heat and sun and plenty of water.  Trees or tarpaulins are ideal.
  • Use pet-friendly sunscreen!  Skin Cancer is common in cats and dogs.  Fur provides some protection from sun but noses and ears and bellies have sparse hair and need a special pet sunscreen applied every 3 to 4 hours.  Try to keep pets out of the sun in the middle of the day. 

 

  • Limit Exercise on Hot days!  Exercise Dogs in the early morning or in the evening hours.  Footpaths and roads get very hot and can burn your pet’s paws so walk dogs on the grass.  Place your hand on the footpath if it’s too hot for your hand it’s too hot for your dog to walk on.   Always carry water with you to stop your dog from dehydrating.

The Importance of your pets being Microchipped

 

The recent earthquake events that have quite literally shaken the length of New Zealand serve as a timely reminder that our pets are affected by natural disasters also. Even here in Dunedin where we were fortunate enough to be spared the full force of the earthquakes we have been informed about a number of animals that have gone missing over the week that followed. While there are many ways to identify your pet, there is only one which is not only lifelong but also does not rely on a collar. To do your best to ensure a safe return should your pet go missing, whatever the circumstances, is to have them microchipped. 

The microchipping process involves a small chip, the size of a small grain of rice, being inserted via a needle over the back of the animal’s neck. There are no recognised side effects of the process, other than local pain at the time of the insertion. This can be minimised by an injection of local anaesthetic being given prior to the microchip.  

We recommend that all microchipped pets should be registered onto the New Zealand Companion Animal Database. For a very small, one-off registration fee you have lifelong access to an online database that enables you to easily keep your contact details up to date, and provides valuable information on what to do should your pet go missing. The details on this database can be accessed by recognised organisations permitted to obtain this information, such as vet clinics, the SPCA and other shelter organisations.  

Dunedin City Council legislation (effective 1 July 2006) requires dogs to be microchipped within two months of their first registration, or from four months of age. In addition, unregistered dogs that become impounded or any dogs that become impounded for a second time must also be microchipped.  Failure to microchip your dog under these requirements can lead to a $300 infringement notice. It is optional for other pets to be microchipped, such as cats and even rabbits.  

There are additional benefits to your pet having a microchip other than for identification. Companies such as SureFlap have developed pet doors and feeding bowls which can be programmed to only allow your pet(s) access. This prevents unwanted neighbourhood animals from entering through your pet door and stressing out your animal, and ensures your pet that is on a special diet cannot eat the other pet’s food. We have demo models of both of these products available in our Mornington clinic if you would like to know more about how they work.  

The most important message we would like to emphasise is that your pets microchip is only effective as long as you keep your contact details up to date, whether that be with us, the local council, or on the NZCAR.  

 

 

Continuing Education for our Nursing Staff

Over the past two years we have been supporting two of our Mornington Vet Nurses as they have studied hard towards their diploma qualification, allowing them to become registered veterinary nurses (RVN). The Veterinary Nurse Diploma requires frequent submission of case studies, nursing portfolios as well as video submissions on a wide range of patients showing their understanding of the patient’s wellbeing and evidence demonstrating their skills.  During their study they also learnt a range of new intensive skills such as advance nutrition, canine behaviour, breeding programmes, taking blood samples, inserting IV catheters and much more. There is also an ongoing requirement to complete continuing education to ensure their skills and knowledge remain up to date, in order to retain their registration. Currently in New Zealand there are less than one hundred RVN’s, and we are very proud to boast that we have two.

A new way of looking after our Patients

The Mornington Veterinary Centre has a new close circuit camera set up in the hospital.  The Nurses and Vets are able to access the picture from the camera on their smart phones can move the camera up and down and can even talk to the patient or hear them.  This innovation enables the vets and nurses to keep watch on their patients overnight and know when they need checking on in person.

 

 

 

PET PAGES  Winter 2016

The Karearea (New Zealand Falcon)

 

The Karearea are thought to be one of New Zealand’s most endangered species.  It’s uncertain how many of these birds are in existence but there are thought to be only between 5000 and 8000.  While small in size, (the female weighs approximately 500g, the male, 350g, they are a fearless predator, with their preferred diet being introduced birds caught in mid-air.

 

Reaching speeds of up to 200 kph when hunting, they are New Zealand’s fastest native animal.

The falcon features on the back of the New Zealand $20 note and has been a protected species since 1970.

 

Recently the employees from the Department of Conservation bought in an injured Karearea to the St Kilda Veterinary Centre.   This bird had been found by a member of the public by the side of the road at Waipori and had been taken to DOC who then bought the bird in to us to be examined.

Physical Examination found a probable fracture of the bird’s left wing.  This was X rayed (see picture with the circled area) and a compound fracture of the ulnar was diagnosed.  The wing was put in a “figure 8” bandage splint and the bird was given pain relief.  We also put the bird on antibiotics as the bones had pierced the skin.

The bird was then taken to Nicky Hurring from Project Kereru, who arranged to have it flown to the Marlborough Falcon Conservation Trust which has its base in the Waihopi Valley in Marlborough.

 

We at the St Kilda have nursed many Hawks but it was the first time we had seen a New Zealand Falcon.  They are a darker shade of brown than the Hawk and about half the size, they are also much easier to handle than the Hawks as they freeze and unlike the Hawks they don’t attempt to use their beaks or talons on the Vets and Nurses .

If the Falcon isn’t able to regain flight well enough to be released back into the wild when healed it will be kept and used in the Captive Breeding program.

 

You can follow the story of this little falcon on the Marlborough Falcon Conservation Trust Facebook page, where it is reported she is well on the way to recovery.

 

A Dog’s story

Pedigree has teamed up with leading dog behaviour experts and Auckland Council's Animal Management team to launch A Dog's Story, an interactive adventure for children and parents to learn dog safety together via Colenso BBDO.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but you can certainly educate kids and their parents to learn dog safety together and to build long lasting loving relationships between dogs and people.

 

This app is available on Google Play or on Itunes

 

 

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Help – My cat can’t pee!

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a complex syndrome describing a cat who is in pain or discomfort when trying to urinate. It includes several conditions such as inflammation of the bladder itself (cystitis), different types of bladder stones, blockages of the urethra (which connects the bladder to the penis or vagina) or the cause may be indeterminable in which case it is termed ‘idiopathic’. Cats suffering from one or more of these conditions may strain before or after urination, pass only small amounts of urine more frequently than normal, urinate in places they normally would not and may or may not have blood in their urine.

As well as there being several conditions which contribute to FLUTD, it can be triggered by a number of different factors. For example, cats with FLUTD often do not drink enough water to meet their daily needs. This is especially a problem in cats eating primarily dry diets. Other risk factors include:

·                       Stress/Anxiety – such as from a strange or new cat, moving house

·                        Diet – Cats fed primarily a dry diet are typically at greater risk, but it depends on overall mineral balance, urine pH and water intake.

·                       Urinary Tract Infection may produce swelling and the formation of pus which can block the cat's urine tubes (ureter and urethra). Diabetes and some viral diseases may make cats more vulnerable to infection.

·                       Obesity - problems are more common in overweight and inactive cats

·                       Urine retention - cats which urinate less frequently, allowing urine to accumulate to large volumes in their bladder; or they may have restricted access outdoors

·                       Anatomical abnormalities or tumours may make it difficult for some cats to pass urine.

Cats may start displaying signs of discomfort quickly, and the condition can last anywhere from 3-10 days. In some cases your cat may require emergency treatment to treat an obstruction that is preventing them from properly emptying their bladder – we refer to these cats as being ‘blocked’. This is seen most frequently in male cats. As well as making more frequent attempts to urinate, these cats may also cry out in pain and lick their penis or vulva.

Emergency treatment involves passing a catheter to relieve the pressure of urine within the bladder, and various medical treatments to help ensure normal urinary function resumes. The urine is tested for the presence of bacteria or crystals, and an x-ray is taken to assess the bladder and urethra for the presence of stones. Sometimes these stones will need to be surgically removed immediately. The majority of cats we see with crystals or stones will be discharged with a prescription urinary diet which alters the pH of the urine so that stones are less likely to form, and to try to dissolve existing stones. Another x-ray is taken in one month to determine whether to remain on the diet or progress to surgery.

All cats displaying signs of FLUTD should be seen by a veterinarian to have their symptoms assessed and appropriate treatment initiated. Many can be treated and then monitored at home, but some cats will be admitted for monitoring by the veterinarian and for further treatment.

Unfortunately some cats may be affected by FLUTD throughout their lives. Ensuring there is always plenty of fresh drinking water available, and finding what drinking preference your cat has is one of the best ways of both helping to treat and prevent FLUTD at home. If your vet recommends a special diet for your cat is it important they remain on this diet for optimum urinary health. 

 

                                                        PET PAGES SPRING 2014

 

Sea Lion Pup

During a routine DOC inspection of sea lions at Victory Beach a 6 month old pup was found with an injured jaw. The pup, who weighed about 40kg, was captured in a net and transported to the St Kilda Vet Clinic. At the clinic the pup was initially sedated then anaesthetised using a gas anaesthetic administrated via a face mask.
The pup was found to have a broken lower jaw and the skin on the lower jaw had been torn away from the bone. The injuries were probably caused by an aggressive male sealion. The broken jaw was wired to hold the bone stable while it healed and the lower jaw skin was sutured back in place.
The pup was then taken back to its capture site at Victory Beach. Four weeks later the pup was found with its mother at Sandfly Bay. The pup was doing well and obviously had been feeding ok. The pup was caught in a net, sedated, and the wire around the jaw removed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pyometra
Pyometra is a serious infection of the womb resulting in the accumulation of pus within the cavity of this organ. Pyometra is a common disease in un-neutered female dogs that requires major surgery to cure. Each time a female has a season (usually about twice a year) she undergoes all the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy – whether she is pregnant or not. The changes in the womb that occur with each cycle make infection more likely with age. The disease often occurs in the weeks or months following a heat.
Signs include licking her back end more than normal, lack of appetite, increased thirst, sometimes the pus escapes from the womb and a reddish-brown or yellow discharge is seen (but not always), as she gets more ill she may start to vomit. Diagnosis is suspected based on symptoms shown, confirmed via blood tests, x-ray &/or ultrasound.
Treatment is ovariohysterectomy or spey. This is the same operation as carried out to routinely neuter a female cat or dog, however in a sick animal suffering from pyometra it carries much more risk and expense.
Most animals will die if surgery is not performed. Toxins will be released which will get into her blood stream, eventually these toxins can cause kidney failure. If you are not intending to have puppies from your dog then she should be neutered at as young an age as possible. If neutered before her first season, she is also protected against breast cancer developing later in life. Ask your vet for details about the best time to have your pet neutered.
 
 
A Catnip high
Most cats love catnip. When they eat or even just smell it they drool over it, vocalize and purr and roll all over it and around it. Some cats become very hyperactive or very sleepy and occasionally some will get hissy and aggressive.
There are different theories on what causes these reactions, some scientists think the herb has an aphrodisiac affect while others think it creates an effect in cats like marijuana has on humans. But whatever the affect the majority of cats large and small feel it.
Catnip or catmint is the name of a common garden herb. It will grow from seed into a meter high plant with small green serrated leaves and small lavender flowers just as long as a cat doesn’t find the plant. It was once used in human herbal medicine as a tea for headaches and sore stomachs and as a mosquito and fly repellent. Mice and rats avoid it, another good reason to have it around. So the next time you want to see your cat having fun and acting like a youngster again buy him/her a catnip toy to play with or plant some catnip.
 
HealthymouthTM
HealthymouthTM is a new water additive which is clinically proven to control the plaque which leads to inflammation and gum disease without chemical agents. It cleans teeth and gums and reduces bacteria that if left untreated, can enter the bloodstream causing damage to vital organs.
HealthymouthTM is not a treatment for dental disease, it does not remove plaque,its action is to prevent plaque from forming in the first place. Daily use of Healthy-mouthTM and professional cleaning work together as a comprehensive dental care programme. You simply add the product to the regular drinking water. It is effective at all life stages; from preventative dental care for puppies and kittens to improvement for seniors with dental disease.
Optimum results will be obtained when started directly after professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian.

 

Foreign body

A dog presented with a firm object underneath its skin which the owners suspected was a splinter. There were no external punctures or wounds. We anaesthetised the dog and made a small incision over the object - which turned out to be a sewing needle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAREWELL HERMAN!

Last week Herman said goodbye to the Mornington Clinic and hello to the Polytech Veterinary Nursing School. Herman is 35 years old!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                             PET PAGES Autumn 2014

 

Giant Madagascar Geeko

Occasionally we are required by the museum to examine and treat their animals (turtles, lizards, birds)

We received a call to ask if we could examine a Giant Madagascar Geeko that was losing weight. On consultation with Brett Gartrell, a Massey University vet who specalises in birds and reptiles, it was decided to x-ray, blood test and get a faecal sample from the geeko.

We were quite excited by the prospect of handling and treating a giant geeko only to be disappointed when it arrived and only weighed 60g!

The geeko had a full body x-ray taken, a faecal sample obtained and a drop of blood taken from its tail vein.  The x-ray was sent to Brett at Massey and he diagnosed a lack of bone mineralization due to insufficient expo-sure to UV light and not enough calcium in the diet.

This is common problem in reptiles kept in captivity. The museum has taken steps to rectify the problem and the geeko should recover well.

Bee and wasp stings

All dogs are curious and just love to run and chase things…including insects! Most of the time, bee and wasp stings will only cause minor pain and irritation for your dog.   If your dog is stung several times though, or is stung inside their mouth and throat, it can be dangerous and will require a trip to the vet. It’s not the small puncture wound that causes the pain of a sting but the small amount of poison that is injected.

Which sting? A bee’s sting is barbed and designed to lodge in the skin, killing the bee when it detaches from the body and leaving the sting be-hind. Wasp stings are not barbed but are more painful, and if provoked these insects can sting multiple times.

Most of the time dogs are stung on their faces after investigating a stinging insect too closely. Stings on your dog’s sensitive nose are particularly painful. Some dog

s may even get stung on the tongue or inside their mouth or throat if they try to bite or catch an insect. These stings can be dangerous because of the swelling they cause which can close your dog’s throat and block the airway.

A severe reaction can be caused by a large number of stings or if the dog has an allergic response to the chemicals in the sting. Signs of a severe reaction include general weakness, difficulty breathing, and a large amount of swelling extending away from the sting site. Watch out for swelling around the neck, throat and head. If your dog is having a severe reaction, you should quickly take them to a vet.

A simple sting can be safely left alone and shouldn’t really bother the dog for long. If the sting is still present, try to remove it by scraping with a fingernail or a rigid piece of card. Avoid using tweezers or forceps to remove it unless absolutely necessary because this may squeeze more venom out of the sting.  Applying a weak mixture of water and baking soda to the affected area will help reduce the pain. You can also wrap ice or an icepack in a towel and apply that to the wound to reduce swelling and ease any pain. Keep an eye on your dog after they have been stung to make sure they don’t develop an allergic reaction. If, after several days, the swelling still persists, call your vet. 


Easter is coming!

And that means chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to dogs so please be very careful to keep your Easter treats out of your dog’s reach.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, nervousness, panting and shaking. It may cause seizures or cardiac arrhythmias.

If you discover chocolate has been ingested please phone a vet immediately for advice; depending on the amount and type of chocolate (dark chocolate being more toxic than milk chocolate) you may need to bring your dog into the clinic to induce vomiting or to preform gastric lavage to minimise absorption.

 

 

 

My pet is healthy, so why should I treat for worms?

Not all pets that are carrying and passing on worm infections are sick, vomiting, coughing, loosing weight, defecating live worms, scooting on the ground, suffering from diarrhoea, or emaciated.

Some intestinal worm species can produce up to 30,000 eggs each day into the pet's surroundings without causing any clinical signs. As a result, some infected animals can appear healthy and normal.

Roundworms' live in the intestines and are commonly found in young kittens and puppies as these can be passed from the mother. They can also infect humans, especially children, which can potentially cause blindness.

Juvenile hookworms passed in the faeces infect pets and animals by penetrating through the skin. Once in the intestines, the worms feed on blood. Whipworms also feed on blood in the dog's intestines.

Animals can get infected with tape-worms by eating raw sheep or goat meat, rabbits or rodents during hunt-ing, or from ingesting fleas. Tape-worm segments passing with the fae-ces causes itchy bottoms and hence you may see your animal scooting along the floor.

Our feline friends can get infected with lungworm from eating mice, rats or birds. They may show symptoms of coughing, racing heart, weight loss or little or no signs at all but the presence of lungworms will cause scarring of lung tissues.

Most eggs passed from the above intestinal worms can also survive in the environment for several years.

Therefore, it is important to regularly de-worm pets to prevent self-infections, transfer to other animals, and cross-infections to humans especially young children.

You can protect your pet and family by:

 Using an effective, good quality "all-wormer" every 3 months

 Flea control (tapeworms are passed on by fleas)

 Remove faeces from the garden/ yard daily

 Change cat litter trays daily

 Good personal hygiene - wash hands after playing with your  pet, avoid being licked in the face

 Keep kennels clean

 Cover sandpits

 Not feeding raw meat or offal to pets 

    PET PAGES Spring 2013

At the beginning of June Keenan and Malthus purchased a digital x-ray system.  Digital radiography is a form of x-ray imaging where digital x-ray sensors are used instead of the traditional photographic film.  Advantages include time efficiency through bypassing chemical processing and the ability to digitally transfer and enhance images.  Also less radiation can be used to produce an image of similar contrast to conventional radiographs.

Instead of x-ray film, digital radiograph uses a digital image captive device.  This gives the advantage of immediate image preview and availability, elimination of film processing steps, as well as the ability to apply special image processing techniques by the system’s computer, this enhances the overall display of image.  This allows us to see more detail on the x-ray image which assists in a more accurate diagnosis and also we can alter the contrasts of the image to see more details in different tissue types.

We can also easily email these images to veterinary specialists for their opinion.  This technology purchase is part of our overall commitment to provide the best possible diagnostic service to our clients.

 


The story of Tony the Hawk

Our practice assists the Department of Conservation in the treatment of some wildlife cases.  Our Vets decide if the injury is treatable and if it is we will then look after the animal’s care and treatment and provide advice for the animal’s rehabilitation.

Tony was bought in by a client that found him eating a dead lamb in a paddock.  Tony couldn’t fly and just staggered away to a ditch.  On examination we found Tony to be lethargic, thin and dehydrated.  Fortunately he had no broken bones and could move his wings and legs, he had evidence of a head injury so we decided he had probably been hit by a car.  As nothing was badly damaged we decided he had a reasonable chance at survival.  We stomach tubed him and gave him fluids and liquid food.  He was then placed in a nice warm cage.

By the following day Tony was a lot brighter and was sent away for rehabilitation.  At last report, Tony was recovering well and is eating lots of mice.

 


An interesting case.

We recently examined a valued farm dog that had been having problems with repeated bleeding nose episodes.  X-ray, sample collection by nasal swabs and the ensuing microscope examination and culturing of the samples did not provide an answer.

Under anaesthetic we passed a small flexible endoscope up the dog’s nose and into the back of its throat, a distance of about 20cm, looking for a lodged foreign body.  No foreign body was found but there were some markedly abnormal areas of the lining of the airways in the back of the nose and in the area under the eye.

With a biopsy forceps passed through the endoscope we were able to obtain a 0.5 to 1mm piece off the lining from the affected area and following the microscope examination of the sample we were able to identify a fungal infection and recommend a course of treatment.


Rabbit Nutrition

Rabbits have a huge amount of taste buds (17000 compared to only 9000 in humans) so they enjoy a wide range of different foods, but the main component of a rabbit’s diet (at least 80%) should be good quality fresh meadow hay/grass. The rest of the diet should be made up of a variety of vegetables some fruit, herbs and flowers.  Rabbit pellets can also be fed to your pet but must not make up the main part of the diet.  

Some vegetables such as radish tops, spinach and mustard greens contain oxalates and should be fed only occasionally and some vegetables such as endive, broccoli and cauliflower can cause gas and make the rabbit very uncomfortable. New foods should be introduced in small amounts and slowly so you can judge how that food is accepted.

Rabbits that should always eat constantly and detecting an illness sooner rather than later can be the difference in whether it survives or not. It’s a good idea to feed your rabbit a wide variety of foods and have definite treat foods, that way you will know immediately if there is a problem.

Gastrointestinal disease and dental problems are the main illnesses that are commonly seen by vets that can be attributed to incorrect diet. If either of these problems are suspected you should take your rabbit to the vet.

Rabbits have fast become loved pets in New Zealand and one of the pet insurance companies, Pet-n-Sur Exotic, has realised this fact and added rabbit insurance to their range of services.  They offer up to $1500 cover and the plans available start off at $15.60 a month. Check out their website for more information at www.petnsur.co.nz.


Choosing the ideal diet for your pet!

Did you know that what you feed your pet can have a direct influence on his or her overall health? As our pets develop from kittens and puppies, into adulthood and eventually old age, so their dietary needs change. A huge amount of research has resulted in the concept of life-stage diets – with distinct diets for pets of different ages (or life-stages).

PUPPIES AND KITTENS: because of their rapid rate of growth need much higher energy levels, together with higher levels of protein, fat and minerals for the healthy growth of muscles and bones. The large and giant breeds require their own specially formulated puppy foods.

ADULT PETS: At physical maturity (which depends on breed and size), pets should move onto adult foods designed to suit the needs of active pets in the prime of their lives, maintaining a healthy physique, and keeping the digestive system, the skin and the immune system healthy.  In Older pets specially formulated senior foods are ideal.  These typically contain lower calorie levels and higher fibre, for the more sedentary pet, together with reduced levels of salts and carefully selected proteins to help the vital organs to remain healthy.

In summary, life-stage diets can make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of pets.

EARLY TRAINING & SOCIALISATION

Did you know that exposing your young puppy to a range of sounds and experiences, in a controlled and gradual manner in the first three months of his life (while pups are naturally investigative), can be of help in preventing him develop fears, phobias and behavioural problems?

Even before he’s fully vaccinated, you can to try to familiarise your young pup within safe environments like your house, garden and car, and with other adults and children. Short car trips can be fun and allow him a wide range of experiences – try to take him to places where he will hear other traffic  and loud noises. As soon as he has developed immunity from his vaccinations it’s  important for him to get out and about to different environments, to meet as many other dogs and other animals as possible to build up his confidence.

 

 

 

 

 

PET PAGES WINTER 2013

 

WHAT’S NEW?
From 6-9 March 2013 the World SAVA (Small Animal Veterinary Association) Conference was held in the SkyCity Convention Centre Auckland. About 1500 vets from various countries were present.
Lyn and Tony were fortunate enough to spend 2 days each in attendance, learning the latest in diagnostics and treatments. Some of the subjects covered were: feline medicine, dermatology, pharmacology, surgery and clinical pathology. Multiple streams were running at the same time
with speakers who were experts in their fields – it could be difficult to decide which lecture to go to!
John also attended the American Animal Hospital Association conference recently in Arizona.
Sam is leaving for the UK soon to work as a locum vet but will be returning in December.

OSTEOARTHRITIS IN DOGS
Osteoarthritis is a progressive degenerative disease that affects a dog’s quality of life. In the past chronic pain from arthritis was either tolerated as part of old age or a reason for
euthanasia. Luckily there have been several medicines and treatments developed to effectively manage pain and allow pets to live longer more comfortable lives.

 

Recent research has shown that early treatment prevents further degradation
of cartilage so early and continuous preventative pain therapy is important.


Treatment can be divided into 2 groups:
PHARMACOLOGIC THERAPY:
• NSAIDs (non steriodal antiinflammatories) eg metacam, carprieve, rimadyl etc. NSAIDs provide pain relief by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown in the joint.
• Tramadol – an opiate which can be used in synergy/together with NSAIDs. It is a good pain relievingdrug but it is not an antiinflammatory.


NON-PHARMACOLOGIC THERAPIES:
• Supplements: oral glucosamine or chondroitin (eg Bomazeal Mobilize or Catpep).
• Pentosan or Cartrophen – injectable polysulfated glycosaimoglycan (PSGAG) Studies claim these reduce cartilage breakdown and preserve the joint. One injection weekly for four weeks is the general recommendation.
• Diet – omega fatty acids have antiinflammatory and so pain-reducing properties. Hills j/d is one such diet which significantly improves range of motion and decreases pain/lameness.
• Weight reduction – a very important part of management. All other treatments work considerably better if the pet is not overweight.
• Exercise – pain causes reluctance to move which further adds to a cycle of joint damage and muscle wasting. Controlled exercise will increase joint range of movement and will strengthen and build the muscles.
• Warmth and soft bedding – your dog won’t mind sleeping inside in a warm comfy spot, specially during the cold winter months.

MICROCHIPPING IN CATS
A GREAT IDEA.
One day a good samaritan rushed into the clinic with a poor wee kitten who had been hit by a car. Physical exam revealed
it had broken it’s jaw and needed surgery to wire it back into place. But with no collar or means of identification the
kitten would have to wait (being kept comfortable on pain relief of course) until the owner could be found. Luckily when the vet ran the microchip scanner over the kitten (routine procedure for any stray pet) a ‘BEEP’ meant staff could breath a sigh of relief – using the microchip website search engine the owner could be immediately contacted, consent for treatment given and the kitten on the road to recovery much sooner. 

HypErTHyrOiDiSM iN cATS
Hyperthyroidism is the most common endocrine (hormonal) disease in older cats. It is caused by an enlargement of the thyroid gland (next to the windpipe). 97-99% of cases are caused by a benign increase in the thyroid tissue. Thyroid hormone regulates your cats metabolism so common signs of an increase in hormone include: weight loss despite eating more (many cats are ravenous!) drinking more, urinating more, behaviour changes (hyperactivity, aggression), heart disease (fast heart rate, audible murmur).  A few cats will have vomiting/diarrhoea.
Less commonly the opposite will occur –  1 in 10 cats with hyperthyroidism will be off food and lethargic.  If hyperthyroidism is suspected on physical examination the next step is a blood test to measure the thyroid hormone level in the blood.
TREATMENT OPTIONS:
1. Oral Medication: pills once or twice daily (lifelong).
2. Topical: if you have trouble administering pills you can request a gel to be compounded by a
pharmacy which is rubbed onto the ear (lifelong).
3. Diet Hills y/d: a new prescription diet which has a restricted level of iodine to decrease thyroid hormone production (lifelong).
4. RAI (radioactive iodine): RAI treatment destroys all abnormal thyroid tissue (curative in almost all cats).


The major disadvantage of pills, gels and prescription diet are that they are lifelong whereas RAI is a one-off curative treatment in most cats; it is however quite expensive and requires 7 days of hospitalised isolation. The major issue with a prescription diet is that ONLY this food can be fed to your cat (no treats!) Multicat households are not ideal as healthy cats and affected cats may switch meals.

 

HANSEL THE CANARY
Being veterinary surgeons we are asked to perform surgery on animals of varying sizes – this is an example of one extremely small patient. ‘Hansel’ is a 12 year old male canary, weighing about 20 grams. He had a skin tumour on the left side of his chest. The tumour had a knobbly appearance and was about 2 cm in diameter. His owners elected to have this removed as it was
growing larger and eventually would cause problems.  Hansel was anaesthetised with a gas anaesthetic, isoflurane, administered via a face mask. Isoflurane is the anaesthetic gas we use in all our patients having major surgery, it has wide safetly margins and the patients wake up very quickly after the surgery.
Once asleep the feathers over the area were removed, the skin was prepped and the tumour carefully cut out. The wound edges were sutured together with very fine absorbable sutures.
With bird anaesthetics we have to be careful to maintain a light anaesthetic as birds are difficult to revive if there are any problems. Also we have to keep the bird warm which was done using a heat pad and gloves filled with warm water. With bird surgery you have to be
careful to minimise blood loss as you can imagine a 20 gram bird very little blood!
Hansel made an uneventful recovery from his surgery and is back home in his