Wednesday, 1 June 2016


One of my dogs is a very deep sleeper, and often I will catch him in a deep slumber and all of a sudden start yipping and moving his legs like he is running. I have always assumed he is dreaming about something, but because I can’t ask him, I don’t really know what’s going on.  So this week I have done a little searching into the animal brain, and will be discussing “ Do dogs dream?”.

At a structural level, the brains of dogs are quite similar to humans. Tests have also shown than during sleep, the brain wave patterns of dogs are similar to that of people, and go through the same stages of activity seen in dreaming humans, all of which suggests that dogs can indeed dream.

Actually, it would be quite surprising if dogs didn’t dream, as less intelligent animals, such as rats, have been shown to have signs indicating dreaming.  Much of the dreaming humans do is linked to activities engaged in the day. A recent study shows the same thing occurs in rats.  Rats performed a number of activities, such as running a maze, and the brain patterns were recorded. When the rat was asleep, in the same stage of sleep in which humans dream, the same area of the brain would ‘light up’.  As the brain of a dog is more complex, it is reasonable to assume that dogs too can dream.  

However, you can tell at home quite easily if your dog is dreaming , without resorting to fancy testing.  All you have to do is watch your dog from the time he starts to doze off. As his sleep becomes deeper, you will notice a change in the breathing to more regularly. Around 20 minutes after this he should start dreaming. Usually in the ‘dream state’ your pet will breathe less regularly, and there may be muscle twitches and you may even see your dog’s eyes moving behind its closed lids (rapid eye movement or REM) , just like in humans.  Occasionally your pet may shows signs of daytime activities such as moving his legs like he is running or digging!

So in summary science agrees that our pets most certainly dream. What is my dog dreaming of? Walkies, playing with his sister or chasing birds? We will probably never know, however science says he is likely just recapping whatever he was doing during the day (probably dreaming of digging a giant hole!).

-Dr Claire -

Monday, 16 May 2016

New combined diet for weight loss and arthritis.

Just like the current epidemic in humans, almost 50% of the pet population is overweight.  Even a small amount of weight can impact your pet’s quality of life and can impact on the mobility and lifelong general health of your pet.

Coming into winter we are seeing more pets with the tell tall signs of arthritis including:
    Difficulty getting up, with stiffness and/or limping. Particularly if it is worse first thing in the morning, or after sleeping.   
    Your pet is reluctant to jump or climb stairs, when they used to have no problems doing this.
     Your pet isn’t as active as they used to be, lagging behind on walks.

        Snapping or growling when picked up a certain way.
         “Missing” the litter tray – cats with sore legs find it hard to squat normally over their litter and will often leave us deposits just beside the tray as a result
       Your cat's not climbing as high as they used to, or using a number of levels to climb or descend, when they used to get there in one leap. 
                Your cat isn’t as grooming as well as it used to, especially in the hard to reach places.  
There is a well-documented relationship between arthritis and weight, with 40% of dogs suffering from arthritis being obese. It is thought that the stress from the extra weight on joints can lead to arthritis.  It is also shown that weight loss will improve the signs of arthritis in dogs.

Because of this common association of overweight dogs with arthritis, Hills have develop a Prescription Diet® Metabolic + Mobility Canine especially formulated to help manage your dog's weight and joint health. In fact, Metabolic + Mobility Canine has clinically proven nutrition to improve mobility in as little as 21 days AND reduce body weight by 13% in 60 days. 

How It Helps:
    Naturally works with your pet's unique metabolism
    Improves your dog's ability to run, walk and jump
    Helps your pet feel full & satisfied between meals

How It Works:
    A synergistic blend of ingredients
    High levels of omega-3 fatty acids
                Unique fiber blend from fruits and vegetables

If you have an overweight dog with arthritis, contact us today on 4153 1399 for more information on this innovative diet.   

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Why did I become a veterinarian?..And why am I still here?

Dr David was recently published in 'Vet Answers' below is the blog. 
 A question I am asked many times – why did I become a veterinary surgeon and why do I still want to continue doing this profession even as I enter my senior years?

This is the story of Jack and Jill (no, not the one about a hill and a pail of water) – a true story and one that is played out in my animal hospital on a daily basis –the names may change but the concept never does

The Jack and Jill story

I stood at the door of the consultation room and watched the group walk towards me. It was a family affair – mum and dad, along with two daughters and one son and one total ball of mischief (a 6 week old female Boxer puppy) had started their new journey through life. Even though they were in my animal hospital – their entire thoughts centered on that little mischievous animal the son carried in his arms.  The things they all had in common were the smile on their faces and the love they radiated for each other and their new family member.
The young son (around 2 years of age) placed the 5Kg brown and white bundle on the consultation table with all the care that a 2 year old boy can do – the small puppy rolled over onto its belly, picked itself up and started to wag its tail. The effect was electric – the body attached to the tail now was moving from side to side causing the back end of the body to sway massively from side to side. The puppy’s face had the widest smile you would ever see on a dog, the entire body quivered with excitement as the puppy realised that there were people to play with. But the biggest effect was on the people in the room – the father and mother smiled, the children laughed, the nurse started to giggle and as I looked around the room I understood (again) WHY I became a veterinarian.
The young boy looked at me with his big blue eyes still dilated with the wonder of all things fantastic (as only a young person can) and said “Jill” as he pointed to the puppy. And then to emphasize that Jill was only here for a visit and not to stay he added “Mine”.
Well if the mother and father had just won Gold Lotto they could not have been happier or prouder – the mother gave her son a hug and said “Dr David knows Jack – he is only going to make sure Jill is healthy and stays that way”.

Are you sure this man is qualified?

But Jack was not 100% sure – he eyed me off as I approached the table and you could read on his face the thoughts going through his head. “You hurt Jill and I am going to come under that table and bite your leg off”, “Are we sure this man is qualified?”, “If you even leave a finger mark on my dog I am going to pee on your floor”, “Why are we here Mum – I would rather go and have some ice-cream and give half to Jill and the other half over the hair of my sisters”.
Over the next 30 minutes I spent time making sure Jill was healthy and happy (she was) and spent some time discussing the more clinical aspects of owning a puppy including vaccinations, heartworm control, worming, flea control, feeding, desexing, dental care and my recommendations for pet insurance. Then it was time for my nurse to fill out the vaccination record and explain the Year Life Chart that we give to every one of our clients (it explains the “Road to Health and Happiness" and the preventative programs that we recommend over the next 12 months).

While she talked to the mum and dad I watched the children interact with Jill – the hugs and kisses from the girls, the dragging around by Jack, the smile on Jill’s face, the small barks of joy and the laughter from the whole family. This young puppy had been accepted as a full member of the family and loved the fact that she was the centre of their universe. Finally Jack sat on the floor – Jill crawled into his lap, licked his face and then lay down in his lap, put her head on his crossed legs and watched everyone in the room from her “safety spot”. The pup loved the family but had bonded with Jack.

Oh! What joys lay ahead for this dog.

In my mind I could envisage Jack and Jill chasing butterflies together, ranging through the garden on the quest of finding knights and dragons, being amazed with beetles and grubs, finding paths in the undergrowth that led to magical castles and damsels in distress, running on the beach while chasing sea gulls. Jill leading the charge but Jack not that far behind, digging together in the sand for hidden treasure left by some pirate hundreds of years ago – Jack digging downwards and Jill getting caught up in the excitement digging so that the sand went back into the hole and covered Jack at the same time. Jill eating kangaroo poo and Jack trying it before spitting it out with a weird look on his face, swimming in the calm water of a creek at high tide, crabs and other shells to taste and then spit out (or swallow in Jill’s case), rolling around in the grass in the back yard laughing and playing together. Chasing water from the hose as mum or dad tried to water the back garden, curled up together at night while mum or dad read them a story and finally falling asleep together with Jill firmly wrapped in Jack’s arms so that together they could attack the next day and do it all over again.

Jack's sidekick in life...

Jill will be fully grown in the next 18 months but will always be Jack’s sidekick – his Robin when Jack is Batman, his Tonto when Jack is the Lone Ranger. She will never want to be the leader and will be more than happy being his “mate”.  In his imaginary world they will fly to the stars together, dive to the bottom of the deepest oceans, they will climb mountains and stand on the shoulders of giants. They will fight against “bad guys” and always win, they will build structures only to knock them down, explore strange lands and swim wild seas. The world of imagination (Jack’s) will always be their oyster but they will always come home to eat at night and to sleep in their own bed.
She will protect him when the wind blows at night and the branch makes weird and fearful noises on the window. She will lick off his tears when he falls and hurts his knee, she will be his rock so he can lean on her when times are bad and she will always be there full of excitement when times are good.
As Jack ages and goes to school she will wait at the gate for his return and greet him like she has not seen him for the last 6 months, She will lie at his side has he struggles to do his homework, she will run like the wind when they play football in the backyard – never complaining and always wanting to go “one more kick”.

She will have a full and fun life and he will always have a friend and a companion – their future will be terrific.

My role in all of this?

In the playhouse of life when Jack and Jill are Centre Stage and acting out their companionship – my role is to stand in the wings giving advice on health and happiness issues. Always having my first aid box ready for the times when Jill “falls and skins her knees” and only rushing on stage when necessary to get Jill “back on track” so the two of them can charge off to another adventure.
I will have done my job well, if in the years to come, when the final curtain falls on Jill as she stands Centre Stage with all her family and friends clapping and cheering and calling “A life well played”, she looks into the wings, nods her head and says “Thanks Veterinary”.

AND that, ladies and gentlemen, is WHY I do this profession.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Interview with Tegan on why she is a cat person

Last month I wrote a blog about why I am a dog person, so I thought this month it would only be fair to get a cat person’s perspective on why they love cats. So this week I did an interview with Tegan, our receptionist to find out what it is about cats she loves.  They both love attention and are very friendly to friends and family. 

What kind of cats do you have? 
I have two cats, Kye a 4 year old Russian Blue and Mila a 3 year old Domestic Short Hair. 

Have you always had cats? 
I have had cats as early as I can remember, but I grew up with lots of different animals. 

What is it about cats that you like the most? 

They are extremely entertaining, whether they are running around the house a million miles an hour, chasing and playing with each other,  or playing with toys by themselves in a corner. Also they always smell great! 

There is a stereotype that cats aren’t as friendly or loyal as dogs- what would you say in regards to this?

I don't think that's true, my cats are very friendly and loyal, and they rush to the door to greet me when I come home. 
They will always be in the same room as me, lying close by.

Why do you consider yourself a cat person?
I love the attitude of a cat; they are very selective and very regal animals. I like the fact that cats own you, you do not own them. 
It is also an advantage that they are easy to take care of, and I don’t have to take them for long walks. 

-Dr Claire-

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


All cat owners love to hear their cats purr. To them there is nothing better than having a cat curled up on their lap, satisfied and happy (and often purring). But have you ever wondered just why and how cats purr?

Purring is one of the most common sounds cats make, however we know less about why they make this noise than we know about their other repertoire of sounds; meowing, hissing and growling.  Although we will never know exactly what they are saying, research from animal behavior experts does give us a glimpse into the cats’ mind.

How do cats purr?
Cats purr by making contractions in their larynx muscles and diaphragm.
The rhythmic contractions of the muscles and vocal chords open and close the glottis. As the cat breathes in and out, air hits the vibrating larynx muscles in the throat producing the purring sound.

What are the reasons a cat may purr?

Reason 1. Your Cat is happy
If your cat looks relaxed, is lying on your lap, letting you stroke her, with her eyes half closed and purring, it is pretty safe to say she is happy.  This kind of purr is your cat telling you that it is content.

Reason 2. Your cat is hungry or wants your attention for something.
Some cats will purr when it is time for dinner (or they think it should be time for dinner!).  This purr sounds different from the ‘happy purr’ and often will be combined with a cry or mew. Experts believe this sound is similar to that of a human baby’s cry, which is why we are more likely to respond to it.

Reason 3. Kitten Purr
Kittens can purr from only a few days old. Experts believe that this purr is to let their mothers know they are okay, and mothers will also use a purr to bond with their kittens.

Reason 4. Relief and Healing
Many cats will purr when they are stressed, hurt or in pain. But purring takes energy, so why would they bother? Some studies have shown that the purring may just be a way for the cat to soothe itself. However, other studies have shown that the low frequency of the purrs can cause vibrations that actually help to heal bones and wounds, build muscle, ease breathing and lessen pain and swelling.

Purring isn’t just good for cats; studies have show that petting a purring cat can also relieve owners stress and blood pressure!  So keep your cat purring, however that may be. I am sure you kitty cat will tell you if you aren’t doing a good job.  

-Dr Claire-

Monday, 25 April 2016

Love the Profession (but there are some exceptions).

I love dogs (but there again I love all animals with the odd exception) and I love the profession I am in because I get to interact with animals and their owners on a daily basis. But occasionally I question WHY I ever became a veterinarian. 
The day I write about was one of those times. Now I have changed the name of the animal to prevent embarrassment to the owner and to comply with “confidential information” that we strictly adhere to in my businesses. But let me give you some insight to some of the situations we, as animal health advocates, have to deal with. 
The day started as normal – playing with puppies, stroking kittens, dealing with general inquiries but the “fun” changed when Boris, a 48 kg German Shephard male (entire) walked into the consultation room. 
My first clue that there could be a problem was the owner leaning back at a 45 degree angle trying to stop Boris from charging across the room and eating everyone. The next clue was the fact that I could see every one of Boris’s teeth in clear view because his lips were curled back, his mouth was open, saliva drooled from his jowls and a deep guttural noise was erupting from his vocal cords. Now I know that I am pretty receptive after 42 years of dealing with animals, but I reckon everyone in the animal hospital could pick up on the fact that Boris did not want to be here. 
When I looked at Boris the voice inside my head said “Dog” but when Boris looked at me the voice inside his head said “Hamburger without the bread and salad”. (I must admit the next thing my voice said inside my head was “HELP!”.) 
As I tried to crawl into the cupboard behind the consultation table I squeaked “What can we do for Boris today?” (I did not realise that I could get my voice so high). 
“I think something is wrong with his mouth” the owner replied (my voice inside my head then said “What – too many teeth, too much saliva, teeth too long?” but luckily my mouth did not repeat what the voice was saying). 
“I would like you to look at his teeth and make sure there is nothing wrong. I know he looks angry but he only wants to play” said the client as they were dragged around the room by Boris as he tried to get to the nurse who was now standing on the consultation table (the only game Boris wanted to play was “Let’s eat the vet and nurse”) 
“Why do you think something is wrong” I said as I vaulted the consultation table with Boris’s teeth abound a millimetre behind. 
“I went on the Internet and looked up his symptoms because he has lost around 3Kg in the last month. He has been vomiting a bit and some days he wants to eat and other days he leaves his food. “They” (the people on the Internet) said it was most probably his teeth” said the owner. 
Now all vets love “Dr Google” as much as we love TV vet shows – I sometimes wonder why I went to University or have done all those extra postgraduate degrees, obviously going to conferences, reading journals and doing webinars every day are a waste of time. All I really need is a computer and the Internet – how easy is this profession? 
I have been dealing with dental problems for over 42 years (it is an area that I really enjoy doing) and from my view there was nothing wrong with Boris’s teeth other than they were too close to my face – I felt there was some other problem but I knew that there was no way I would be examining Boris while he was awake. 
“The only way I can examine Boris’s mouth properly is by giving him an anaesthetic and doing a blood test to look at his internal health” I said while hiding behind the nurse. 

“Well I am concerned and I understand that you cannot examine him properly – so OK” said the owner as Boris dragged the owner around the chair that I was holding up (like you would fend off a lion in the circus).
Now the main question was HOW I was going to get close enough to Boris to give him an injection without him chewing my arm off or putting me in hospital with a few less centimetres of leg.
Suddenly I had this brilliant idea – if we could get the owner to put an Elizabethan collar (often called a Bucket, a Cone, or a Lampshade) over the head of Boris then he would not be able to bite anyone. I discussed this with the owner – yelling over the top of Boris’s growls, barks and snarls. The owner agreed to try it so we got the collar and then left the owner and Boris in the room together whilst the owner got the Elizabethan collar fitted.
Then once again we entered the room to be greeted by growls and snarls but this time Boris could not physically get to us. Now I have never been kicked by a dog but I have been bitten (a few times) – so once I have taken their mouth “out of the game” then there was little to fear other than a broken ear drum from the amount of noise coming from Boris’s mouth.
Whilst the owner sat in a chair and gave Boris “a cuddle” I injected a medication called Domitor (a heavy tranquillizer) into the back leg of Boris. Within a few minutes Boris was “off with the fairies”.
Domitor (on its own) drops the blood pressure of the animal rather severely and if Boris had a bad heart or kidney problems then this decrease in blood pressure could be dangerous. So we carried Boris out to the treatment area of our hospital and immediately put Boris onto intravenous fluids (to increase the blood pressure and to allow us access to the vein if there were any problems with the anaesthetic).
Boris was then put under a full anaesthetic and put him on the monitors for breathing, blood pressure, oxygen concentration in the blood and heart rate – we do this to all animals under an anaesthetic to ensure their wellbeing and to minimize any risk of something goes wrong.
We examined his mouth. The teeth and rest of his mouth was perfect and as much as I thought of removing all his teeth (for my health and wellbeing) I knew that his problem was not his mouth.
To give everyone a good idea of the internal workings of the dog we needed to run a blood test – fortunately we have a sophisticated laboratory in our animal hospital so we could do a comprehensive screening test while the owner had a cup of coffee in our outside waiting area.
A problem showed up on the blood test showing that Boris had a mild case of hepatitis (liver problem) and every time he ate fatty foods or normal dog biscuits the liver would “play up” and cause him to vomit or to “feel sick” so that he did not want to eat for a day or so.
The loss of food via the vomit combined with the days of not eating was taking its toll and he was gradually losing weight. Also the “feeling of being sick” all the time was making him more aggressive than normal (or so the owner said when we were discussing Boris once the blood test was complete).
This is a common problem with a lot of big dogs – they have very sensitive “stomachs or intestines” and normal dog food can cause them to vomit or to have “good and bad days”. They often develop problems that causing them to strain to go to the toilet and often they pass wind a lot (flatulence) and consequently smell the house out.
Now that we knew what the problem was we could devise the appropriate medicine and the appropriate diet so that Boris could “become normal” and be his happy self again (I think that meant that he would smile while he ate your arm or he would laugh as he ripped off your leg).
Once we had made a diagnosis we turned off the anaesthetic machine and Boris made an uneventful recovery in one of our animal beds inside his own air conditioned area. I must admit we allowed he owner to take him out of his bed when it was time to go home and we all happily waved goodbye to Boris as he left the building – we made sure we were at least 10 meters away from Boris as we waved goodbye.
As the owner drove out of the carpark there was a collective sigh of relief from the whole staff and we hoped that Boris would not need another examination soon (or that we would be on holidays next time Boris came back into our animal hospital).
Another day in the life of a veterinarian – sometimes fun, sometimes sad but always rewarding.

- Dr David-