VetHQ Newsletter
News and information for wellcare of our pets

Summer 2012


As we come to the end of our 6th year I would like to thank you our clients and my staff for a great time. From the feedback we have received we feel we are doing everything that you require of us to keep you happy and your pets healthy.

The end of the year is jam packed so please note the following important dates:

  • 8 December: Christmas Champagne Breakfast for all of you 9am Steyne Park Double Bay. Bring your dogs and come for a drink. If it is pouring rain it will be in the clinic
  • 10 December: Closing date for our Facebook Competition – Jump on line now and enter, the best answer wins – see the competition flyer in the newsletter
  • 31 December: Ends our Summer Flea and Tick Sale – 30% OFF all flea and tick products. I can guarantee you won't find cheaper. And if you do let me know.
  • 24 December: We will be open till 1pm
  • 25+26 December: Closed
  • 27-30 December: Open as normal
  • 31 December: We will be open till 1pm
  • 2 January: Back to normal
  • Day Care: closed from 21 December to 7 January

Have A sexy fun and safe Summer


Champagne Breakfast in the Park

Enter our Competition for Free Pet Care for ONE YEAR!

My opinion on Council's new dog rules

Your Pet Will Love... Vet HQ

The council has come under fire in recent months with the launch of their tough new rules regarding dogs being on the lead 100% of the time. A penalty of $220 applies should you not have your dog on the lead. There are three small parks (northern edge of Steyne Park, Yarranabbe Park and Lighthouse Reserve ) that are off lead all day and a further 7 parks that are off lead from 4.30-8.30pm.

As a Veterinarian I am caught between welcoming the enforcement of this rule by council, as it will help keep our dogs safe from dog attacks and motor vehicle accidents and appalled at the lack of space where Woollahra Council Residents can exercise their pets.

I have experienced many animals being hit by cars in my time. Invariably the car wins and the animals suffer severe and extensive injuries. It is not uncommon for us to see a trauma case from a motor vehicle accident on a weekly basis. Some of these animals are unable to be saved and those that are often have bills in the $1000's. There is no doubt that having your dog on a lead will help reduce these figures substantially. My senior colleagues tell me that 20 years ago they would see a trauma case from a motor vehicle every day. The numbers have dramatically reduced since then, with the introduction of responsible dog ownership laws. However more recently these numbers seem to be climbing again.

I believe this is due to the lack of being able to exercise our pets in open space safely. Firstly, there is not enough open space to exercise our dogs off lead. If energetic animals are going to be left all day at home and not bark and create mess they need to be run in the morning, There are only three parks this can be done and we all know we have to get to work. There is only one beach in Double Bay we are legally allowed to swim our dogs for exercise. There is NO fenced in park in the area that we can safely let animals off lead and they can not run away. On that note there is only one in the Eastern Suburbs that is like this.

So as a dog owner and caregiver of your pets I would like to request of you two things. Keep your pets on a lead for their safety and to satisfy our Council that do an excellent job. However, redirect your contempt at these laws and your dissatisfaction by requesting of your councillor's the following:

  1. More off leash parks and longer time’s off leash (morning and afternoon)
  2. A fenced in park so there is no risk when we are letting off flighty or lesser trained pets
  3. More areas to swim our dogs


Geoff Golovsky


Why is my pet itchy?


As Summer rolls around again this year, you may have noticed that your pet is a little itchier, the skin is a little flaky, or that your pet is moulting like its 'going out of fashion'.

Is your pet waking you up during the night scratching? Shedding hair and pulling it out in clumps? Skin flaking and looking like there is dandruff?

Generally itching can be associated with dietary changes (food allergies), environmental allergens (atopy – which is similar to hayfever in people), flea allergy (hypersensitive to flea bites – so just one bite from a passing flea can cause intense itching), or contact allergies (particular plants such as wandering dew).

Allergies can be seasonal and come by year after year, waxing and waning with weather changes and pollens. How do you know if it needs to be attended to?

  1. Hair loss and reddening of the skin – if there is hair loss and your pet is uncomfortable; waking up in the middle of the night, stopping during walks, chewing and overgrooming, then it is a definite sign that veterinary advice needs to be sought.
  2. If there are other symptoms of allergies – sneezing, ear infections, skin infections

Allergies can compromise the skin's ability to act as a protective barrier and so animals can be more susceptible to infections.

All skin has a population of bacteria and yeast living on it – but when animals begin to scratch and lick at themselves, the trauma they cause to the skin and the warm moist environment the saliva creates – allows the bacteria and yeast to proliferate. The resultant infections (either bacteria or yeast, or both) may make the animal more itchy than the underlying allergy or condition.

What can we do about it?

Generally we will check the skin by taking samples and checking to see if there is an overgrowth of bacteria, inflammatory cells or yeast on the skin itself. If there is an overpopulation of any of these, we will need to get rid of the infection before treating the underlying cause of the infection. Infections will may the skin even more intensely itchy than the underlying cause, and so the cycle continues. To rid the skin of the infection a course of antibiotics may be required, and medicated washes may need to be performed.

If there is no overpopulation of bacteria/yeast/inflammatory cells, then we may think about either dietary changes and 'elimination diets' – which are basically like going back to basics. A 'novel' protein is used – a source that the pet has never been exposed to before (dermatologists will generally recommend kangaroo or rabbit), and a carbohydrate source such as sweet potato or pumpkin. This is so that the receptors in the gastrointestinal tract do not recognise and have an adverse reaction to it. An elimination diet has to be used exclusively (with no treats or other tid-bits) for a minimum of 6 weeks and then new foods can be SLOWLY reintroduced to the equation to see if there is a lapse in signs.

We can also improve the skin barrier by using essential oils (like essential 6) which basically plumps up the epidermal cells in the skin, allowing it to work as a barrier more effectively.

Flea treatment trials (using a topical and oral product fortnightly) may be recommended if it is thought that your pet has a flea allergy. Even if you are diligent with the treatments (monthly) there is still a chance your pet may have the occasional flea biting him or her, and that this sets of an intense itch. Please also remember never to use dog flea products on cats as these can be fatal! Bigger does not always mean better.

Antihistamines can be used as well – these may reduce the itching but not treat the underlying cause so it is important to remember that this may be a 'band-aid' solution!

If your pet has an itch and you are concerned, or if you have any queries, please contact us here at VetHQ for a consultation.

Flea Allerty Dermatitis in a cat

How do I tell if my pet is in pain?

How do I tell if my pet is in pain?

Vets often have long conversations with pet owners about whether their pets are in pain or not. Usually the questions are asked out of concern for welfare and wellbeing. Quality of life is a commonly discussed at the same time. Sometimes it is discussed as the final straw before euthanasia is considered; sometimes it is the vets trying to convince owners to use medication to relieve perceived discomfort. We owe it to our pets to understand what pain is all about.

What is Pain?

Animal pain is an aversive, sensory experience where our pets become aware of damage or threat to the integrity of its tissues; (note that there might not be any damage). It changes the animal's physiology and behaviour to reduce or avoid the damage, to reduce the likelihood of its recurrence and to promote recovery. Their may be a component of fear to this behaviour as well... especially if the animal has experienced the pain before.

Can we assess the level of pain by observing behaviour?

Any change in an animal's behaviour may be the first indication that an animal is experiencing pain. To what degree this is reflected as the true level of pain remains to be seen, however, it is the best indication we have for day to day use in the real world.

What are the behavioural changes seen with pain?

Pain lowers the threshold for aggression and tolerance to handling. It alters mobility. Pain is categorised as acute or chronic. Chronic pain can reduce immuno – competence leading to an increased susceptibility to disease.

Signs of Acute Pain

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Pupilary dilation
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Restlessness
  • Avoidance behaviour
  • Anxiety State

Signs of Chronic Pain

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability/ aggression
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation
  • Mental depression
  • Immobility
  • Decreased pain threshold
  • Social withdrawal
  • Abnormal behaviour

How do we assess if an animal is in pain. There are overt indicators such as:

  • Vocalisation
  • Aggression
  • Abnormal gait
  • Reluctance to move
  • Changes in temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate
  • We can also empathise... if a similar injury occurred to us, would it hurt?

Unfortunately in the past, vocal animals were treated for pain far more frequently than quiet ones. We must remember that there are also many subtle covert signs of pain and active crying only occurs in a percentage of animals... NOT all of them. Dogs may wag their tails, and cats may purr but may still be in pain.

If an animal feels that it cannot escape the source of pain; learned helplessness may result. The animal literally appears to "give up" and not respond or react to manipulation of painful areas. This gives the impression of not being in pain. Additionally, the signs of pain may overlap with signs of fear or anxiety and this can be difficult for people to distinguish. We also use pain scores to help more objectively identify if pain exists. For example:

Feline Acute Pain Scale

How can Vets Help with Preventing Pain?

  • We aim to treat the underlying cause (e.g. disease, inflammation, infection)
  • We empathise – if a similar condition would be painful for us, we can only assume that our pets would also feel uncomfortable.
  • All surgeries and dental extractions at Vet HQ receive pain relief pre – surgery (as part of their sedating premedication), sometimes intra operatively (in the form of methadone infusions or injections) and post operatively (in the form of either opioids or non steroidal anti – inflammatories).
  • Treatment trials: If your pet has a condition where chronic pain occurs and behavioural changes are minimal (see above "giving up") and you are unsure if true pain exists. We can supply you with short term pain relief using anti inflammatory drugs or in severe cases opioids. After a trial of medication, we ask if there has been a positive change to the behaviour of your pet. If so, then a degree of pain existed. It is better to be wrong and know that your pet is NOT in pain than to be NOT treating an animal that may be in pain.
  • Adjunctive therapies e.g. acupuncture and physiotherapy

So if you are at all concerned that your pet may be "not quite right" then come in for a check up, maybe some blood tests and let us find out if there is anything we can do to help make your pet live a healthier, longer, pain free life.

Summer 2012
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