VetHQ Newsletter
News and information for wellcare of our pets

Wrapping up 2014


How shall I summarise 2014? It has been a whirlwind of a year. They say that as you get older the years tend to go faster. That is not the case for me as I am actually getting younger every year. That’s the confusing part because although I am getting younger the years are certainly going faster.

The Vet HQ team has been exceptional this year and have carried the load beautifully. I have said many times before that without my wonderful team there wouldn’t be the Vet HQ we all love and trust. On LinkedIn last night I saw a postcard banner that said “I WORK BECAUSE I LOVE THIS S*IT”. I think that goes for myself and my staff. We all love our work, love our job and strive to be a part of your pet’s life with you.

Last month I put to sleep my very first registered pet on the data base at Vet HQ. I had not even opened my doors (and I still had paint all over my hands from building Vet HQ) when I first met Merry. Sonja, one of my nurses, reminisced that Merry was the first dog she ever expressed anal sacs for 7 years ago. Although I will miss my monthly Merry check ups I feel honoured to have been a part of Merry and her owners lives for the past 8 years. My mentor and friend said to me before I set up Vet HQ “When you get old like me, you will have put pets to sleep that you gave their first vaccination to, you will see grandkids of your clients come in with pets of their own, and most importantly you will have been an integral part of peoples lives and happiness”.

I love this job, I love my team and we all welcome you to be a part of Vet HQ in 2015 and beyond. I look forward to seeing you all at the Christmas Party on 6 December at 9am in Steyne Park.

Champagne Breakfast in the Park


Colouring Competition

If your kids can colour in or you want to give it a whirl.  Do your best artistic creation of our birthday card for your chance to win $100.00 worth of colouring in materials.  Download your stencil  at
Or click here to download the file.
Winner drawn at our Christmas breakfast in the park Saturday 6 December 


Pet Food at Vet HQ

You can fly faster with us!

I had a very good client complain to me on the weekend about the lack of large bags of dog food at Vet HQ. She also then had a go about the cost of food and why we didn’t have a discount scheme. After I gave my sister the name of a good optometrist to get her eyes checked, I told her we do both AND we have a 100% money back guarantee if your pet does not like the food.

Our frequent buyers program gives you your 11th bag of food (or tray of canned food) free – no matter what food you buy. It is a program run by us and as far as I am aware is unique as all food types are redeemable. We will keep your card here at Vet HQ and all you need to say is – “please place it on the card”. Once you reach your 10th bag the next one is free. Just ask Elle, Jen or Belle, to sign you up and we will even back-date it if you’d like.

Our food range includes the normal pet range of Hills and Eukanuba, the specific Hills Ideal Balance and Vet Essentials range and the Prescription diets for Hills, Eukanuba and Royal Canin. We only stock the large bags of the food we sell most commonly. However, we can get any bag of any size for you, including food that we don’t normally stock on a regular basis, just ask us to order it for you. We receive deliveries every Wednesday and Friday from our Wholesaler so you should never run out. You can also send an email to and we can order your food directly.

So what about the cost? The suppliers of pet food give a recommended retail price and at Vet HQ we stick to this. This is the same price that most retailers sell the products for. Obviously some of the larger pet shops have specials, and considering they have over 100 stores they are able to get bulk discounts. I can’t compete with this and I encourage you to consider advertised specials. But words of caution, please do not go for a special because it is a special. Pet Barn down the road has been very good for business as people buy ‘the special’ and I treat ‘the diarrhoea’. It truly is a symbiotic relationship!!!!!!

The bigger the bag, the bigger the savings, so big bags are the way to go. We can order any bag of food you like, when you like, just let us know.
Happy eating, and remember, if you have not read my blog  please follow the link. Finally please reduce the quantity of food by 25% of what it says in the feed tables on the bag. This is a pet food company conspiracy to create overweight dogs. We have scientific evidence to show pets live longer if they are fed 25% less food.

And you can pay on Amex, so happy flying and happy eating. 


Maple had a hole in her back 


Have you ever seen a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog without a ridge? Believe  it or not, the ridge is a result of a faulty gene mutation and is therefore technically a “genetic defect”. Having said this, the ridge is what characterises the breed and so they are bred to pass on this trait to their puppies. Unfortunately, with this gene mutation, comes the risk of developing a dermoid sinus. A dermoid sinus is a little tube that travels from the skin towards the spine, sometimes even opening into the spinal cord. Often, puppies that possess this condition are euthanized. 
Left: The pinpoint hole of the dermoid sinus at the back of Maple’s neck 

Right: The lump as a result of the sinus becoming infected
Maple is a 1 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback who was recently diagnosed with a dermoid sinus after her owner discovered a  pinpoint hole on the back of her neck. When there is an opening in the skin, it allows dirt and bacteria from the skin and environment to enter the body and form an infection which left poor Maple with a big lump. Maple was very lucky though, because some of these sinuses travel all the way from the skin to the spinal cord and when these get infected it causes a severe life threatening infection and neurological disease.

Maple’s MRI image showing the dermoid sinus. Luckily, hers didn’t travel all the way down to the spinal cord

Maple was referred to a specialist surgeon and had the sinus removed to ensure that she is not at risk of infections like this in the future. She recovered really well and is back to her happy and boisterous self.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback isn’t the only breed of dog where breeding for ‘desirable’ physical traits can result in health problems. Cavaliers are bred to have a small puppy-like head, sometimes resulting in their skulls being too small to house their brain and causing a neurological condition called syringomyelia. Dachshunds are bred to have short legs and a long body, making them prone to back problems. Bulldogs are bred to have a large head and shoulder and narrow hips, leading to most bulldog mothers requiring caesarians as the pups are too big to pass through their small pelvic canals. Pugs, Bulldogs and other short-faced breeds are prone to breathing problems because of their airway conformation. These are just some common breeds with typical ‘breed abnormalities’ as a result of their genetic comformation.

We are by no means suggesting that you are doing the wrong thing by buying these breeds of puppies but we just want to make everyone aware of the potential complications with certain breeds. If you are planning on purchasing a puppy please ensure you do plenty of research about the breed and reputable breeders who you can discuss genetic issues with.

If you would like to watch a documentary about these issues, Pedigree Dogs Exposed highlights the issues of breeding and genetic problems in Britain –

A tumultuous start to life 

Brachycephalic (short faced) dogs (such as french bulldogs, british bulldogs and pugs) have typically more respiratory and breathing difficulties than most other breeds of dogs. Breeding of these dogs is to encourage a shorter head (from snout to neck) and as a result, all the normal structures in the head (nasal passages, soft palate and trachea) tend to be condensed into a much shorter space. Moreover, we also see the vertebral bodies in the spine malformed which can lead to more degenerative changes (such as nerve dysfunction or loss of function, or “slipped disc” signs, in their lifetime.

Recently a new british bulldog pup joined our clinic as a patient for a routine checkup and vaccinations. He was about 8 weeks old at the time but also had a prolapsed third eyelid gland “cherry eye.” (see picture below).

Surprisingly, on physical examination - it was noted that he had beautiful big nostrils (always a good sign) and that he had laxity in his hips on palpation. This means that his hips were able to be moved in a way that is not usually possible or easily done (as the ball and socket joint in the hips did not have the best conformation).

A prolapsed gland of the third eyelid (or "cherry eye") is thought to be associated with a laxity of a small ligament which holds the gland in a normal position behind the third eyelid. The gland is a tear producing gland, and produces about 30% of the tears, while the rest is produced by another gland within the eye socket.

The best method of treating this condition is to apply lubricant in the meantime, but to schedule surgery for a “tacking procedure” which tucks the gland back into its normal (and hidden) position.

This pup was booked in for surgery, and at the same time, we elected to perform hip xrays to confirm the laxity (and less than ideal conformation of the ball and socket joints). The cherry eye surgery was successful, but we also were able to confirm our suspicions regarding his hip conformation. After discussing the options with his owners, we agreed that we would give him a better chance of outgrowing his hip dysplasia by performing a juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS). This is a procedure to allow the ball and socket joint to grow in a slightly different way to allow more contact between the ball of the femur (thigh bone) and the socket of the pelvis. In doing so, and allowing more firm contact, it encourages more strength in the joint stability. We also noted (whilst we were anaesthetising him, that he had a very narrow trachea (breathing tube) and that this may become more significant as he was growing.

Post operatively, he progressed reasonably well - healing well from both the cherry eye procedure (you would never know that he has had any surgery on his third eyelid) and also his JPS. However, approximately a fortnight later he started to have more difficulty breathing and it was also much louder (with more effort) - waking his mum and dad through the night. Xrays did not indicate a chest infection and he was started on a flixotide puffer - which is a cortisone inhaler to allow the airways to open up as much as possible and allow better exchange of oxygen. Unfortunately, this was not enough to settle his breathing and a referral to see a specialist at North Shore Veterinary Specialist Centre was arranged. After further imaging (fluoroscopy), it was found that he had an incredibly narrow trachea as well as a longer oesophagus than normal. He also has the typical elongated soft palate which obstructs the upper airway passage. The trachea being narrow means that it is easily obstructed and irritated when he is breathing, causing him to cough and be out of breath; the longer oesophagus means that there can be food sitting in the oesophagus hours after eating as it doesn’t have enough muscle contraction to push it all into the stomach. This can lead to oesophageal ulceration and irritation from the gastric acid secretions.

As our little friend is still so young, he has been managed medically through both the teams at north shore vet hospital and VetHQ - allowing us to get him as big and healthy as possible before he has surgery to correct some of these issues. However, it does mean that he doesn’t get to be as boisterous as other pups his age - because he can be out of breath so easily, he can’t have more than 5 minutes of play at a time, and only in cooler environments to minimise heat stress. Thankfully, his mum and dad are so dedicated and they have embraced the schedule of treatments - from nebulisers, puffers, and oral medications to his routine check ups with vets.

Just remember a few crucial things when you’re looking for a new addition to your family;

1. If possible, look at animal shelters and welfare centres where there are often plenty of loveable animals up for adoption.

2. If you’re looking to purchase a pure bred animal, look into their breed association or clubs as they will often have a list of registered breeders who are still actively showing and involved with the club.

3. Meet the parents of the litter you might be purchasing from so you have a fair idea of their conformation and what looks healthy

4. See what their policy is on returns within 48-72 hours of purchase. Always try to have a vet check with a vet of your choice as soon as the new addition is brought home. This way, if there are any issues - you can discuss with the breeder and see what their stance is. Whilst you may have already invested time and money into being on a waiting list, the heartbreak associated with ongoing illness and disease should be treaded upon carefully.

5. Look into pet insurance for your pet - and take it out as soon as you purchase your pet. Don’t wait until after your first consultation. We would recommend the medium to high coverage for owners as the basic coverage often doesn’t allow you to claim many of your expenses back.

Vet Detective

Walter is an 8 year old French Bulldog who came to Vet HQ late one night. Normally a bit of a greedy boy, he had been off his food for 2 days. Since it had been a hot weekend previously, it’s not uncommon for weather to affect appetite to some degree but after refusing two dinners and the offer of treats, Walter was brought in for a check up.
His breathing was laboured and he was lethargic and reluctant to move. He had had a history of spinal problems, pancreatitis and possible exposure to Ratsac. However the owner was pretty certain none had been eaten by Walter.

Ratsac is a poison that is made palatable to rats so that they eat it readily. It contains a chemical that slows the rate at which blood clots and can lead to internal bleeding and excessive bruising. Of course greedy dogs will also find it tasty and despite our best efforts to hide it in nooks and crannies, our dogs are just as good at sniffing them out. After windy weather, it may also blow off ledges and fences into more dog accessible area.

Sometimes as Vets, we must be like a detective. 
We have to sort through the clues and work out which set of physical signs are most important and follow the leads to a diagnosis. This includes obtaining a full history and doing a complete physical examination and other diagnostic tests. In Walter’s case this included taking into account his previous illnesses and current symptoms. We do this so as not to run unnecessary tests and incur excessive costs but also so that we can reach a diagnosis as efficiently as possible.
Fast breathing can be associated with pain, heat, lung disease, heart disease or metabolic imbalances. We started with some pain relief, because Walter had a history of back problems and signs of discomfort. This settled Walter and allowed more accurate auscultation (listening) of the chest. Dullness was detected on one side of Walter’s chest. The next step was to run a chest radiograph to determine why it sounded dull. In the radiograph below, normal lung tissue is black (skinny arrow). On one side the lung is normal, full of air and is black. On the other side it is all white (large arrow) –this means the lung is not air filled and this is why Walter was struggling to breathe.                                    

Our next step was to work out why one side of Walter’s lungs were solid instead of being air filled. Blood tests showed that indeed Walter had eaten enough Ratsac to cause bleeding into his lung. Thankfully after 2 days in an oxygen tent and receiving an antidote for Ratsac, we were able to stop the bleeding. Over time the bleeding in the lung will be absorbed and Walter can continue in his normal greedy ways but hopefully eating only his dinner and treats. Walter’s human dad will remove all the remaining Ratsac just to be sure.
December 2014

Vet HQ
389 New South Head Rd
Double Bay
NSW  2028
P: 02 93261255
F: 93261266
Our Vets:
Dr Geoff Golovsky
Interests: Surgery, Oncology, Talking (as much as you want)
Dr Caryn Wun
Interests: Internal Medicine, Diagnostic Imaging (xray/ultrasound), Behaviour
Dr Tammy Poon
Interests: Surgery, Dermatology, Cardiorespiratory disease
Dr Nicky Goldberg
Interests: Preventative health care, Dermatology, Dentistry
Dr Ilana Mendels (part time)
Our Nurses:
Kate Fahy VN Head Nurse

Jenna JJ Luskey VN
Client Services Nurse

Sonja Marksteiner Senior VN
Louise Hansen VN
Kristina Karlson Trainee VN
Tessa Carroll Trainee VN
Our Animal Attendants:
Ainslee Maher
Marcel Tabuteau
Caitlyn Wright
Our Reception Team:
Elle Wright Trainee VN
Jenn Dodd
Annabelle Selleck
Our Dog Stylists:
Bianca Bennett Head Stylist
Mariko Shimizu VN and Groomer
Our Vet students:
Imogen Game
Business Manager:
Alyssa Carter
Hospital Hours:
7.30am-7pm Mon-Fri
9am-1pm Sat
10am-1pm Sun
Consultation by appointment
Emergency till 11pm (Mon-Fri)
P: 0434635226
After Hours:
For emergencies after 11pm and on weekends out of hours please contact:
East Side Veterinary Emergency
10 Newcastle Street Rose Bay
P: 1300792802
Or North Shore Vet Specialists
64 Atchison St Crows Nest
P: 94364884
Our Values:
To provide pets with the highest standard of professional and ethical Veterinary care
To offer a complete, balanced and individualised health care service to pets and owners
To provide supportive and clear communication to pet owners
To maintain the highest level of learning and continuous education for staff and clients
Our Purpose:
To provide the highest quality pet care and be an integral link between you and your pet

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