VetHQ Newsletter
News and information for wellcare of our pets

Quotes of the Quarter 


Busy! – Better than being bored! (my father) 

Paying the tax man too much! – Better than not having to pay the tax man ! (my accountant)


These are two quotes I think about on an ongoing basis. It is hard to get time to think in this crazy instantaneous world that we are living in. As you can see from the photo taken at sunrise in April down the south coast – this is the time that I use to think. Some of my best ideas have come from paddling into the sunrise. The location is not that important, the serenity and the quiet  is all that counts. 
So what have we got install for you this season. I would like to discuss compliance with you. It is a well known statistic that owners only give their dogs 5.8 treatments out of 12 per year and cats 5.2 treatments per year. This is potentially putting at risk your pets especially if their medications also include heartworm.  At Vet HQ we aim to do the best for your pets, and so we are introducing a program to the whole community called Gold Class. We have been running Gold Class in Dog Day Care for the last 2 years, so it has been tried and tested and we know it is successful. On a 4 weekly basis, one of my nurses, predominantly Jenna (JJ) and Rhian, will be checking your pets weight, teeth, nails, ears and anal sacs. Twelve visits will cost $180.00 ($15.00 per visit). We can also administer the appropriate flea product and worming if required for the cost of the medication only. 
You will notice that I mentioned above every 4 weeks. That is because the flea products are only registered for a maximum 28 days (and some products are well less than this). After this time their efficacy reduces, thus enabling the fleas to breed and lay eggs in the environment. We only have one month that is 28 days, the rest being 2-3 more days. So let’s say, one flea can lay up to 1000 eggs a week (say 150 per day). Three days at 150 per day assuming there is only one live flea equals 450 flea eggs. With your heaters on that equates to 450 fleas in 10 days in your home environment. You can see why they should have said breeding like fleas and not like rabbits. 
So if I can’t get you to do it at home, we will do it here for your pets. Talk to one of my staff about how Gold Class will benefit your family.  
But, I hear you say, I don’t want to have to come to see you every month. The Gold Class  is not for me! Don’t worry, we have thought of you too. We will also be commencing the Vet HQ Flea Compliance Program (Vet HQ FCP). This program will make those 4 weekly treatments easy for you. Every 4 weeks we will post your pets flea/heartworm/intestinal worming products to your door. This in itself is a reminder to apply the product to your pets and ensures that you are providing the best possible care for your family members.  This service will cost $30 per 6 months an additional $5.00 per month in addition to the flea product of choice/necessity. Those animals that are on treatments every 2 weeks will get 2 vials per 4 week cycle. 
At Vet HQ we aim to be the integral link between you and your pets. We know life is busy, crazy at times and we also know that the faster Dr Google becomes the more demanding life becomes because we can do more per second. Go for a paddle, or surf, or holiday and leave the responsibility of your pets to us. We have them covered. 
Geoff Golovsky

Vet HQ Gold Class



Vet HQ Biggest Losers

We had such a response last quarter to Fletch loosing so much weight that several clients feel that having their recognition published it incentive enough to get their pets to lose those extra kilo’s.

Congratulations to Goliath the hairy (yet sexy) Shih Tzu X, who has gone from 8.2kg to 6.5 kg in one year that equates to 20% weight loss.  

The encouragement award goes to Mickey Mouse who for years I have pushed just for a little and in the last 2 months she has gone from 37 to 35.7kg a 3% loss – keep it going Mickey! 


You won't believe what some pets will eat!!


Snoopy is usually a bright, happy and inquisitive 3 year old beagle. It wasn’t too long ago that he ended up at VetHQ after helping himself to some chocolate. With his owners now ensuring he can’t get his paws on anymore chocolate, when bored at home on a Saturday night, Snoopy settled for his Dad’s loafer shoe. Luckily he quickly vomited the shoe back up but over the next 12 hours he lost his appetite (which is very unusual for any beagle, let alone Snoopy!), was still vomiting and very flat. 
He presented to VetHQ looking very depressed which was a far cry from the hyperactive excited little man who had visited us recently for his vaccinations. On physical examination his gums were very dry from dehydration and he had a very sore 
We admitted him to hospital and took blood to assess the degree of dehydration, put him on intravenous fluids to rehydrate him and gave him an anti-nausea injection. Given his history and presentation, we were highly suspicious that he had a foreign body in his tummy making him so sick. We confirmed our suspicions by taking an xray of his tummy which revealed an object causing an obstruction and resulting in a lot of gas building up in his small intestines.
The xray of Snoopy’s tummy where we can see a foreign body and a lot of gas in the intestine
While some foreign bodies will pass, many become lodged along the gastrointestinal tract and cause discomfort, inappetence, vomiting or diarrhoea. Foreign bodies stuck in the stomach may be retrieved by placing an endoscopic camera into the mouth and pulled out using instruments. In Snoopy’s case the foreign body was past his stomach and lodged in his intestines. We had to anaesthetise him and perform a surgery where we opened up his abdomen so we could explore his intestinal tract all the way from the stomach to the colon. As soon as we got to his small intestine, there was an obvious area that had a foreign body inside. We needed to make an incision into his intestines and we managed to remove a sock!

This was a photo taken during Snoopy’s surgery. You can see the normal size of the intestines and why the sock was not going to make it all the way through.
Snoopy was kept in hospital overnight on fluids and pain relief. By the next day he was back to his bright, happy and hungry self. He went home with pain relief to keep him comfortable and on a bland, easily digestible diet (Note: socks have been proven to be extremely hard to digest!). Snoopy returned 10 days later to have his stitches removed and has made a full recovery!
In the last few months we have seen a dog with a leash and collar in its stomach, a dog with hair styling products in its intestines, Snoopy’s sock and a kitten with a gut filled with hair elastics. We also had 2 pets with heavy metal toxicities – a dog who ate a piece of metal left behind by builders and a kitten who ate lead paint. Both were very sick and required blood transfusions. Please be vigilant with your dogs and cats – foreign body obstructions can end in a life threatening situation!
If you pet has swallowed any foreign object that you are aware of or is suffering from lethargy, inappetence, diarrhoea or vomiting please contact us at VetHQ. Please keep objects like string, hair elastics, tea-towels and face towels, fish hooks, underwear, socks, golf balls, destructible toys and corn-cobs out of reach of your pets.

A very sad snoopy in hospital on fluids


Lumps, bumps and Jessie

Jessie is a beautiful bouncy 5 year female desexed boxer. Unfortunately Jessie has had a history of skin lesions called Mast Cell Tumours which are a form of cancer (often seen in the skin but can also be found within organs and spread throughout the body).
Mast cell tumours probably account for approximately 1 in 5 of the skin tumours that we see. Boxers are at an especially high risk (and other breeds such as English bulldogs, boston terriers, sharpeis, Labradors, golden retrievers, schnauzer and cocker spaniels). However, any dog can develop one!
Often because they are seen in the skin – they can be lesions that arise suddenly, are ulcerated, itchy or bother your pet, but sometimes they do not have any of the above symptoms.
Lumps should be investigated ideally as soon as they are noticed – and often a ‘fine needle aspirate or FNA’ is performed. In doing so, a needle is inserted in the lump and cells from that area are sampled and examined under a microscope. This can tell us what type of cells are present in the lump and by looking at whether there is uniform shape and size, whether it is likely to require removal via surgery or not.
The mast cells and their granules have distinct staining characteristics leading to their recognition. However, it is important to note that grading a tumour cannot happen by this FNA technique and instead the entire mass should be removed surgically with margins and sent for grading by a histopathologist.
Tumors that have been present for months or years tend to be more benign.
Grading the Mast Cell Tumor
The pathologist will most likely use the Patnaik system for grading the mast cell tumour when the biopsy sample is read. The grade is a reflection of the malignant characteristics of the cells under the microscope (which generally correlates to the behaviour of the tumour) with Grade I being benign, Grade III being malignant, and Grade II having some ability to go either way.
This is the best type of mast cell tumour to have. While it may tend to be larger and more locally invasive than may be visually apparent, it tends not to spread beyond its place in the skin. Surgery should be curative. If the original biopsy shows that the tumour has only narrowly been removed or that the tumour extends to the margins of the sample, a second surgery should promptly be done to get the rest of the tumor, if at all possible. If the grade I mast cell tumor is incompletely excised it will grow back in time; it is best to get it all and be done with it as quickly as possible. About half of all mast cell tumors are Grade 1 tumors and can be cured with surgery alone.
This type of tumor is somewhat unpredictable in its behavior. Recent studies have shown that radiation therapy administered to the site of the tumor can cure greater than 80% of patients as long as the tumor has not already shown distant spread.
This is the worst type of mast cell tumor to have. Grade III tumors account for approximately 25% of all mast cell tumors and they behave very invasively and aggressively. If only surgical excision is attempted without supplementary chemotherapy, a mean survival time of 18 weeks (4-5 months) can be expected.
Other testing features can be applied to the sample but, in general, the grade, stage, location and symptoms of the patient help point to therapy.
Therapy for mast cell tumours consists of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy (as is the case for almost all types of cancer). What combination of the above is chosen depends on the extent of spread and malignant characteristics of the tumor.

If the tumour can be cured with one or even two surgeries, this is ideal. Mast cell tumours are highly invasive, and very deep and extensive margins - at least 2 cm in all directions - are needed. This can be a problem for tumours located on the neck or in the mouth. Further, the inflammation associated manipulating the tumour can lead to extra swelling, bleeding, and even a drop in blood pressure. In one study, a 10% incidence of wound healing failure (dehiscence) was observed with mast cell tumours.
The biopsy sample will not only yield the grade of the tumour but will include a measurement of the tissue margin (the width of normal tissue that has been excised around the tumour). The width of the margins will go far in determining if further treatment is needed. If the margins are narrow or margins indicate there is still tumour left behind then a second surgery or even a course of radiation therapy may be desirable. Clean margins are generally defined as a 10 mm margin around the tumour in all directions. If the margin is clean, theoretically the tumour should be completely removed but it is still a good idea to keep an eye on the area over the years.
Luckily the mast cell tumours that have been removed previously have been grade 1 tumours, and both lumps removed this time have been grade 1 as well. This is positive news, but it does mean that every lump or bump that is found on Jessie will need to be investigated immediately.

As disfiguring as surgical excisions (removals) can be, the outcome of a complete excision of a low grade tumour (which can be curative) is much more promising than allowing a tumour to develop and spread to other organs.

Heart Arrhythmais

In all living creatures our heart acts as a pump to circulate blood around the body. It is a coordinated relaxation of the heart muscle that allows the heart to fill with blood and then then the coordinated contraction of the heart that pushes this blood around the body. Each contraction produces a pulse of blood that takes oxygen around the body. The picture below shows all the different chambers of the heart and the outlet and inlet vessels.
The contractions of the heart are controlled by electrical activity that should start at the top of the heart and move as a wave through the heart. This electrical activity we can monitor with an Electrocardigram (ECG). At Vet HQ this is a part of the regular monitoring we perform during an anaesthetic procedure. 
When the Vets perform a physical examination, we listen to the heart and feel the pulse. We may sometimes detect an irregularity in the heart rhythm. 
Irregular rhythms can sometimes signal heart disease or a disruption in the normal electrical activity of the heart because of electrolyte disturbances. 

What will you see if this is happening in your dog? 

If the arrhythmias are infrequent you may see nothing. These arrhythmias are picked up on normal physical examination. 
However you may see any of the following: fainting, collapse, reduced exercise ability, shortness of breath, anxiousness, pounding heart, coughing or abdominal swelling if the arrhythmia is sufficiently severe to affect how well the heart works as a pump. 

What do you need to do? 

If an arrhythmia is detected in a general check up, it is advised that the heart muscle and blood profile be evaluated for abnormalities. As in people, if heart disease is detected early it can be better managed. 
The ECG is performed on an awake dog lying on their side. The electrical activity is detected through sensors placed on the skin and the signal is interpreted. If heart muscle disease is detected then a cardiac ultrasound may be recommended. Medication can be specific for the type of heart disease and is generally life long. 
If your dog coughs, gets short of breath, feints, has a pounding heart, pale gums, blue gums or tongue…..please arrange a check up. This simple procedure could save their life. 
 June 2013

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