Options in Veterinary Care. But this isn’t one of them!

While we’ll certainly accomodate most choices people make about the level of care they want for their pet – this one goes a little too far.

Like when you’re faced with a very sick animal and – the owners refuse to do anything?

It’s a tough call. And a very emotional one at that. After all aren’t we meant to look out for the welfare of animals? Speak for those that can’t?

We know how much pain and discomfort they’re in but somehow we don’t always manage to get that point across.

We understand that we can’t save every patient that comes through our doors. Some are already fading away through old age, some are seriously ill or critically injured however, there is ALWAYS something we can do for them. Even if it means the ultimate in palliative care – euthanasia.

To present a sick animal to us and then refuse any veterinary care by arguing “I don’t want to put her through that” or “I don’t feel it’s worth it at her age” or “I’ll take her home and think about it for a few days” is unacceptable.

You need to do SOMETHING. At the very least – allow us to manage the pain and discomfort while you decide whether to proceed with further treatment or not.
“But giving injections is painful and we don’t want to hurt her” you argue.

So does this mean -taking her home and leaving her to die a slow and painful death is the kinder option?

It most certainly is not. And for us – knowing that this will be the case is upsetting to say the least.

Most of the problems with situations like these stem from the fact that animals rarely vocalise their pain. They don’t complain or cry like we do. This leads people to believe there is no pain which of course is untrue. Kidney and Liver disease, heart failure, arthritis, cancer, dental disease (common conditions which result in these scenarios) can be painful conditions and without intervention of some kind add undue stress to your pet.

Imagine how awful it would be for any of us to have these conditions and have to endure them without any pain relief or medical help of any kind?

So if you’re ever faced with difficult choices when your pet becomes sick or is injured, please think about the implications of your decision.

Please – let your vet help you make the right choices – for you and your pet.

Could Your Dog be a Lifesaver?

By donating Blood!

That’s right. Just as we humans can give blood to save the lives of others, so can your dog – if she’s healthy and over 25kg.

Over the years we’ve had to call upon a few of our loyal donors ourselves to save the life of a critically ill or injured canine patient. Amongst these are our own personal dogs (that’s them in the picture) and the occasional special volunteer donor dogs.

Having access to blood is vital to saving lives of dogs who may have lost blood due to trauma or develop life threatening anaemia from disease or rat poisoning.

What does it take to be a dog blood donor?

All potential dog blood donors need to be screened for suitability. Donor dogs need to be healthy – this is determined via a clinical examination and blood test.

They also need to be Heartworm free.

Dogs who pass the initial screening test are invited to become a blood donor.

Blood is collected from dogs (and other animals) in a similar way to human blood collection. Donor dogs must be fasted for a period of time before blood can be collected.

A small area around the neck (near the jugular vein) is clipped and disinfected. A needle which is attached to the blood collection bag is inserted and around 450mls of blood is then collected into this bag.

The whole process usually takes less than 10 minutes and won’t cause any major discomfort for the donor.

The donor dog is then observed for a short time after the procedure to ensure there is no bleeding from the injection site.

Are there any side effects for the donor dog?

No. The procedure is very safe and the donated blood cells will be replaced by the bone marrow within a few days. The only recommendation would be to limit your dog’s exercise for the few days following the procedure. After that, everything should be back to normal.

How can my dog become a donor?

You can find out more by visiting the University of Melbourne’s Canine Blood Bank Donor Program or contact your local vet to see if your dog can become a volunteer donor for them.

Here are two of our own Donor Dogs – “Matilda” and “Freya”. Both have given blood many times to needy patients

Freya and Matilda Dog Blood donors

Sometimes the blood collected from the donor dog is used immediately to give to the patient. This is how we most often use our donor dogs. However if you donate blood for a Blood Bank, the blood is spun down into its components – red blood cells and plasma. The red blood cells can be stored for up to 6 weeks in a refrigerator while the plasma portion is frozen until it’s needed.

So, if you have a happy and healthy 25kg+ dog and would like to help save another dog’s life – ask your vet or visit Melbourne University’s Canine Blood Bank information site.

What to do when your dog hates travelling

Do you have one one of those dogs that cringes whenever you open the car door?

Barks, whines or howls as you travel?

Gets car sick?

Then you’re not alone. There are two things that make dogs scared to travel and they are:

  1. Travel sickness and
  2. Fear

Both can cause nausea and excessive salivation but fear can also cause your dog to pant, tremble, urinate, defecate and struggle to escape – making travel uncomfortable for all.

How to get your dog used to car travel

  1. Start removing the fear factor. Dogs are by nature wary of new things and new surroundings. Travel in a car is no different so you do need to spend some time helping him overcome some barriers.
  2. Place your dog in the car for short periods of time without actually travelling anywhere. Offer a treat as a reward when he settles and appears calm.
  3. Begin by taking him on short trips. Maybe just around the block or to the local shops. Reward any calm behaviour with a treat then slowly increase the length of trip over time.
  4. Small dogs may travel more comfortable in a carrier. If this is the case, get your dog used to being inside the carrier at home before placing him in it in the car. Add a toy or a small treat for the journey.

If these techniques aren’t settling your dog as well as you’d hoped then trying this new calming pheromone spray, DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) might help.

This natural spray can be used to relieve travel stress in dogs. It can be sprayed it into your dog’s carrier, bedding or the car itself before setting out.

How to avoid travel sickness

Travel or motion sickness is common in both people and pets but there’s a few things you can do to help overcome the nausea.

  1. Don’t feed your dog a large meal before travelling. A light meal a few hours before the journey is enough.
  2. Don’t withhold water before a trip.
  3. Provide adeqaute ventilation throughout the journey
  4. Allow your dog to toilet, exercise and have a drink every 2 hours

If you find this isn’t enough to prevent motion sickness, you might need to consider some anti – nausea medications which are available by prescription from your vet. But before defaulting to medications, please try all other options first.

Pets with Sore Eyes: What to do

“My dog has a weepy eye. I’ve been bathing it in salty water but it’s not getting better”

It’s a common scenario and an enquiry we get on a regular basis – usually after the home treatment hasn’t worked.

While mild conditions may respond to some simple home remedies – it’s important to recognise when a treatment is not working and get some professional help. Especially if the conditions worsens.

Ideally all eye complaints should be investigated as soon as possible as they can range from mild infections right through to serious conditions which need urgent attention. In these cases, the sooner treatment can start, the better the chance of restoring normal eye function.

How do vets examine eyes?

Vets use a special instrument called an “Opthalmoscope” to examine the eye in detail. This includes all the delicate surrounding tissue as well as the interior and surface of the eye.

What they’re looking for is evidence of any foreign bodies such as grasseeds, bits of dirt and so on stuck up under the eyelids which you can’t always see with the naked eye.

Next the surface of the eye is examined for damage caused by scratches or other injuries. Because this part of the eye is covered by a transparent layer of tissue, it’s impossible to see a scratch without staining the surface first. A special dye is used which shows up even the tiniest scratch or ulceration.

The dye will temporarily turn your pet’s eyes a rather lurid shade of orange however don’t be alarmed – it will disappear within an hour or so.

Any ulceration will turn the orange dye bright green.

Another common eye complaint is conjunctivitis. This is caused by a bacterial or viral infection or allergic reaction and signs include a coloured discharge and swollen eyelids. Antibiotics, anti – inflammatory drugs and pain relief are needed to successfully treat this condition.

There are of course many other eye complaints to include ulcers, ruptured cornea, dry eye, cherry eye, entropian and cataracts. Some conditions require medical treatment – others surgical repair.

Eyes are a precious part of our body and our pet’s bodies too. Permanent damage can happen very easily through inadequate or inappropriate treatment. Even a squinty eye shouldn’t be ignored.

Do’s and don’ts of eye care:

  • Don’t apply any ointments or medicated washes to eyes without veterinary advice. Some can actually do more harm than good.
  • Don’t delay treating an eye problem. See your vet as soon as possible – even if it seems minor at first.
  • Don’t apply any ointments even if you were prescribed them previously for your pet or another pet. It could be the wrong type of ointment for this condition plus – eye ointments contaminate very easily once opened.
  • Don’t bathe in warm salty water as is commonly advised. Salty water is often made up too concentrated and can actually aggravate the condition.
  • Bathe only with sterile saline solution (pharmacy grade) as a temporary first aid measure.
  • Or bathe in a lukewarm brew of Chamomile tea. It’s mildly antiseptic and soothing to a sore eye.

Take care of eyes. They can’t be replaced.