Vet Feedback

The Hidden Truth about Veterinary Feedback

Is Your Feedback Helpful or Harmful?

All humans, being the social creatures we are – not only need feedback, we thrive on it. Feedback helps us grow, improve and contribute to the world in meaningful and better ways.

And sure – we all accept that feedback for improvement isn’t always positive; negative feedback is often the greatest trigger for self reflection and positive change.

In our world that is Veterinary Practice – we get feedback every day. From a dear client’s chocolates to say thank you for taking such good care of her beloved pet to flowers and cards expressing gratitude for a job Veterinary Reviewswell done.

Helpful Feedback

We welcome both positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback means we’re doing things right so we make sure we continue doing those things and do them well.

Then there’s the helpful critical feedback which we appreciate the most – the information that lets us know where we’ve let you down in some way and gives us the opportunity to make changes or amends.

You may not know it – but we act on feedback every day. In our busy Hospital we do our best to make sure your pets are taken care of in the best possible way as well trying to run on time for consultations, respond to your phone messages, update inpatient fee estimations, schedule diagnostic procedures, perform surgery, do farm visits and house calls and attend to any emergencies that come in unexpectedly.

With so many things happening at any given time – Yes – as hard as we try not to, we do slip up at times.

And when we do slip up – we ask you talk to us because for most problems or complaints we can usually find a solution that’s agreeable to everyone involved.

Harmful Feedback

Sadly though – not all feedback we get is constructive or civil and when we are blamed or vilified for things we have no control over this has devastating affects on our team.

  • We’re hard enough on ourselves without being subject to unnecessary abuse. It hurts to be told that we don’t care and that we are terrible vets because we can’t meet the prices of low cost clinics. Yet we’re expected to provide everything that low cost clinics can’t.
  • We’re shamed on Social Media when we can’t diagnose a problem because the client won’t pay for an X-Ray or a blood test. Of course they never mention that fact.
  • If we make a mistake we’re labelled as incompetent. But if the medical profession fails a human patient that’s acceptable.
  • A client complains because their preferred vet can’t meet their scheduled appointment because he’s busily trying to stop a patient crashing in theatre. Apparently saving a life does not take priority over a routine consultation.
  • We’re yelled at because we won’t supply prescription drugs to someone whose animal we haven’t seen for years. Blamed for not breaking a law that could cost us our licence to practice?
  • We are told off for poor service for not being able to see a horse immediately that has been sick for 10 days. It’s us who are negligent – not the owner who has let her horse suffer for days.

And just last week – slandered on Facebook for allegedly ripping off a vulnerable pensioner by providing unnecessary, expensive treatment for her 17 year old dog.

Feedback 1Here’s the Real Story

When “Patch” was seen for the first time last week he was a very sick dog indeed.

In addition to his Illness (vomiting & diarrhoea) – He also had a very big lump on his chest which had now grown so large it made it difficult for him to walk.

We had not seen “Patch” before and it was clear that he had not been checked by a vet for a long time.

The priority was to determine the cause of the vomiting and diarrhoea and painful abdomen.

The second concern was the large lump which had a significant impact on Patch’s quality of life.

From the outset our client accompanied by her adult son were given the option to start finding out the cause of the medical problem OR euthanasia on humane grounds. Taking “Patch” home with pain meds and left to die on his own terms (as this person said we should have done) was not considered a humane option therefore was not offered.

The clients were also informed that if removing the lump after stabilisation of Patch’s medical condition was not wanted then there would be no point proceeding with treatment for his medical condition as we would not be able to achieve quality of life standards. Again – euthanasia was offered as a kind alternative to treatment.

Clients agreed to diagnostics and treatment.

(Examination, Blood Tests and X-Rays) indicated irregularities in the abdominal region plus kidney disease.

Feedback 2An Ultrasound was performed to investigate the abdominal irregularities in the abdominal area. Images revealed pancreatic inflammation and a pancreatic abnormality. Blood tests confirm inflammation

Over the next few days “Patch” was treated for these conditions in hospital and and was responding well and comfortable.

We then discussed the option of sending a sample (obtained via keyhole sampling) of the pancreatic tissue to the laboratory for more accurate diagnosis. This would allow us to determine a prognosis for Patch.

Sadly, despite his initial good response to treatment, Patch relapsed a few days later and it was at this point his owners chose to let him go.

Unfortunately but Yes – these diagnostics plus 24 hour hospitalisation with treatments over several days add up. None of this is basic care. Communication of Patch’s condition, his results, consent for treatments plus estimated costs were via phone as well as face to face when the owners came to visit Patch in hospital.

The clients never voiced any concerns during these conversations or during their visits that could have alerted us to a problem.

At no stage we we ever told to get permission from any persons other that this lady’s mother and son. We were never informed that they were incapable or had no right to make those decisions. It is not our fault that this lady was on holidays during the time of “Patch’s” treatment and therefore not included in any discussions.

So when we read her comments online – we were absolutely shattered.

Did we want Patch to pull through his illness? Of course we did. We treat similar cases every day – even geriatric ones. We even see some pets which aren’t expected to survive an illness or trauma, make a full recovery.

Medicine is not an exact science and outcomes can never be predicted or guaranteed.

As for “Who in their right mind would agree for such an expense in a pet 17 years old and no positive outcome.”

That’s your opinion.  There are many people who do that in Veterinary Centres all over the world every day including our practice. Maybe this was true 15 years ago before the advances in veterinary technologies however in today’s world it’s fast becoming the norm.

For some people having their pet around for an extra few months or even weeks is important to them and just because there are no guaranteed outcomes for some treatments doesn’t deter some people from trying.

People will spend money even when the prognosis looks less than positive. Peace of mind knowing they have done everything they could possibly do before electing to euthanase is important to them.

There can be a lot of anguish around premature euthanasia. In this case people feel guilt, questioning whether they made that decision too soon and should they have asked to find more conclusive evidence that their decision at that time was the right one for their pet.

There are never any easy answers to these situations.

The Ugly Side of Harmful Feedback

Accusations and degrading comments like these add enormous stress to vets and nurses who try their hardest to do the right things by people and their animals every day. Can you imagine how we all felt after this – especially the younger team who looked after Patch day and night?Vet Feedback

Little wonder the profession boasts the highest suicide rate and good caring vets change careers every day.

So shame on people who believe its their mission to spread half truths about others with no information about the facts. You forget that there are real, caring well meaning people at the end of these hurtful comments.

If you have a problem with any aspect of any service whether that’s from us or anyone else – have the decency to make a time to speak with the people involved face to face before you rant online.

In this case we would have welcomed some honest discussions from the concerned party before voicing “her opinion” to the world.

When we spoke with her the following day over the phone we asked her what she wanted from us. Her answer was “Nothing.”!

Dog Vaccinations Titer Test

Titer Testing vs Vaccinations For Dogs

Titer Testing Now Available

Regular Vaccinations has been the most significant contributing factor in the reduction of serious infectious diseases among our canine companions.

Thanks to effective vaccines we now see far less of the core diseases – Canine Hepatitis, Distemper and Parvovirus in everyday practice and deaths from these are rare.

While as vets we all agree these vaccinations are necessary – the frequency at which they are given is debatable.

Dog Vaccinations Titer TestRegular Vaccinations are given to maintain the animals individual immunity against serious core diseases. Once optimal immunity is established, re-vaccination is not necessary however without knowing your dog’s immunity status we have no choice but to re-vaccinate regularly to ensure protection.

Several years ago triennial vaccinations against core diseases were introduced which now sees many dogs now being vaccinated against core diseases every 3 years instead of every year.

While titer testing has been available for some time, the cost and complexity of performing these tests made it difficult for vets to recommend this option to dog owners – until now!

Vaccicheck makes Testing easy!

Recently the Vaccicheck was approved by the USDA. The Canine VacciCheck is intended to be used as a diagnostic tool to evaluate the antibody response to the core vaccination or infection by Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Canine Adenovirus), Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper Virus.

Best of all – this test can be performed “In Clinic” with results available within a day.

Enquiries about Titer testing have increased over the last few years so we know that this is a preferred option for many of our clients over regular vaccination.

We can now offer the option of Titer testing your dog’s immunity against Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus and Canine hepatitis through our practice.

The cost of the test is $73.00 in addition to a consultation fee.

If you are interested in titer testing your dog to decide whether re-vaccination is necessary, please make an appointment to discuss this option with one of our vets.

The Vet Practice South Morang

At Last – A New Clinic at South Morang in 2016

The Vet Practice South MorangHello Clients

We thought we’d write a brief post to let you know that plans are most definitely underway for our proposed new purpose built Veterinary Practice at South Morang.

It’s intentionally clean design is in keeping with the look and feel of our surrounding neighbourhood. The internal fit out of course is far more complex and will incorporate all elements of a modern Veterinary Consulting Practice and Canine Rehabilitation Centre.

Minimal Interruptions

Because we will be building on the vacant block we expect minimal disruptions to any of our current services which will continue to be provided in the current premises until the new building is completed.

So for now – we ask for your patience as we start the lengthy process of obtaining all the required permissions and permits.

Dr Malcolm Ware and Dr Lisa Weldon (Practice Principals)


The Vet Practice Blog

Why Our Blog?

How Our Blog Can Help You

Over the Years we’ve learned a thing or two about animals (and people)

We recognise that everyone is different. By this we mean, our priorities, our beliefs, our values, our opinions about things, the way we do things and see the world and just about in any other way.

These in turn influence just about anything we do every day from where we shop, what products we buy to who we turn to when we need help.The Vet Practice Blog

Underpinning all this of course is the TRUST factor. We buy from brands we trust to deliver a quality product just as we place the care of our own health to Medical Professionals whose opinions and advice we trust to be in our and our family’s best interest.

We make choices every day based on these fundamental things.

Do You Choose Your Vet like I Choose My Pool Guy?

If you’re like me (and I don’t think I’m all that different from most people) – I like to do I bit if research before I commit to a purchase OR choose a new Dentist or Hire a Pool Company to keep my pool clean and sparkly.

So the first thing I do is turn to my good friend Google to start comparing options. Once I’m there – it’s not hard to find which business I’m attracted to. Without fail its the one with the informative website that gives me a good idea of the company values and how they approach their work.

I don’t get excited by meaningless tag lines that are designed to be catchy rather than true.

“Passionate about Pools” does nothing for me.

But what I do want to know is what’s the quality of their work? Are they punctual? Do they clean up any mess before they leave? Are they reliable?

If I have a problem is there someone who can deal with it promptly? Can they answer my questions? (I don’t know a lot about pool stuff) Can I trust that they’ll do what they say they’ll do when I’m not there to supervise them? If there’s an problem will they come out quickly – even on weekends?

And I want to find all these answers on their website – Thank You!

So What does Pet Care and Pool Care Have in Common?

In terms of What they do – absolutely nothing.

However in terms of How they do it? – their respective businesses may share some values and beliefs.Whittlesea Vet Pet Blog

So – just like Pool businesses, our Industry has a lot more to it than a tag line or logo can describe. Add to that – things have changed dramatically over the past years as new treatments options, drugs and technology have become available and new discoveries are made.

This has created great diversity in the  Veterinary Industry to include both privately owned individual practices as well as the growing number of large scale corporate clinics.

Although we share things in common – we all approach pet care in different ways.

Keep in mind, there’s no right or wrong – just different.

Just as I’m drawn towards a specific business because it meets my needs, the same goes for you in choosing the right vets for your pet.

The goal of our website and blog is to be as transparent as possible about what we stand for and what we do – to help you decide whether our approach to animal care aligns with yours.

And Finally

As pet parents – you should have access to reliable and trustworthy pet care information and as vets, we should be the ones providing it.

We believe there is far too little factual pet care information on the web that’s written by qualified professionals. This has led to so many pet owners making decisions based on nothing more than unfounded opinions. We battle misinformation and outdated myths every day

The goal of our Blog is to to help challenge some of these opinions that circulate the web and Social Media plus provide clarity around some of those burning issues that we know many of our pet parents have.

If you have any topic you’d like us to explore and publish as a Blog post – we’d love to hear from you.

For Most of us … Pets are Family

As the stories from the floods emerge you can’t help but notice some of the pictures stealing the show are those that involve brave animal rescues. People risking life and limb to save the lives of their pets and other animals from certain death. And grieving for a lost pet as they would for family.

In times of crisis, some people may judge those who risk all to save their animals or grieve their loss a little harshly. Some of us might say we shouldn’t be placing our lives in unecessary danger or that losing a pet is less tragic than losing a family member but this is not a time to pass judgement.

It’s easy to stand back from a situation and argue the logic of specific actions or decisions made by others under extreme emotional stress and little time to ponder alternatives. It’s not our place to rank or categorise their grief. Besides, what would we do if faced with the same circumstances?

Unless we’ve been there, it’s hard to say.

This emotional bond we have with animals is as real as any bond we have with any other living we love or care about. This became evident after such disasters as Hurricane Katrina where the Government was forced to review its disaster Laws to include the provision for pets in evacuation centres.

Then there’s Lou from Rockhampton who hauled his chickens to safety on his rooftop.

We ourselves experienced these emotions during the Black Saturday fires. People gathered at our clinic to grieve the loss of their pets with others who could emphasise without judgement. These people felt disrespectful grieving the loss of an animal in the presence of others who had lost family or friends. All sides are understandable and all have a right to be heard.

But it’s not all a one way street either. There are countless stories involving heroic animals risking their own lives to save the life of a human. Bodies unearthed from landslides, dogs throwing themselves in front of moving vehicles to snatch a child from certain death, animals alerting neighbours to a human in distress or warning parents of a child about to have a seizure.

Then of course the heartbreaking stories of animals that grieve the death of a beloved owner.

Animals do the same for us so let’s take care of them as best we can.

There are many organisations that need our help providing for both people and animals affected by the floods and if you’d like to help, here are some sites through which you can make a donation.

RSPCA Qld – to volunteer or make a donation

We will be making a donation to help provide some necessary medications for sick or injured pets and livestock through the Provet Flood Relief Program

Happy Christmas Everyone & What’s in Store for 2011

A Christmas Message … from all of us at the Practice

First of all we’d like to than all of you who supported us this last year and of course for the many years before that.

We know you have many other clinics to choose from so – we don’t take your choice for granted.
For us it’s been a year of observation, thought and consolidation.

This has meant:

  • Paying close attention to the changes going on around and inside the profession,
  • Being aware of what our you (our clients) are looking for and
  • Exploring additional treatment options that all animals can benefit from.

2010 has seen us upgrade our In House Laboratory so it’s the newest and best available. An efficient and capable lab is critical to any practice like ours that deals with after hours emergencies and needs results fast.

We’ve got plans on the board for new buildings and locations for both our South Morang and Whittlesea Clinics. Now just need to come to grips with borrowing the funds and hope the fallout from the GFC doesn’t catch up with us.

Greener Communications

We’ve reduced our use of paper by changing from snail mail reminders to SMS messaging and gone online with all our communications. This means you can access the latest news and information through our Website, Blogs, Our Facebook Page and Twitter from now on.

We hope you’ll all join us there and give us feedback on our efforts and what you’d like to see posted.

We’ll do our best to bring all the latest news to you.

New Therapies

In September this year we introduced the New Adipose Stem Cell Procedure to our patients.So far over a dozen dogs with degenerative joint disease and arthritis have benefited from this procedure.

In January 2011 we’ll also be introducing another Drug Free Therapy – Laser Therapy to our list of services. Check out some of the conditions Laser Therapy is useful for. If you think your pet may be a candidate for Laser Therapy – please book a consultation with one of our vets in January.

Watch this space too for our special NEW Senior Pets Program which we’re also launching in 2011. The aim of the program is to keep your senior pets healthier for longer while saving you money!

Keeping up with the Times

As vets, it’s important that we keep up with new diagnostic and treatment developments so we can offer them to you as an alternative to perhaps surgery or medications. We know that many of you are looking for more drug free and less invasive treatment options so we’ve done our best to educate ourselves on these new modalities and tools.

This means not only looking nationally but keeping up to date with what’s happening in the profession globally!

This probably explains why we’ve been one of the few clinics to introduce these new therapies in Australia!

Need a Vet over Christmas?

Don’t forget – we’re available throughout Xmas and the New Year holiday period. Just check out our Public Holiday Hours on the Noticeboard for opening times and emergency availability.

Enough about us

From all of us here at The Vet Practice – we’d like to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Dog Training and Behaviour Conference. Two days of exceptional learning!

Spending two full days sitting in lectures while the rest of the Sydneysiders were enjoying the wonderful balmy weather may not be your idea of a good weekend

But for some of us who got to go to the Dog Behaviour and Training conference – it was well worth the sacrifice!

Hosted by the NDTF (National Dog Trainers Federation of Australia) the speakers included experts in Dog Behaviour and Training from Australia and the U.S. Included amongst them, the internationally renowned Steven Lindsay as well as Australia”s own experts Steve Austin, Dr Paul McGreevy and specialist Veterinary Behaviourist, Dr Robert Holmes.

Now while we certainly can’t cover what was covered in a tiny blog, it’s fair to say we learned a lot.

You may not be aware of this but dog behaviour and behaviour modification are hot topics.


Because behaviour problems are becoming all too common amongst our canine friends.

In our practice, hardly a day goes by where we don’t have to deal with or discuss a behavioural issue with a client. Sometimes the problem is a simple one that can be solved through some basic training or behavior modification activites. Other times there are more serious issues to address – like aggression or extreme anxieties.

That’s why it’s important for us as Vets – to learn more about about what makes dogs tick. While we examine and treat dog’s medical conditions, fix broken bones, diagnose their illnesses every day, we also need to understand how to take care of their “non physical” needs. In other words – know and respect what they truly need need to lead balanced and fulfilled lives.

Vet Fees make the News again

First of all, we couldn’t agree more to shopping around for value. But that’s the point – value – not price!

It seems that when it comes to some of the routine procedures such as desexing you do need to be aware of what you’re getting for your money. Quite frankly even we were suprised by the variation in desexing fees.

What on earth is going on there?

But most disturbing is the fact that many of the lower end desexing fees offered pain relief as an “optional extra”!

That’s just unbelievable. Fancy asking anybody “Would you like pain relief with this surgery?” If so, it’ll cost you extra.

Don’t be lured in by cheap fees only to discover later that some really important things which should be included in the first place are an added extra – just to get the sale.

As for saying that fees vary because there’s no competition – that’s not right either. We have a high concentration of clinics especially in our major cities so you do have lots of choices.

Now, looking at the surgical procedures highlighted in the story. Procedures like these often require a Specialist’s hand or in the very least a skilled general practitioner so naturally they’re expensive.

But we agree that there are often different approaches to the same problem so again – shop around for alternatives.

At the same time consider what AVA president Mark Lawrie had to say – “you need to compare appples with apples” and find out what’s involved in the procedure. Method 1 using state of the art technology and advanced surgical techniques can’t be compared to Method 2 which uses a different technique, no technology and requires less skills.

Then there’s outcomes. Which method will produce the best outcome – long term benefits – for your pet and your hip pocket?

You need to ask questions and weigh up all the pro’s and cons. Don’t take just one person’s word for it.

Given all this complexity, it’s probably very wise to consider what the owner of the Silky Terrier had to say. “You know that pets will cost money in vet fees and to mitigate the situation…….. consider taking out Pet Insurance.”

Costly Emergency Pet Care makes the News

Having to pay extra for services at night or on weekends will always cost more than it would during normal working hours.

Now whether you need a Plumber, an Electrician or anyone for that matter – penalty rates apply and there’s no getting round that. It’s the Law!

So paying higher hourly rates to have your animal examined and treated afer hours isn’t out of the ordinary at all.

But – what you pay depends on what needs to be done during those “non routine” hours.

And it’s your job to find out!

For starters – having provided a 24 hour service for over 20 years, we know that not every case presented to us after hours has needed immediate costly treatment. Sometimes some First Aid, combined with effective pain relief is all that was needed see a pet safely through the night.

Further investigation and diagnostics would then continue in the morning when the rates were cheaper.

Why perform an Ultrasound at midnight when it is deemed adequately safe to do it in the morning at half the price!

The same applies to blood tests, X-Rays and even surgery. Depending on the presenting problem, sometimes some things can safely wait until the next day.

Of course you don’t always have this option. Some cases are true emergencies and do need immediate surgery or expensive medical treatment. In this case you’re right, you don’t have a choice.

So what it boils down to is asking questions. Lots of them! Find out what’s necessary between now and the next day and what can possibly wait. Just because the staff are there and able to do it, doesn’t mean you need to actively engage them to do so.

Ask the vet to explain all benefits and disadvantages between doing something now or later so you can make an informed decision. Be warned though – if you’ve declined a specific treatment that the vet believes is necessary then you also need to take on the risks that go with this making this decision.

Eagle Pack Food in short supply

We’d like to let all of you who are feeding your dog or cat Eagle Pack know that this product range is currently in very short supply.

We (along with all other stockists) have been having dificulties receiving stock from our suppliers. At the moment the only products which are available are those which we have on store shelves.

If you need more Eagle pack products, please call in and see what’s still left to buy. If what you need is there – grab it now as we are usure of when the next shipment of food will arrive.

Luckily the complementary range of Artemis foods is always available so if you’re used to feeding the premium meat based Eagle Pack foods then you’ll be equally happy with Artemis.

Be assured that as soon as the produts are available again, we’ll be stocking them.