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August 2019 $6.95 GST incl.


When vets don't want to be vets PAGE 18



Ways of dealing with difficult clients

The trick to not spamming your clients



GIMME SHELTER How can local goverment and vets work together best to operate animal shelters? PAGE 26


6 2


Dog owners want non-surgical castration.


of owners who had their dogs surgically castrated say they would have preferred Suprelorin as an option.*

Mar 2018

Suprelorin. The benefits of surgical castration. Without the surgery.

*Virbac pet owner (n=955) survey 2016

For more information about Suprelorin contact 1800 242 100



EDITOR Rob Johnson

The business of animal shelters


Community animal welfare is usually the responsibility of local councils, but should local vets have more input into the process?



The latest in the veterinary world


Are cats getting fatter; Guide Dog puppies recieve donated toys: and more.



COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Mark Brown CONTRIBUTORS John Burfitt, Steven Coby, Frank Leggett, Kerryn Ramsey, Rachel Smith

Case study


Safety net

YOUR BUSINESS Email without spam


Changing course


How to send an email practice newsletter without spamming your clients.

Hold your peace



For all editorial or advertising enquiries: Phone (02) 9660 6995 Fax (02) 9518 5600


Community vet clinics work hard to ensure no pet owner falls through the gaps.

When a vet doesn’t want to be a vet, there are many fulfilling career options available. COVER PHOTOGRAPHY: Arunas Klupsas


Treating cardiopulmonary arrest in a cat with urethral obstruction.


Vet Practice magazine is published 12 times a year by Engage Media, Suite 2, Level One North, 63 Miller Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009. ABN 50 115 977 421. Views expressed in Vet Practice magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher, editor or Engage Media. Printed by Webstar.

What do you do when a client really tests your patience?



13 116





Large animal product guide


Tools of the trade


The best new products for large animal vets.

Reviewed by vets around Australia.

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Most weekends you’ll find Lucie Kantor, VN, at her local BMX track.


VETNEWS Fat cats

Are cats getting fatter? Until now, pet owners and veterinarians didn’t know for sure. Now researchers from Canada have become the first to access data on more than 19 million cats to get a picture of typical weight gain and loss over their lifetimes. The researchers at University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) discovered most cats continue to put on weight as they age, and their average weight is on the rise. The findings, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, reveal that even after cats mature from the kitten phase, their weight still creeps up until they are, on average, eight years old. This research—the first of its kind to use such a large data pool—provides important baseline information for vets and pet owners about cat weight changes, said Professor Theresa Bernardo, the IDEXX


The Australian Veterinary Association has warned pet owners of the health risks posed by lay dental practitioners offering “anaesthesiafree dentistry”. An increasing number of non-veterinary companies are offering cleaning and scaling on conscious pets, but the AVA has said the practice does not provide adequate dental care and can be harmful to the animals. 4

chair in Emerging Technologies and BondCentered Animal Healthcare. “As humans, we know we need to strive to maintain a healthy weight, but for cats, there has not been a clear definition

of what that is. We simply didn’t have the data. “Establishing the pattern of cat weights over their lifetimes provides us with important clues about their health.” V

Toy story Guide Dogs Australia has received a donation of more than 3500 new toys so puppies in training can enjoy some wellearned puppy play in their downtime. The donation drive run by Petstock’s charity arm, PETstock Assist, saw a KONG donated for every KONG purchased instore during the month of April. “It takes two years and more than $50,000 to breed, raise, train and match a suitable Guide Dog with a person living with low vision,” PETstock charity coordinator Jessica Guilfoyle said. “Guide Dogs Australia is a charity we’ve supported for a long time, they do incredible work and need all the support they can get, which is why we’re thrilled to make such a significant donation thanks to our long-time partner, KONG.” The donation equating to more than $123,000 is all thanks to pet parents Australia-wide supporting participating PETstock stores—and will see thousands of Guide Dog puppies in training get a shiny new toy. “Studies show that dogs who don’t engage in a lot of play suffer from

behavioural issues such as anxiety and aggression, which is why it’s so important our puppies have lots of toys and playtime in addition to learning their important job,” Guide Dogs Australia national corporate partnerships manager Caroline Lee said. “Generous donations like this are what make our work possible and we’re incredibly thankful to PETstock, KONG and their customers.” V A guide dog puppy with his brand new toys

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Saving sea lions For the first time, a colony of sea lions in Australia will be treated with a topical anti-parasiticide and then monitored long term for health and survival. Led by Dr Rachael Gray, from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science, the research is investigating the effects of hookworm, environmental pollutants like heavy metals, and human-associated bacteria on mortality of sea lions in the first one-and-a-half years of their lives. “Sea lion populations will continue to decline if we don’t do something to save

these charismatic and iconic marine mammals,” Dr Gray said. Hookworm infects the intestines of all Australian sea lion pups, so Dr Gray and her team are using a novel and minimally invasive treatment for hookworm and monitoring its effect on pup mortality. “Many Australian sea lion pups die from intestinal hookworm infection, so we want to see what effect treating the hookworm has, not just on the mortality directly from hookworm, but also death from other causes,” Dr Gray said. V

Veterinary Crossword Vet Practice Australia 8.ccw

Test yourself and your knowledge with our Veterinary Crossword! Solutions are on our website at Across 1. The S.I. unit for electric charge. (7) 4. A member of a group of colourful bird genera which are a subset of the Psittaciformes Arinae family. They inhabit Central and South America and Mexico. (5) 7. Programmed cell death. (9) 8. E.g. army or fire. (3) 9. A sessile or pedunculated abnormal growth projecting from a mucous membrane. (5) 11. To improve the resolving power when using a high-power lens in light microscopy. (3) 12. ____ pegs. Epithelial projections into underlying connective tissue from skin or mucous membranes. (4) 13. Lactation tetany—characterised by hypomagnesaemia. (5,8) 15. This amphibian’s globe was prized by Shakespeare’s witches. (4) 16. Short, very fine and soft keratinous substance. (3) 17. Pertaining to a long bone of the antebrachium. (5) 19. A charged atom or molecule. (3) 20. A wading bird; the Australian variety has white plumage and dark, down-curved bill and legs, whereas the American variety has white plumage with an orange downcurved bill and legs. (5,4) 21. E.g. Drainage _____. (5) 22. A hormone that causes dilation of the cervix uteri and relaxation of the pubic symphysis in some species including pigs, cattle, dogs and cats. (7)







for electric charge. (7)

a group of colourful bird are a subset of the s Arinae family. They tral and South America and cell death. (9)









Fire. (3)

pedunculated abnormal cting from a mucous 5)

he resolving power when ower lense in light (3)

Epithelial projections into onnective tissue from skin or branes. (4)

any - characterised by aemia.Down (5,8)

1. A mass of silage held together at the

an's globe was prized by 6 Witches. (4)









sides but open at the ends; an occluding surgical instrument. (5) 2. This extremely intelligent animal has two eyes and a beak but is not a bird. (7) 3. A brachycephalic dog breed from Massachusetts. (6,7) 5. This reptile is at home in the Culture Club. (9) 6. The interscapular ridge used to measure

the height of horses and dogs. (7) 10. A black-faced profligate lamber originating in Wales. (9) 13. Gum. (7) 14. Pertaining to the posterior, specifically the muscles of. (7) 18. A solid or highly viscous material. Examples include amber, Boswellia Balsam and natural gums. (5) V

eyes and a beak but is not a bird. (7)

3 A brachycephalic dog breed from Massachusetts. (6,7)

5 This reptile is at home in the Culture Club. (9)

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Cardiopulmonary arrest in a cat with urethral obstruction DR LUCY KIRTON BVETMED MANZCVS (VETECC) MRCVS EMERGENCY VETERINARIAN Dr Kirton graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, London in 2004. She worked initially in mixed practice but quickly moved into small animal general practice. She came to Australia in 2011, quickly settling in Sydney. Having developed an interest when working on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, providing critical care to tick paralysis patients, she began working in emergency practice in 2013, initially at the Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH), and then Northside Emergency Veterinary Service (NEVS) in 2016. She passed her ANZCVS memberships in Emergency and Critical Care in 2014 and was a membership examiner in 2017 and 2018. She has a particular interest in critical care, ventilation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and training. She became a RECOVER CPR trainer in 2017 and is a director in FlexiVet Training Pty Ltd which offers small animal emergency and CPR training. Dr Kirton lives in the Sydney Hills District with her partner and stepdaughter. In her spare time, she enjoys sailing and yoga.

Anubis is a six-year-old MN domestic short hair who presented to Northside Emergency Veterinary Service with a one-week history of vomiting and not moving during the day. His owner brought him after he was found collapsed on the bed. He lived indoors— with three other cats—with access to a balcony. He had not had any previous health issues. On arrival he was laterally recumbent and minimally responsive. His temperature was found to be off-scale low. Flow by oxygen was started and while an intravenous catheter was being placed, it was noticed that he become apnoeic which quickly progressed to cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA). Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was started with chest compressions at 100-120 BPM using the cardiac pump technique and a timer was started. He was intubated and intermittent positive pressure ventilation (IPPV) was started at 10 breaths per minute using an ambubag and oxygen. A capnograph was attached between the ET tube and the ambubag but unfortunately did not work during the duration of the resuscitation. An ECG was also placed and a full two-minute round of CPR was performed. The cause of his arrest was found to be due to urethral obstruction as a large turgid, non-expressible, bladder was found on abdominal palpation. Due to

the likelihood of hyperkalaemia being the cause of the arrest, Anubis was given 1ml/kg of Calcium gluconate (0.22mmol/kg) IV to restore the gap between resting membrane potential and threshold potential to allow cardiac myocyte depolarisation. He was given a 0.01mg/kg (low dose) adrenaline and 0.04mg/kg atropine IV during the second round of CPR. Ideally this would have been given earlier but problems with his ET tube delayed it. Low dose adrenaline was repeated at the end of the fourth round. He underwent four full rounds of CPR with no heartbeat and pulseless electrical activity (PEA) diagnosed on ECG at the end of each round, however a heartbeat started to be felt midway through the fifth round. At the end of this round, CPR was stopped due to return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). He was then given 2IU Actrapid followed by 4g glucose (50%) diluted, intravenously, to drive potassium intracellularly. He was also given a 10ml/kg Hartmanns bolus over 15 minutes. IPPV was continued for approximately 10 minutes until he was ventilating spontaneously. He was then unblocked while still unconscious, and found to have a large urethral plug at the tip of his penis and a gritty obstruction approximately 1cm into the penis. An indwelling 3.5FR 14cm Slippery Sam urethral catheter was placed and connected to a close collection system. A venous blood gas was run on a blood



Anubis, the cat, recovering from his surgery. A urethral obstruction led to cardiopulmonary arrest, but quick intervention led to a happy outcome for both cat and owner.

sample which had been taken from his IV catheter when it was placed showed a pH 6.91 (7.24-7.40), HCO3 7.9 (22-24 mmol/l), pCO2 42 (34-38), sodium 144 (150-165 mmol/l), potassium off scale high (3.5-5.8mmol/l), chloride 113 (112-129 mmol/l) confirming severe metabolic acidosis and hyperkalaemia. He was given a further 10ml/kg Hartmanns bolus over 30mins, had a nasal O2 catheter placed and was extubated approximately 30mins after ROSC when he was swallowing. A fresh blood sample was then taken and showed a mild improvement in his pH (6.95) and a readable potassium of 9.2mmol/l. He was also found to be severely azotaemic with urea 81.9 (5.7-12.9mmol/l), creatinine of 1090 (71-212 umol/l) and phosphorus of 3.42 (1-2.42 mmol/l). An AFAST was performed and did not find any free abdominal fluid or echogenic stones. Although he was not hypoxaemic, he was placed on unilateral nasal oxygen for support, along with continuous ECG, pulse


oximetry and blood pressure monitoring and hourly temperature and blood glucose checks. Due to his severe azotaemia he was expected to have severe post obstructive diuresis so was placed on a two-bag (maintenance and replacement) fluid plan of IV fluid rate matching urine output plus insensible losses (1ml/kg/hr) with adjustment every four hours when the urine output was measured. Both bags were Hartmanns with glucose added to the maintenance bag to make 2.5%, to continue to drive potassium intracellularly. As per the RECOVER guidelines, although his post arrest temperature was 32.4°C, he was not initially actively warmed. This is due to the potentially neuroprotective effect that hypothermia can have post arrest. Ideally temperature should be increased at 0.25-0.5C/hr and no faster than 1C/hr. His temperature took approximately 12hrs to normalise with initially just a blanket, then warm packs. Over the next 24hrs his mentation

improved but he was found to be centrally blind. This is common after CPA due to cerebral hypoxaemia and normally resolves within two weeks. Surprisingly he did not develop significant post obstructive diuresis. He was weaned off oxygen and his potassium had almost normalised to 5.1mmol/l within 6hrs and his azotaemia resolved within 24hrs. He was discharged 48 hours post presentation on buccal Buprenorphine 0.02mg/kg q 8-12hrs and Prazosin 0.5mg PO q 12hrs. He was still blind at discharge but this is likely to resolve. The RECOVER Guidelines state that the average chance of survival to discharge across all CPAs is as low as 6%, however the prognosis varies greatly depending on the cause of the arrest. Rapidly reversible situations such as hyperkalaemia and Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) have a significantly higher chance of survival with peri anaesthetic arrests having a 45-50% survival rate when good quality CPR is instigated rapidly. V

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For the many pet owners existing on the margins of society, there are community vet clinics working hard to ensure they don’t fall through the gaps, writes Rachel Smith. When Lobby the dog

jumped up to investigate a noise at her owner’s front door one night, she accidentally twisted her leg and ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament. Lobby’s owner Janine lived in public housing and knew she couldn’t afford the $5000 operation to fix her pet’s leg—and the alternative for the staffy bull terrier was to be lame for life. Enter Woolloomooloo’s HopeStreet Clinic, an initiative between BaptistCare and The University of Sydney’s veterinary teaching hospital. Its veterinarian Dr Peter Higgins, who manages the initiative, facilitated the five-hour operation to fix Lobby’s leg and organised for the bulk of the fee to be paid by the university. “I remember when Janine brought Lobby in,” said Dr Higgins, who volunteers in the pop-up clinic one day a month. “She was just so distraught because she knew the dog wasn’t going to be

able to walk properly ever again. She only had $200 in the bank … what do you do? There was no hesitation on the university’s part once I explained the situation. Since the operation Lobby has been like a puppy again—there literally is a spring in her step.”

Keeping people with their pets

It’s just one memorable case Dr Higgins has managed, and he clearly loves the chance to help those who ‘live for their pets’ but can’t afford veterinary services. “I know the area, I went to school there, and for me, it’s about giving back,” he explains. “Whether it’s a dog or cat or ferret or blue-tongue lizard or snake, it really is a win-win. If you’re homeless and living out under a railway aqueduct, or financially destitute in public housing, your dog or cat becomes your lifeline.



HopeStreet Clinic helps the animals, keeps them in perfect condition, gives the owners a reason for living and one thing less to worry about. It’s also a win for the community.” That sentiment is echoed by Simone Chmielewski, regional clinic administrator for AWLQ’s Community Veterinary Clinics on QLD’s Gold Coast. Its clinic has been operating since 2001 under the Animal Welfare League Queensland, and has an ethos that it will never turn away an animal that’s sick or suffering, irrespective of an owner’s capacity to pay. “We’re quite unique in that we don’t means test,” she says. “We have all kinds of clients: people who are looking for housing, working class people on low incomes, a lot of seniors who rely heavily on their pet for companionship. We don’t feel it’s in the best interests for our community, for these people to be faced with having to make difficult decisions such as euthanasia. So supporting and enabling people to keep their pets underpins what we do.”

Who funds community clinics?

Back in the late 1990s, a generous donation enabled AWLQ to contemplate starting a community vet clinic, which launched in 2001. “That’s sort of how the clinic got started—as a shelter and rehoming centre, we were seeing firsthand the need in the community and how many people were unable to get the vet care

VETERINARY DERMATOLOGY INTERNSHIPS: LOOKING FOR A CAREER CHANGE? The Animal Dermatology Clinic-Perth is seeking two competent, organised and adaptable, full-time, veterinarians to join our team. We are searching for two outstanding applicants with the ability and enthusiasm to help us support and manage our rapidly expanding business. If you are a veterinarian seeking the opportunity for further education in veterinary dermatology working with registered specialists in the field, then this may be the opportunity for you. We want outstanding applicants and we will be offering a career path in veterinary dermatology for the right people. We have two full time veterinary dermatology referral practices in Western Australia working in multi-disciplinary, specialist hospital facilities. This role is clinical with a large case load of dogs and cats. The ideal candidates will have the following skills and attributes: • Flexible, adaptable and positive approach to work • Work well within a team by having the capacity to work with all staff • Demonstrated commitment to gold standard patient care • Ability to engage in quality clinical work and develop and maintain happy client relationships • Exceptional organisational and communication skills • Encourage and participate in a healthy teaching and learning environment


Perth offers a great living environment; located around the idyllic Swan River, with warm, sunny weather and relaxed lifestyle. Qualifications for the position include a veterinary degree registrable in Western Australia. Salary will be commensurate with experience, qualification and earnings and subject to negotiation. Interested applicants are invited to submit a letter of application, CV, statement of professional goals for this position, and letters from two or more referees to Ms Karla Ramsden, Animal Dermatology Clinic, The Animal Hospital, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150. Applications can also be emailed to

“When you’re able to give an animal the care they need and send it home with its owners—that puts a smile on my face every day.” Simone Chmielewski, regional clinic administrator, AWLQ’s Community Veterinary Clinics

they needed,” says Chmielewski. For his Woollomooloo initiative, Dr Higgins spearheaded a crowdfunding effort with the University of Sydney and raised about $20,000 to start HopeStreet Clinic. On the days the clinic is open, Dr Higgins is there with a nurse or two and usually a veterinary student. “They see a side of a veterinary practice that not many people see and it’s good experience for them, even though it’s a full-on day; we do 18-20 consultations on that day generally,” he says. “The main challenges are that we can only do minor procedures, so any surgeries that are needed have to come to the university’s teaching hospital. None of our clients have a car and we don’t have an ambulance, so that’s frustrating in a way, because what I

would consider fairly simple procedures I can’t do at the clinic we have, because we’re not licensed to do them.” Obtaining a Class C license is on the cards so the clinic can offer more to its clients, and HopeStreet is always in need of donations. Although other charitable animal initiatives in the inner city are available such as Pets in the Park, which involves vets donating their time to pet owners in the forecourt of a church, Dr Higgins says he’s not aware of others like HopeStreet. “We operate like a private practice, only no money changes hands,” he says. “There’s so much need in this area, I can see us eventually doing the clinic two days a month and then one day a week. It’s good to get away from the business decisions you have as a vet in private practice, and just focus on the clinical stuff. I enjoy that. And when you can treat a dog with a major heart condition and prolong its life, the relief on the owner’s face is hard to describe.” Chmielewski agrees. She recalls a case where a dog fell off the back of a car and AWLQ spent six months treating the animal to get him back to full health. “It was a lot of work for our team and it would never have been possible for that owner to afford the treatment,” she says. “It was so rewarding at the end of it, when the dog was able to go home. When you’re able to give an animal the care they need and send it home with its owners—that puts a smile on my face every day.” V

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Do you avoid sending out an emailed practice newsletter because you don’t want to spam your clients? There’s a simple trick to making it more readable. And you can do it with data you already have. By Steven Coby


No-one likes spam email. You don’t like sending

them, you don’t like receiving them. And there’s a good chance you don’t have a regular newsletter for your clinic—because you’re pretty sure your clients don’t want spam email from you. You might not realise it, but spam email can also become counterproductive—if you do send a lot of emails, and clients ignore them, email servers start to identify you as a spammer and send your messages straight to junk mail folders. “When email marketing is done badly, it is spam,” says Rob Johnson, a director of Engage Content. Engage produces content and email newsletters for veterinary practices and associated industries. He adds, “And like all spam, it has low open rates and click rates.” But according to Johnson, there is a way you can do email marketing successfully. He bases his comments on a regression analysis the team at Engage did of data from 2.7 million email newsletters sent from nearly 1000 campaigns. They discovered that when you control for the type of content that is in the newsletter, a different picture emerges of what entices readers to click and read. The trick is to think of your email newsletter as the opposite of your waiting room.

The generic waiting room

Many veterinary clinics fill their waiting rooms with information


brochures, a few magazines, and posters. The idea is to get good information to clients while they’re in there with their pets. But people in your surgery are not open to marketing messages, says Johnson. They are in there with a sick pet. While they’re in that waiting room, they aren’t ready to be sold to. “But also ask yourself, how often is a client in your waiting room?” Johnson adds. “Once a year? Twice a year? While they’re in there, they may flick through some of your magazines or brochures, or stare at the posters on the wall. But they’re not taking much in. They’re worried about their pet.” Also, the information in there has to be broad. Cat owners don’t care about dog health. If you have a pet rabbit, you’re not going to care about information on birds. Email marketing solves that problem. It is easy to segment your customer database according to what type of pet they own. With modern email marketing software, it’s as easy to send a slightly different email to all of those different segments at the same time.

When email isn’t spam

The great strength of an email newsletter is it can give specific information to a client at a time when they’re relaxed and open to receiving it. “We all get too many emails, that’s true,” Johnson says. “And if the email is trying to sell us something—if it’s not addressed to us personally, and not about something

we care about—we tend to find it annoying. That type of email marketing is spamming, and it’s an obnoxious thing to do.  “But when you send people an email with useful information about how they can have happier, healthier pets, they will pay attention. According to our research, you will get up to 10 times the click-through rate on an article—for example, something linking to a blog post—as you will on a generic offer or a call to action for people to come in.”  The whole idea of email marketing for veterinary practices, or any business, is to get attention and engagement first. If you bombard people with sales messages, you lose the attention of 98 per cent of them. If the email is offering information about something important to us, like our pet, we’re more likely to pay attention to it. If it’s specifically all about our pet—say, all about what my cat is doing when he disappears for a week, and the best type of cat food for him, and how to get rid of fleas on a cat—clients will read every word. Of course, there will still be a percentage of your clients who never open or click on one of your emails. Johnson recommends taking those people off the email list. “If they don’t want to hear from you, don’t bug them,” he says. “It is those clients who engage with your newsletters who are going to become your best clients anyway.”

The head start you already have

Johnson says the key to making your newsletter work is by targeting the content in it. Which means sending a catemail to cat owners, a dog-email to dog owners, and so on. It should be easy to export and sort that information from your existing database. “More importantly, you can send it regularly,” he adds. “I would recommend every month, but even if you sent it once a quarter, you’ll be talking to that client four times as often as you normally would if you relied on them reading brochures in your waiting room.” The bottom line is, clients don’t come in to your veterinary practice that often. The advantage of email marketing is you can communicate with patients when they’re not around and not thinking about you. If you send emails with worthwhile content, rather than sales messages, you will not be spamming people. Even better if you can send content that is specific to their pet.  When you do that, you can reasonably expect a tenfold increase in attention. You can measure that attention using email marketing software to work out who you should be directing your marketing messages towards, and who isn’t worth worrying about. None of that is spamming. It’s using technology to build relationships. And those relationships are not only good for your clients and their pets. They’re also good for your business. V


“I love my veterinary career to date; it’s been full of surprises. I love the challenge and unravelling the puzzle.” Dr Emma Davis, founder, Global Veterinary Solutions


When a vet decides they don’t want to be a vet anymore, there is a wide variety of fulfilling career options available. Kerryn Ramsey reports


Working as a veterinarian is a very satisfying

but stressful job. During their career, it is common for vets to change their professional goals, desire a better work-life balance or simply become burnt out. For many reasons, vets sometimes decide they don’t want to be vets anymore. They may want a temporary break or decide to make a permanent career change. Fortunately, the skills, qualifications and attributes obtained while working as a vet are transferable to many other careers. These opportunities often involve animals or animal care but the work is entirely different to the stresses and day-to-day activity of clinical practice.

Photography: Supplied


Dr Sarah Britton began her career working as an employee in a number of small animal practices in NSW and Victoria. Eventually she started her own practice in Melbourne, only selling when she moved to Orange in Central West NSW. There, she started another practice and by the time she decided to change careers, she had been an owner/veterinarian for 13 years. “I loved owning and running practices,” says Dr Britton, “but I’m also one of those people who needs new challenges. I really

like working with animals but I wanted to find a way to have a greater impact.” Today, Dr Britton is the NSW chief veterinary officer and group director of animal biosecurity for the NSW Department of Primary Industries. She has oversight of government vets in the state. Her role in animal biosecurity is to protect animal industries, the community and the environment from animal pests and diseases. Her department is involved with public health and investigates notifiable, emergency and emerging animal diseases. “The beauty of clinical practice is the chance to interact with individual animals and people,” says Dr Britton. “You are very much part of the family with your clients. Moving to my government role means that my impact is far greater. We are working hard to protect industries and communities.”

The stats

The Australian Veterinary Association’s workforce survey 2016 looks at the current profile of the veterinary profession and anticipates future trends and changes. While it finds that about 73 per cent of vets are working in a clinical role in group, solo or corporate practices, the remaining vets spread their expertise across a wide variety of fields. These include teaching, research,



biosecurity, animal welfare, export certification, pathology, pharmaceutical and meat inspection.

International opportunities

Dr Natalie Robertson graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2006 and worked for three years in a companion animal clinic. Unfortunately, she wasn’t enjoying the work but still wanted to use her veterinary degree, skills and knowledge. She applied for a job advertised with Pfizer Animal Health, now Zoetis, and has never looked back. “I’ve been with Zoetis for 10 years,” says Dr Robertson. “After working in a variety of roles from research and development through to veterinary operations and marketing, I recently accepted a global role. My current position is associate director of precision livestock farming portfolio strategy and lifecycle. I’m about to relocate to our head office in New Jersey.”

“The whole thing about our job is that you can use your skills in many different ways. There is no downside to trying other opportunities.” Dr Sarah Britton, NSW Department of Primary Industries


Precision livestock farming is an exciting field that uses smart sensors to collect data on individual animal health and activity. The sensors can detect oestrus activity and certain diseases earlier and more accurately than traditional methods.  “Precision livestock farming is designed to empower vets and farmers to take action earlier, maximise animal welfare and minimise any impacts on productivity,” says Dr Roberstson. “Ultimately, we’re working towards goals such as supporting vets to reduce the amount and frequency of antibiotic use, which is a critical challenge for our industry moving forward.”

Careers and coaching

Of course, not all vets want a complete severance from clinical practice when redefining their career goals. They may take a sabbatical, they may decide to concentrate in one area of clinical practice or they may choose to work part-time. On the other hand, some vets choose to make a full change, embracing a new position or business so completely, there is no time for traditional clinical practice. Dr Emma Davis has multi-streamed her career since graduating from the University of Sydney in 2001. While working in full-time practice, she also volunteered with Lifeline and a number of other local charities. At present she works full-time building her business, Global Veterinary Solutions (GVS). This enterprise has two arms—Veterinary Careers, a career hub for veterinarians highlighting the diversity of roles available for them, and a service providing technical and administrative virtual assistance to help veterinary businesses solve problems. Additionally, Dr Davis runs a veterinary career and business coaching business that helps people improve their veterinary business while propelling them towards financial and personal success. “I love my veterinary career to date; it’s been full of surprises,” says Dr Davis. “I love the challenge and unravelling the puzzle. I spent five years working in mixed and equine practices, and then moved to a government position. I’ve worked on really interesting projects including highly pathogenic avian influenza in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, ensuring equine influenza didn’t breach our borders again, animal welfare, and safe production of food. Now I get to support the amazing people who work in these fields, and support them in creating positive change for our quiet, caring profession.” Veterinarians have a wide skill set and attributes that are highly sought after if they decide on a career change. These agile, highly trained professionals possess resilience, resourcefulness and great communication skills. They are used to applying risk-based decision-making and dealing with distraught clients. “It’s great to assist them in tapping into this wealth of experience and attributes, and see them take charge of their careers again,” says Dr Davis. Dr Britton agrees. “It’s amazing just how diverse is the veterinary degree and the opportunities it can offer. While working in clinical practice is a passion for some vets, those who are feeling unfulfilled can turn to government, industries, university, research, or whatever. I’m really keen to see that vets don’t close off their options. The whole thing about our job is that you can use your skills in many different ways. There is no downside to trying other opportunities.” V


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Good client relationships are essential for any veterinary practice, but what do you do when a client really tests your patience? By John Burfitt


Anyone working in a veterinary clinic knows of at least

one difficult client who transforms even the most routine task into a drama, and can turn a consultation into a catastrophe. Sometimes, these patients are just demanding, irritated or angry. There are also the highly-emotional ones, distressed about their beloved pet. Then there are others who want the best service, but will question every cent on the bill. These sorts of dramas can have, however, adverse effects. It was an issue highlighted in the 2014 Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Survey, with respondents revealing the main challenges facing the veterinary profession were high client expectations and demands (53.8 per cent) as well as stress levels among veterinary staff (53.4 per cent). Attrition levels of people leaving the profession was one of the main areas of investigation of the recent Lincoln Institute’s Vet Shortage Think Tank report, which also concluded the main

reasons for the exodus ranged from high stress and mental health issues through to excessive client expectations. Aussie vet Dr Ruth Parkin, who now works in the US cities of Portland and Denver, was the head vet of busy practice for a few years, but eventually gave up the role in favour of locum work due to excessive client demands. “The thing that burns out a lot of vets is the owners,” Dr Parkin says. “Many are reasonable and understand the costs, but there are enough who don’t and pass blame on as they can’t afford the test or the surgery and expect the vet to do it for free. “I’ve had clients screaming in my face over a $20 test because they didn’t think they should have to pay. There’s also the stress of having reasonable owners who legitimately can not afford the service and that limits the quality of care you are able to give to your patient, which can make good doctors feel like they are failing their patients even though it is not through any fault of



their own. Dealing with all of that, often on a daily basis, exhausts good people.” Experiences like Dr Parkin’s are not isolated, claims veterinary training consultant Dr Diederik Gelderman. “I hear about cases like this all the time and I think a lot of this stress comes down to a matter of training,” he says. “It is an established fact that veterinary science is a high-stress profession, so assisting people on how to cope with clients who are challenging needs to be a priority.” Associate Professor Martin Cake of Perth’s Murdoch University believes vets need to adopt a more balanced approach towards their work, one that places as much focus on how they deal with clients as it does on taking care of their own wellbeing. Professor Cake is the project leader behind the VetSet2Go program, which aims to build veterinary employability, with effective relationships one of the major framework dimensions. “Rather than trying to change the client, you’re far better trying to focus on the way you deal with situations like this,” he says. “A more balanced approach is important and empathy is the key. I’m not trying to push a ‘Pollyanna’ attitude, but if you

only focus on the negatives, that is all you will see. We need to balance out the view and just as equally recall the many happy clients who are great to work with. That’s when you need to take a good look at how you deal with your circumstances. “A major dimension of the VetSet2Go employability framework is effective relationships, which includes client relationships. Capabilities underpinning that includes communication skills, empathy, trustworthiness and relationship-centred care approaches.” Utilising resilience and empathy are the key factors when dealing with challenging clients claims Michelle Gibbings, the founder of consultancy Change Meridian and author of the book Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work. “If you use empathy and mindfulness to understand what the client is going through, it allows you to detach from the experience and makes you realise the way they are reacting is usually not about you,” she explains. “Recognising that can be a really important way to cope and means you are not engaging emotionally. You remain as professional as possible but show understanding.

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“It is an established fact that veterinary science is a high-stress profession, so assisting people on how to cope with clients who are challenging needs to be a priority.” Dr Diederik Gelderman, veterinary training consultant

“Never forget that when people are emotional and feel vulnerable about a pet they love, they’re not at their best and compassion can make the world of difference to how it plays out.” Which does not mean, however, that vets should tolerate extreme levels of behaviour. There are times, Gibbings insists, clear boundaries need to be set. “All relationships are two-way streets, so you might need to

consider the way you are communicating, and if it is abrasive and abrupt, then don’t be surprised if you are encountering the same back,” she says. “By the same token, you should never allow yourself to be emotionally abused. So if someone is screaming, you might need to say, ‘I’m happy to help you, but not when you talk to me like that’. You need to be calm and not emotional as you do it, but if that client continues to carry on, then you are within your rights to ask them to leave. Taking care of you own wellbeing must remain paramount.” Vets adopting a personal care wellbeing regime, be it regular exercise or techniques like yoga and meditation, is something that needs to extend way beyond the workplace, adds Dr Gelderman. “It’s about how you take care of yourself, and if you’re going to be in this profession, then that needs to be a part of your approach,” he says. “You can’t control what another person feels or what is happening in their lives, but you can change how you perceive and manage it. With all we know now, that needs to be a part of the way vets approach their careers. V

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Community animal management

is a broad and challenging welfare area. It can include the capture and holding of stray animals, reuniting lost animals with owners, euthanising unwanted companion animals and ferals, and fostering animals. While the responsibility is shouldered by local councils, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has been involved in consultations at a state and national level for many years. Despite this, no standardised agreement has been reached. “At present, there is no Australian Government animal welfare strategy for companion animals,” says Dr Julia Crawford, AVA president. “Every state has differing Acts and councils within states vary in how these Acts are interpreted and executed.” Dr Jenny Wingham, who co-owns Mona Vale Veterinary Hospital on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, is actively advocating for a centralised shelter and holding facility in her local area. Northern Beaches Council was formed in 2016 with the amalgamation of Manly, Pittwater and Warringah councils. It


covers a huge area, stretching from Palm Beach to Manly, and includes approximately 51 wildlife protection areas. At present, Northern Beaches Council has an arrangement with two local veterinary practices that act as holding facilities for stray animals. Both practices tendered for these positions and this type of set-up is common in many other local council areas. “Council works with a great team at the two veterinary clinics that cater for distressed and abandoned animals,” says Ray Brownlee, CEO at Northern Beaches Council. “We believe it’s an effective way to ensure we are conducting our core duties to the highest standard.” However, Dr Wingham has a vision of a more comprehensive and integrated community animal welfare centre on the Northern Beaches

A better way?

“The Animal Welfare League ran a registered shelter at Ingleside for years,” explains Dr Wingham. “They took in strays,

Photography: Arunas Klupsas

Community animal welfare is usually the responsibility of local councils, but should local vets have more input into the process? By Frank Leggett

“There is a fabulous opportunity for vets to work with local government to lessen the load on everyone by improving efficiencies, helping each other and most importantly, advancing the cause of pets in our communities.� Dr Jenny Wingham, co-owner, Mona Vale Veterinary Hospital


C OV E R S T O RY organised rehoming and would even do behavioural work. They utilised a lot of volunteers, and local people would drop in to walk the dogs. “This facility was permanently shut down in late 2018 due to issues relating to the building code and waste water management. Now it just sits vacant. I’m advocating the establishment of a cooperative animal and environment facility that would incorporate a pound, a self-funded animal shelter, boarding kennels/cattery, and a base for local wildlife rescue groups. The facility could be used as a community educational resource for council and local wildlife groups with strong emphasis on responsible pet ownership and caring for the local environment. The facility could be manned by council rangers and shelter employees with help from animal welfare and wildlife volunteers.” Of course, to set up this type of facility is entirely reliant on logistics and cost, but the benefits to animal welfare and the community would be exceptional. As Dr Wingham points out, “It’s important to recognise the benefits provided by such a facility in terms of animal health and welfare, as well as community mental health. Additionally, there would be the chance to educate kids and help them connect with nature. You can’t assign a dollar value to that.” The AVA Policy on animal shelters and municipal pounds is quite extensive but, in part, states that a municipal pound or animal shelter plays an important role in reuniting lost animals with their owners, the control of surplus dog and cat populations, and the provision of veterinary services. “The AVA believes it is important that the pound or shelter is owned by a municipality rather than by individuals or private organisations so that solutions to unwanted companion animal problems are recognised as a responsibility of the whole community,” says Dr Crawford. “However, it should be noted that this policy was written in 2013 and there are now council areas where microchipping has reached a level that very few stray animals need impounding. This may be leading to the outsourcing of pound facilities.”

Easing the burden

Having a central, council-owned animal welfare facility would also ease the burden and costs that local veterinarians often have to carry. If an injured animal is brought to a veterinarian, there’s an obligation and responsibility of care. This is entirely appropriate. However, there are many situations that could be handled more efficiently if the local community has access to a council facility. For example, someone may find a tick-affected animal and drop it at the local vet. The staff will treat the animal, administer first aid and do whatever is necessary to save the animal. Then, if the animal is not microchipped, they either have to hold it for two weeks or transfer it to a holding facility. If there is no local shelter, things become even more difficult. A centralised shelter run as a cooperative between local government and local vets could better triage, treat and recuperate such a patient—and then seamlessly organise rehoming. This would be a health benefit to the animal and a time and money saver for the local vet. Another issue, and one that Dr Wingham has noticed in her local area, is the growth in the number of fostering groups. “For want of a better system, foster groups have set up their own


Above: Staff at Mona Vale Veterinary Hospital on Sydney’s Northern Beaches treating a patient. Opposite page: Dr Jenny Wingham (seen here with a volunteer from S.A.F.E) believes there are opportunities for vets to work with local government to lessen the load on everyone by improving efficiencies, helping each other and most importantly, advancing the cause of pets in our communities.

shelters and rehoming charities that are run entirely by volunteers. These groups do a great job but there is no over-reaching governance and that opens the system to inefficiencies, burnout and individual’s agendas. Surely this is something that should fall under the jurisdiction of a government agency and require veterinary guidelines.” Once again, a council-run facility could organise and regulate foster carers in a cohesive way. It could even institute background checks to ensure a gold standard of animal health and safety.

Different departments

In each council area, different aspects of animal management are run by different departments and organisations. At Northern Beaches Council, rangers and animal management officers conduct patrols and enforce regulations in wildlife protection areas. Principally, they are dealing with the management of dogs and cats on council land. Management of animals in national parks is the responsibility of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Animals removed from unhealthy situations are the responsibility of the RSPCA. Injured wildlife is normally taken to animal welfare agencies. Key educational events for the community is one of the core requirements for their council’s animal management team. These include educating the public about responsible pet ownership.

While this is an entirely workable system, Dr Wingham would like to see better communication and interaction between all arms of animal management. Once again, a central, council-run animal management centre could house representatives of all these different organisations and departments, facilitating a more cohesive approach to animal management in their area. “The easier it is for everyone to communicate, the better it is for the animals, residents, staff and professionals in that local area,” says Dr Wingham.

Role of vets

Veterinarians are always going to be a part of community animal welfare but should that involvement be through a more formalised agreement? While most councils—such as Northern Beaches Council—are doing the right thing, the possibility that vets could be exploited is a concern. In country areas where local councils cover large areas but have limited funding, there is often an expectation that the local vet will take in a stray dog at any hour. Further, they are often left holding the dog for extended periods with no cost to the council. What’s needed is for vets to be part of the local government structure. “Veterinarians should be involved in an advisory capacity,” says Dr Wingham. “I know of several animal management centres run as cooperatives in local government areas that are having a crack at getting this right. There is a fabulous opportunity for vets to work with local government to lessen the load on everyone by improving efficiencies, helping each other and most importantly, advancing the cause of pets in our communities.” The AVA guidelines clearly state that “animals kept in pounds and shelters must be housed under appropriate conditions

that ensure their health and welfare, meeting the animals’ physiological, behavioural and social needs. All animals must be cared for humanely but only animals with suitable health and behaviour should be rehomed. Veterinarians should be involved in assessing an animal’s behaviour and suitability for rehoming.” Dr Crawford states it bluntly when she says, “Ideally, every council should have an animal care and management advisory committee which would include a local veterinarian or veterinarians.” Northern Beaches Council is very proactive in animal welfare management. It works with local vets when conducting information nights and when holding events throughout the year, including dogs day out and canine days. “Council is always willing to work with our local stakeholders in managing companion animals,” says Ray Brownlee. “Our local vets are well-trained and a very good source of information on animal behaviour in many different kinds of situations.” The current situation sees each state operating under different Acts and each council interpreting their requirements differently. While it’s a workable system, it also means that, sometimes, vets can be taken advantage taken of and best practice not be followed. “In my opinion,” says Dr Wingham, “the best thing would be for each council area to have a local government-owned facility that runs as a pound, a shelter, an education hub for community groups, and has educational facilities for children. There would be volunteers helping out and dog walking opportunities for people who can’t own dogs. It would be a hub for all the different arms of animal welfare in the local area. And last but definitely not least, it would deal with stray animals in a commonsense and compassionate way.” V


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Vet Practice magazine’s guide to the best new products for large-animal vets




Large animal product guide

Take your practice further with ezyVet Go Why ezyVet Go? For large animal and equine vets working out in the field, the consult workflow often differs to when you’re in the clinic. You may not have access to WIFI, but still want easy access to your appointments, patient information, and products. You might write down your notes and track your appointments on paper, but need that information entered into your Practice Management System at the end of the day. ezyVet Go is an app that works alongside ezyVet to simplify and automate the

consult workflow for large animal and equine vets using ezyVet, ensuring your notes and charges don’t get missed. Why you’ll love ezyVet Go Access You’ll have offline access to your current appointments, as well as patient clinical and financial history, allowing you to make better informed decisions while you’re on the go. Capture Type or dictate exam notes, and capture

images, medications, vaccinations, procedures, and other misc. products, while you’re on the go. With multiple patient control, you can add notes and charges to more than one patient at a time. Automate Automated billing capture technology in ezyVet and ezyVet Go means your charges are automatically added to a draft invoice which can be viewed in ezyVet Go, ready to sync back to ezyVet as an invoice when you come back online. You can add or edit appointments, contacts, and patients, that also sync back to ezyVet. About ezyVet ezyVet is an easy to use, all-in-one Veterinary Practice Management solution. Packed full of tools and features to help vets, be vets and run your practice to its full potential. Improve workflows, collect data and make better business decisions, today. V ezyVet Go is available for ezyVet customers only. Contact us today at or by phone on 1300 EZYVET to find out what ezyVet can do for your practice.


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Large animal product guide

ARO Systems can make you a Vet of the Future Equine care is a speciality of ARO Systems. Working in the equine veterinary industry, you have made a commitment to your patients and their owners to provide the very best veterinary care possible. However, not having access to the right veterinary imaging equipment can significantly compromise your ability to deliver on this promise. This is where ARO Systems can help by offering specific equipment for the task. The ARO Systems RadmediX Equine DR systems offers a best in class 76 micron resolution and system weight of approximately 5kg including the laptop, DR panel and Podoblock protection box in a 10x12” system. ARO Systems will help you make the most efficient use of your time possible. To help you gain efficiencies,

increase productivity, and reduce errors, we recommend that you use leverage our DICOM Cloud Service to automate your image storage and availability in your veterinary practice and mobile locations, anywhere, anytime. We offer the total solution for both large and small practices, including: l Digital Radiography solutions l Equine positioning equipment l Portable X-ray equipment & accessories l Radiation protection equipment l Image Storage in house l Image Storage – Cloud l X Ray rooms l Dental Solutions l Ultrasound + Much Much More

Radmedix Acuity 1012 DR Panel

EASILY STORE YOUR IMAGES AUTOMATICALLY BY OUR REVOLUTIONARY DICOM CLOUD BASED SYSTEM – ANYWHERE, ANYTIME & SECURE. What our clients say. “For any practice that is looking to modernise their imaging equipment for the future, I would definitely recommend engaging ARO Systems. We have had an excellent experience working with them so far and look forward to doing so into the future.” Bessy Rasmussen, Director, The University of Adelaide Veterinary Health Centres Contact Read Hedditch, on 1300 596 664, Or Email him –

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TOOLSOFTHETRADE This month, our vets review a calming synthetic pheromone for cats, a digital radiograph, a wireless otoscope and a Doppler blood pressure monitor.


by Dr Nic Cher, Fortitude Valley Vet, QLD Feliway contains a feline appeasing pheromone that’s a synthetic copy of the familiarisation facial pheromone that cats use to mark objects in their environments. It helps to pacify cats, particularly if they are stressed. What’s good about it We have a Feliway diffuser in our clinic and clients often comment on how much calmer their cat is in the practice. By keeping the cats relaxed, it also keeps our clients and staff calm. We also have a boarding cattery with a Feliway diffuser and the cats are always very relaxed. They move freely around the cattery and exit their cat cage without any problems. They’re never stressed and never hide from people. The spray version of Feliway is very handy. We use it on the table mat every time a cat is in for an examination. When cats are being brought into the cattery, we spray their crate and boarding cage. It instantly gives them a shot of calming pheromones while the diffuser keeps them relaxed once they arrive. Feliway helps our two clinic cats to cope with strange cats, dogs and people coming and going. Humans can’t smell anything and it really makes a difference. Our clinic is situated in inner-city Brisbane and we sell this product over the counter to clients. There are a lot of high-rise apartments around us and Feliway is very useful in a multi-cat household. It’s also handy if there are big changes in a person’s living circumstances, such as a new baby or new house.

SOPIX DIGITAL RADIOGRAPH SYSTEM by Dr Kirsten Hailstone, Adelaide Animal Emergency & Referral Centre, SA

This is an imaging software package that can be added to a laptop or computer in your practice. It comes with a direct digital sensor that’s used in conjunction with an X-ray generator. Once the sensor is placed inside an animal’s mouth, an immediate X-ray image comes up on the computer. It can be used for dental procedures on cats and dogs. What’s good about it The results appear on the computer screen within 20 to 30 seconds of use. The clarity, quality and definition of the image is superb. The Sopix is also incredibly easy to use. Traditionally, X-rays were taken using film that you develop yourself or that’s placed into an automatic X-ray processor. However, that requires the plate to be removed from the animal’s mouth. If you don’t like the result, repeating the process is very difficult. This system leaves the plate in situ. When you’re not happy with the image or it needs a small adjustment, the plate and generator are still in position. It only takes a moment to take another image. The learning curve for intraoral dental radiography is much better with this format. When teaching people to use intraoral X-rays, it has assisted dramatically.

What’s not so good Nothing is 100 per cent reliable and I have heard of cases where cats have a negative reaction to Feliway.

What’s not so good Compared to a standard intraoral film, this sensor is more expensive. However, what usually happens with intraoral plates is that they end up sitting on the bench a lot of the time. The Sopix sensor gets used—so while it’s more expensive, it pays for itself faster.

Where did you get it Lyppard ( V

Where did you get it K9 Gums ( V



by Dr Irene Mitry, Clyde Veterinary Hospital, VIC I’ve been using the Firefly otoscope for the past six months and have been really happy with it. It does its job extremely well and allows clients to have a look inside the ear of their pet.

Photography: Supplied

What’s good about it The Firefly comes with a range of different sized speculums so it can be used with a variety of animals. We mainly use it for checking ear canals and it works extremely well. There’s one long speculum and a pair of flexible forceps that are great for removing grass seeds from ear canals. Sometimes it’s necessary to sedate the animal in order to clean out the ears. Clients can be a little resistant to the idea of sedation but it’s easy to justify with the Firefly. I can use a screen to show them exactly what’s happening in the ear of their pet and I don’t have to say much more. The extent of the problem is right in front of their eyes. You can also take photos through the otoscope and attach them to the patient file. When the client returns to pick up their animal, we can then show them the before and after images. The Firefly otoscope is an accurate and easy-to-operate piece of equipment. As it’s wireless, it’s easy to position and it offers up to 150X magnification. The LED lighting is great and clearly illuminates the fields of view. What’s not so good The only real negative is the price, which is quite expensive. However, I use the Firefly so frequently, it’s probably the best money I’ve ever spent. Where did you get it DLC ( V

by Dr Laura Thompson, Byford Vet Hospital, WA We routinely measure blood pressure of mature feline patients as part of our annual wellness examination. This helps to prevent problems associated with high blood pressure in cats and can assist in the early diagnosis of other systemic diseases. We’ve been using Vet-Dop2 unit for over 12 months and it has certainly improved the way we manage our mature feline patients. What’s good about it With a little training and practice, the Vet-Dop2 is very simple for all staff members to use. It’s a task that our nurses can perform while our vets are busy doing other things. It is minimally stressful for the patient and a fairly accurate way to measure blood pressure non-invasively. The unit comes with headphones but we find clients quite enjoy being involved and hearing their pet’s pulse. It can also be used with other species and comes with a wide range of cuff sizes to facilitate all patients. While I haven’t used any other brand of Doppler BP machine, I have measured BP with the oscillometric equipment in our anaesthetic monitoring machine. Results were inconsistent, there were annoying beeping alarms, and it was a little frustrating having to cart the machine from the surgical suite to our quiet cat consult room. Our Vmed Vet-Dop2 is small and packs away into a convenient carry bag. It can stay in the cat consult room or be moved around the hospital with ease. What’s not so good Erroneous results can occur if the operator is not appropriately trained. Where did you get it VetQuip ( V



Most weekends you’ll find Lucie Kantor VN, of Avondale Heights Veterinary Hospital in Victoria, at her local BMX track. the track. A lot of the riders are very skilled and love the competition. I like to take it easy and enjoy the experience without the fear of injury. When I’m not racing, I officiate at the races. “BMX racing can be a very affordable sport. You can buy a second-hand bike and helmet and you’re good to go. When the members are not training, anyone can ride a track; you don’t have to be a member. Of course, at a professional level the equipment is high quality and priced accordingly. “BMX is a very welcoming sport that’s open to everybody. We have whole families who are members. There are also riders aged over 50 who are much better at BMX racing than me. It really deserves to be supported by authorities and councils as it prevents kids from being bored and, in the worst case, following the wrong life path. “BMX appeals to me on many levels. It’s an outside sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Skill levels in BMX racing vary from casual riders to professionals who compete around the world. There are no restrictions and it’s a lot of fun. Each weekend, I can’t wait to get out on the track. See you there!” V

Interview: Frank Leggett

“I started riding BMX as a way to share a sport with my partner. He gave me one of his old heavy bikes and took me out to the track. We rode around for a while and practised going over a few small bumps. Then we went to the start hill that’s quite high off the ground. “You pick up a lot of speed riding down the start hill and the first jump was so steep, I came to a complete stop. It looked like a wall. There was no way I was going to ride over it. I didn’t want to get killed or injured. “I’ve improved a lot since then. We joined the Wyndham Warriors BMX Club and in 2017 the Victorian titles were held there. That motivated me to start training and I entered into a competition. I placed third in my age category. “BMX is all about you. Unlike team sports, if you’re not good enough, you’re not dragging everybody down. I really like being out in the fresh air, riding my BMX bike and being part of the community. BMX clubs and races are run and organised by volunteers. “I’m at the club most weekends as I like riding around


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Vet Practice August 2019  

Vet Practice August 2019