Page 1



Preventing back pain in a profession that invites it page 8


Three ways to raise fees page 16

Outsider The

“I don’t believe that just because an animal is destined to be a food source, it should be subjected to lower health and welfare outcomes.”—Dr Lynn Simpson

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Contents December 2016

Cover story

The outsider 24 When Dr Lynn Simpson tried to improve animalwelfare conditions from the inside, she found herself cast out, a victim of regulatory capture.

News + events 8

The latest in the veterinary world Homes for the pets of domestic-violence victims; a vaccine prize; the fight against drug-resistant bacteria; and more



Your world

Back story 8 Complaints of chronic back pain are common among veterinary professionals, but there are various ways to manage and prevent it.

Your business

How to survey your clients Don’t make assumptions. Instead, ask customers what they think you’re doing right and wrong.


Raising fees 16 Charging more money to keep up with costs is a big headache for vets who otherwise may be caught in a bind of undercharging. Light fantastic 20 Some veterinary professionals regard it as just another ‘alternative treatment’; others swear by its effectivness. Vet Practice asks some vets to comment on laser therapy.


Your tools

Tools of the trade Reviewed by vets around Australia.


Your life 24

PRACTICE For all editorial or advertising enquiries: Phone (02) 9660 6995 Fax (02) 9518 5600 info@vetpracticemag.com.au

Wide open road When the open road beckons, Dr Kate Forster of Harradine & Associates Veterinary Surgeons in Bunbury, WA, goes for a spin on her Harley.

46 Editor Alex Gilly


Associate Editor Kathy Graham

Art Director John Yates

Digital Director Ann Gordon

Contributors Susan Chenery, Frank Leggett, Kerryn Ramsey, Chris Sheedy, Rachel Smith

4,740 - CAB audited as at September 2016.


Intern Krisinda Merhi

Sales Director Adam Cosgrove

Editorial Director Rob Johnson

Commercial Director Mark Brown

Vet Practice magazine is published 11 times a year by Engage Media, Suite 4.06, 55 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.

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Th e Ve te r i n a r y D e n t a l Co m p a ny


The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) welcomes the Victorian government’s plan to help end family violence and is calling for the provision of pet-friendly accommodation for victims with pets. The government has pledged to establish a network of support and safety hubs across Victoria where victims can access the support they need. They have also announced that a further $218 million will be invested in social housing and private rental assistance.

Homes for the pets of domestic violence victims

AVA Victorian Division president, Dr Paul Martin, said that providing pet-friendly crisis accommodation will allow those fleeing from domestic violence to house their pets with them. “There’s a direct link between animal and human-directed cruelty, abuse and aggression. Research shows that offenders of domestic violence often have a pattern of abuse involving all members of the household—including children and pets,” Dr Martin said.

“When victims of domestic violence try to escape their abusive homes, they’re not only faced with the challenge of finding shelter for themselves and their children, but also for their pets.” Dr Martin added: “In some cases, victims may stay in abusive homes for longer than necessary for fear of leaving their pets behind. There have also been some cases where a perpetrator of domestic violence has tried to lure family members back by threatening to harm the pet.”

Applications now open for vaccine prize A US $30 million prize competition to develop a brucellosis vaccine to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in developing countries is now open for applications. The Brucellosis Vaccine Prize invites vaccine developers to submit their proposals for—and ultimately develop—a suitable vaccine that is efficacious, safe and viable for use against Brucella melitensis in small ruminants across the developing world. The competition is funded by AgResults, a collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia,

Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in an effort to find innovative solutions from the private sector to seemingly intractable development challenges. Peter Jeffries, CEO of GALVmed, said the competition mechanism is designed to help control brucellosis, which impacts the majority of the 600 million people in developing countries whose livelihoods depend on livestock. “Brucellosis is a significant disease for


many in the developing world and there is a significant unmet need in terms of the vaccines currently available. While a brucellosis vaccine exists, the zoonotic disease remains endemic across much of the developing world.” Brucellosis can also be transmitted to humans. Applications for the first phase of the competition—for which there are 10 prizes of US $100,000—must be received by November 2017. Potential entrants are invited to submit their applications at www.brucellosisvaccine.org.


Animal welfare organisation thanks Hills RSPCA Australia last month expressed its gratitude to Hill’s Pet Nutrition for helping keep shelter animals around Australia well-fed, after the partnership reached one million kilos of pet food provided over the last three years. The RSPCA’s partnership with Hill’s stretches back more than 18 years. Hill’s supplies and delivers an average of 350,000 kilograms of pet food to RSPCA member societies annually. “This is an incredible milestone to reach,” said RSPCA Australia national partnerships manager Hayley Nicholls. “Without the help of Hill’s, the RSPCA would struggle financially to feed the thousands of dogs and cats in our care awaiting adoption, but thanks to Hill’s generosity we are able to consistently provide healthy and nutritious food to these animals.” Hill’s Pet Nutrition are the major national nutrition sponsor and official dog and cat food provider to the RSPCA, as well as the major national sponsor of the Million Paws Walk.

Vets can help fight drug-resistant bacteria The urgent need to tackle growing antibiotic resistance was the focus of this year’s Antibiotic Awareness Week, held 1420 November. Backed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) in partnership with other leading health and livestock organisations and agencies, Antibiotic Awareness Week in Australia is part of a global push endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to encourage people to handle antibiotics with care to slow the development of antibioticresistant bacteria. The collaborative ‘One Health’ approach in Australia—involving the Commission, various federal government departments, NPS MedicineWise and the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)—aims to raise awareness of the importance of appropriate prescribing of antibiotics to humans and their use in animals. Australia’s chief veterinary officer, Dr Mark Schipp, said the Department of Agriculture

and Water Resources undertook microbial resistance surveillance in Australian livestock and aquatic animal sectors to support WHO’s initiatives towards mitigating antimicrobial resistance. “The Australian agriculture sector is doing its part to help manage antibiotic resistance,” he said. “While antimicrobials have a variety of uses in agriculture and are regarded as important for animal health, welfare, biosecurity and production, Australia has one of the most conservative approaches to the use of antimicrobials in livestock production in the world. For example, fluoroquinolones have not been registered for use in food-producing animals.” AVA president Dr Robert Johnson added: “We know that we need to monitor the use of antibiotics in animals in order to tackle antibiotic resistance effectively. Antibiotic Awareness Week is a great opportunity for all of us who use antibiotics to work together on this global problem.”

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR INDUSTRY SURVEY WINNERS! Vet Practice and CH2 are thrilled to announce the winners of the best story idea competition that accompanied our 2016 industry survey. Third prize—an iPad Mini 2—goes to Alana Dowdell of Caroline Springs Veterinary Hospital, VIC. Second prize—an Apple Watch Sport—goes to Mikala Smith of The Lost Dogs’ Home, VIC. And first prize—an iPad Air 2—goes to Ashleigh Willis of Earlwood Animal Hospital, NSW. Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to everyone who participated.


Veterinary is no ordinary business. Vetplus® is no ordinary business resource. Vetplus® is a dynamic, online veterinary resource with innovative tools and clinical expertise, including: • Website templates for your practice • Education and training programs for you and your staff • First Aid app for your customers • Materials for your practice (brochures, newsletter content and more) • Loyalty rewards If you are an existing Vetplus® member, thank you for your support. If you would like to become a Vetplus® member please speak to your Boehringer Ingelheim Territory Sales Manager or call 1800 038 037.

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Back STORY Complaints of chronic back pain are common in the veterinary professions but there are various ways to manage and prevent it. Kerryn Ramsey investigates

DR STEPHANIE WRIGHT, an Edinburghborn veterinarian, knows all about the discomfort of long-term back injury from working in her profession. After spending 15 years with unrelenting pain, she finally had a major operation. Now running Murwillumbah Vet Clinic, a small-animal practice in far north-eastern NSW, Dr Wright admits this was the best thing she’s ever done. Looking back, she admits she did “far too much heavy physical lifting, particularly with cattle”, while working in mixed practices in the north of England in the ’90s. “I was a bit young and silly back then but as a female, I was reluctant to ask for help from farmers. I was trying to prove myself in a very male environment.” Her back injury occurred as a result of performing multiple caesarian sections on cows. After time off and some regular exercise, the pain eventually subsided. Dr

Wright moved to Australia in 1993 and worked comfortably for mixed-animal practices but her back pain returned in 2000 when working on the NSW north coast. One day, she was helping a vet X-ray a horse. She recalls: “I was holding the foot and all of a sudden, the stallion decided to lean against me and drop all his weight onto me. That was when I felt my back give out.” She soon discovered she had a slipped disc. Back pain is a common complaint for veterinarians and vet nurses in both large-


and smallanimal practices. According to Dr Mark Craig, who practises musculoskeletal medicine at his Back Doctor practices in Brisbane


“Living with chronic pain is hard ... when it was really bad, I couldn’t even get dressed.”

and on the sedentary and Gold Coast, it spend a long time is essential to standing—say, get the right in an operating diagnosis after an theatre—often Dr Stephanie Wright, injury. “That way, suffer from Murwillumbah Vet Clinic you’ll then get the discogenic back right treatment. Three pain,” says Dr Craig. of the most common “Likewise, professions causes are disc injury, facet with a lot of sitting still, joint arthropathy and sacroiliac joint whether from long drives or in front dysfunction.” of a computer, also suffer. Undoubtedly, there are risks when “The discs don’t have any blood supply; working in the veterinary profession, but they get oxygen and nutrition from the back pain is extremely common across surrounding tissue fluid. Movement causes the entire population. According to an compression and release, and that gets the article in the Medical Journal of Australia, fluid in and out of the discs. So you need 80 per cent of Australians will be affected activity to keep the discs healthy.” during their lives. “People who are In many cases, he says, the best treatment for back pain is core stability training, such as Pilates and yoga. However, surgery may be the only option in a small minority of cases. After Dr Wright’s disc injury in 2001, she spent a few years trying to recover by doing regular McKenzie exercises (a mix of physical therapy and exercise), using non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and seeing a GP, physiotherapist and acupuncturist. Although she could only work comfortably three days a week, Dr Wright decided to join with a business partner to open the Murwillumbah Vet Clinic. “With a new business, I didn’t want to turn work down, even though I was in quite a lot of pain. Living with chronic pain is hard. I had to minimise my lifting but when I was really bad, I couldn’t even get dressed.” After giving birth to her second An ergonomic child in 2008, her back deteriorated chair can make all further and, after taking advice from the difference specialists, Dr Wright had major surgery—a fusion of L5-S1 and a disc replacement of L4. Although she was nervous due to major risks, there was an immediate improvement. “If I had known how good it would be, I would have had the surgery years ago,” she says.


While Dr Wright’s chronic back pain was severe, sufferers usually recover after doing core-strengthening exercise, such as Pilates, yoga and the McKenzie method. The Veterinary Industry Guide to Workplace Safety was endorsed by the Australian Veterinary Association and Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia (VNCA). Overall, if a staff member has back pain, they should seek appropriate medical treatment and advice—not only for the initial injury and pain but also to manage their back health going forward. According to VNCA national president Jacque Pollitt, prevention is better than cure. “We really need to ensure that we don’t accept or encourage a ‘tough as nails’ attitude that’s detrimental to your back in the short and long term,” she says. A common issue for veterinary staff is dealing with animals in cages and kennels. “Ideally, if patients can move out of a low cage by themselves, this minimises the risk to the veterinary nurse—but this is not always possible,” says Pollitt. “The safe lifting posture should always be used, remembering to bend at the knees and watch your head. It’s always important to assess the condition of the patient, taking care with sedated or recovering animals to avoid unexpected situations.” At veterinary practices and clinics, providing quality ergonomic equipment such as scissor-lift trolleys and stretchers can help alleviate lower back pain. “Clinics should promote safe working practices and aim to have kennel rooms with cages that are easily accessible,” advises Pollitt. “You also need to know how to lift properly. Our rule is that any animal over 10 kilos requires two people to lift it. We have a table in the consulting room and a table in the prep area that can move up and down.” Dr Mark Craig notes that optimal ergonomics—such as saddle stools, office chairs and sit-to-stand desks—all help improve posture. He also notes that a hydraulic operating platform needs to be well positioned for veterinarians. “The cost of a suitable operating platform would be much less than the cost of medical care due to injury from suboptimal ergonomics,” he says. “It’s a false economy not to do it.”

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How to survey your

clients Don’t make assumptions. Instead, ask customers what they think you’re doing right and wrong. By Chris Sheedy

“Unless you understand how your customers feel about you, you can never continually improve your practice.” Hunter Leonard, CEO, Blue Frog Marketing



WHEN A CUSTOMER walks through the door of your practice, they are loaded with expectations. It’s vital for the continued success of your business to find out whether you have met, exceeded or failed those expectations. In other words, what did you do well and how could you improve? But how do you seek such feedback and make sure it is as honest and useful as possible? The solution is likely as simple as a wificonnected iPad, kept on a stand by the reception desk. As staff are processing payments or organising prescriptions, they guide each client to the survey, assuring them that it is anonymous and that it will only take a minute. The iPad shows a survey that has been pre-programmed into SurveyMonkey (or similar service), which collates and compares all data for you. This means there is no extra work for staff to do apart from politely pointing clients (and only the right clients—more on that later) to the survey in the first place. The result is a constantly updated, real-time survey that tells you exactly how your business is faring on any given day. It is one of the simplest but most powerful tools a practice can have because it keeps a running check on what is going well and what is not. Best of all, it is real data coming directly from the people who make or break your business—your customers. “If I was running a vet practice, the first thing I’d want is a general rating as to how satisfied clients are with my service,” says Hunter Leonard, founder and CEO of Blue Frog Marketing, a multi-award-winning strategic marketing consultancy. “That would just be a very simple question— ‘How are we doing? Rate us out of 10’. “The next thing I would do is pick the key elements of the customer experience such as booking an appointment, arriving and having the pet weighed, waiting in the waiting room, seeing the vet, prescription of products afterwards and paying, etc. I would think of all of the important moments when my customers experience my business and ask the customer to rate each one. That way, you can identify specific areas of your business that need attention. If people are less satisfied with the way they are greeted at reception, then you know you’ve got training needs

with your staff.” Leonard says. Simply ask the question Whoever you choose to survey, it is best ‘How likely are you to recommend this if they are simply visiting for a check-up or business to friends or family?’, and a simple procedure for their pet, Leonard request a rating out of 10. says. That way you keep your survey “You can run programs around referral sample standardised, and you marketing if you have a high net don’t include people who promoter score,” he says. are particularly stressed. “But if it’s low then you Julie Parker, coknow you need to founder of Julie do more work on The best time to survey Parker Practice making customers any customer is when Success, agrees. delighted, as Parker adds that opposed to just they’re on the premises, a particularly being satisfied.” as that is when the valuable person What happens to survey is the when you’ve practice itself is at new customer. collected the data the top of the Unlike regular and you see various customers, new trends? At this stage, person’s mind. clients have no idea how Parker says, too many your business works, what businesses simply file the sort of welcome they will receive information away rather than using from the staff at the front desk or how well it to make real and meaningful change. their pet will be treated. But they likely But actually the survey should have been have very high hopes, and you need to designed and written with a particular know how you fared against those hopes. action in mind, whether it be constant The best time to survey any customer improvement of the business, figuring is when they’re on the premises, as that out why customers are leaving or finding is when the practice itself is at the top of out why you’re attracting so many the person’s mind, Parker says. But if you new clients. can’t catch them on the way out, make “Take action on the information and sure it happens as soon as possible thank your clients for offering their after that. honest insights,” Parker says. “Tell your “Email can be very powerful,” she says. clients what you’ll be doing with their “With physical mail you have to rely on information, including how you and them posting it back to you, and that is your staff will be discussing, at regular too much effort to ask somebody to go to. meetings, how to turn the negatives back So email a survey within a few hours of into positives. You have to recognise the person’s visit. Consider also sending the information as brilliant and valuable a text to tell them that you have sent wisdom that otherwise would have cost the email, and that it will only take a few you a lot of money to collect.” minutes to fill out.” Leonard says the most important single A system such as SurveyMonkey, which piece of knowledge for any business is free up to a point, works well by email. owner is that they must maintain a But for particularly important surveys, ‘closeness’ with their customers. Regular you might consider paying a professional surveys are a good way to do this. survey business to look after it for you, “Unless you understand how your Parker says. customers feel about you, you can never “There is an entire psychology behind continually improve your practice,” he how to set up a great survey and how it says. “You can’t do it by internalising, is displayed on the screen,” she says. between you and your team, what you “Getting a professional company involved think is going well and what’s not. It is all helps to get the surveys designed, about the customer and what they feel. completed and assessed.” There’s too much competition these days Don’t forget to keep your finger on the to ignore the thoughts and feelings of pulse of your ‘net promoter score’ too, the customer.”


See More Do More


Charging more money to keep up with costs is a big headache for vets who otherwise may be caught in a bind of undercharging, writes Rachel Smith

fees How to raise your

and not lose patients

IT IS NO SECRET that owning a pet is costly—and that many pet owners blanch at the bill they receive after bringing their four-legged friend in for medical or surgical treatment. What they do not see is the flip side: the minefield many vets face when trying to set prices that are fair, cover their expenses, take into account inflation and deliver a profit. It is particularly tough given there are no standard fees or guidelines set by the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), leaving vets to figure it out for themselves. Do you charge high and make more, perhaps attracting clients who are not sensitive to price increases, or keep prices down to get more people in the door and hope to stay profitable by sheer turnover? And what do you do if you suspect you are undercharging? US-based vet practice management consultant Fritz Wood’s advice is to take action and correct the mistake

immediately—even if some clients vanish and others complain. “With fees, you’re never stuck,” he says. That said, many vets clearly feel that way, or at least, grapple with the right way to set or raise prices. Dr Dave Neck, who owns the small but busy Cottesloe Vet practice in Perth, is one of them. “I’m a practice owner and a fairly experienced vet and I still struggle with these decisions—most vets do,” he admits. “It’s something that often comes down to trial and error because while vets enter vet school to fix animals, we end up making business decisions about setting prices that we’re probably poorly qualified to make in many ways.” The opposition many vets face to their ‘expensive’ fees—or why they charge ‘so much’ for such a ‘quick’ procedure—does not help, adds Dani Bliim, training quality and communications manager at the Small Animal Specialist Hospital in Sydney.


“There’s an expectation that because we have public hospitals then our vets should be the same, but we’re a business like any other.”

PRICE RISES AND LOSING CLIENTS—IS IT A MYTH? Losing a chunk of your client base because you have mistakenly set fees too high is a worry for any vet, but according to Wood, it shouldn’t be. “Multiple studies in the US have shown that veterinary fees are inelastic, so fears of lost clients are overblown. For example, a five per cent fee increase will not result in five per cent of clients exiting. Therefore, fee increases result in greater net income.” That has been the experience for Dr Neck, who instigated an across-the-board price rise when other vets and pet stores moved into the neighbourhood, affecting his traffic. “It was just after the GFC and I’d not put my prices up for two years—I made the


“High quality veterinary care is expensive; that’s a fact wherever the practice is located. If your fees aren’t aligned with the value delivered, you have trouble ahead.” Fritz Wood

While Mrs Mabel can go and get Fluffy desexed for free or at discounted rates at the RSPCA or Cat Protection Society, many pet owners still want their vet to do it, making it a hard price to set. “It’s not fair to compare those charges to other fees because vets heavily discount desexing to avoid unwanted pets,” explains Dr Neck. “And people are paying for a personalised service. So what you charge is really part and parcel of the demographics you’re aiming for and how altruistic you are as a vet.”

HOW TO RAISE YOUR FEES decision not to while the economy was slow in WA,” he remembers. “Was that clever? Possibly not… a lot of vets follow the model of little and often, putting up their prices by one quarter to one per cent every three months, while others put it up by CPI every 12 months, for example. But not one person said, ‘Oh, prices have gone up’ and that was a 10 per cent price increase.” What about when it comes to desexing?

So, it is time to put up your prices. But do you raise fees across the board, or for certain treatments? Bliim says most vets will cherry-pick which fees to raise. “Small increments on certain charges can be raised to increase revenue. For instance, a dispensing fee increase that would affect all clients, or adding in a theatre fee for particular surgeries,” she suggests. Wood agrees that vets have latitude to raise ‘shopped’ fees annually—for

physical exams, fecal tests, heartworm tests and core vaccines—simply to keep pace with the cost of doing business. “‘Non-shopped’ fees, which typically include laboratory, radiology, anesthesia, hospitalisation and surgery, are different,” he explains. “These fees might be increased more than inflation and more than once a year. It’s instructive to compare your expenses from year to year. For example, if your total expenses in 2015 were $1,000,000 and in 2016 they were $1,060,000, your personal inflation rate was six per cent. If your fees don’t increase by at least as much, you’ve volunteered for a pay cut!” That said, fee rises must correlate to the level of client service you are offering, with consumers always comparing the value received to the value given. It is when they do not feel that they are getting good service that they will look more closely at the fees and perhaps decide to go to another vet, says Woods. “So while fees must rise continuously—as do practice expenses—so must the level of client service.”

WHAT SHOULD YOU TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN SETTING FEES? Pricing will depend on the demographic of where your practice is situated, and the type of clients you want to attract, says Bliim. “Not only is the clientele’s income important, but the type of patients you will see. For instance, west of Sydney this will generally be larger dogs and in the inner city, smaller dogs and cats, which also influences what type of services are offered—from grooming to puppy classes, obesity clinics and so on.” While pricing obviously has to be competitive, you also have to be careful deciding what level of service to offer and which type of clientele you want to attract— so do you want to add preventative medicine options or extras for more affluent clients, or just basic necessities for those who might not have thousands to spend? “Offering gold class type services in the wrong area would be career suicide,” adds Bliim. But then, business owners should not sell themselves short even if they are operating in less affluent areas, says Woods. “Highquality veterinary care is expensive; that’s a fact wherever the practice is located. If your fees aren’t aligned with the value delivered, you have trouble ahead.”



01 7


I am committed to best practice principles through regular continuing professional development with the Centre for Advanced Veterinary Education.




Some veterinary professionals regard it as just another ‘alternative treatment’; others swear by its effectivness. Susan Chenery asks some vets to comment on laser therapy

Light RODARN THE ELDERLY cattle dog had wobbled unsteadily into the surgery, ataxic in his back legs. After laser therapy, he trotted back out, wagging his tail. “Wow,” said his owner to veterinarian Dr Robert William, “you said it wouldn’t work straight away, but that is a marked improvement.” Dr William is himself so impressed with the Class IV laser, he has bought two: one for each of his Gold Coast vet surgeries. “I was going to have one between the two practices but this was too good not to have one at each practice.” He has been using it for five months on animals with arthritis, joint problems, and for healing after operations. “We have used it on a couple of surgical cases that weren’t healing well. One was a Jack Russell and the other one

was a Rottweiler. They both had anal gland removals that were causing them a bit of grief pain-wise. Literally within 48 hours, the improvement was staggering.” But he adds, “you have got to put this in the scheme of things with non-steroidals and opioids and other sorts of things. It is not the be all and end all. But it is an important extra modality that we use to aid pain relief.” Class IV laser therapy has become the fastest growing modality in the United States. Because it is non-invasive and stimulates inherent healing mechanisms via a process called photobiomodulation, it is estimated that more than one million


animals have been successfully treated using it in the past 10 years. Australia has been far slower to embrace the technology. “Laser therapy has been on the market for years,” says Dr Laurent Oner, a canine rehabilitation practitioner, whose company Alpha Mobility sells class IV lasers. “The class III was available for 30-40 years and suffered a lot of controversy about being ‘alternative’ medicine and not really efficient. A lot of vets don’t know the difference between a class III and a class IV. The new generation benefits from new technology, higher average power and scientific data collected over the years. Class IV lasers give the therapist the possibility to treat larger areas, faster and deeper in the tissue.”


Dr Oner continues: “It is infrared, painless and stimulates the chromophore. So you are going to have a type of enzyme which is in the mitochondria and by using [laser therapy], you can change the position of the energy in the cell. It is a brilliant tool for the big accidents. If the animal can put more weight down quicker and use their legs earlier than normal, it means that they have less muscle wastage. And overall, you gain a few months recovery just by having better pain management and better control at the beginning.” Dr Jane Rickard at Hills District Veterinary Hospital in Dural is a recent convert. “It has been terrific for my practice. There are lasers and there are lasers but a class IV laser puts out more photons or energy and therefore it penetrates tissues more deeply.” Rickard had been watching class III lasers used on greyhounds for “yonks. They were only penetrating into the tissue for the first centimetre. It was fine if you had a muscle tear right up near the skin, the laser would heal that. But with class IV, if you have

to the area and kind of winds up the metabolism. And there are all sorts of inflammatory mediators that get released to stimulate the body to heal things.” In the US, she has seen it broadly used. “Lots of other injuries, muscle tears, muscles sprains, wound healing, it stimulates that. I have actually used it for inflammatory things like ear infections. In America, some of the guys who use it would use it for fracture healing, intestinal joins, bowel problems.” Because it is a big investment—her machine cost $25,000—Dr Rickard did plenty of reading and thinking before committing. “I was confident it was going to work but I didn’t know if anyone was going to come and use it.” But now, she says, she uses it a lot: for torn anterior cruciate ligaments as well as post-surgery and post-injury rehab. But she probably uses it most for arthritis. Still, Dr Rickard insists, she uses the class IV as part of “a multi-pronged approach to arthritis. We use lots of glycosaminoglycans. That combined with the laser and putting injections into the joint of higher neurontin acid.” Dr Robert Johnson, president of the Australian Veterinary Association, got a big German shepherd with hip is more cautious. “There is not dysplasia and resultant arthritis, enough evidence that laser you can laser him on the therapy actually works. outside and it is going I would like to see a to penetrate and lot more evidence “It is not the be all make a difference in the scientific to those arthritic literature about the and end all. But it is hips just in those benefits of laser an important extra anti-inflammatory before I would and healing say whether it modality that we use to effects. The dog works or not. We aid pain relief.” is up and walking need far more around without information on that Dr Robert William, Gold Coast, QLD being on antibefore we can give it inflammatory drugs. So the imprimatur. people that don’t want so “What does work is lots much medication, or dogs that of physical therapy, applying can’t take much medication because their heat and massage to relieve muscular kidneys are dodgy or they have got other skeletal pain, and plenty of rest. And reasons, the laser is really helpful for them.” time; I don’t think we give enough credit Dr Rickard says she has seen the most to mother nature and time for healing dramatic improvement in arthritic animals things. If I see a dog with a sore back I even though it is not understood “super will put it on anti-inflammatories but I will well” how laser therapy works to block also show the client how to massage the pain. “It is supposed to promote release back and apply a heat pack to the middle of endorphins and also block C fibre of the back. That sort of therapy is just as nerve pathways. So it promotes circulation beneficial as anything else.”




OUTSIDER From late 2001 until mid 2011, Dr Lynn Simpson worked on live-export ships, tending to livestock literally covered in their own excrement. When she tried to improve animal-welfare conditions from the inside, she found herself cast out, a victim of regulatory capture. By Alex Gilly


Photography: credit

Photography: Sean Davey




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THE SHIP is in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and it’s time to pray. There’s a diagram of the vessel (200m long, 35,000 tonnes, nine decks) pinned to the mess door, with a laminated arrow pointing towards Mecca. Whenever the ship changes course, one of the junior officers comes down from the bridge to adjust the arrow, but the vessel hasn’t changed course since leaving the dock at Fremantle five days previously, and won’t until it rounds the Horn of Africa in several more, so the worshipper doesn’t bother to consult the diagram. He goes to his cabin, removes his shoes, and washes his hands and face. He lays down his mat facing towards the bow of the ship—northwest, towards Arabia. Today, he has decided to pray for his friend, the ship’s vet, Dr Lynn Simpson. She is not a Muslim. But she cares for the animals, and it is her job to keep them well. The worshipper hopes his prayer will help her. “There were lots of Muslims onboard, Palestinians and Pashtuns mostly,” remembers Dr Simpson of her 57 voyages aboard live-export ships. “Lots of Filipino crews, [but also] Bangladeshis, Indians, Syrians. Some ships are really fun ... The majority of individuals are really nice people, and they're out there and they've got well-paying jobs as far as they're concerned, compared to conditions back home. They're sending money back home, most of them, and looking after their family. They're respected for what they do. A lot of people are higher educated than their station on the ship. Some of the Bangladeshis, they'd have master's degrees in teaching and philosophy and classical music. Yet we had them on the ships, shovelling shit.” There’s a lot of shit to shovel on a livestock carrier. The largest carry up to 20,000 cattle, 100,000 sheep, or a combination of the two. A voyage from Fremantle to Jeddah typically takes 16 sailing days (post several days’ loading). Even the most diligent shovelers can’t keep up. “The [animal] decks are filthy. There’s no two ways about it,” said Dr Simpson in a recent interview with the advocacy group Human Rights at Sea. “We all get covered in shit all day every day. There are repercussions: people get sick, be it the runs or eye infections or sores.”

When she asked what a vet was, her relative said, “A vet is somebody who spends their life healing animals and making animals better.” “I'm like, ‘You're kidding—there's a job like that?’”


Another repercussion for the people aboard the ships: crew decks smell permanently musty, because crews are forever washing their clothes and shoes, then laying them out to dry in corridors. But it was the effect of all that shit on the animals themselves that led to Dr Simpson finding herself professionally and emotionally shipwrecked in her landlocked hometown, Canberra. “I've always joked to people that I was sent home to the wrong family,” says Dr Simpson. “I grew up in Canberra. My family is all Scottish. They immigrated out here in the year before I was born, in 1969, and my father worked for NASA. He worked on a deep space radio telescope tracking dish, like the one out at Tidbinbilla, just outside of Canberra. I was born here, I grew up here and went to school here. I was always infatuated with animals from a young age, which was weird because our family wasn't at all interested in animals. I remember very clearly when I was six years old playing with two little toy dogs underneath the Christmas tree on a trip to Scotland, and


one of the relatives said, ‘You should become a vet.’” When she asked what a vet was, her relative said, ‘A vet is somebody who spends their life healing animals and making animals better.’ “I'm like, ‘You're kidding—there's a job like that?’ I still remember just being completely gobsmacked.” Simpson’s childhood ended abruptly at the age of 15, when, in the same year, her father succumbed to stomach cancer, and her older brother, Douglas, was killed in a motorcycle accident. “I had a horse. We weren't rich or anything, but I got a pony when I was 12. I refused to give it up. I had lost enough and I wasn't going to lose the horse, so I just started working at the supermarket as much as I could [to pay for its upkeep]. Because I was doing so much work, and then escaping by riding my horse, my grades went from being advanced in everything to barely turning up.” Simpson graduated from high school, but only just. She didn’t have the grades to get into university. So instead, she spent four years working with horses, riding


them, breaking them in, carting them around. She found work on sheep and cattle stations around shearing season and mustering time. She went north and spent three years working with camels, just because she thought camels were cool. “I took out safari tourists. I was a safari leader around Alice Springs,” she says. “Then I came back [south] and worked in the Snowy Mountains taking tourists on five-day [horseback] rides. Everyone was going, ‘You've got the best life. It's so much fun.’ I was bored stupid. I realised I needed to do something with my head and not just sitting on my bum riding around beautiful scenery.” Simpson started studying in her spare time. She enrolled at TAFE in Canberra, repeating year 12. Then she did a year at ANU, taking science classes. Finally, she was offered a place in the vet school at Murdoch University in Perth. She was thrilled; she was studying to do the job she’d wanted to do ever since she’d been six years old. But Simpson had a problem: she was dead broke. At the beginning of her third year of vet

school, thanks to her experience working with animals, Simpson was offered a job on the wharf in Fremantle, loading livestock onto ships. “Essentially, we were just climbing up and down the side of semi-trailers all day, every day like barnacles, and just pushing sheep and cattle off. The trucks would be loaded with cattle and you would climb outside on the frame of the truck and poke the cattle out, hoping your fingers didn't get kicked and squashed and rammed. If you weren't doing that, you might be on the ramp, encouraging the animals to go up the ramp into the ship. If you weren't doing that, you were inside the ship somewhere, usually on what we call ‘the corner’. There would be areas where animals would slow down because of the design of the vessel and you needed someone there to encourage them around the corner, so you'd be doing that.” Simpson graduated from vet school in 2001. Within three weeks, she was on a live-export ship, heading for Saudi Arabia. “It was exciting. Ordinary as well. There's a lot of animals that die on the


“The holds start to heat up pretty quickly once you start to put animals in them, because each animal gives off its own heat, a bit like if you get stuck in an elevator for too long.”


ships, but you could tell from loading the ships that the conditions … anyone with half a brain could tell that they're pretty crowded. The holds start to heat up pretty quickly once you start to put animals in them, because each animal gives off its own heat, a bit like if you get stuck in an elevator for too long or you're starting to think, ‘I wish you'd all leave.’ That was a northern winter voyage. You could still tell, even though that wasn't a heat stress, high-risk voyage, you could still tell that it was ordinary.” Dr Simpson’s role aboard the ships was to tend to the welfare of the animals bound for slaughter. She found the conditions aboard miserable for the animals—but she felt she had the right balance of knowledge and character to push for change from within. “I thought my work on the ships was the most meaningful way for me to utilise my vet training and pragmatic nature,” explains Dr Simpson. “Live export is an outdated practice, but if you work hard, you can make a huge animal health and welfare difference. I suspect colleagues struggle to understand why I bothered as these animals were destined to die. In my mind, they deserved the last part of their life to be as tolerable as possible.” Still, during her stays ashore between voyages, Dr Simpson took to working for the RSPCA, partly for the opportunity to practise her medical and diagnostic skills that the ships didn’t afford, and partly to purge from her mind the things she witnessed on the ships. “Both exporters and RSPCA knew I was working for each other. RSPCA staff who didn’t know me would be wary of me, others asked a million questions. Exporters used to just shake their heads at me. I once joined a ship wearing an RSPCA T-shirt just to get a giggle. The exporter who was a friend of mine simply shook his head, with a smirk, as I got to the top of the gangway and told me to ‘get that bloody thing off’.” The contrast between the two worlds taught her an invaluable lesson: on the ships, animal-welfare conditions could be terrible, and equipment and veterinary supplies limited, whereas on land, conditions were better and supplies more readily available—but there were clients to deal with.





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“I gave up taking down ear tags in the first voyage because I realised it was ridiculous and not practical. Do you want me to bring you in some photos to show you why?”


“Often the clients are the most stressful part of our work [as vets],” she says. “[That’s] probably why I suited and was comfortable at sea, where there were no clients. The decisions regarding animal health were mine to make.” Some of the decisions still haunt her. Once, when sheep in overpacked pens on a poorly ventilated deck started dying from heat exposure (Dr Simpson calls it “cooking from the inside out”), she was forced to euthanise them. But inadequate supplies meant she had to do it with a knife. She slit the throats of so many sheep that day, she lost count. On another trip, Dr Simpson had to kill 55 lambs born aboard, even though pregnant ewes are meant to be filtered out at loading. And once, on a trip to Russia, she had to kill 22 fully grown cattle by a combination of striking their foreheads with a fire-axe and cutting their throats, because Russian officials had confiscated her gun. And then there was all that shit. “From day one of loading, livestock shit begins to build up on deck,” wrote Dr Simpson in her column for Splash

24/7, a shipping-industry website. “This build-up makes living quarters for the animals unsuitable. Part of my job was to manage the cleaning, wash-down and re-sawdust program for the duration of the voyage … Ideally we wash every four to five days, so it’s a never-ending loop of build-up, wash, re-sawdust, build-up, wash, re-sawdust. Every time we washed a deck we disrupted the feeding, watering and hygiene associated with normal livestock management … Sometimes if we were experiencing a potential heat stress mortality point, we would wash cattle to cool them off.” But, despite Dr Simpson and the crews’ best efforts, the animals were usually covered head to hoof in their own excrement—so much so, their ear tags became illegible. Dr Simpson describes walking around the animal decks with a Westergun—a spring-loaded staff used to inject animals with anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, or sedatives—trying to identify the specific animal in need treatment. “Often you'll see an animal and you'll go, ‘That's the one that's got the bad leg,


but I only saw it when it was here. It's now behind there.’ You'll just be not paying any attention to what you're doing when you're drawing up [the dose] by reflex and you're watching that animal so that you don't lose it, and then you get in and just inject whichever part of it you can access.” Protocol demands that vets write down the ear-tag number of every animal they treat, but “You would have to catch that animal, sedate it, and clean the ear tag just to get that number,” says Dr Simpson. “You're of course not going to do that. In the time that that takes, you could have treated another 20 animals, walking around doing your rounds of another deck or another whatever. [I remember one vet] who did a voyage and it went poorly. It became a reportable mortality. There was an investigation into it, and the government came back and said whilst it wasn't his reporting that was the problem that caused the deaths, they were talking about criminal prosecution against him because he didn't write down all these tag numbers. I overheard it when I was working in the department doing this technical advisory stuff. [I said] ‘If you're going to prosecute him, you have to prosecute me because I've done heaps more voyages than him. I gave up taking down ear tags in the first voyage because I realised it was ridiculous and not practical. Do you want me to bring you in some photos to show you why?’” Dr Simpson did bring in some photos. She included them in the confidential report she was asked to produce for the Australian Standards for Export Livestock (ASEL) committee, which operates under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture’s (DoA) since-disbanded Animal Welfare Branch. The photos showed animals covered in shit, their eartags illegible; it showed the eye and other infections the animals suffered from their filthy conditions; it showed specific injuries to legs and fetlocks caused by the overcrowded conditions and poor bedding. The ASEL members seemed truly shocked by the photos she showed them, says Dr Simpson. She was pleased that they were seeing what she had seen. She felt she was putting forward a powerful argument to reform the industry, and that she was finally being heard. Then, in February 2013, someone


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uploaded Dr Simpson’s confidential report to the DoA’s website. “The government have been telling me that it was an inadvertent publication,” says Dr Simpson, without conviction. Whether it was done by malice or incompetence, the leak ended Dr Simpson’s career in the Animal Welfare Branch. She was told, first in person by the division’s deputy secretary, then in writing by the first assistant secretary, that she could no longer continue working on live-export-related issues because the industry the department were charged with regulating now perceived her as biased in favour of animal-welfare organisations, and that this perception was “having an adverse impact on [the Department of Agriculture’s] capacity to engage appropriately with industry and hence to deliver acceptable animal welfare reform in the area of livestock exports.” It was an instance of what Dr Simpson called, in an article she wrote for Crikey, “regulatory capture”: when a regulatory body falls under the control of the industry

it is supposed to regulate. It was also the start of Dr Simpson’s slide into depression. She felt cast out from an industry she had spent virtually her entire career in. She felt isolated, was unable to get out of bed, found herself consulting one psychologist after another. “I sat at home, basically, on compensation wages for what they call adjustment disorder, which is really PTSD, which is a really common thing that perceived whistleblowers get.” I'll never get a job in live export, or in something industrial like a chicken plant, pig plant or feedlot again, because all someone's got to do is Google my name, and the amount of shit that comes up about me, they’ll just say, ‘dobber’.” Time and information have helped Dr Simpson recover. She now lives on a farm outside Canberra, surrounded by dogs and horses and the art she collected at all the ports she visited. She is learning to accept her PTSD. She is writing down her life, and she is involved with support groups for whistleblowers. And though Dr Simpson is

now on the outside, she remains steadfastly committed to seeing the live-export industry being significantly reformed. “I do not believe it is in any animal’s best interest to be exposed to the inherent risks of transport by sea, especially the long distances I travelled as a vet,” she told Vet Practice. “I think animals destined for slaughter should be slaughtered as close to their place of birth as is practical, reducing transport stress. “Live export is more than just primary production animals for slaughter. Live export is pets travelling to other countries with their owners, zoo animal transfers, race horses moving globally to compete each year. These animals are afforded a much higher level of care, at much greater expense. This in my view is generally acceptable. I don’t believe that just because an animal is destined to be a food source, it should be subjected to lower health and welfare outcomes.” Somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, meanwhile, the faithful are preparing to pray.



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Innovators product guide

REM SYSTEMS are excited to announce the two new rotors for the VetScan VS2 The Electrolyte Plus allows for cost-effective monitoring of hospitalised patients on fluid therapy, early diagnostic information regarding acid-base status, and recheck examinations for different conditions. Further, the rotor can be used alone or in combination with other rotor profiles based on the clinician’s judgment, clinical signs, and laboratory results. What’s Different? Abaxis has 6 full profiles with electrolytes included, but now there is a separate electrolyte profile for more flexibility. You can run the rotor as a stand-alone profile or use it as an ‘add-on’ profile to smaller configurations like the Prep Profile II. Unlike other electrolyte panels that are currently on the market, the EP rotor is the only profile that includes electrolytes and tCO2. The Preventive Care Profile Plus (PCPP) is an advanced panel for pre-surgical, general health, ill patient, geriatric, and wellness testing that includes full electrolyte values and early information regarding acid-base status. PCPP is the most complete profile ever introduced by Abaxis! There are 15 tests available in this single new profile. The PCPP is the only profile that includes all electrolytes in one profile (Na+, K+, and Cl-) in addition to your main chemistries. It also includes AST, an important indicator when monitoring liver activity and tCO2 for acid-base information.

ligaments, tendons and fractures without risk to patients. Multi Radiance Laser Systems use high peak power pulses, yet still are cleared 1M by FDA, equivalent to over-the-counter safe. Take anywhere, use anywhere solutions for advanced animal healthcare! Peer-reviewed published research confirms they deliver more energy through collagen, deeper into tissues than Class IV, IIIb, or gate pulsed/modulated Lasers, keeping surface temperatures at completely comfortable levels. Multi Radiance’s proprietary multi-source technology successfully manipulates interactions between visible red light 660nm, broadband infrared 875nm, Laser 905nm, static magnetics and frequencies, achieving the best therapeutic results in targeted tissues. Plus, intense 470nm blue wavelength for infection to provide the most optimally safe laser therapy Systems available anywhere. Multi Radiance Laser therapy has hundreds of applications benefitting veterinary practices—from fast pain relief to effective arthritis

ACTIVet PRO™ 50Watt Lasers are cordless, ultra-portable super pulsed therapy systems setting new standards for veterinary wound healing, pain relief and reduction of inflammation. Super pulsed Lasers delivers light energy photons deep into tissues, repairing at the cellular level. Practitioners are now maximising photophysical and photochemical benefits without overheating tissues. True super pulsed Lasers operate at nanosecond speeds, safely and effectively delivering photons deeply into muscles,


treatments, accelerating wound healing, post-operative results, not to mention the proven highly effective blue wavelengths to combat drug resistant microbes. Vets appreciate Multi Radiance’s evidencebased science, and clients love the outcomes with their happier, healthier pets. Excellent for pre and post events for all competitor athletes including equine and agility dogs, it’s the official Laser of the USEF, ISELP, DVG, USDAA, professional sports teams and used in dozens of the top veterinary schools.



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profile for dogs and 3 Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) cats. 3 Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) 3 Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) 3 Total bilirubin (TBIL)  Vetscan VS2- 9 3 Total protein (TP)profiles to choose 3 Albumin (ALB) from. Profiles are 3 Globulin (GLOB)not species specific*, 3 Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) profile the Equine 3 Creatinine (CRE)has CK and AST for 3 Glucose (GLU) assistance in diagnosis 3 Total Calcium (Ca) and treatment of  Vetscan Vspro – 3 Sodium (Na+) snakebite. pt/apt coagulati onbovine *Large animal profile has 3 Potassium (K+) profispecifi le for dogs and c Albumin 3 Chloride (Cl-) cats. 3 Total carbon dioxide (tCO2)

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Vetscan VS2- 9 profiles to choose from. Profiles are not species specific*, the Equine profile has CK and AST for assistance in diagnosis and treatment of Significantly broader dynamic ranges on the VS2 can eliminate snakebite. the need to dilute samples.


Similar Competitor instrument CK 5-14000 U/L 10-2036 U/L AST 10-2000 U/L 10-1083 U/L ALT 5-2000 U/L 10-1000 U/L Crea 18-1768 umol/l 0-1202 umol/l BUN 0.7 – 64.3 mmol/l 0-45.9 mmol/l Significantly broader dynamic ranges on the VS2 can eliminate the need to dilute samples. ACTIVET

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Innovators product guide

Finally, proof of theYeti! FINALLY, THE WORLD OF the internet and transition to becoming customercentric, is coming to the pet industry with the arrival of PetYeti.com.au—starting with online appointments for the pet industry. An innovative platform developed by the team behind the successful online appointments platform, 1stAvailable.com.au, it is bringing real convenience to customers and benefiting vets (and soon other pet services). Small business has known for a decade now that the internet should not be ignored. It’s where our customers search every minute of every day. It’s important that your business stands out where your customers are looking. Did you know that over 90 per cent of clients surveyed want to use digital channels to make appointments, yet just two per cent of Australian veterinary practices currently take appointments online? What is evident is that customers’ needs and demands have been changed by the internet and the impact of accessing information online 24/7 has been transforming industries. Did you know that 54 per cent of the appointments booked online for Australian vets are booked outside of office hours? Or that there were over 5,000 veterinary appointments booked online in November, with some practices taking up to 20 per cent of their appointments online? And it’s the guys behind PetYeti that have been leading this transformation with most of the top vet corporates already using their products. It’s all about the transition to

becoming more customer-centric in the way businesses operate. Research shows veterinary professionals must move with customer demand and be part of the solution in embracing digital platforms. Customers want more convenient and quicker pathways, and if practices don’t follow this trend, they will be left behind. Klaus Bartosch, CEO and co-founder of Australia’s leading veterinary appointments provider Pet Yeti, believes that digital innovation in the veterinary industry adds considerable value to customers through supporting continuity of care, early intervention and informed client choices. “Increasingly, customers expect the convenience of being able to book appointments online. This has been demonstrated by the success of Pet Yeti, which currently takes over 5,000 online

90% of people want to use digital to manage appointments 88% of clients want to receive digital reminders for preventative or follow-up care 76% want to communicate with their vet digitally 72% want to book or modify appointments through digital channels 61% of Australians find the current process of making a veterinary appointment frustrating 2% of Australian veterinarians take appointments online

appointments per month. The service also provides extensive reporting and feedback services to help vets gain the insights they need to retain customers and attract new ones.” Digital innovation helps PetYeti practices save time and money while benefiting from increased productivity and efficiency. Pet Yeti allows instant online bookings 24/7 through its website or mobile app. It also facilitates bookings through your own practice website, allowing you to turn your web traffic directly into bookings. With PetYeti, your practice can: l Take bookings anytime of day or night l Reduce front-desk burden l Seamlessly integrate with your PMS l Attract and win new customers To make things even easier, Pet Yeti provides seamless integration with RxWorks, Open VPMS, CHS Vet and more, maintaining your existing practice appointment workflow. Pet Yeti levels the playing field for veterinary practices by allowing smaller practices to compete digitally in today’s online marketplace. Pet Yeti is now offering exclusive pricing for practices who sign up during December and January. With extensive reporting, easy monthly subscription and no maintenance fees, what are you waiting for? To learn more, visit www.petyeti.com.au


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Innovators product guide

Looking for a reliable, simple and silent blood-pressure monitor for cats and dogs? Look no further than the new SunTech Vet20! The new portable SunTech® Vet20TM quickly and easily provides reliable BP measurements on awake companion animals, ensuring a simpler assessment process for veterinarians and their staff members. Utilising SunTech’s trusted AdvantageTM VET BP technology, the SunTech Vet20 quietly performs motiontolerant, oscillometric BP measurements, delivering more accurate results with a greater success rate than other devices. Users are able to get started using the device immediately as the intuitive touch screen interface includes all of the necessary features for reviewing and analysing BP data, yet little to no staff training is required. Alarms can be silenced to avoid frightening the animal and saved measurement data is always retained when the device is powered off. BPs on cats and dogs Features and benefits • Reliable • Simple to use • Accurate • Silent, fast and portable • and there’s more... Description As a result of SunTech’s motion-tolerant technology, the SunTech Vet20 produces more successful BP readings than other devices.
Intuitive, touch screen interface has all necessary features for reviewing and analysing BP data and requires little to no staff training. BP Algorithm was specifically developed for companion animals by experts at a leading
vet school.
The device quietly measures BP and alarms may be silenced to avoid frightening the animal. Measurements are done faster than competitor products. The SunTech Vet20’s advanced memory ensures data is always retained when the device is powered off. Users

can also select specific measurements from the device memory and perform automated BP averaging. What our users say “We appreciate the ease of use that comes with the SunTech Vet20. It gives fast, reliable readings—without hassle—and this is important for our busy workflow. We don’t have time for error messages—we need results we can count on.” Dr. Elisa Sumakeris DVM, CareFirst Animal Hospital Grace Park “Much better than the other BP devices we use. Reads better than other BP devices on moving animals.” Olivia S. CST, CareFirst Animal Hospital Oberlin Call today for more information on 1300 888 427, or visit vetquip.com.au


Videos Instructional videos focused on cuff size, cuff placement, taking a BP with the Vet20 and reviewing results • suntechmed.com/vet-bp/ vet20#Videos Also on YouTube • youtube.com/ watch?v=EEfY-XGrKdU • youtube.com/watch?v=vSfGTvy5-s • youtube.com/ watch?v=ZwRXO2CeWC8 • youtube.com/ watch?v=EuGo0VMreLk

Universal ICU Oxygen Therapy Doors VetQuip is pleased to announce a newly Designed Universal Fitting ICU Oxygen Therapy Cage Door. For some time, Vetquip has been asked to come up with a light weight alternative to traditional ICU therapy replacement doors. After several months of designing and developing prototypes, our in-house design team along with consulting several vet clinics, we have come up with a winner. A Polycarbonate form fitted door which is simply placed on the outside of the existing cage door, it uses 2 small hooks to locate the unit. With the unique advantage of being a quick change of a few components, it can be fitted to a left or right hung door. The Vetquip ICU therapy doors are constructed out of long life, hard wearing Polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate is also the material used in bullet proof glass. This makes them not only chip resistant when compared to traditional Perspex doors, but they are virtually indestructible. All the VetQuip doors are fitted with a high performance Hydrometer which measurers internal cage temperature +- 0.1 degree and humidity +- 1%. It also comes with the VetQuip Oxygen Therapy System enabling the control of Oxygen and humidity to the cage. When used in conjunction with the Hydrometer, precise control can be made enabling the ultimate ICU therapy to your patient. From the conception of the ICU therapy doors, Vetquip wanted to ensure we could deliver a universal system that could fit most of the common cages on the market to our customers. Standard Features Include:  Tuff Polycarbonate Construction  Universal fit (Most Cages)  Quality Hydrometer (Temp & Humidity)  Includes O2 Therapy Kit (bubbler, Flowmeter & O2 Line)  Easy Clip On & Off (No door removal required) Fits Cage Size:  61cm x 61cm (24 x 24)  61cm x 76cm (24 x 30)  61cm x 91cm (24 x 36) Oxygen Cage Oxygen cages are among the easiest methods of oxygen administration; however, they isolate the patient, which sometimes makes it difficult to examine, monitor, and treat. For some patients (eg, stressed cats), isolation from a strange environment and humans may be beneficial. Initial crisis management of animals in respiratory distress may require high oxygen concentrations (up to 90%) until the patient has been stabilized. It should be possible to reach 100% oxygen. Despite these limitations, oxygen cages are often useful for emergency practices. Pediatric incubators, into which oxygen is piped, provide a suitable alternative for cats, small dogs, and neonates. These allow for good observation of the patient and, although expensive when purchased new, they are worth it long term.


Innovators product guide

Introducing Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ Derm Defense™ with Histaguard™ complex Formulated to reduce signs of environmental allergies in dogs by helping to disrupt the allergic response and aid skin healing Environmental allergens pose an invisible but constant nuisance to many dogs. Pollens, moulds and house dust mites can be found almost anywhere, and in any season. It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of canine allergies are caused by

environmental allergens and fleas, which cause itchy skin and constant scratching. Scratching damages the skin, allowing allergens to penetrate, potentially leading to infections, and creating a vicious cycle. Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ Derm Defense™ Canine with HistaGuard™ complex is formulated to reduce signs of environmental allergies in dogs by helping to disrupt the internal allergic response and create a barrier against future episodes. HistaGuard™ complex, a proprietary blend of antioxidants, egg and phytonutrients helps to disrupt the immune response to allergens. Omega


3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as vitamin E in Derm Defense™ help reduce inflammation, support skin rejuvenation and aid healing, while omega 6 fatty acids help restore the skin barrier. “Derm Defense is uniquely formulated to help block environmental allergens, ideally before they trigger a reaction,” said Dr Maureen Revington, Professional Veterinary Affairs Manager at Hill’s Pet Nutrition Australia. “The Histaguard Complex helps decrease the release of histamine and inflammatory cytokines that cause itching. The ability to help interrupt this reaction using nutrition is revolutionary, but that is only one component of Derm Defense.” Restoring a healthy skin barrier is key to disrupting the vicious cycle of skin damage that is characteristic of allergic reactions. “Derm Defense drives healthy skin from within,” said Dr Revington. “We’ve seen remarkable transformations in pets that had been suffering from environmental allergies.” Derm Defense™ provides veterinarians with another tool, along with oral antibiotics, steroids, topical medications and shampoos, to help dogs that suffer from allergic skin disease. With the addition of Derm Defense™, the Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ portfolio includes nutrition to help address almost any dermatologic condition or dietary sensitivity. “Now, no matter the cause, you can use nutrition as part of multi-modal therapy to help manage your derm cases,” said Dr Revington. Just as you’re dedicated to improving the lives of the pets trusted to your care, we at Hill’s are dedicated to developing innovative nutritional solutions to help you help your patients live longer, healthier lives.


The best offense is a good defense Hill’s FIRST & ONLY NUTRITION with HistaGuard™ Complex — formulated to reduce signs of environmental allergies by: n Disrupting the internal

allergy response

n Creating a barrier against

future episodes


Derm Defense™ HistaGuard with


Your first defense against future allergy outbreaks with HISTAGUARD COMPLEX, a proprietary blend of bioactives and phytonutrients Helps continuously NORMALISE IMMUNE RESPONSE TO ALLERGENS with natural sources of polyphenols Supports SKIN REJUVENATION with vitamin A, zinc and essential fatty acids

TM’s owned by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. ©2016 Hill’s Pet Nutrition Pty, Limited. HIMA-HB-160FE2F4



Innovators product guide

The practice purchase conundrum: to buy or not to buy your practice premises? THAT IS THE QUESTION many veterinarians face when deciding to set up their own practice… To help vets navigate the process of owning their own practice, BOQ Specialist has recently developed a Guide to Practice Ownership (available online at: www. boqspecialist.com.au/guideme). In the second part of the series, CEO Dr Brett Robinson draws on the guide to assess the pros and cons, on both a practical and financial level, when deciding whether to rent or purchase a practice premises. When looking at your veterinary practice, deciding whether to buy or rent the premises for your business might be one of the most important decisions you face in your professional career. In this low interest rate environment, the prospect of buying a practice premise could make more commercial sense than you think. Of course, practice ownership is a major, multi-faceted decision that requires careful business and financial planning—but you don’t have to go it alone; our team assists clients who are purchasing practices on a daily basis. So what are the pros and cons to weigh up when considering the practice purchase conundrum? In control of your own destiny Renting gives you some additional flexibility such as getting to understand a specific area or neighbourhood. There may be benefit in assessing if the location is exactly right for your practice, and it gives you the flexibility to re-assess your decision without the longterm commitment associated with buying. However, with renting, you are likely to have limitations on the improvements you can make and the property owner may not be as prompt as you would like on maintenance and repairs. It’s also sensible not to make significant improvements on an asset you don’t own. There is also a risk that the owner may decide to increase the rent beyond your means or sell the property. This could mean moving at a less convenient time and leaving tens of thousands of dollars of investment behind

in your rented practice. Owning your own practice premises gives you the freedom to model your treatment rooms and layout to reflect your own taste, without the risk of potentially losing the investment in setting up in your preferred layout through a forced move. Ownership also means you can invest with confidence in fitout improvements and equipment, knowing the improvements will add to the value of your practice, assisting both with any potential exit strategy and the appeal to prospective clients and future buyers. Continuity is key While it may sound simple, continuity can be a major crunch factor for both clients and staff. Practice premises ownership gives you a long-term address, allowing you to have security of tenure and most importantly, a familiar environment. In a competitive market with an increasing number of veterinary professionals, vets need to be doing all they can to build and maintain their client base in their communities. By purchasing your own practice and by staying put in the same location, you are making it easier for your clients to repay you with their loyalty. Financially practical On the surface, renting might appear to make more sense for an early stage business, with flexibility to easily relocate when your practice grows. Plus it is often associated with low barriers to entry. Renting might also give you access to capital that you may need elsewhere in the business, as you will spend less of your monthly earnings on financial responsibilities that come with owning. These include items such as building


insurance, maintenance and repairs. On the flip side, buying your own practice can be as financially practical as renting. With the right financier, the deposit you need for your original loan may be close to the bond required for a rental property, and loan repayments on your mortgage are often no higher than rent. Mortgage repayments are a direct investment in your business and any upward changes in price can result in increasing equity you can borrow against. Thinking for the long-term Buying your own practice premises is certainly a significant capital investment and means you will have a long-term financial commitment. Renting is often preferable, to enable veterinarians to operate in a more agile fashion, moving away from the competition if needs be, and relocating to reflect changes in the local demographic. The prospect of tax, building insurance and maintenance can seem pretty daunting, especially if you have not owned your own practice property previously. However, there are plenty of financial specialists on hand to help you navigate some of these considerations as you decide what the right thing is for you. BOQ Specialist has spent over 25 years helping professionals build and run their practices with a range of tailored financial products and services. BOQ Specialist’s Practice Purchase Guide is designed to help you navigate the process of owning a practice that’s right for your future plans and to help you understand the financial options available. Download a copy at boqspecialist.com.au or call 1300 131 141 to speak with a financial specialist.

You don’t buy a practice every week but we do It’s a big decision. Huge. For most, it’s a once in a lifetime proposition. We take this very seriously too. So much so, that over the last 25 years we’ve developed a process for veterinary professionals looking to go out on their own. But, we don’t just look at you, we look at the business as a whole. We act as your partners in ensuring that it is a viable and profitable opportunity. We assess everything – location, competition, client-base and growth potential. Then, and only then, we tailor a loan to meet your needs. Forgive the pun, but we have a lot of practice when it comes to buying a practice.

Visit us at boqspecialist.com.au or call a finance specialist on 1300 131 141.

Equipment and fit-out finance / Credit cards / Home loans / Commercial property finance / Car finance / Practice purchase loans SMSF lending and deposits / Transactional banking and overdrafts / Savings and deposits / Foreign exchange Products and services are provided by BOQ Specialist - a division of Bank of Queensland Limited ABN 32 009 656 740 AFSL and Australian credit licence No. 244616. All finance is subject to our credit assessment criteria. Terms and conditions, fees and charges and eligibility criteria apply.

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This month, our vets review an ultrasound machine, an eye brush, a mouth gag and a digital voice recorder.

Mindray DP50 VET


by Dr David Hare, Cape Hawke Veterinary Hospital, Forster, NSW

by Dr Ian Hayes, Southern Tablelands Veterinary Hospital, Goulburn, NSW

A lot of veterinary practices buy second-hand ultrasound machines from maternity wards. The problem with that is the transducer—the head—is too large for animal work. To get a clear ultrasound image with an animal, the ultrasound needs a micro-convex head. This Mindray unit is designed for veterinary work and gives great results. What’s good about it It’s reasonably priced, portable, has the micro-convex head and a range from 5 megahertz to 9.5 megahertz. The megahertz range is very important as the frequency needs to be higher for use with animals. Most human ultrasounds are only 3 to 5 megahertz. When the megahertz range is higher, there’s a loss in the depth of penetration. Scanning a human abdomen that contains a baby needs a lower range in order for the ultrasound to penetrate completely. An animal abdomen is much smaller so that a higher frequency has ample penetration and creates an image with better definition. The micro-convex head and 9.5 megahertz setting achieves great results for pretty much everything in smaller animal work. This unit is fast, creates a high-quality image and the small head is perfect for all animal work. What’s not so good Even though some people might see it as an advantage, there’s so much you can do with this machine that it’s a bit overwhelming. It comes with three manuals and most users seem to only scratch the surface of its capabilities. To be honest, I simply don’t have time to wade through all the manuals, so I’m just using it as a simple ultrasound unit. Where did you get it BCF Ultrasound (www. bcfultrasound.com).

This is a small, vibrating hand-held device that’s used to treat indolent ulcers in dogs’ eyes. We used to normally debride them with cotton ball tips or do a grid keratectomy by scraping them with a needle. What’s good about it The diamond tip that touches the cornea is blunt and feels quite smooth when you rub it against your finger. However, it effectively removes the epithelium that stops these ulcers from healing from off the top of the cornea. I’ve had very good results in clearing up indolent ulcers in dogs and even though they sometimes need a second treatment, generally one primary treatment will resolve the issue quite well. The dogs tolerate the procedure without a problem and we haven’t had any bad reactions. I was never really comfortable using a needle on a dog’s cornea. I was always worried about it sticking into the eye. The Algerbrush is used with a local anaesthetic and is a much safer and more efficient method. The diamond tip can be removed and autoclaved. The handpiece is quite small and the unit runs on a couple of AA batteries. I picked it up at a conference in the States and it was quite cheap to purchase. It’s a really handy little tool that nicely cleans up the surface of the cornea and allows the eye to heal. What’s not so good The Algerbrush is simple to use and gives great results. I really can’t think of a negative with this product. Where did you get it I purchased this at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, but it’s available from Medical and Surgical Requisites (www.medsurg.com.au).


Table Top Mouth Gag (Rodent/Rabbit)

Olympus DS 7000 digital voice recorder

by Dr Louise Pierce, Toorak Rd Veterinary Clinic, Camberwell, VIC The most common problem we see in rabbits is dental disease. Rabbits have really tiny mouths that are very difficult to access and this gag makes the whole process much easier.

by Dr Matthew Robinson, Ready Vet, Atherton, QLD My wife Catherine is our practice manager. She’s a lawyer by trade and she found it surprising that vets spend a lot of time typing medical notes. Lawyers dictate everything and then get it typed up. We were getting busier and busier so Cat went online and purchased this Olympus voice recorder and the software.

What’s good about it The Table Top Mouth gag enables us to hook up a rabbit onto the gag, open its mouth and get really good visualisation of what’s going on inside. I’m able to proceed with the dental work with the gag in place. The nurse doesn’t need to hold the rabbit which means there’s another pair of hands free and the anaesthetic can be properly monitored. The design of the gag sees the top and bottom front teeth hooked over two metal bars and separated. It allows you to get in the mouth with a high-speed handpiece to bur the teeth down. I tend to give rabbits an anaesthetic injection to start and then use a mask over their nose. Sometimes I use an endotracheal tube. The gag allows all these methods to be used without getting in the way. Even though it’s designed for rabbits and rodents, it can also be used with dogs and cats when doing surgery at the back of the throat. It works with dogs up to 10 kilograms which is really handy as it is the smaller breeds that often have problems in their mouth and throat. What’s not so good There was a previous model that was bulky, heavy and hard to move around. It was difficult to break down and clean properly. This new one is easy to take apart, easy to clean and very robust. Where did you get it IM3 (www.im3vet.com.au).

What’s good about it It just sits on my desk in a recharge cradle. I grab it when I want to record a medical note and then return it to its cradle. It automatically loads my recording into the software and a message pops up on the receptionist’s computer. When it’s not so busy at the front, the staff can put on their headphones and type up my notes. I use it for all medical notes, consults, vaccinations and surgeries. At the start of each recording, I simply say the date and name of the patient. If it’s a very short note—along the lines of ‘Stitches out. Looks good. No issues.’—then I’ll type it up myself. I’m just a two-finger typist so the typing was taking up quite a lot of my time. It takes a little while to get used to dictating notes. It’s a very different skill to typing them. You need to think logically and refrain from adding information at the end of the recording. It’s taken a little bit of time but the medical notes look and read well now. What’s not so good If we’re very busy, the transcription records can fall behind. If that happens and I’m recording medical notes for an ongoing case, I don’t have access to those notes. It’s not an ideal situation but I can find the relevant recording and get it transcribed before the client’s visit. Where did you get it Pacific Transcription (www.pacifictranscription.com.au).



Wide open road

“My partner Steve and I own a 1600cc Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic. It’s a beautiful touring bike and living in Bunbury, we have some fantastic places to ride such as Albany, the Tuart Forests, the vineyards of Margaret River, Ferguson Valley and the wheat belt to the east. “We have a group of like-minded friends who have formed a biker gang called the ‘Fother Muckers’. We often go away for weekends to places such as Denmark, Bremier Bay and Albany. Two years ago, we spent a couple of weeks riding to Broome and back. That was a fantastic trip, and visiting Karijini National Park was a highlight. “One day I would love to do an extended bike tour along Route 66 in the USA. Steve and I have also talked about

riding the bike around Tasmania. “I had been riding pillion behind Steve for a couple of years and recently I decided to get my motorbike licence. For the first year on your licence, you can’t ride a bike bigger than 650cc so I bought a Yamaha V-Star Classic Cruiser. It’s a beautiful little touring bike that you ride in a relaxed position with your feet forward. It’s as comfortable as an armchair and looks a bit like a Harley. “I’ve really been enjoying learning to ride and love the freedom of owning my own bike. Unfortunately I’ve had to put my quest for a bike licence on hold for a while. Not too long ago, I was riding my Yamaha and put my foot down as I came to an emergency stop. Somehow I managed to lock up the wheels and


my right leg took the entire weight of the bike—all 220 kilos of it. I ruptured my anterior cruciate, fractured the top of my tibia and tore my meniscus. But the Yamaha was all right! “So I’ve been demoted back to pillion rider but once my leg is completely better, I’ll take the test and get my licence. Then I want to upgrade to a bigger bike—probably another Harley. “They’re trustworthy, look great and sound amazing. To be honest, the vibrations can be kind of rough when you’re just sitting there at idle but when you kick it into gear and accelerate away, the engine is as smooth as silk. The Harley just eats up the road and, of course, you can wear your leathers and boots and look like a real bad ass!”

Interview: Frank Leggett. Photo: supplied

When the open road beckons, Dr Kate Forster of Harradine & Associates Veterinary Surgeons in Bunbury, WA, goes for a spin on her Harley






39% 57% 59%

Combat plaque, calculus, and halitosis with the science of prevention New OraVet® Dental Hygiene Chews for dogs work in a new way to combat plaque, calculus, and halitosis where they start - bacterial biofilms.† Delmopinol, used for years in the US and Europe in a human oral rinse, is now available for the first time in a canine oral hygiene chew. Delmopinol creates a protective barrier that: • Prevents bacterial attachment1,2 • Inhibits plaque biofilm attachment and the production of the volatile sulphur

compounds of halitosis3,4 • Significantly reduces plaque and calculus buildup when n given daily5 • Exceptional halitosis control5 • In a highly palatable chew5

Order now! For more information, contact your MERIAL Account Manager *Compared with dry diet alone after 28 days. † See product label for full claim details References: 1. Vassilakos N, Arnebrant T, Rundergren J. In vitro interactions of delmopinol hydrochloride with salivary vary films adsorbed at solid/liquid interfaces. Caries Res. 1993;27:176-182. 2. Steinberg D, Beeman D, Bowen W. The 33effect of delmopinol on glucosyltransferase adsorbed on to saliva-coated hydroxyapatite. Archs oral Biol. 1992;37:3338. 3. Rundegren J and Arnebrant T. Effect of delmopinol on the viscosity of extracellular glucans produced by Streptococcus mutans. Caries Res. 1992;26(4):281-285. 4. Rawlings J, Culham N. Halitosis in dogs and the effect off periodontal therapy. Journal of Nutrition. 128:2715S-2716S, 1998. 5. Merial Data on File MERDENC00112. MERIAL Australia Pty Ltd, Building D, 12-24 Talavera Road, Macquarie Park NSW 2113. ABN 53 071 187 285. ®ORAVET is a registered trademark of MERIAL. ©2016 MERIAL Limited. All rights reserved. ORVT.16.06.0128



YOUR PRACTICE YOUR CHOICE Did you know that CH2 is the leading national distributor of pharmaceutical, medical consumables and equipment? We combine the benefits of a national footprint with local expert knowledge, tailoring solutions to our individual customers' needs. And as we are 100% Australian owned, we are passionate about supporting local vets to build successful businesses. CH2 Offers: • A broad range of over 40,000 products, including a new expanded range of popular animal health brands • Strong alliances with key suppliers to always deliver competitive pricing • Freedom of purchasing choice - no contracts, complete flexibility to purchase according to your needs

Central Narangba Veterinary Surgery QLD

� 1300 242 838 S ch2.net.au


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