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MARCH 2018 $6.95 GST INCL.

“We see horrible things but when these cases come in, you just go into work mode.”

CSI Dr Rebecca Belousoff, forensic veterinarian


What’s the best postgraduate business course for vet owners? You’ll be amazed Turn to page 12


How to respond when a client can’t pay for your service page 20


See the latest radiology and ultrasound equipment See page 31


Because if you don’t know, your business can suffer page 17


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Shaping the future of animal health

Contents March 2018

Cover story

Fighting for animal justice


Australia’s only accredited forensic vet reveals how her evidence helps to convict animal abusers.

News + events

The latest in the veterinary world



Be up to date with the AVA Conference events; see why raw chicken is a danger for dogs, and much more.


Your world We need to talk about Fido’s food


Animals have very different nutritional needs to humans but many owners can’t resist giving their pets fad diets.

Your business Business sense


Take on a more enterprising approach to your practice by taking on a new business degree. Know thy USP


Do you know what USP is? This ‘secret’ theory can help you improve your practice’s core message.


The cost of care



Vets are faced with moral issues when pet owners can’t afford to pay costs. So what’s the best solution?


Product guide


Vet Practice magazine showcases the latest veterinary imaging products. Tools of the trade


Reviewed by vets around Australia.

Your life

Game on


46 Associate Editor Editor Kerryn Ramsey Kathy Graham

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

Art Director John Yates

Digital Director Ann Gordon

Sales Director Adam Cosgrove

Contributors Susi Banks, John Burfitt, Rachel Smith, Petra Starke, Heather Vaile

4,878 - CAB audited as at September 2017.


Whether it’s console, online, board or card, an ACT vet can’t get enough of gaming.

Vet Practice magazine is published 11 times a year by Engage Media, Suite 3.06, 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.

Commercial Director Mark Brown Editorial Director Rob Johnson


University of Queensland experts are set to help thoroughbred horse breeders combat a hairy caterpillar threat that causes horse abortions and is costing the Australian racing industry millions of dollars every year. UQ School of Biological Sciences researcher Professor Meron Zalucki said bag-shelter moth (Ochrogaster lunifer) caterpillars were believed to be responsible for up to one third of abortions in thoroughbreds, causing equine amnionitis and fetal loss by inflaming the placental membrane.

“The caterpillars are covered with up to 2.5 million dangerous tiny hairs, and horses inadvertently ingest them or their nest remains,” he said. Professor Zalucki is part of a team behind an insect management strategy to reduce the issue in the thoroughbred industry. The team has developed guidelines for studs and farmers to deal with the threat and are completing a risk assessment of horses’ exposure to the caterpillars. They have also developed educational resources including a website, a brochure and a poster with timelines for action.

Bag-shelter moth caterpillars are commonly known as processionary caterpillars because they walk nose-to-tail in lines when they leave their nests on gum or wattle trees. Professor Zalucky advised stud owners to remove moth egg masses and caterpillar nests from tree trunks and branches and dispose of them safely. “It’s important to be careful and to wear protective equipment when handling caterpillar material as the hairs can cause skin irritation and potentially get into eyes,” he said.

WSAVA has a new website The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) recently unveiled its new website which aims to enhance and mobilise its global veterinary community and to provide an online hub for the latest veterinary resources, knowledge and news, from the WSAVA itself and its member associations. Reflecting the diversity of the WSAVA’s membership, it will feature an increasing volume of content in Spanish, Russian and simplified Chinese, in addition to English. Optimised for viewing on all internet-connected devices, the

new website also includes recordings of lectures at previous World Congresses, an interactive map to enable members to find out quickly about WSAVA activity or Continuing Education (CE) in their region; improved site navigation and search functions and updated information on the full range of the WSAVA’s activities to support veterinary care of companion animals around the world. Later in 2018, the website’s innovative ‘Global Village’ feature will go live. This unique forum will enable WSAVA member veterinarians to participate in discussion boards, view CE lectures, access quizzes, vote on WSAVA business and connect with fellow WSAVA members from around the world. “You only have to attend WSAVA World Congress to see the bond among our members and the extent to which they are keen to build relationships with each other, learn more about veterinary practice in other parts of the world and share experience and opportunity globally,” WSAVA vice-president Dr Siraya Chunekamrai said. “Our new website offers them a wealth of resources and information on the WSAVA, on our various committees and on the work of our member associations “Even better, it will soon offer them the opportunity to collaborate with each other through the WSAVA Global Village. We believe this innovative feature of our website will enhance and mobilise our global community and offer our members a unique opportunity to interact and engage with each other 24/7 365 days a year.”


Photography: Lynda Perkins

Horse abortions and hairy caterpillars

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11/12/2017 5:09 pm

news A new-look AVA national conference The Australian Veterinary Association’s annual conference is back at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on 13-18 May—boasting exciting new initiatives that will inspire innovation, promote professional pride and enable attendance. An average of 1200 veterinary professionals are expected to attend on any given day of the six-day event, making this the nation’s largest gathering of veterinarians under one roof. Featuring world-class presentations by luminary international and local speakers, there will be over 200 scientific sessions and an array of practical workshops, complemented by an exceptional social program and vibrant trade exhibition. As always, the plenary sessions will share cutting-edge science and promote lateral thinking. Featured speakers include: l Jordan Nguyen, NSW finalist for Australian of the Year 2017 and virtual

reality engineer who will discuss the boundaries between human and technological evolution and intelligent technologies. l Dr Jennifer Whelan, an expert specialising in corporate diversity, inclusion and innovation, who will talk about unconscious gender bias and what can be done about it. l Dr Jenny Brockis, an expert in brain fitness who will discuss the science of high-performance thinking, sharing science-based strategies for thinking smarter, innovating more and working more effectively to achieve work-life balance. Other highlights are: l ‘VetEd’ talks—a new series of eight 10-minute talks by veterinarians, to share inspirational stories with their peers. l The AVA Poster Competition with four generous cash prizes, to promote the research or clinical work of veterinarians.

l AVA’s renowned scientific program. This allows delegates to choose from eight streams in a range of subject areas, while the workshops and field trips will facilitate practical skills development and the opportunity to earn further VetEd points. l Two free mini-workshops within the scientific program on wellness and resilience. l A new Carers Pass to assist those delegates who require a carer to accompany them. Discounts on registration are available to AVA members. New graduates (up to three years out) receive additional discounts and nurses and practice managers can join AVA as associate members. New members who join now can save up to $1885 on the cost of conference registration and enjoy extended membership until 30 June 2019. Visit and to join AVA, email or phone 1300 137 309.

Dog paralysis linked to raw chicken Chicken necks are a common treat for dogs, but a new study has found that the consumption of raw chicken, particularly chicken necks, increases their risk of developing a paralysing condition called acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) by more than 70 times. The study was led by the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital and was published earlier this year in the Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine. Dr Matthias le Chevoir, chief investigator on the project,

said the cause of APN in dogs has baffled the veterinary community for a long time. “It is a rare but very debilitating condition where the dog’s hind legs first become weak. It can then progress to affect the front legs, neck, head and face. Some dogs may die from the disease if their chest becomes paralysed,” he said. Paralysis results from the dog’s immune system becoming unregulated and attacking its own nerve roots, progressively worsening over several days.

APN is the canine counterpart of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in humans, which also causes muscle weakness. Dr le Chevoir said the bacteria campylobacter is now considered a triggering agent in up to 40 per cent of GBS patients. It may be present in undercooked chicken, unpasteurised milk products and contaminated water. “Our team at U-Vet Animal Hospital wanted to understand if consuming raw chicken could also be triggering APN in dogs,” he said.


The team studied 27 dogs with symptoms of APN and 47 dogs without, examining physical symptoms and interviewing the owners about recent behaviours and diet—focusing in particular on the consumption of raw chicken meat. Faecal samples collected within seven days of the presentation of clinical signs, such as hind limb weakness, showed the dogs with APN were 9.4 times more likely to have had a campylobacter infection than the control group without the disease.


Have you tried Pexion® for canine epilepsy? For years vets have had limited choice when it comes to treating canine idiopathic epilepsy and these medications can often result in undesirable side effects and require ongoing blood testing that can be frustrating for owners. Pexion ® is a new and innovative anti-epileptic medication that provides highly targeted seizure suppression. 1-3 Pexion® does not require ongoing liver or serum drug level blood tests and allows dogs to be more like their old selves again.

For further information relating to treatment protocols, transitions and dose adjustment, please contact your Territory Manager or our Technical Services Veterinary team on: 1800 038 037.

References: 1. Tipold A, (2014) Clinical efficacy and safety of imepitoin in comparison with phenobarbital for the control of idiopathic epilepsy in dogs. Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2. Löscher W, et al. (2004) Epilepsia;45(10):1228-1239. 3. Rieck S, et al. (2006) Vet J;172:86-95. Boehringer Ingelheim Pty Limited. Animal Health Division. Level 1, 78 Waterloo Road, North Ryde, NSW 2113. Toll Free 1800 038 037. Pexion® is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH. © Boehringer Ingelheim Pty Limited, 2018. All rights reserved. BI33035_VP



Animals have very different nutritional needs to humans. But telling that to pet owners who are convinced the human fad diets they swear by also benefit their cat or dog isn’t always easy, unless you know how. By Rachel Smith

We need to talk about


food PALEO. VEGANISM. Grain-free. Raw food. Fad diets are plentiful—and no-one could deny that as humans, we’re increasingly obsessed with what we should be eating. The trouble is when we assume such diets might suit our pets too—a trend which has vets increasingly concerned. “We’re frequently asked by vets how to manage these conversations,” says Dr Mina Magelakis, scientific services veterinarian at Royal Canin. “We hear things like, ‘How do we tackle grain free? How do we tackle raw feeding?’ and other feeding regimes they’re hearing about. I’m not going to deny that it’s a challenging conversation to have with a pet owner, because you’re up against their own personal values and opinions.” Dr Peter Higgins, an honorary associate at the University of Sydney and a practising vet himself, says small animal vets would be seeing issues related to

diet every day—and potentially dealing with tricky pet owners who are convinced that they know better. “The bane of a vet’s life is trying to convince the owner that what they’re doing is the wrong thing,” he explains. “A vet can say, ‘You really shouldn’t be feeding [your pet] this. This is the reason you’re here today and the dog or cat is sick, so stop feeding this diet’, but the owner will say, ‘That’s not what it says on Google’. It’s an increasing problem.”

The dangers of feeding animals a human diet People applying the human experience to their animals is nothing new but in the case of nutrition, it can be damaging or even deadly. “I’ve definitely come across pet owners thinking the pet would do really well on


their diet—I’ve had a lot of vegetarians be very insistent, for example, but for cats, being obligate carnivores, this can be lethal. A cat cannot thrive on a vegetarian diet because they need the amino acids, essential fatty acids and vitamins contained in meat,” says Dr Claire Stevens, a veterinarian based on the Gold Coast. Dr Higgins agrees, adding that cats put on strict vegetarian or even vegan diets can go blind quickly. “Often people won’t pick it up because the animal compensates with their other senses. They can also experience liver problems—and they can literally die from it.” Busting the ‘myths’ out there about what pets need nutritionally is also something vets should prioritise when talking to owners who may have read and believed fad diet claims. “For example, humans require vitamin C but cats and dogs can synthesise it


themselves, so they don’t require it in their diet as much as we do,” says Dr Magelakis. “Another really common one we hear is the belief that pets cannot tolerate carbohydrates or they may suffer grain-related allergies—but we do know cats and dogs are completely capable of digesting carbohydrates. The vast majority of food allergens actually come from meat-based proteins.”

Are some fad diets better or worse than others? While there are ‘alternative’ pet diets available that can be okay for pets, some are more difficult to balance nutritionally and are more likely to cause disease, explains Dr Magelakis. “The diets considered to probably pose the most risk for a pet’s health and wellbeing are raw diets or home-cooked feeding regimes. Studies suggest that balancing a home-cooked diet [for a pet]

“We’re frequently asked by vets how to manage these conversations. We hear things like, ‘How do we tackle grain free? How do we tackle raw feeding?’ and other feeding regimes they’re hearing about.” Dr Mina Magelakis, scientific services veterinarian, Royal Canin

is incredibly difficult, even when you have the best intentions and due diligence. The supplementation of the diet is really complex and any minor changes to ingredients can alter the nutrient profile significantly,” she says. “We’ve also responded to a lot of enquiries from vets about what to feed puppies who develop rickets as a result of being fed raw or all-meat diets that aren’t nutritionally balanced for growth. Rickets can have long-term detrimental health effects—but it’s completely preventable which is why education for pet owners about what’s appropriate is so important.” Something else vets should consider mentioning to owners is that the bacteria in raw food diets for pets can cause serious illness, and contaminate the home environment and areas where the pet defecates. “That can pose a risk to the pet and to pet owners [with compromised immunity] such as young children, pregnant women or elderly people living in the house,” explains Dr Magelakis.

Insurance, ethics and extreme cases How far does a vet go with a militant pet owner hell-bent on feeding Fluffy vegetables instead of meat, to the animal’s detriment? There are strategies vets could try, says Dr Higgins. “Tell the pet owner to check their pet insurance policy,” he suggests. “If it says you shouldn’t feed a diet other than a normal dog or cat diet and that decision is usually made by the veterinarian, it could void the policy.” He adds that in really extreme cases, when an animal becomes emaciated


due to incorrect feeding, it’s up to the vet to play hard ball. “You could then say something like, ‘Well, we’ve spoken about this before. We may have to talk to the RSCPA [or another welfare body] about this’. Pet owners can be very stubborn, and believe that a diet is a good diet because they’re doing it themselves or because their own personal view is that vegetarianism or veganism is the only way to live—and that’s fine, but animals are different to people. Their metabolisms are different; they have different enzymes. It’s been my experience with cats particularly on these sorts of diets that they are not happy animals.”

Talking to tricky clients about diets Pet owners who may have had their own health issues and extrapolate their experience onto their pets need careful handling, says Dr Stevens, who is developing a course for veterinarians about how to communicate better with clients. Treading lightly, being respectful of the client’s experience and not using medical jargon is key, she adds. “Saying something lightheartedly, such as, ‘We buy Puppuccinos for dogs at coffee shops these days; I think often we forget he or she is a little wolf!’ can help pet owners to realise that maybe because it’s right for us doesn’t mean it’s right for the pet.” Slowing down as a vet rather than rushing through the consult to get to the next patient can also help you better understand your client’s story, she adds. “How we use body language, how we frame our questions, how we listen—it all happens in the consult room. Either your client trusts you and you win them over or they go elsewhere.” Dr Magelakis says it’s a fine line between making sure that you don’t personally offend the client, and that you give them advice that’s in theirs—and their pet’s—best interest. “I do believe that pet owners want the best for their pet and in the vast majority of cases vets have well-established relationships with their clients,” she explains. “The education component really just comes more naturally from having this relationship—it’s just a case of identifying nutrition as an important conversation in the consultation room, and for vets to position themselves as the expert.”



Advance your knowledge and skills with a world-class scientific program, catch up and socialise with friends and colleagues and visit the largest veterinary trade show in Australia Inspiring local and international speakers including: • Dr Williana Basuki (USA), dentistry • Dr Theresa De Porter (USA), behaviour • Dr Jean Dodds (USA), integrative • Alison Lambert (UK), Veterinary Business Group • Dr Andrew Mackin (USA), small animal • Dr Cathy McGowan (UK), equine • Dr Tim Parkinson (NZ), cattle • Professor Natalie (Nat) Waran, welfare Plus plenaries with Dr Jordan Nguyen, Dr Jennifer Whelan, Dr Jenny Brockis and Professor Jakob Zinsstag VetEd Talks *New Poster Competition *New Resilience Workshop *New Carers Passes *New

Register online at #AVAConference KNOWLEDGE

13–18 May 2018 Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre Brisbane, Queensland EARLY BIRD CLOSES 23 APRIL 2018 Gain 27 VetEd points


“Business education is key to making the most of the opportunities available, creating new ones and mitigating the risks.� Dr Paula Parker, president, AVA

Being a fantastic vet is only half the story to running a successful practice. The other half is how good at business you are. Luckily, there are lots of ways you can learn to be more enterprising. By Heather Vaile


sense THE VETERINARY MARKET in Australia is changing. Growing corporatisation of the sector, new cost pressures associated with technological advancements, increasing specialisation of services, rising rents/real estate prices in sought-after big city locations, more people taking up pet insurance and changing expectations from pet owners are all contributing to a more complex operating environment for practice owners. To make the most of your commercial opportunities and ensure you are well placed to cope with changing circumstances, the chances are you’re going to need a mix of both clinical skills and knowledge and business acumen. If you’re feeling a bit ‘underdone’ on the business side of things, the good news is you aren’t alone! These days it’s becoming more common for vets to take on postgraduate courses ranging from short, targeted business programs right up to the gold standard, two-year Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. Dr Paula Parker, president of the Australian Veterinary Association and chair of the AVA’s Veterinary Business Group


(VBG), is one vet who’s decided to go the whole nine yards in terms of developing her business credentials via an MBA. She will finish her MBA in June of this year and says studying for this extra qualification has helped her to learn to look at things differently and to better understand people and systems from multiple perspectives. “It has also helped me with productivity,” she adds. “Despite my love of lists, I can be a terrible procrastinator and through what I have learnt and the discipline of the study, I am better able to manage projects successfully to completion.” So, enrolling in an MBA is certainly one option, but there are also others that might be less time-consuming and costly, and which may suit you better if you are already working long hours and paying off a sizable student debt. For example, you can enhance your business management skills through less formal learning opportunities like networking with peers or joining professional groups and attending targeted professional continuing education events. The AVA’s VBG aims to provide veterinary practice managers and owners with exactly


“Many veterinarians fail to see the link between the study of business and the quality of care you can deliver to your patients. We all became vets because we want to care for animals, and in the real world that means you must have the funds to do so.” Dr Antony Karolis, CEO, WellPet Vets

the kind of support, skills and tools they need to build successful businesses through meetings, webinars and a range of online and published resources. Dr Parker says, “Business education is key to making the most of the opportunities available, creating new ones and mitigating the risks.” The signature event for the VBG each year is the annual ‘summit’ of members. Dr Parker says at this event the VBG aims to “facilitate group learning and connect people with a passion for our sector”. James Ramsden is a vet who has left clinical practice and now runs a start-up online marketing business for vets. He is also on the AVA’s VBG Advisory Committee and attended the inaugural summit last year. “The summit was there to stimulate people to think about how to improve their businesses,” he explains. “Some of the key messages that came out of it was how do we involve students better in the business. It’s a problem for the industry when you get graduates coming out and they don’t have a sense of how to operate well in a veterinary business.” The VBG also contributes a business stream at the AVA annual conference, hosts practice tours, roadshows, workshops and webinars. Dr Parker says, “There’s a richness that comes from group learning and debate, especially about business—and making connections is also important.” Some vets also employ professional

advisers like business coaches, accountants or lawyers to help with practical advice on important business issues. Queensland firm Crampton Consulting Group (CCG, a division of Provet), for example, offers both business and personal coaching programs, along with a host of other veterinary training options from e-learning in customer service, HR and strategic planning to professional development events such as client care, leadership and team masterclasses and business intelligence workshops. CCG also offers “business health checks” for practices, workplace wellness strategies and in-practice training for your team. They will even make mystery shopping calls to your practice to give you an objective assessment of how you’re doing in terms of customer service.  There are also specialist consultancies which can provide comprehensive management support and development plans for vet practices at various stages of business development, such as that run by Dr Antony Karolis from Penrith, NSW. Dr Karolis is the CEO of WellPet Vets which has several practices in Western Sydney and one in the lower Blue Mountains. He also has an MBA and says, “Many veterinarians fail to see the link between the study of business and the quality of care you can deliver to your patients. We all became vets because we want to care for animals, and in the real world that means you must have the funds to do so.”


Other options besides doing an MBA or joining the VBG are study programs like the Graduate Diploma in Veterinary Professional Leadership and Management offered through University of Melbourne’s veterinary faculty. Don’t overlook your local university, TAFE college or specialist providers either, who may offer business courses in your state or territory. TAFE courses aren’t just for vet nurses, you know! Western Sydney TAFE, for example, claims over 20 per cent of their students already have a degree. And while these types of courses may lack the cachet of an MBA, you may still be able to earn very useful qualifications in business management, accountancy and human resource management for under $3000 (subject to eligibility). Some of these courses may be offered at a nearby campus, online or possibly even both. University short courses and study programs offered by private colleges such as APM College of Business and Communication (which is part of the larger Think Group) may also offer the same state government subsidised prices as TAFE. Whatever career path you’re on, it’s good to know you’ve got plenty of business education pathways available to you when the time is right. Just be realistic and consider what option suits you best in terms of your existing work and family commitments, your professional goals and preferred learning style, the timeframe involved for completion, and of course, your budget.

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Metabolic+Mobility Meet the world’s first proven single nutritional solution for both. Together we can help all of your patients at risk. For more information, talk to your Hill’s Representative. Floerchinger AM, Jackson MI, Jewell DE, et al. Effect of feeding a weight loss food beyond a caloric restriction period on body composition and resistance to weight gain in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2015;247:375-384. Fritsch DA, Allen TA, Dodd CE et al. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;236:535-539. 3 Roush JK, Dodd CE, Fritsch DA et al. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;236:59-66. 4 Roush JK, Cross AR, Renberg WC et al. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;236:67-73. ™ shown are trademarks of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc ©2018 Hill’s Pet Nutrition Pty Limited. HIMA-HB-1610C3C2. HPA2882. 02/18. S&H. 1




The USP—Unique Selling Proposition— is said to be the secret of getting the right core message of your business. So why is it so many practices have no idea what their USP even is? By John Burfitt


IF THERE’S ONE THING most marketers agree on when it comes to advising small businesses on the best way to establish a secure hold in their marketplace, it’s about knowing what their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is. That’s because being clear in this regard forces you to think about what distinguishes your practice and makes your team stand out from your competitors in the same market. By having a clear USP, your marketing will be stronger because a well-defined message is presented, and it helps identify a clear direction for the business. But ask


some marketers who work within the veterinary field what they make of most practices’ efforts to communicate their USP, and the report card is not good. “Some people’s business ideas about what makes them unique are almost prehistoric,” says Jon Michail, group CEO of Image Group International, a corporate and personal brand advisory company. “They still just want to do things their old, merry way. To be fair, most practices are doing this in an ad hoc way, because the person running the business hasn’t got the time to work on the business.” It’s


“[Your USP] is about knowing the value you provide to your clients. You’ve got to find out what makes you tick and why people are buying your service.” Jon Michail, Group CEO, Image Group International

a point, trainer Karen Gately, author of the book, The People Manager’s Toolkit, agrees with. “Of the small businesses I have worked with, 90 per cent have no idea what makes their service unique,” she says. “So many business owners really struggle with the concept of their USP, if they even know what it is in the first place. “In most cases, it’s because they haven’t stopped to think about it and that’s concerning when they’re positioning themselves in a crowded marketplace.” For many practice owners, their USP is the very reason they had the confidence to go out on their own and start a business in the first place. They knew they could offer something different or more specialised than everyone else in the market, and so opened up their doors. For others, the USP could be that the business owner saw a gap in the market and knew they could fill it with the range of exclusive services they had to offer. “It’s your ‘why’—why you are doing this resonates far more strongly than just what you do,” Gately says. “Think deeply

that why you are doing this is what creates the experience your clients have.” Pinpointing your USP may require some soul-searching and brutal objectivity, says Jon Michail. “It’s about knowing the value you provide to your clients,” he says. “You’ve got to find out what makes you tick and why people are buying your service. What the personal brand of your business communicates, the returns will be congruent with what you’re putting out there.” Much of that comes down to a sense of trust, Michail says. “Trust is the new currency of the world we live in. Expertise doesn’t give you authority anymore, but trust does. So step outside and look in and decide why people trust your business, and then make that the core of every message you put out there.” Taking an objective view of your business—and not only the way it operates but how it appeals to the market—can prove a crucial step in focusing in on the business’s USP, says Caroline Ucherek of CJU Medical Marketing. “Take a look at your business from the outside in, just as a customer would, and then ask yourself, ‘Why would anyone bring their animals here?’” she says. “Very often people get too close to their own product and services and don’t actually see what it is they are offering that is different to others in the same field. “You need to look at every element of your practice and see what it is that is different about what you’re doing compared to the one up the road and the one on the other side of the town.”


Embarking on a period of research to find out what other players in your same field are doing is important to determine the USP, Ucherek adds. “It’s just as important to know what the other players are saying about themselves. Before you can really understand what’s unique about you, gain a thorough understanding of what your competitors are doing. Then you have a benchmark to compare yourself against. “It might only be then that you realise that offering a 24-hour emergency service is your USP, when you assumed everyone else did it, too. Or delivering the client’s dog back home after a procedure is something you’ve been doing for years but no-one else does. It might also be that one of your team has done a number of research papers in nose and throat health of cats, and that’s something pretty unique to shout about.” Once the USP is determined and defined, it needs to be the foundation message of all communications the practice engages in, claims business performance practitioner Darleen Barton. “Building a marketing plan around your USP is far more important than deciding on your corporate colours—this is what you want to make clear in every message your practice makes. “This is the time you need to look at the clear message being issued through your website, as well as through your social media platforms,” Barton says. “It might also be in the way you communicate with clients by telephone, email and when they’re in the practice. That USP needs to be something that they actually experience, rather than just be told about. This is all about effective service delivery.” Knowing the market your business is best suited to and catering to that market is paramount, says Michail. This is also an area where the small businesses can take an advantage in the way they do business. “Small business practices can leave the big corporates for dead if they focus on and highlight their USP properly,” Michail says. “It’s about the value you are putting out there. If you’re putting energy out there about offering a caring, committed and boutique service rather than a big model that’s trying to offer everything to everyone, then you will be getting the kind of energy back that’s in accordance with the kind of business you want to run.”


No vet wants to provide anything less than the best possible treatment but when a client is unable to pay for your services, how much charity can your business afford? By Susi Banks

cost care The


THERE ARE VARIOUS strategies veterinarians use to balance out their fee structure when providing low or no-cost treatment to ‘battler’ pet owners. This ranges from educating clients on the costs of pet ownership and encouraging them to take out pet insurance to treating homeless people’s pets for free. A problem faced by most practices is clients who simply can’t afford treatment for their pet. Do you just stick to your fee schedule and refer them to the RSPCA or other charities? Or do you provide free or below-cost treatments and try to balance it out by charging well-to-do clients the maximum fee? Dr Sam Kovac is the founder of Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic in Sydney with locations in two different socio-economic areas—one in the Sydney’s inner-west suburb of St Peters and the other in the more affluent eastern suburb of Bellevue Hill. “We never compromise on quality to reduce our fees. If a client can’t afford a procedure, we don’t cut corners, but we do offer a no-interest payment plan in select cases,” says Dr Kovac. “Some

clients don’t appreciate the benefits of providing the most up-to-date services, and for these clients, we recommend they become clients of a clinic that offers lower quality care and a lower fee.”

Surrendering pets By running her mobile Veterinary Ophthalmology Services, Dr Melissa Meehan gets to work at the RSPCA in Burwood, Victoria, as well as in more affluent parts of Melbourne. She offers a middletier service at the RSPCA for people who can’t afford a specialist eye veterinarian. Dr Meehan regularly needs to explain to clients that animal surgeries cost as much as human surgeries, but they are not subsidised by the government. “People usually understand the true value of the procedure when they realise that Medicare covers a large proportion of human surgery costs and that is why veterinary surgery seems to be so expensive,” says Dr Meehan. Unfortunately, she has seen many distressing cases of animals that have been surrendered to the RSPCA. “There was a lovely little dog that had lived with a very painful eye condition


“We never compromise on quality to reduce our fees. If a client can’t afford a procedure, we don’t cut corners but we do offer a no-interest payment plan in select cases.” Dr Sam Kovac, Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic


“There is a group in society, the homeless, whose bond with their companion animal is life-saving,.” for 18 months. If it was a human, it would have been complaining of chronic migraines. Unfortunately, dogs don’t make it so obvious.”

Why pet insurance works Bessie Hassan, a money expert at comparison site Finder, says that when the company recently surveyed 2033 Australians, they found the average dog owner is prepared to spend up to $4128 in one visit at the vet practice while cat owners are willing to pay $2137 in a visit. “Unfortunately, not everyone has access to this kind of money in an emergency,” says Hassan. “This is where pet insurance can come into play. However, roughly one in five pet owners have pet insurance.” Dr Kovac encourages his clients to invest in pet insurance. “We drill this at every point we can—at the first puppy visit, in puppy party, at puppy school and during consultations,” he says.

HoPe for the homeless “There is a group in society, the homeless, whose bond with their companion animal is literally life-saving,” says Dr Kovac. “Often their pet is the only thing they have to live for. We have decided to safeguard this bond and through Project HoPe [which

stands for Homeless Pets], we provide nocost veterinary surgery and medicine. “As this charitable fund is strictly limited to people living rough, they have received some criticism. Some believe that people on Centrelink benefits or on low incomes should be entitled to access this fund but if we were to allow that, the funds would dwindle to nothing and the people for whom this fund was set up—the homeless—would be as bad off as before.”

Remote solutions Working as a vet in remote East Arnhem Land, Dr Sue Samuelsson saw the challenges facing remote communities and decided to do something about it. She started i-Vet so those stranded by distance, disability or illness are able to access the care their animals desperately need. From these small beginnings, i-Vet now offers consultations to pet owners in remote Aboriginal and mining communities and to those who cannot afford to bring their pets into a traditional veterinary clinic. Although not a budget veterinary practice, i-Vet online consultations cost considerably less than a vet house-call. Dr Samuelsson is able to treat many more patients than she would if she had to see them in person.


Dr Sam Kovac, Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic

Many of i-Vet’s customers are pet owners who live so far from traditional veterinary centres, they already have a high level of proactive care and treatment for their pets. The service allows these owners to get advice and assistance from veterinarians so they do not have to go it alone. “Often it’s an owner trying to work out just how sick is their pet,” says Dr Samuelsson. “Additionally, do they need to get to charter a flight or battle the floodwaters to get to an in-person vet?”

Juggling act A respect for animals is often at the core of why people become vets. In a situation where care is going to be denied due to financial concerns, the vet is faced with a moral issue. They have to juggle being a hard-nosed businessperson with their legitimate concerns for the animal’s health. Whether they adopt a two-tiered payment system, work free on certain days, refer to cheaper animal care centres or just give away their services, there is no easy answer. It remains one of the most difficult aspects of being a vet working in animal health.


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Australia’s only accredited forensic veterinarian, Dr Rebecca Belousoff, has her work cut out for her investigating some of the worst cases of animal cruelty—her evidence helping to convict animal abusers. By Petra Starke




Photography: Eamon Gallagher

ANIMAL CRUELTY cases have always been difficult to diagnose and prosecute for one simple reason—the victims can’t talk. Now, thanks to the emerging field of veterinary forensics, specialist vets are giving voices to the voiceless, and helping combat the scourge of animal abuse. As Australia’s only accredited forensic veterinarian, Dr Rebecca Belousoff is one such specialist, instrumental in prosecuting cases of animal cruelty uncovered by inspectors at RSPCA Victoria, where she works. Just like the medical forensics experts


on popular television shows like CSI and Bones, Dr Belousoff uses a range of specialised scientific skills to determine if an animal has been abused, neglected or mistreated—something regular vets are typically untrained in. What she uncovers in her examinations can help lead to a successful prosecution in court, where she is regularly called upon to appear as an expert witness. “Veterinary forensics is sort of looking at an animal patient and trying to ascertain what has occurred to that animal,” Dr Belousoff explains. “If it’s an


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abuse case, I work out what has led to the problem in the animal. If it’s an emaciation problem, I work through that. And obviously I go and look at crime scenes as well.” During Dr Belousoff’s two years as RSPCA Victoria’s inspectorate veterinarian, those crime scenes have included everything from suburban houses overflowing with rubbish and crawling with sick animals, to puppy farms crowded with hundreds of dogs living in filth and squalor. For someone who has always loved and cherished animals, such scenes can be difficult to process. Born in country Victoria, Dr Belousoff had an early introduction to caring for animals through her grandparents’ farm in Cudgewa, about five hours north-east of Melbourne. “It was just sort of a home farm with cattle and chickens,” she says. “I really loved all the cattle and the sheep; our neighbours had lambs, and

so I had a lot of exposure to animals at a young age. We always had cats and dogs at home. I had a very great love of animals pretty much from the beginning.” With doctors in the family, and “a real passion for helping people and animals”, she always knew she wanted to “go down the medical path or the vet path”, she says. In the end animals won, and after completing her Bachelor of Veterinary Science at the University of Melbourne, she began working as a vet for the Cat Protection Society, before joining the RSPCA in 2007. It was there that she began to see more and more cases of suspected animal abuse being brought in by the inspectors—emaciated dogs, cats with unexplained multiple fractures—and quickly developed a passion for the work, joining in on bigger and more complex criminal investigations. Eventually she decided to make the leap into veterinary forensics, signing

up for the University of Florida’s online graduate certificate course—one of the only officially accredited courses in the world. She is now preparing to undertake the university’s new online master’s degree in the subject. “Because I needed to collect evidence and write reports, it really spurred me on to do extra research for the cases I was seeing. The inspectors need proof without a doubt to prosecute cases of animal cruelty, so I wanted to keep developing my skills so I could get that evidence and that proof,” she says. Since then she has helped the RSPCA investigate numerous animal cruelty cases, all of them horrific in their own

“The inspectors need proof without a doubt to prosecute cases of animal cruelty, so I wanted to keep developing my skills so I could get that evidence and that proof.” Dr Rebecca Belousoff

Dr Belousoff admits that many graphic scenes can be difficult to process.


C O V E R S T O RY Dr Belousoff says that veterinary forensics is much more than just helping animals that come into her care—it’s an essential social service.

way. “I’ve had dogs that have been beaten, hung, stabbed, drowned, shot, strangled,” she says. “The majority of cases I’ve seen have been emaciated animals. Animals that are really emaciated, they’re essentially walking skeletons. They need to be put on IV fluids to support them. Those really, really skinny dogs stick in my mind. “You look at them and think ‘I don’t think anything could possibly look any skinnier than this animal that’s just come in’. And amazingly there’s always cases that come in that surprise you even more.” Like Skittles, the collie who was found hog-tied in a bag on the side of the road, shot in the head, and left for dead. “Some passers-by found him in there, and he was brought in to the RSPCA in really poor condition,” she says. “He was hog-tied pretty tightly, so he had nasty wounds on his legs. He had to have an eye removed and he was rendered deaf from the impact of the shotgun.” Thanks in part to Dr Belousoff’s

forensics work, the dog’s attacker was identified, convicted, fined $7500 and banned from owning animals for 10 years. Skittles, meanwhile, was eventually re-homed after months of careful rehabilitation. “It was a fantastic outcome for that dog,” she says. Other forensics work Dr Belousoff has undertaken for the RSPCA includes an investigation into greyhound live baiting, and investigations of illegal puppy farms. One of her most significant cases came in 2013, just after she began studying for her forensics certificate, where inspectors discovered more than 200 abused and neglected dogs and puppies at a puppy farm in Pyramid Hill, near Bendigo. Covered in matted fur and dangerously underweight, many of the dogs had a litany of medical problems, from diseases to untreated wounds. “That definitely stands out as a turning point for me and for the organisation as well,” she says. “We took many, many dogs—probably at least one hundred and something dogs— off this property at different stages, and


“The majority of cases I’ve seen have been emaciated animals. Animals that are really emaciated, they’re essentially walking skeletons. They need to be put on IV fluids to support them. Those really, really skinny dogs stick in my mind.” Dr Rebecca Belousoff

the animals were very heavily matted, had a lot of behavioural issues, very terrified and frightened. “All of them had medical problems like dental disease and infections and really complicated problems. We were able to re-home a great majority of those animals which was fantastic, and the puppy farmer is no longer operating, so that’s the greatest achievement.” But for every case of deliberate animal abuse she sees, there are many more that are just the sad results of inattention,

ignorance, or mental illness. Now Dr Belousoff has become a big advocate for spreading the word about veterinary forensics, and for educating other vets in how to spot the less obvious signs of animal abuse. “Even in private practice, a lot of vets will be seeing cases of animal cruelty and they might not be aware,” she says. “Probably the biggest thing that we find are animals that keep presenting with injuries. So if you have an animal and you X-ray it and find it has multiple fractures, or fractures at different stages of healing, that’s a really big red flag that this animal has been physically abused if not once, then multiple times. “Regular, repeat visits to the one clinic with difficult-to-explain circumstances of how an animal became injured, that’s certainly something to take into consideration. I think as vets we’re not really taught about it, so I just want to open vets’ eyes to the fact that these are things you might be seeing.” For her though, veterinary forensics is

about more than just helping the animals that come into her care—it’s an essential social service. As she points out, spotting and treating animal abuse not only helps the animal, but can often help the people around it, too. “As vets, we’ve got an important role for the community as well, because the people that are abusing animals can often be abusing other people in the household as well. “So, I’m passionate about informing people there’s a really strong link between people who abuse animals and then do other acts of interpersonal violence. The chances are that in any normal private practice situation, you might be seeing some cases of animal abuse that you could be a part of helping to deal with.” While it’s something of an honour being the only one in Australia, ultimately Dr Belousoff would like to see the practice of veterinary forensics become more widespread. Apart from the University of Florida’s online course, which now includes a master’s degree—something she is planning to undertake herself—

University of Sydney also offers a short course in veterinary forensics through its Centre for Veterinary Education Continuing Education program. “For vets that are interested, they probably need to work in a welfare society or as a vet that’s linked to an RSPCA where inspectors will be bringing in cases,” Dr Belousoff says. “Being aware of the possibility of animal abuse I think is very relevant to private practitioners that might be seeing some weird cases that they just can’t really pinpoint.” Despite having to deal with some horrific, heart-rending cases, it’s something she thinks most vets would be equipped to handle. “I don’t know if I’m any different from the other vets; we’re all made of pretty tough stuff,” she says. “We see some pretty horrible things but when these cases come in, you kind of just go into work mode, and you become very focused on ‘this is my job, I need to be objective and get as much information from this animal as I can—the best I can’.”

Every veterinarian has a different reason for choosing VetPartners.

David’s story David Margary had put his heart and soul into his Forest Hill Veterinary Hospital for over 22 years. He was looking for alternatives to selling his business to a corporate who would rebrand or change his existing business. Aligning with VetPartners has allowed David to continue focusing on being a dedicated vet, but without the administrative headaches. “I wanted my staff looked after and wanted to see my practice run the same way it always had” “I can now focus on being a vet, comfortable in the knowledge that my future is secure” - Dr David Margary, Forest Hill Veterinary Hospital It’s never too early to explore your options Call 1300 412 300 or email For more testimonials visit

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VETERINARY IMAGING See the best radiology and ultrasound equipment



Imaging equipment guide


CE,Latest KNOWLEDGE & SECURITY COUNTS development in small animal X-ray suites These days someone always has a better,

cheaper, faster MOBILE DRand better solution to your imaging needs. We at Radincon always


CXDI 710C/810C

strive to deliver the best quality offering in product, the highest level of service and always honest advice. We won’t suit everyone as our quality product range doesn’t make us the cheapest offering upfront. Generally, we will be the best value over the life of equipment (which is potentially somewhat longer than the less expensive options). Many of our clients have had three or four of our imaging systems over the past 39 years. Some have gone to other suppliers only to return to us five or six years later.

Canon High Sensitivity Panels Highly Optimised Image Processing Full Commercial Wireless Accesss Point Medical Clinical Review Monitor Built in DICOM Viewer - eFilm New Generation Panel Release Light weight and fast Waterproof - IPX7

So what’s new? As digital imaging develops and improves, we have the trend to replace first-generation CR or cassette-based digital systems with DR flat panel options. DR has none of the mechanical aspect that CR has which can lead to much higher service and maintenance costs as a CR ages so moving to DR is a natural progression. We’ve taken many people from wet film auto processing through to flat panel DR. We’ve even had some go from manual developing tanks straight to DR. The most popular option we have is the RAD-X DR CX1A Mobile in clinic system. This console has been 100% reliable when coupled with the Canon CXDI 701 and 801 series panels. We now have the release of the Canon CXDI 810-710 series panels which brings a carbon fibre constructed lightweight and waterproof panel to the market. They have the same reliability, unsurpassed image quality and ease of use of the CXDI 801 and 701 panels. Either panel series also matches well with our RAD-X DR X1A portable options.

Vet System

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The latest ranges from Radincon include (clockwise, from top left): the RAD-X CX1A Mobile DR; the new Canon CXD1 810/710 panels, and the new RAD-X HF Compact Vet X-ray System.

Generator Options

PSE30TV 30kW - 15 amp power 125kV 400mA max. 100kV@300mA

RAD-X HF Compact Vet X-ray system This product is our latest development in small animal X-ray suites. It comes with the options of the 30kW stored energy 15 amp or 37kW 3-phase X-ray generator. These generators are built in the US to our specifications and have proved very reliable and easy to service as they have developed over the last 15 years. We combine this with our Compact Vet 2 table which offers a 4-way float top and removable grid tray. We also have the choice of a number of X-ray tubes to match your requirements. For more information on Radincon’s ranges of X-rays and specialist imagery services, call 1300 721 734 or visit

P400T 37.5kW - 3 phase power 125kV 400mA Max. 100kV@370mA

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Full float top – 1600 x 650mm Foot operated lock Cassette tray for under table work Your x-ray grid or we can supply Adjustable tie down points Fixed height tube34 stand – 1850mm




CXDI 710C/810C

Canon High Sensitivity Panels Highly Optimised Image Processing Full Commercial Wireless Accesss Point Medical Clinical Review Monitor Built in DICOM Viewer - eFilm New Generation Panel Release Light weight and fast Waterproof - IPX7

HF Premier Vet System Quality European built table 4 way float table top Tube goes up, down and rotates Exceptionally reliable system

Generator Options PSE30TV 30kW - 15 amp power 125kV 400mA max. 100kV@300mA

No. 1 System

P400T 37.5kW - 3 phase power 125kV 400mA Max. 100kV@370mA

5 Year Parts Guarantee

Years of reliable service!

PORTA 120HF 5kW output 50mA @ 100kV 120kV Full APR Program Highest output portable currently on the market No physics bending BS

HF Compact Vet X-ray system RAD-X PSE 30TV Stored Energy -- 15 amp P400T 37.5kW - 3 phase power 4-way float table top Removable grid tray Adjustable tie down points

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Colour Doppler DEMO 15” LCD Screen Image Coded Harmonic Imaging Real Time Speckle Reduction Imaging CrossBeam Auto Optimisation and more....

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These units are the most reliable, robust and cost effective CR on offer. Seamless integration. Simple operation. Don’t have to buy a new x-ray unit. You won’t even need to change your factors much. Merge eFilm Study manager included.

CR Package Full delivery, installation and onsite specialist applications training from our staff radiographers

Phone: 1300 721 734


Imaging equipment guide

Case report: Elderly dog presenting with stage 4 periodontal disease and tooth root in nasal cavity

When a dog had halitosis and facial swelling, Dr Anthony Caiafa of North Coast Veterinary Specialist & Referral Centre in QLD’s Sunshine Coast utilised iM3’s dental radiology system and other tools to solve the problem A nine-year-old desexed female border collie was referred to our referral practice with a longstanding history of severe halitosis, recent facial swelling and general ill health. The dog had a history of halitosis, swelling of the right-hand side face and pain on eating. The symptoms would respond to a course of oral antibiotics but quickly recur after the course finished. The veterinarian requested that intraoral radiographs be taken to determine the extent of the oral disease and to treat any underlying pathology. Whole body, extra- and intra-oral examinations During consultation, there was a right-sided generalised facial swelling mainly involving the right maxillary cheek area. There was a lip fold dermatitis involving the lower lip. There was some pain on opening the mouth and gross calculus and plaque. There was a discharging buccal mucosa sinus above the left maxillary 4th premolar tooth. There was evidence of stomatitis involving the cheek teeth of both sides of the maxilla. Draining mandibular lymph nodes were slightly enlarged. The dog’s pre-anaesthetic blood analysis showed a high end of normal white cell count, but there was no renal or hepatic dysfunction. Examination under general anaesthesia Under general anaesthesia, an examination of the oral cavity revealed chronic periodontitis (grade 4) with a number of premolar teeth exhibiting grade 3 furcation Figure 1. RHS maxilla—note the stage 4 periodontal disease and the mid root fracture of tooth 106 (circled). Note apex of root sitting on bony floor of nasal cavity.

bone loss. Periodontal probing: revealed abnormal probing depths (>4mm) for a number of premolar and molar teeth. Because of the dog’s age, the vet and client requested a whole mouth series of intraoral radiographs to aid in diagnosis and the formulation of a treatment plan. A whole mouth series of intraoral radiographs were taken using mainly a size 5 image plate and the iM3 CR7 Vet. Size 5 plates are ideal for this task by including more teeth on the plate as well as areas of the nasal cavity. This reduced the number of exposures required to do the whole mouth series of radiographs and reduced overall anaesthesia time. Intraoral radiographs revealed significant alveolar bone loss involving a number of teeth with a fractured distal root of right side maxillary 2nd premolar. This root had fractured due to the loss of periodontal support for this tooth. There was a periodonticendodontic lesion involving left maxillary 4th premolar tooth, external root resorption of the distal root and a communication between the tooth roots and the mucosal sinus. Effective treatment Due to the ongoing disease and the pet’s age, it was decided that a number of teeth would be extracted. Periodontal therapy would be performed on remaining teeth and the owner given instructions on the daily use of Hexarinse (Virbac Australia). Mucoperiosteal flaps were raised and multirooted teeth were sectioned with high-speed LED advantage handpiece (iM3 Dental). The LED light source built into the handpiece is excellent for the visualisation of the furcation area, the alveolar bone and the underlying roots. All extractions went smoothly except for tooth 206 with the fractured root. This tooth was sectioned into two roots but while trying to elevate the distal root,


the distal root disappeared into the apical extent of the socket. A perioperative intraoral radiograph revealed that the root was in fact in the nasal cavity. The preoperative radiograph demonstrated the position of the root, so with the use of a size 4 tungsten carbide round bur (C9110, iM3 Dental), the buccal bone plate overlying the distal root alveolus was removed. It showed the entry point of the root into the nasal cavity, allowing for the retrieval of the root with fine curved root forceps (D3060, iM3 Dental). An intraoral radiograph confirmed complete removal of the root. Flushing of the alveolus with saline demonstrated saline exiting from the right nostril. This confirmed an oronasal communication and the mucoperiosteal flap had a releasing incision made at its base to allow for tension free air tight closure of the wound with absorbable 4/0 monosyn®. The owner was advised of the iatrogenic oronasal communication and informed that the dog may sneeze blood for up to 24 hours. He was also advised not to lift the upper lip to avoid tension on the wound. At recheck, there was no nasal discharge, and wound healing was continuing. The owner had started Hexarinse daily. Conclusions This case demonstrates the importance of preoperative radiographs to assist in the diagnosis and management of oral diseases, especially when planning tooth extractions. Sometime in the future, veterinary registration boards will require vets to either offer intraoral radiographs to their clients or the need to refer patients with oral disease to a practice that can offer such a service. In this case, intraoral radiographs were essential to manage the stage 4 periodontal disease, treat the mucosal sinus and to identify potential complications of tooth extraction and to assist in dealing with these complications. For more information on iM3 products, call (02) 9420 5766 or visit

Over 2000 Veterinarians can’t be wrong! That’s the number of Veterinarians that chose an iM3 CR7 Dental X-Ray for their practice. The number 1 choice worldwide for CR Veterinary Dental Imaging is as clear as the images from our CR7. •

Highest resolution at 25 lp

Largest range of image plate sizes

Ideal for extremities & orthopedic surgery

iM3 unlimited technical support, German made


I have used a number of DR systems in the past, both in veterinary and human practice (Schick, Sirona, Kodak and Genoray), but I would have to say that the results and image quality that I am getting with the iM3 CR7 Vet is the best so far. The advantages of the CR7 Vet over other DR systems when used in the veterinary environment include a unique range of plate sizes from size 0 up to size 5, which covers all pets from small to large. There is even an intraoral plate for rabbits.”

Dr. Anthony Caiafa

BVSc BDSc MACVSc (SA Surgery and Veterinary Dentistry)


iM3 Pty Ltd - The Veterinary Dental Company 21 Chaplin Drive, Lane Cove, Sydney NSW 2066 Australia p +61 2 9420 5766 | f +61 2 9420 5677 | e |


Imaging equipment guide

Get your equipment finance just right With the ever-increasing demands on veterinarians to run practices more efficiently, the productivity of both staff and equipment is a serious issue Benefits: Generally, no ongoing fees and lease payments may be tax deductible. • Professional overdraft: An overdraft facility can be secured or unsecured, making interest-only repayments or paying down the overdraft with principal repayments. Benefits: You only pay interest on what you use rather than the whole credit limit, and the interest may be tax deductible. There are generally no ongoing fees.

To get the best results for your practice, you need the right equipment. But that comes at a price. The upfront cost of equipment is significant. Also, the way you pay for it may be different depending on your career stage. A new surgery will require a different cash-flow structure to a well-established clinic looking to expand its treatment options. That, in turn, will have an effect on how you pay for that important equipment. Is a lease a better option than just buying it? Or will you eventually pay it off, only to find out you need to update it almost immediately? The average bank won’t be aware of these issues for veterinarians but BOQ Specialist understands. What’s the best type of finance for me? There are different ways to finance equipment, depending on the stage of your career and how you currently structure your finances. Options include: • Hire purchase loan: We purchase the assets you need and then hire them to you over an agreed contract period. You use the assets over the period of the contract, but we own them until the loan and interest have been repaid in full. Benefits: Interest rates are often very competitive, repayments are fixed, and there are generally no ongoing fees. You may be able to claim the interest and depreciation as a tax deduction. • Chattel mortgage: Similar to a commercial

hire purchase, but you own the assets for tax purposes from time of purchase. Benefits: Same as hire purchase. The difference is the treatment of GST for tax purposes. Talk to your financial adviser or accountant about which one is best for your individual situation. • Lease: We purchase your assets, and your payments are split into a number of monthly lease payments and a residual. You pay rent on your assets and, at the end of the period, you can elect to purchase the goods for the residual amount.

Rewarding yourself for a smart purchase We are different to other finance providers because we combine flexibility with a deep understanding of each individual client’s career. That includes understanding your workload—and the need to balance your work and your life. It’s why we also offer the option of putting the initial equipment purchase onto a BOQ Specialist credit card* as well as your equipment finance repayments. This allows our clients to earn a significant amount of airline reward points#. Choosing the right equipment can be challenging but working out the best way to finance it doesn’t have to be. We provide tailored services to veterinarians and provide an ongoing process of assessing and modernising your equipment. For more information on BOQ Specialist’s services, contact one of our financial specialists today on 1300 131 141 or visit

Disclaimer: The credit provider is BOQ Specialist – a division of Bank of Queensland Limited ABN 32 009 656 740 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence no. 244616 (BOQ Specialist). Terms and conditions, fees and charges and lending and eligibility criteria apply. We reserve the right to cease offering these products at any time without notice. BOQ Specialist is not offering financial, tax or legal advice. You should obtain independent financial, tax and legal advice as appropriate. The information contained in this article (“Information”) is general in nature and has been provided in good faith, without taking into account your personal circumstances. While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is accurate and opinions fair and reasonable, no warranties in this regard are provided. We recommend that you obtain independent financial and tax advice before making any decisions. * A 1.5% processing fee applies on the purchase price. Points are earned on eligible purchases only. Fixed term finance contract is to be approved prior to purchase. If you elect to make loan repayments on your BOQ Specialist credit card a 1.5% processing fee applies on the amount of each repayment. Repayments on overdrafts and lines of credit are not available to be made via BOQ Specialist credit card. # Reward points are earned in accordance with the rewards program terms and conditions. For full credit card terms and conditions visit


You’re straining to get ahead. We’ll never hold you back We’ve been working so closely with vets for so long that you might think we’ve become something of a ‘vet whisperer.’ Certainly, we’ve come to recognise and know many of the challenges you face in building a veterinary practice. This understanding has served us well. Unlike a conventional bank, we’ve been able to develop a range of products that are specifically suited to your professional and personal needs. So when you’re raring to go, we’ll know to let you off the leash.

Visit us at or speak to your local 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 The issuer and credit provider of these products and services is BOQ Specialist - a division of Bank of Queensland Limited ABN 32 009 656 740 AFSL and Australian credit licence no. 244616 (“BOQ Specialist”). BOQS001653


Imaging equipment guide

Meet the

Come for the products, stay for the service

CloudDR highdefinition digital radiography The case for direct digital radiography is compelling. In fact, widespread adoption of this digital technology will forever change veterinary imaging, in much the same way that digital cameras replaced film, smartphones displaced original mobile phones, and GPS marginalised paper maps. The case for delay has been refuted. The time is now. From today until your upgrade, every film taken effectively increases your costs. Every overdosed film exposure, retake, chemical, processor failure, and envelope storage of a film makes our industry less friendly to the environment. The only questions that remain are those of choice. Cuattro offers amazing imaging, all with the ease of multi-touch software—just like you use on your phone. Features • Direct deposition cesium • 100-micron pixel size • HD pixel density. 18 million (17x17), 15 million (14x17) • Resolution of at least 5 lp/mm • 16 Bit A/D 16 Bit grayscale native • 16 Bit multi-frequency tuning • Windows 8 embedded – 64-bit OS Our ultrasound • Multi-touch user interface • Cloud-based PACS connectivity • Software upgrades and updates, and 24/7 live technical support.

Worldwide Leader

Medical Plus is known for having the best range in ultrasound technology, and we aim to have the best product at every price point. Great products and fast, efficient service are what we are all about. “We’ve been in the industry for coming up on 20 years and our inhouse servicing sets us apart,” says Earl Rowland, Medical Plus’s national sales manager. “Vets come for the quality products, but stay for the service we provide,” he says. “We’re fast and efficient. People don’t have much down-time with us. If your X-ray system goes down and it takes a week to fix it then you’re going to be in trouble. We make sure clients don’t have to worry by rectifying problems as quickly as possible.” Just ask Dr Malcolm Ware of The Vet Practice & Veterinary Integrative Medicine Centre in Whittlesea, Victoria. “When on the lookout for up-to-date quality imaging equipment, we always contact Medical Plus first. Over many years of dealing with them for ultrasound, and now CT, we have always found them to be excellent and reliable. Not only for the purchase, but for all aspects of after-sales service, from implementation to dealing with any issues that arise with the equipment.”

in Veterinary Imagi

MyLab™ Delta MyLab™ Delta is the newly introduced model in the popular MyLab range. It has taken the next step in quality for ultrasound imaging and is vet specific.


Making the difference!

Features • Robust and splash-proof • Easy to clean • Two protected transducer connectors on board


• 13.3” LCD wide-screen monitor • Long-lasting, fast-charging battery Our MRI products • Fifteen seconds battery-based start-up time • Optional height-adjustable robust trolley with four large swivelling wheels.

MRI The innovative Vet-MR Grande is a flagship member of the family of Esaote dedicated MRI scanners. It is specifically designed with the collaboration of veterinary doctors to create an efficient solution for animals. It boasts: • A complete set of dedicated optimised veterinary coils • Dedicated software, full set of pre-defined

sequences and protocols for veterinary purpose • User customised Vet-MR Grande eXP examination protocols for specific clinical needs • High image quality • In addition to standard dedicated patient table available with special moveable table for horses • Windows-based user interface customised for “vet”

O-scan Equine eXP


environment featuring “vet” terminology MyLabO • MultiTringa planar Linear scout • Real-time imaging tool for fast animal positioning. It is the most cost-effective MRI in the veterinary market for small animals. Also available is the O Scan equine for horses, the first in Australia installed at West Coast Vet in Perth. This progressive clinic added this modality to its bone scanner and other imaging modalities this year. For more information, call (03) 9399 4987 or visit



A4 Vet practice FlyerFeb 2017_FINAL.pdf


9:41:10 PM





Divario CR Systems DIGITAL X-RAY



Australia Tel: 1300 368 809 Email:

New Zealand Tel: 09 2758205 Email:


Imaging equipment guide

ARO Systems can make you a vet of the future Working in the 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 full practice integration. 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 practice integration to automate all

of the time-consuming administration in your veterinary practice. We offer the total solution for both large and small practices, including: • Computed radiography • Digital radiography • Image storage in house • Image storage – cloud • X-ray rooms • Portable X-ray equipment and accessories • Dental Solutions • Ultrasound • + much, much more.

What our clients say: “For any practice that Easily store your is looking to modernise images automatically their imaging equipment by our revolutionary for the future, I would definitely recommend DICOM Cloud based engaging ARO Systems. system – anywhere, We have had an anytime and secure. 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 For more information, contact Read Hedditch on 1300 596 664 or email

How we can help you with imaging solutions in your practice • Veterinary DICOM Cloud Storage Solutions • In-house Image Storage Solutions (PACS) • Radiation Safety Consulting and Design • Radiation Room and Equipment Certification • Radiation Protection & Positioning Equipment • Fixed and Portable X-Ray Equipment • Computed Radiography Systems • Digital Radiography Systems • Fundus Cameras • Customised Website Solutions Backed by a Team of Experienced Onsite and Remote Support Specialists



This month, our vets review a nurse pouch, a portable blood machine, a nasal speculum and needle holders.

of the

Vetscan VS2 by Dr Gladys Tam, Mt Druitt Veterinary Clinic, NSW The VetScan VS2 is a portable blood machine that analyses biochemistry, electrolytes, blood gas and immunoassay.

13 Pocket Nurse Pouch by Aimee Deaves VN, Animal Referral Hospital, Brisbane, QLD For many, many years, I never used a nurse’s pouch. Then, when I started at ARH in Brisbane, pretty much every nurse I was working with had one. It made me wonder why I wasn’t using one—they’re a fantastic idea. What’s good about it I no longer have to stop what I’m doing and search for various items. I also don’t have to disturb the patient multiple times. I can get everything done while I’m sitting with the animal. Each nurse decides what they want to carry around. In mine, I have a thermometer, probe pouches and lube. I also have pens and a Texta to mark a vial when I take blood. I carry hemostats, curved and straight scissors, and poo bags so I’m not caught out when I take a dog for a walk. I was always getting glass in my fingers when I needed to snap those little glass vials so I also carry a vial snap. Finally, there is a clip for my entry and exit pass to the clinic so I can easily get in and out. It does take a little time to figure out exactly what you need to carry. It’s worn just like a bum bag and never gets in the way. I really don’t know how I survived 17 years as a veterinary nurse without using one. It just makes everything so much easier.

What’s good about it It’s very quick and easy to use. A small amount of blood is collected from a patient and inserted into the rotor. It runs for 12 minutes and shows the results straight away. The recommended amount of blood is 0.5mls but I’ve got away with just 0.2mls. This can be useful when trying to draw blood from a fractious or stressed animal. By using different types of rotors, you can test a variety of animals. It’s particularly helpful when surgery is scheduled for an older animal. Often animals don’t present any clinical signs so we test the biochemistry and organ function to ensure it is safe for surgery to proceed. In the past we had to send our samples to a lab—and the wait for results could be very stressful for anxious clients. Now, I just tell them to take a seat outside for 15 minutes and we’ll have their results. It’s also much cheaper for the client when we test in-house rather than send samples to the lab. The whole unit is very small and fits on a bench pretty much anywhere. What’s not so good It is recommended that a 21 gauge needle be used for blood collection. That’s quite a big needle and often not practical as many animals won’t tolerate it. I’ve used a 22 gauge needle, which is still quite large, and occasionally had errors with the rotors. Abaxis has stated that if a smaller needle is used, the blood sample probably needs to be spun down to separate the serum. Of course, for the sample to be spun down, you need a separate machine.

What’s not so good I don’t know whether it’s because I carry a lot of stuff but my pouch is starting to fall apart. If they could be made of stronger material or with better stitching, that would be great. It would also be handy if they included a couple of big compartments to hold larger items.

Where did you get it REM Systems (www.

Where did you get it eNurse (




of the

Welch Allyn 3.5V Bivalve Nasal Speculum by Dr David Vella, Sydney Exotics + Rabbit Vets, Crows Nest, NSW

Olsen-Hegar Needle Holder by Dr Abigail Vaughan, Ashgrove Avenue Veterinary Clinic, Brisbane, QLD I’ve been using the Olsen-Hegar needle holders since I started working as a vet 10 years ago. I use them in all different types of surgeries for placing ligatures and stitching up. What’s good about it What I like about this instrument is that it combines a needle holder with scissors in one handpiece. You can use them as a needle holder to put the suture material in place and then cut the suture material once you’ve finished. Having to set down the needle holder and then find the scissors is simply inefficient. This instrument is convenient and a great time saver. They come in a range of different sizes and lengths. It’s really just a personal preference as to which one you choose. They have a smooth action and are autoclavable. Basically, they are just like standard needle holders but incorporating scissors into the instrument sets them apart from other brands. They make the job easier and save time—that’s why I choose to use them. What’s not so good It’s possible to accidentally cut the suture material instead of grabbing it with the needle drivers, so you have to be a bit careful when using them. It’s not a big drama; it just means you need to get some more suture material. Where did you get it DLC (

This is actually a medical tool designed to look up the nasal cavities of humans. I’m an exotics vet and have found it really useful for looking in small mammals’ mouths, particularly rabbits and guinea pigs. What’s good about it The speculum can be opened with one hand and a light source illuminates the area beautifully. It allows me to do a conscious examination of the oral cavity of small mammals. When using it with a rabbit, it moves the cheek and tongue away from the row of teeth at the back of the mouth. This gives a very clear field of view. It can also be used with sedated animals. It’s very handy when removing foreign objects. Recently, I used it with a guinea pig that wasn’t eating properly as it had something caught in its mouth. I had a nurse hold the speculum open and gently used a pair of tweezers to remove a bit of hay that was stuck in the gum. The guinea pig was not sedated for this procedure. It’s also handy when doing a urethral catheterisation of a female dog. It gives good access and aids in the visualisation of the urethral opening. I’ve owned two or three of these speculums over the years. When other vets see me using it and give it a try, they are immediately hooked. Invariably they say, “I don’t know how I even did oral exams before this.” There’s no doubt that this piece of equipment is a game changer. What’s not so good I don’t really have a negative for this tool. It’s not specifically designed for the way I use it but it works exceptionally well. Where did you get it Medshop (



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Game on

Whether it’s console, online, board or card, Dr Sarah Abramowski of Belconnen Animal Hospital in Weetangera, ACT, can’t get enough of gaming and attend one of the big Comic-Cons there. “Gaming is also a very good way of assessing someone’s personality. People who get overly frustrated while playing are usually not the type of people I want to hang out with. The way a person plays a cooperative game, like Gears of War, quickly reveals what they are really like.


“Gaming is a great way to unwind after a hectic day at work. It’s complete escapism. Being a vet is very stressful and sometimes you can’t find a solution to a specific problem. On the other hand, gaming is a straightforward quest with very clear goals. It makes it really easy to unwind and have some fun.”

Interview: Frank Leggett

“I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t gaming. When I was a kid, my dad used to play a variety of games on his computer and it was always great fun to play with him. My first console was a Super Nintendo, quickly followed by a Nintendo 64. I then worked my way through all the different PlayStation consoles in my teenage years. “At present I have 10 different gaming consoles attached to my television, all ready to go at a moment’s notice. I’ve just added an Xbox One and I’m sure I’ll be purchasing the back generations soon. I also have a collection of hand-held devices such as Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 3DS. “Everyone has a different opinion about the best game of all time but for me, it’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was released 19 years ago and was a game I played for hours as a kid. It was recently re-released on the 3DS and I purchased that system just so I could play it again. “The gameplay and graphics have stood up incredibly well for such an old game and it was a pleasure to immerse myself in it again. “I’m a proper nerd and embrace geek culture. I love board games and have a group of friends that play Pathfinder, which is like a new version of Dungeons & Dragons. There’s another board game called Betrayal at House on the Hill that is amazing. It’s different every time you play it. I’m also big on card games. When I’m with my family, we play 500 at every get-together. “I’m obsessed with Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. One of the things on my bucket list is to go to the USA



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Vet Practice March 2018  
Vet Practice March 2018