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Rosie on the mend: Ourvets

This issue, Veterinarian Dr Geoff Mehrtens, shares Rosie’s journey to recovery, thanks to expert care from Ourvets.




Rosie was a happy, healthy six-year-old female Shih Tzu x Lhasa Apso who had become uncomfortable recently when urinating. A general examination of Rosie revealed no abnormalities; however, her owner Bridget had noticed that Rosie was peeing more frequently, often only small amounts and was sometimes forced to urinate in abnormal locations, which indicated that her urge to urinate was uncontrollable. She showed no signs of urinary leakage in her bedding, which was an important piece of information.

Some spayed female dogs develop an increased tendency to leak urine, often while they’re asleep, or very relaxed. Luckily, Rosie did not have this problem, however her urge incontinence required further investigation. Rosie was very co-operative and provided us with a urine sample during the consultation which revealed large numbers of bacteria present. It was late in the evening, so we elected to see her again the next day.

By then, Rosie’s bladder felt smaller and firmer on palpation, which raised a suspicion that perhaps something abnormal was within. Rosie was taken to ultrasound, which revealed a spectacular large, ovoid, smooth stone – the size of an egg – in the bladder. The bladder wall was remarkably normal considering what was rattling around inside it!



With such a large stone, the treatment of choice was surgical removal. Special diets can dissolve bladder stones, but this would have taken far too long in Rosie’s case. The surgery ran smoothly, and within hours, Rosie was happy and comfortable, and actually went home the same day. Her post-op recovery was uneventful, she was the perfect patient and her urinary habits returned to normal within days.
The urinary stone was sent to the USA for analysis.

This is a wonderful service provided by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Rosie’s stone was found to be composed of struvite crystals. Struvite issues are common in many small breeds and are usually associated with low-grade urinary bacterial infections. Treatment includes surgery and a long course of antibiotics, together with a special diet. Rosie will need careful monitoring to ensure she doesn’t develop another stone, but with care, she will continue to live a happy, active life.


Find out more about Ourvets at


Dogged Determination

Dogged Determination: Q&A with Mark Vette

Mark Vette has trained animals for film and television locations around the world, such as Narnia and Lord of the Rings. He has his own television show Pound Pups to Dog Stars, where he transforms dogs on death row into happy, healthy, well-behaved dog stars.


Dogged Determination


But what’s perhaps even more impressive is that he has taught rescue dogs to drive a car and fly a plane!
Metropol catches up with the dog behaviourist and author of bestselling book Dog Zen ahead of his trip to Christchurch for the region’s first ever ‘train the trainer’ session about his dogged determination to transform dog behaviour in New Zealand.

How did you end up working with dogs?

My love affair with dogs started at a very young age. Given Scott – an unruly 45kg German shepherd – as a young boy of six, I learnt very quickly what it was like to be faced with a dog that caused havoc in your life. My grandfather was a dog trainer in the war so he helped me learn my first lessons around dogs and ignite a life-long passion to learn everything I could about them. This led me to North America to study the dog’s ancient ancestor, the wolf, alongside many of America’s great canine behaviourists. I was amazed just how many of its behaviours were exaggerated dog behaviours, or more correctly – how dogs showed toned down puppy-like wolf behaviours. I discovered a wolf isn’t a dog and, although they share 99.96 percent of their genes, they are also very different. This took me on an amazing lifelong journey to discover the evolution of the dog, its co-evolution from wolf, proto dog and pariah and how it joined our families. From there I did my Masters in Sheep Dog Behaviour and started my behaviour clinic over 40 years ago. I have loved every moment of it.

If there was one thing you could teach the world about dogs, what would that be?

That what you do in your puppy’s first 1-4 month formative period is critical to success; to ensure that all dog owners do the right thing at the right time when raising their pups; that they put in place the critical foundations during the pup’s formative period. The formative period is when 70-80 percent of the brain’s connectivity is wired and the time when the most important behaviours are put in place. Most importantly these include establishing their bond with their owner, house training, ensuring generalised socialisation to all species (human, dog, chickens, cats etc) and the beginnings of the shared language that needs to be established between us. It is so important that the whole first day of the train the trainer workshop is dedicated to puppies – understanding why and how we establish these foundations and getting hands-on practicing these critical skills. This is our big idea – that we can transform dog behaviour in New Zealand in 10 years if we all do the right thing at the right time – it’s really that simple.

What have been some of your most powerful experiences with dogs over the years?

Our TV show Purina Pound Pup to Dog Stars was a very powerful experience for me, working closely with dogs with serious psychological and physical trauma and proving both to myself and others, that even what seem like impossible cases can be resolved and can have a happy ending. The ability of dogs to recover using the right techniques and seeing them enjoy living in a loving family was a deeply moving experience.
Another experience has been teaching rescue dogs to fly a plane and drive a car. Seeing the capacity of the dog’s intelligence to learn such complex and amazing things was extraordinary. And sitting in the back of a small four seater plane as my adorable German Shepherd Labrador Cross rescue dog Reggie flew was more than a little mind blowing!

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?

An exciting, big year ahead as we switch our focus to education through our national ‘train the trainer’ workshop series, writing a new book (watch this space) and developing new TV opportunities.
Our central focus is spreading the word on our ‘big idea’ – that we really can transform dog behaviour in NZ in 10 years and prevent the 13,000 plus dog bites a year– we all just need to know what to do with our beloved pups in their formative period. Make sure you spread the word too!




A fix for the itch: Ourvets helps Garfunkel the poodle get back to his playful self

Scratch, scratch, scratch – veterinary clinic waiting rooms are filled with itchy dogs. It is an incredibly common and frustrating problem. Now, a safe new drug has put calm back into dozens of dogs’ lives.


Garfunkel poodle was so named for his puffball-head of apricot fluff. He was bouncy and energetic until around age five, when he developed a case of serious atopic dermatitis. He was miserable, extremely itchy and had chronic secondary infections, from infected ears, to red raw paws.
Ourvets Veterinarian, Thea Taylor, has been managing nine-year-old Garfunkel for the last four years with various medications including tablets, creams, sprays, shampoos and a special diet. The medications were either ineffective at controlling his condition or had adverse side effects. However, a new drug regime introduced six months ago has seen a dramatic breakthrough in his itch-scratch battle.
“The new drug is our most effective treatment so far, it has minimal or no adverse side effects and specifically targets only the itch,” Thea says. “We administer it as a convenient once-a-month injection. There are no pills to take, and the cost is comparable to other modern pharmaceuticals.
“The injection contains antibodies that bind to and neutralise ‘interleukin 31’, preventing this protein from playing its role in the itch cycle. This gives relief from itch for approximately one month in dogs affected by atopic dermatitis. It’s not a solution for every animal, but its promising results make it a fantastic new addition to our treatment options.”
Given seasonally or all year round, as required, families can now sleep at night without incessant scratching sounds. “Garfunkel is now vibrant and energetic and looks healthy and happier,” Thea says.
He loves coming in for his monthly shot as Thea has hypo-allergenic treats especially for him! “Garfunkel’s condition is serious and requires medication but is now well managed”
Garfunkel’s owner, Justine, says her once miserable, droopy-eared little dog used to constantly stop what he was doing to scratch. “Now he is back to his little puppy self – the difference is absolutely amazing!”
Phone Ourvets on 03-355 6747, visit 98 Cranford Street, St Albans or Open Monday-Friday 7:30am-7pm, Saturday-Sunday 8:30am-4pm, including most public holidays.