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A day in the life of a vet nurse: OurVets


The role of a Veterinary Nurse is a varied one which includes (but is not limited to) receptionist, lab technician, nutritionist, anaesthetist, kennel hand, grief counsellor and pharmacy assistant. To celebrate Veterinary Nurse Appreciation Week in October, we caught up with some of Ourvets’ most important team members, the Veterinary Nurses, to get an insight into how an average day looks.

 

 

“Arriving to work before the clinic opens, we check on any hospitalised patients that may be in. This involves a full examination of the pet – checking their heart and respiration rate, taking their temperature, checking their pain levels, administering any medication and cleaning out their cage, with lots of hugs and attention too! Then we check our emails, in case we have patients coming from the Afterhours Hospital that will need immediate attention on arrival.

As patients start arriving for the day’s surgery, we talk with owners about their pets’ procedures and answer any questions they may have. We then fully examine their pet and take blood tests to make sure vital organs are functioning as they should be.

 

If all is well, we work out an anaesthetic plan that is tailored to the individual pet’s needs. Next, we set up and check the anaesthetic equipment and gather the medications for the procedure. Lots of hugs and reassurance are required whilst we gain IV access prior to the procedure. Once smoothly asleep, we keep them snuggly warm and comfortable during their procedure. We constantly monitor how they are doing under the anaesthetic by taking their vital readings and adjusting the anaesthetic accordingly.

On recovery, we stay with your pet and reassure them until they are fully awake and happy. Once recovered, we will give you a call to let you know how your pet is doing, answer any questions you may have and arrange a time to go over discharge instructions.

 

During the day, we help the vet with a variety of tasks: we medicate animals, prepare medications, toilet animals, then clean, clean, and clean some more! We answer phone calls, console owners and are there when vets, clients and pets need us. While no two days are ever the same, we love our jobs as veterinary nurses!”

For more information on Ourvets, visit www.ourvets.co.nz or www.facebook.com/ourvets.christchurch.

 


 

A furry fun run


Calling all dog lovers, Sunday 22 September launches the inaugural off-road walking/running event ‘The 4 Paws Marathon’, a first for New Zealand and, according to event organiser and Sport and Exercise Medicine Specialist, Dr John Molloy, a first for the world.

 

 

John, who has run more than 80 marathons, loves running with his dogs. He describes the event as a celebration of ‘exercise is medicine’, as well as being a salute to our best friend and loyal exercise ally. “People with dogs get more exercise; they keep us more active. A dog is a portrait of our own fitness levels,” John says.

Designed for all fitness levels, the soft-under-foot marathon starts and finishes at Bottle Lake Forest, and comprises four popular distances – the Full Marathon (42.2km); the Half Marathon (21.1km); the 10km run; and the “fun for everyone” 5km run.

John encourages people to give it a go. “We’re becoming too sedentary, so we need to find ways to keep more active but enjoy it at the same time.”

The 4 Paws Marathon has garnered much attention, with more than 145 entrants already registered from here and overseas, to date. With St Johns Ambulance, Animal Management and Ourvets to be there on the day, the marathon is a well-supported event. “The key message is that this is a fun, enjoyable event in a safe atmosphere,” John says.

And yes, he does expect his dogs, Walter and Summer, to be running with him. Just try and stop them!

For more information, email hello@4pawsmarathon.co.nz or visit www.4pawsmarathon.co.nz.

 


 

A too-curious kitty: Ourvets


When it comes to kittens, cute and adorable as they are, it’s good to keep in mind that old adage about curiosity killing the cat. Just like human babies, kittens are curious about the world around them and as they grow and gain in strength, it’s all too easy for them to get into trouble with eating things that, though satisfying their curiosity, might prove very harmful in the long run.

 

 

Such was the case with Shadow, a 12-week-old kitten who presented at Ourvets Parklands one morning having vomited up a pom-pom tassel the night before. She had since vomited several times and seemed lethargic, though she was still keen to eat.

An x-ray was taken, which showed that Shadow had something obstructing her gut. The situation necessitated surgery as soon as possible. Shadow’s stomach was opened and two hair-ties were removed, however there was another pom-pom tassel attached to them, extending down into her intestine. The intestines were trying so hard to pass the tassel that they had telescoped in on themselves. This piece of gut had to be removed, along with the tassel.

All up, this surgery took three hours, then she went into recovery. If the surgery had been delayed by even one day, Shadow could have died, but her mum was very diligent and brought her in at the first sign of trouble.

Veterinarian Alice Finch, who performed the operation, says that it pays to keep a vigilant eye on young animals. If they do present with sudden vomiting, even if they’re still keen to eat, the owner should get them checked out as soon as possible as it might be a very serious problem which could quickly escalate into a potentially life-threatening situation.

One month on and Alice says Shadow has made an excellent recovery. “It’s as if nothing happened; she was bright and playful, and was even attacking my knuckles!”

Find Ourvets Parklands at 438 Mairehau Road and phone 03 383 2233. For more information on Ourvets, visit www.ourvets.co.nz or find them on Facebook: Ourvets@ourvets.christchurch.

 


 

Preschool for puppies: Ourvets


Ourvets Halswell has for many years been running a very successful Puppy Preschool and for the past seven years, this has been run by their Senior Veterinary Nurse, Jessica Blackwood.

 

 

Jessica’s background in ‘Obedience training and Rally-O’ and being the owner of two mini schnauzers, Apple and Echo, makes her the perfect person to help the owners of new fur babies understand the basic needs and training for their new puppy.

Jessica’s classes go over in depth:

  1. Toilet training
  2. Vaccinations
  3. Desexing
  4. Basic manners: sit, stay, down, and for fast learners, the ‘commando crawl’
  5. Handling and grooming
  6. Nutrition and preventative care

One of the key benefits of puppy preschool is socialisation with other dogs. The best time for this is between 8 and 12 weeks of age, as this is a very important time in a puppy’s brain development. By socialising with other puppies that are of a similar age, they learn – in a safe and controlled environment – the basics of how to interact with each other and understand dog behaviours they will soon be exposed to in the future (in the real world!). Puppies need to have at least one vaccination in order to attend puppy preschool. These should be given at the ages of 8, 12 and 16 weeks to be fully vaccinated and yearly thereafter.

Recent Puppy graduate, Ben and his owner Sarah, gave the following recommendation to Jessica’s Puppy Preschool: “The team at Ourvets have been instrumental throughout every step of Ben’s journey. Jessica’s leadership in the puppy school programme helped us integrate Ben into family life and ensure from a young age that he could nail the basic commands. The advice we received on teething, chewing, toileting and feeding was invaluable.

“Jessica and the wider Ourvets team went above and beyond to help and ensure that the noise and destruction was kept to a minimum! Whether popping in for a quick bag of food, a routine check, or a weekend emergency, Ben has received the very best care from all Ourvets locations and loves visiting the vet!”


 

Life Beyond BOAS: Ourvets


A recent visitor to Ourvets St Albans was Dice, a three-year-old French Bulldog suffering from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS); a respiratory disorder commonly found in animals with shortened heads (brachycephalic breeds), such as the Pug, French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Japanese Chin, Boxer and Boston Terrier.

 

 

Although not all brachycephalic dogs suffer clinical signs of the syndrome, the incidence and severity of the breathing disorder has increased. Affected dogs must increase their inspiratory effort to overcome upper airway obstruction to achieve sufficient ventilation.

This increased effort creates high pressure that sucks the soft tissues into the airway passage resulting in swelling of this tissue and further narrowing of the airways. If left untreated, life threatening issues with major organs, including lungs and heart, may develop.

Respiration plays a crucial role in regulating body temperature. BOAS also affects this process, which is why many brachycephalic dogs overheat with minimal exercise, or on warm days. Another contributing factor to airway obstruction is obesity. Dogs with BOAS are often limited in their ability to exercise so are more at risk of becoming overweight. Excessive weight results in fat tissue surrounding and further narrowing the airway.

The six clinical signs of BOAS:
• Respiratory noise: snoring and snorting are indicators of airway obstruction.
• Stenosis (excessive narrowing) of nostrils: these often collapse inward
during inspiration, making breathing through the nose difficult.
• Gastrointestinal signs and eating difficulties.
• Obstructive sleep apnea/sleep- disordered breathing: snoring,
and frequent abrupt awakenings where the dog seems to be choking or gasping for air.
• Heat intolerance: exercise but don’t over-exercise your BOAS-affected dog, especially not on hot summer days.
• Collapse: breathing difficulties cause an inability to meet oxygen requirements. If oxygen levels aren’t stabilised immediately, the dog may collapse.

Dice showed many of these clinical signs and required his nostrils widened (alarplasty), his soft palate trimmed (staphylectomy) and laryngeal saccules removed from his larynx (sacculectomy) to improve his airways. Two weeks after his surgery a very happy Dice is back home with his family, who report there’s no more snoring, his exercise levels have improved and best of all, he’s breathing so much easier.

For more information on Ourvets services, visit www.ourvets.co.nz.


 

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Extending veterinary knowledge base: Ourvets


Ourvets is excited to welcome Dr Angela Hartman, a Veterinary Radiology Specialist.

 

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In January, the Ourvets team welcomed Angela in order, to provide a specialist referral service to Christchurch and the wider Canterbury area. Angela is the only Veterinary Specialist Radiologist in the South Island and already offers her advanced skill and knowledge to the Nelson and wellington area. Angela has been working in the veterinary world for more than 20 years – her goal: to benefit as many patients, clients and veterinarians as possible during her career.

With an extensive range of radiographic equipment – including digital radiographs, ultrasound and CT (the only small animal machine in the South Island) – Ourvets is equipped to support Angela with a wide range of diagnostic tools to assist in her decision making.

When not at the clinic or working from home, Angela likes to spend time with the many retired working dogs that she and her partner have rescued – as well as her rescued cats, pigs, ducks, cattle, goats and sheep.

“I could go on about these but you don’t have enough room on the page!” Angela says. “A dog’s love and trust are like no other relationship in life. The unadulterated love they give purifies my mind and makes me a better person. I will always be surrounded by dogs, dog hair on the carpet and all!”

Angela adds a wealth of knowledge and passion to the growing Ourvets team and they look forward to her working alongside them to offer clients the very best service.

 

To find out more about what Ourvets can offer you and your pets,

visit www.ourvets.co.nz or visit any of the practices – St Albans, Parklands, Riccarton and Halswell.

Across its multi-locations each veterinarian’s area of expertise fits together to create an extensive portfolio of veterinary skills and knowledge.

 



 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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
www.ourvets.co.nz.


 

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Kittens for kittens: Ourvets


Little Luna was barely more than a kitten when she became pregnant.

 

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Luna was 11 months old and around two months pregnant, with a very large belly. Her owner brought her to see Ourvets Veterinarian Alice Finch because she was worried the babies might not be alive. She waddled across the exam table and flopped down behind the computer. “All of her energy was feeding the growing kittens, and not her own growth,” says Alice. “Pregnancy takes a major toll on the body – especially when the mother is very young.”

Cats (and dogs) can become pregnant from as young as six months old, so at Ourvets they recommend de-sexing around five to six months of age. The process is straightforward – pets will stay in at the clinic for the day; the vet will examine them and make sure they are fit for surgery; then the procedure is performed under general anaesthesia. “Clients will often report they are ‘back to normal’ by the following day but it is very important to keep pets quiet and limit exercise after the procedure to allow for healing,” Alice says.

Entire males and females are at higher risk of many cancers developing as they age. Females are also at risk of pyometra (infection of the uterus). This can be life threatening and very costly to treat. Entire males have a higher risk of prostate issues associated with high levels of hormones. Desexing eliminates many behavioural problems – often linked with aggression (which can play a part) but problems are often related to roaming and inappropriate marking. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health, don’t hesitate to give your vet a call.

Luna was put onto a high energy diet and received regular checkups to make sure she made it through her pregnancy safely. Luna will be spayed once the kittens are weaned and the kittens will only go to homes that are aware of the benefits of desexing. Both Luna and the kittens are doing very well!

 


To find out more about Ourvets, visit www.ourvets.co.nz.


 

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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.

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Garfunkel

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 www.ourvets.co.nz. Open Monday-Friday 7:30am-7pm, Saturday-Sunday 8:30am-4pm, including most public holidays.

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Pet nutrition focus: Ourvets gives us the run down on looking after your pet’s diet

A huge variety of dietary options are available for our four-legged friends. Some great, some not so great – but how does a caring owner really know what is right for their pet? The topic of diet is one discussed often for humans but can be forgotten when it comes to our beloved animals.

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In veterinary clinics, nutrition is often described as the ‘5th Vital Assessment’ – following closely from heart, lung, temperature and pain assessments. When a diet is looked at in conjunction with all these, it’s easy to see just how important it is – and why vet clinics are keen to start the discussion.

Is your pet’s diet right for them?
There are many things that need to be taken into consideration when looking for the right diet for a pet. This includes their age, activity levels, medical conditions or any allergies they have. A massive amount of information is available on the internet. However, deciphering what information is true, and then applying this to a pet, can be the difficult part. The best thing that someone can do for their furry family members is to discuss their pet’s diet with the professionals.

What benefits could you see?
Feeding a high-quality diet that is balanced by using good, well-sourced ingredients can improve energy levels, digestion, skin and coat quality. Smelly breath? There are diets that can assist with the prevention of dental disease. Arthritis? Diets exist with anti-inflammatory properties to help improve mobility.
During February, Ourvets had a focus on nutrition and encouraged pet owners to ask the questions to find out more. “We want pets to have the best nutrition that suits their needs – but equally, we want our clients to understand why we have made a certain recommendation for their pet,” says Ourvets Practice Manager, Sarah Clements. “Certain diets can replace or reduce the need for medication and can provide a hassle-free treatment for some ailments.”
For those that feel their pet could benefit from a specific diet or are unsure what benefits they would see from dietary planning and advice, the knowledgeable team at Ourvets is always on hand to discuss.
Visit www.ourvets.co.nz.