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Puppy School Paw-fection: Ourvets


A passion for dogs and their good behaviour drives Sarah Ryan, Veterinary Nurse at Ourvets St Albans. With 15 years as a vet nurse under her belt, Sarah knows what makes our canine friends tick – right from puppyhood.

 

At Ourvets St Albans Sarah runs The Puppy Club – puppy training classes that are the equivalent of primary school for your furry new member of the family.

“At puppy school I teach you how to train your puppy, but also how your puppy learns, communicates, and develops,” she says.

“It is a fun and interactive course set over five lessons, where you get information, tools, tips, and tricks to ensure your puppy becomes a social, happy, and confident dog.”

Sarah says the first session is an owner’s only class and then you bring your puppy to the group for the next four sessions.

“We are very busy at the moment, with eight maximum per class, we have been running two to three classes with all of the pups aged between eight to sixteen weeks.”

At puppy school, small canines and large humans learn basic dog obedience covering sit, drop, come, and stay; toileting; crate etiquette; digging, barking, and chewing issues, as well as socialisation.

“Owners tell me they find the training really effective, and the recall command has brought back many a little escapee who is tearing across a park,” she says.

Sarah has her own dog, a gorgeous three-year-old Border Collie called Piper who is, of course, so beautifully trained she has already ready won the beginners grade in the National Dog Obedience competition.

However, for Sarah, working with Piper on dog obedience as well as a full-time vet nurse and puppy wrangler extraordinaire at Ourvets just wasn’t quite enough.

Sarah also has her own dog walking business, Pets Steps.

“I walk dogs one at a time or perhaps along with Piper. If owners request it, I can train their dog on how to walk on a lead really nicely at heel. The dogs respond really positively and I’m passionate about that.”


 

Why weight matters: Wigram Vet


Bella is a wonderful example of how a successful weight loss programme can lead to a major improvement in wellbeing. Bella’s owners love her but as she crept up to a biggest ever weight of 48kg there came a turning point when she became lame in her left hind leg. A tough love conversation was needed

 

Bella really looks forward to her swim time with Kate. We love the new look of her figure and mobility,” says Troy, owner of Bella.

 

At her current weight, Bella was a very poor candidate for a surgical repair of a ruptured cruciate for instance.

Bella had tried several diets, but Labradors have a food drive that defies any but the most well-organized of plans.

Bella is now a curvy 39kg and is on a happy path to her goal weight of around 32kg.

“We have achieved this with a combination of clever diet and exercise in our underwater treadmill. Her transformation is amazing,” says Wigram Vet Geoff Mehrtens.

Underwater treadmill exercise has many benefits for overweight dogs.

Even elderly arthritic dogs enjoy exercising in a carefully managed warm water environment.

Underwater treadmill exercise is a great way to rebuild wasted muscles. Muscle mass rapidly increases with minimal risk of injury to stressed ligaments and joints.

Geoff says, “Bella is more lively, enthusiastic and her skin has improved. She has literally shed years off her life and is looking forward to getting back to her previously active lifestyle.”

Obesity is a sensitive topic and unfortunately the clear benefits of a healthy bodyweight are often lost in a debate that becomes blurred by other issues.

At Wigram Vet and the Good Dog Spa they try to incorporate holistic wellness into their approach to your pet’s health. In modern western society many dogs and cats suffer from being overweight.

There are many studies that clearly show a link between obesity and decreased quality of life.

It can lead to osteoarthritis, cardiovascular issues and inflammatory disorders affecting ligaments, joints and skin.

Does your dog have difficulty rising or lying down?

This could be a sign of osteoarthritis and your dog may be trapped in a vicious cycle of feeling too sore to move and exercise.

If you would like to know more about the ‘K9FIT FOR LIFE’ program, please contact Wigram vet and the Good Dog Spa.


 

Essential Care: Ourvets


Over the last month of COVID-19 restrictions, Ourvets St Albans remained open to provide essential care for all our furry friends. It hasn’t been an easy process – frequent changes to the guidelines around what ‘essential care’ was permitted, long hours, understandably anxious clients and sick pets have made for a very challenging time. We caught up with the team about what life has been like inside the veterinary clinic.

 

 

Protecting our staff and our clients has always been front of mind when decision making during lockdown.

We needed to close some of the Ourvets clinics so that we could separate our staff into teams.

This was to ensure there would be no crossover of staff – if a team member became sick, one team would be removed, rather than taking out our whole workforce and potentially needing to close shop altogether.

We needed to ensure staff were safe and that our ability to provide essential care to pets wouldn’t be compromised.

We were very excited when Ourvets Halswell reopened and could once again provide essential information and care for clients and their pets.

While we have continued operating, our wonderful clients have not been allowed into the clinic for over a month.

This has been one of the hardest things for clients and we get it! It’s been challenging for us too.

We’ve all been feeling the emotional strain of not being able to comfort clients through difficult situations or simply to spend that extra time talking things through with them.

As many companies across the world have been looking for different and new ways to work, our team has been no exception.

We’ve introduced different ordering systems, phone systems and communication to clients, as well as developing completely new processes to operate safely in clinic.

The ideas that have come from this period have been so great, they will continue on, even once we’re back to normal.

This is not over yet, but we’re optimistic that together we can all get through this.

Our veterinarians, veterinary nurses, receptionists and managers are all doing their best. Please remember to be kind to them so that they can continue to look after you and your furry family members.

We look forward to seeing our wonderful clients and their gorgeous pets again soon.


 

Adding a furry new addition


A new furry addition to the family is always an exciting time, but it can be stressful too! There are lots of things to learn and things to prepare for. Diana of the Ourvets team has recently had a new addition, Rupert, a gorgeous, nine-week-old corgi. We caught up with Diana about what she considered when taking on her new addition.

 

 

Did you request any information from the breeder?

Absolutely. I asked about worming, any vaccinations which had already been done and which diet he had been on; all three of these are important to continue (or start) once the new pup arrives with you.

Puppies need to have more frequent worming treatments when they’re young.

All puppies are born with worms, so it’s important to get on top of these.

The best way to protect your puppy is by vaccinating.

As with worming, they receive more frequent vaccines as puppies, so it’s important to get the timing right.

Meanwhile, having some of the diet that the puppy was eating previously is a good way to avoid an upset tummy – even if it’s only to transition them onto the diet you intend on feeding them long-term.


What else will you do now that you have him?

I’m definitely going to get him microchipped and registered with the Companion Animal Register (NZCAR).

I will also organise insurance for him. Starting puppy preschool is also high on the list (he’s quite the rascal!).

There are many insurers that even offer a free period for puppies and kittens!

It’s a great idea to shop around for insurance to find the best fit for you and your pup, as there are many options.


Ourvets holds puppy preschool classes in St Albans and Halswell.

These are focused mainly on educating owners on raising well-rounded, happy pups at home, and less focused on teaching specific commands (although we do cover this too!).

These are just a handful of things to consider. Remember, the best place to get pet advice is from your veterinarian.

Ourvets recommends ‘Best for Pet’ – a preventative healthcare plan that will give your pet discounts and free consultations so you can ask all the questions you have without the worry of cost.

Ask in clinic to find out more, or visit www.bestforpet.co.nz.


 

Summer safety for pets


The team at Ourvets love the holiday season as much as everybody else, but between the fun and frolics, family pets sometimes get overlooked, so here’s some tips to keep them happy and healthy over the holidays

 

 

While we are filling up on holiday goodies, we all want to give our furry friends a treat too, but keep an eye on what and how much you are giving.

Roast meats (e.g. ham and turkey) are often very fatty and can cause acute illnesses for our pets.

Avoid fatty parts or skin and only give very small amounts of meat. Cooked bones are a big no-no for pets.

They might love these, but the bones can cause major blockages in pets’ guts.

The sharp edges of chewed bones can even pierce through the gut and be life-threatening.

Check in with the whole family and ensure they are aware of what they should and shouldn’t feed the family pet.

Both cats and dogs can quite easily suffer from heatstroke due to their limited ability to cool themselves down (they can’t sweat like us!).

Make sure to always have plenty of water available for your pets (some pets love ice cubes!); avoid taking dogs for walks or runs in the heat of the day (they can burn their feet on the pavement too!).

Never leave pets in cars, even for a short time, or if the car is in the shade – cars can be deadly for pets in summer.

Many people are aware of how toxic chocolate is to dogs, but many are not aware of how deadly lilies can be for cats.

If your cat gets any lily pollen on their coat, be sure to wash it off immediately with lots of water.

Be aware of chocolate around the home – on low tables, under the tree or in children’s stockings (that your dog might cheekily sneak into!).

Many of the above things can be avoided, and Ourvets wants you and your precious pets to have a safe and healthy holiday season.

If you are worried about your pet at all, don’t hesitate to give the team a call.

For more on Ourvets, as well as other great tips for your pet, check out the Ourvets website.


 

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.