Bulldog clip

The benefits of utilising an ultrasound machine

May 23rd, 2013

The Frank Samways Veterinary Clinic is proud to announce the purchase of an advanced diagnostic ultrasound machine that will assist our veterinarians in detecting and diagnosing pregnancies, masses and growths, organ changes in the abdomen and heart disease. The machine can also be used to look at any soft tissue in the body, such as muscles, tendons, eyes and even brains in certain circumstances.

Ultrasounds are painless, non-invasive procedures that can usually be performed either completely awake or with a mild sedation. The skin over the area is shaved and cleaned before the animal lies comfortably on its side throughout the ultrasound.

Senior Veterinarian, Dr Caroline Butler, performs most of our ultrasounds here at the clinic and has had over twelve months of postgraduate ultrasound training. We are extremely fortunate to have a first-rate ultrasound machine, which provides Dr Butler with a highly defined image during the examination, making diagnoses easier and more accurate.

This machine not only helps us diagnose and treat the thousands of lost, abandoned and stray cats and dogs that come into the care of The Lost Dogs’ Home but it is also a fantastic tool for private patients who require a more comprehensive examination.

An ultrasound works when high frequency sound waves travel through tissue and are reflected back to the probe. Because of the differences in how sound travels through different substances, this forms a picture of soft tissue and liquid in the body. It does not work, however, through bone or air.

Below Dr Butler discusses several case studies in which she has utilised the ultrasound to effectively diagnose a variety of different ailments.

Case study 1

A 16-year-old male cat presented with a very fast heart and breathing rate and was not eating. We suspected he had an overactive thyroid gland and blood taken quickly confirmed this. He was started on heart and thyroid meds but after a week, he presented in severe respiratory distress. We were concerned that he would not survive the next day or two.
He was started on further meds to reduce the fluid build up in his lungs and abdomen. By the next day, he had stabilized. We sedated him, performed an ultrasound on his heart and an x-ray of his chest to confirm there were no other concurrent problems.

The ultrasound allowed us to diagnose Concentric Cardiac Hypertrophy, which is when severely thickened heart walls allow very little room for blood to flow into the chambers of the heart. This is directly caused by the overactive thyroid gland. We continued medication to reduce the activity of the thyroid gland and meds to support the heart, reduce blood pressure and fluid build up. He has responded very well to medication and is now enjoying life again.

Case study 2

A number of bitches have been presented to us for pregnancy diagnosis. We can usually estimate a due date with a three-day margin of error, no matter the size of the dog. It’s important to know dates to manage a pregnant dog, especially when to supervise her more closely and when to call for help. Of course, there have also been cases when they are not pregnant and have just been eating too much! We only need to shave a small area on belly and there is no need for sedation. You get instant results, and the owner can watch; however we are unable to count number of pups.

Case study 3

An elderly dog had a mass in her abdomen. Her owners wanted to do what was best for her but didn’t want her to undergo surgery unless there would be a reasonable chance of success. X-rays of the abdomen showed that there was a mass but did not give sufficient detail to show what the mass was attached to. Dr Butler performed an ultrasound and was able to determine that the mass was a discrete mass that only appeared to be attached to the spleen. On this information, we went ahead with the surgery. The dog successfully had her spleen removed and went on to make a full recovery.

Case study 4
This case was very similar to the previous case, in that it was an older dog with a mass in his abdomen. In this case, however, the ultrasound showed extensive involvement of the liver, suggesting that the tumour would be inoperable. As a consequence, the dog’s owners made an informed decision not to go ahead with the surgery or further investigation. The dog lived happily for a few more months without having to spend that time recovering from major abdominal surgery.

Case study 5

A litter of pups were born here at The Lost Dogs’ Home while their mother was a stray. Three of the pups in the litter were healthy and went on to find new homes, along with their mother, once they were old enough. One pup, however, was born with a heart murmur. Given the severity of the condition, Dr Butler accompanied the pup to a specialist centre for an ultrasound, where she was diagnosed with what is called a Patent Ductus Arteriosis. This condition can be corrected surgically; however, if undetected, the expected life span is only two years. This ultrasound diagnosis allowed the pup to get the appropriate specialist surgical repair and with the help of our generous donors, she went on to live a full and healthy life.

Cat Flu

March 28th, 2011

The opening of the new Lost Cats’ Home will mean a decrease in cat flu, a very common disease in stray cats. In the new Lost Cats Home, individual housing with positive ventilation, glass fronted caging, and strict cleaning regimes will help prevent the spread of the disease.

So what is cat flu?

Cat flu is a respiratory disease of cats caused by a number of infectious agents – herpes virus , calici virus and chlamydia.

It can be easily spread from cat to cat through sneezing and can be carried on hands and shared bowls and equipment.

What are the signs?

Initially sneezing , loss of appetite, and fever, but signs can progress to severe ulcers and secondary problems such as pneumonia in severe cases.

How is cat flu treated?

There are no drugs available to specifically kill viruses so treatment generally involves supportive care while the cat’s immune system fights off the infection.

Treatment might involve antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infection, decongestant drugs, and intravenous fluids to combat severe dehydration.

During this time the cat is treated in an isolation ward to prevent spread to other cats in our care.

At home treatment for mild cat flu might include cleaning discharge from the eyes and nose, providing warmed palatable foods to increase appetite, and nebulizers or simply breathing in steam in your bathroom after a shower as a decongestant.

Most cats have an uneventful recovery but some cats may go on to have periodic bouts of cat flu or become carriers of the virus.

How can I prevent my own cat from getting cat flu?

The good news is that the chance of getting cat flu is greatly reduced by regular vaccination, and if your cat does get cat flu the severity will be greatly reduced.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus may predispose your cat to cat flu and other diseases so vaccination for this disease is also recommended.

Can I catch flu from my cat?

No. Cat flu and human flu are different diseases.

Where can I get more information?

The Veterinarians at the Lost Dogs’ Home provide treatment and advice for both stray and privately owned cats , not just dogs.


March 28th, 2011

What is Squamous cell carcinoma:
Squamous cell carcinoma is a common malignant tumor of the skin. It is often caused by excessive exposure to sunlight, and it is seen most often in white cats or cats with white patches.

Tumours can appear anywhere on the body although areas most commonly affected are the ears, nose, mouth & eyelids. Older outdoor cats are more commonly affected than younger ones. Squamous cell carcinomas are slow to spread and can take months or years to develop.

Symptoms of Squamous cell carcinoma:
As the new owner of this cat, you will need to be aware of symptoms related to this disease. These symptoms include –
• Lesions or sores which are slow to heal
• A red spot on the skin
• Crusty like lesion
• Hair loss in the affected area

If you see any lumps, bumps, scabs, crusty areas on your cat, you are strongly urged to seek veterinary attention. Some symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma can mimic other diseases such as ringworm, so it is important that you seek a proper diagnosis so the appropriate treatments can be given.

Prevention of squamous cell carcinoma:

• Limiting your cat’s exposure to the sun by confining him/her indoors .
• Application of an animal specific sunscreen.
• DO NOT USE ZINC CREAM as it is toxic when ingested by cats.

All future veterinary costs associated with this condition are the responsibility of the adopter.

If you have any queries regarding this condition, please feel free to discuss it with a member of our veterinary staff.
This handout provides general advice only. For specific advice regarding your pet please speak to your veterinarian at The Lost Dogs Home Veterinary Clinic.

The Lost Dogs Home Veterinary Clinic, 2 Gracie St, North Melbourne, 3051.
Phone: 9329 2755

Longhaired dogs during summer months

February 21st, 2011

Each year, veterinarians, pet groomers and pet lovers have debates about the pros and cons of shaving a thick coated or long-haired dog during the warm summer months.

People, cool themselves by sweating via exposed skin. Dogs, however, don’t sweat like we do. Their main cooling comes from panting. As the moisture evaporates off of their tongue, the blood is cooled and then circulated to keep the pet comfortable.

Clipping your dog in Summer can help to keep your dog cool during the steamy summer months. Please ensure you have adequate sun protection for pets with lightly pigmented skin.

If you do not wish to clip your dog it is important to keep your dog well groomed. This will allow airflow through the coat thereby cooling the skin. If however your dog is not well groomed debris such as grass awns can build up and cause mats and significant skin problems.

Questions about shaving your dog should be directed to your veterinarian and staff. They are best equipped with the knowledge of how shaving may affect your pet.

This handout provides advice only. For specific advice regarding your pet please speak to your veterinarian at The Lost Dogs Home Veterinary Clinic.

The Lost Dogs Home Veterinary Clinic, 2 Gracie St, North Melbourne, 3051.
Phone: 9329 2755
Email: vetclinic@dogshome.com

Poisonous Moulds

February 21st, 2011

There are many good reasons to keep your pet away from the garbage. One of these reasons is that moldy food may contain a toxin, specifically a mycotoxin, which can cause tremors in your pet. These mycotoxins can cause weakness, muscle tremors or convulsions and the symptoms can last for several days.

Foods such as grains and nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and pecans have all been associated with these mycotoxins. Symptoms will occur rapidly and can include drooling, panting, restlessness and mild incoordination. More severe symptoms, including muscle tremors, will be seen with higher doses of the toxin and death can occur in some cases.

If your pet exhibits these signs, and is known to scavenge in the garbage, you should seek veterinary help immediately. Treatment consists of inducing vomiting and introducing activated charcoal to the stomach. These steps help to minimize absorption of the toxin. Tremors and seizures can be controlled with medications and with supportive care and with early aggressive treatment, the prognosis is good.

It is important to finish all of a pet’s food in a can or bag prior to adding new food. Adding new food on top of old food can allow for the growth of molds. In addition one should ensure that all garbage containers are closed and secure.

Most importantly, if you wouldn’t eat it, then don’t feed it to your pet!

This handout provides advice only. For specific advice regarding your pet please speak to your veterinarian at The Lost Dogs Home Veterinary Clinic.

The Lost Dogs Home Veterinary Clinic, 2 Gracie St, North Melbourne, 3051.
Phone: (03) 9329 2755


November 30th, 2010

By Dr Matt Pascall

For all pet owners, it is very important to realize that some human drugs can be poisonous to their pets. Given that most households stock a number of medications, knowing the drugs to watch out for can help minimize the risk of accidentally poisoning your pet.

(1) NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs):
These are common pain-relieving medications we all keep around the house. Whether you refer to them by brand name (e.g. Volatren) or by generic (ibuprofen, diclofenac), these medications are very dangerous to pets.

    • Most pets will experience stomach and intestinal upsets, with gastric ulcers being common. Some NSAIDs can also cause kidney or liver damage.

    • Toxic doses vary. If your pet has consumed any amount of human NSAIDs, contact your veterinarian immediately. Given daily, NSAIDs will certainly cause potentially fatal gastric ulceration.

(2) Antidepressants: As we begin to understand more of how chemical imbalances can affect our moods and our mental stability, an increasing number of Australians are now taking these drugs. Examples include: Prozac®, and Zoloft®.

    • Vomiting and lethargy are common symptoms of an overdose. In some cases, a condition known as serotonin syndrome can occur. Pets will exhibit elevated body temperatures, increased heart rates and blood pressure as well as disorientation and vocalization

    • Toxic doses vary. Contact your veterinarian if your pet ingests any of these drugs.

(3) Acetaminophen (Aspirin): One of the most common pain relievers in Australia is Aspirin® may be great for us, but it can be deadly to cats. Dogs are also affected, but often not to this extreme.

    • Dogs can experience liver damage and occasionally red blood cell damage.
    • A single extra strength Aspirin® has been known to kill cats.

(4) Methylphenidate (Ritalin): This medication is used for treating attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder.

    • This medication can elevate a pet’s heart rate to a dangerous level and has the potential to cause abnormal heart rhythms and seizures.
    • A 5 mg tablet or patch could be fatal for a cat or small dog. The more common sizes of 15 or 20 mg can be fatal for any dog if not treated.

(5) Fluorouracil: This anti-cancer drug is used to treat minor skin cancers in humans. Discarded cotton swabs used to apply this medication are a prime source of pet poisonings.

    • This drug is rapidly fatal, causing severe vomiting, seizures, and even cardiac arrest in pets. This drug should not ever be used in cats.
    • Any unintended contact by your pet with this drug is reason for a call to your veterinarian

(6) Isoniazid: This is a first line tuberculosis drug with a very narrow margin of safety.

    • Extremely dangerous to dogs. Dogs will have serious seizures and then enter a stuporous state.

    • Toxic doses: Five 300 mg tablets are fatal to a 10 lb dog.

(7) Pseudoephedrine: This very popular decongestant is found in a variety of cold and sinus products (Dimetapp®, Sudafed®, etc).

    • Acts as a stimulant to dogs and cats, your pets will act hyperactive. Head bobbing, agitation, tremors and seizures are all common.
    • Toxic doses: Clinical signs can be seen in dogs up to 10 lbs ingesting a single 12 hour Sudafed® (120mg pseudoephedrine). 2 tablets could kill most toy breed dogs.

(8) Anti-diabetic medications: Glipizide (GlucotrolR) gliclazide, and glyburide (MicronaseR) belong to a class of drugs known as sulphonylureas. These tablets work by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. Medications like glipizide and glyburide can cause sudden and major drops in blood sugar of pets.

    • Symptoms include disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures.
    • Toxic doses: Cats exhibit liver problems at higher doses. Toxic dosages vary according to the size of the pet; however any exposure is dangerous. For glipizide, poisoning occurs most often after ingestion of large amounts, for instance, greater than ten 5 mg tablets. Glyburide and gliclazide are longer lasting medications and smaller dosages result in prolonged low blood sugar and complications thereof.

(9) Vitamin D derivatives: Vitamin D is often used in humans to treat psoriasis (skin condition). It is available in ointments or solutions.

    • Dogs develop vomiting, depression, anorexia, diarrhea and increased urination with 12-24 hours.
    • Toxic doses for pets are very small. Since it might be difficult to quantify the amount your dog ate, you should contact your veterinarian in the case of ingestion.

(10) Baclofen: Baclofen is used to treat muscle symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis and spinal disorders, including spasm, pain and stiffness.

    • Dogs show signs of vomiting, weakness, and disorientation. Dyspnoea and respiratory distress can occur.
    • The prognosis is not good as deaths can occur from small numbers of 10 mg tablets.

This handout provides general advice only. For specific advice regarding your pet please speak to your veterinarian at The Lost Dogs Home Veterinary Clinic.

The Lost Dogs Home Veterinary Clinic, 2 Gracie St, North Melbourne, 3051.