Dr. Liza’s Newsletter’s

FROM HOLISTIC VETS

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With the cold weather we're experiencing, many animals with arthritis are feeling some pain. In this month's newsletter Dr. Liza explains what arthritis is and what can be done to make animals a lot more comfortable.

Arthritis in Animals

As our pets age they may suffer from arthritis. It can be a painful condition and is usually noticeable as a stiff gait first thing in the morning (often worse in cold weather), which improves with a bit of exercise or movement.

Arthritis describes inflammation in a joint and may be attributable to many factors. It is generally a progressive condition, but we can do a great deal to slow the course of the disease and make your pet a lot more comfortable for the rest of his/her days.

It is very important to keep your pet's weight under control. Carrying around extra baggage is a huge burden on the joints and lightening their load will help them to function better and cut down on their pain.

Ensuring that your pet eats good quality food with optimal amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which are natural anti-inflammatories, helps them to maintain a good weight and joint health. Supplementing their diet with omega 3's (found in flax oil and cold water fish) is a fabulous aid to supporting joint function and just making this change can make a noticeable difference.

Next on the list and clinically proven to help are chondroprotective (joint protecting) agents called polysulphated glucosaminoglycans (P-Gags). These are naturally occurring substances found in green lipped mussel extract, shark cartilage and other sources. There are many supplements available but as with all supplements it is important to remember that they aren't all created equal, some work better than others and may be more appropriate for your animal than others. There is also an injectable form of P-gags that can be used alone or in conjunction with the above, it too can work wonders.

Another invaluable nutrient, from grapeseed or pinebark extract, are proanthocyanidins. They act as powerful anti-oxidants which assist joint function and well-being.

Massage of the tight muscles trying to compensate for the pain is very helpful as these are frequently tired and sore. Gentle massage is loved by most animals and helps to stimulate circulation.

Gentle, low impact Exercise, such as swimming or walks on the beach, is of vital importance to help keep supporting muscles strong and contribute to general well-being.

In addition to all of these are alternative and complementary therapy options such as homeopathy and herbal medicine, acupuncture, the Neurological Integration System (NIS) and hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as well as musculo-skeletal therapies such as chiropractics and Bowen therapy, which have proven to be very valuable aids. For optimal results these are best used by an experienced practitioner working in conjunction with your vet to tailor make a program to suit your animal's needs.
When none of these changes are making enough of a difference we make use of painkillers such as Non Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which may occasionally have side effects, to ease pain.

With a comprehensive treatment plan, a great deal of quality can be added to your pet's life.


In this month's newsletter Dr Liza tells us about a very special rescue dog...

A Tribute to Tana

We have so many remarkable and special patients but last week Dr Tara, Super Sue and our fabulous team had the privilege of looking after a precious and amazing rescue dog named Tana (short for Montana) and his inspiring and devoted owner Belinda.

Tana came from the Montana Women's Prison in the USA where rescue dogs are trained to become Assistance Dogs. Through this incredible programme, the dogs and inmates help to train and rehabilitate each other, both getting a second chance in life. Tana was a real character and full of fun but he also had a big heart. His trainer said that because of Tana, for the first time ever she understood the meaning of unconditional love. Tana never asked her what crime she committed, if she was sorry or what she was going to do to make amends. He simply loved her unconditionally for who she is which was life-changing for her.

Belinda spent a couple of years working at the Montana Women's Prison as an Assistance Dog Trainer and Occupational Therapist with her first Assistance Dog, Bradley many years ago. Belinda, who has epilepsy, was given Bradley as a young pup and found that he had some strange behaviour. A dog behaviourist helped her to identify that this strange behaviour was Bradley's way of alerting her to her imminent epileptic seizures. Belinda then researched and located the Montana facility as the best place to help develop Bradley's ability and train him in the necessary tasks to become a certified assistance dog. The pair spent 10 years together until Bradley died of bone cancer.

Belinda then adopted another assistance dog Theo who sadly had a bad reaction to a blood transfusion following an accident and needed to be put to sleep at only one year of age.

After this heartache and the immense expense of obtaining another assistance dog, Belinda was left without an assistance dog until she was sponsored to go back to Montana where Tana had been singled out for her as an ideal companion.

Belinda and Tana have been inseparable companions for 6 years. Tana has helped to alert Belinda to her epileptic seizures and when this happens in a public area he has guided her to places that are a bit quieter so that she won't hurt herself or concern passersby who would potentially be afraid and not know what to do. During a seizure, Belinda becomes unconscious and collapses and they last about 30 seconds after which she slowly recovers but can be a bit disoriented and weak. Following her seizure Tana would then help her by taking Belinda her phone if needed and a drink which he would get from the fridge, opening it with a rope tie.

He's always worked hard to look after Belinda but playtime has constantly been a priority too... running around like a nutter, surfing waves and chasing his ball which he trains humans to fetch! Kids walking past Belinda's South Auckland home on their way from school have been attracted to this handsome retriever looking longingly at his ball lying just over the fence and they pick it up and throw it back to him. He would then retrieve the ball and with a swing of his head, launch the ball back over the fence until the next human passed by to play!

Unfortunately, a couple of years ago Belinda and Tana were out walking and were hit by a car that had swerved out of control. They both flew through the air and sustained injuries, Tana hurting his back and developing a fear of cars and Belinda a head injury which has left her even more dependent on Tana's incredible skills like putting the rubbish in the bin, taking the washing out of the machine, opening doors and cupboards, turning lights on and off and so much more (over 85 different tasks)!

We had the pleasure of meeting Belinda and Tana over a year ago when on one of her visits to Tauranga she brought him in to see if we could do anything to help his anxiety with cars as both of their lives were heavily impacted by this. Since their accident, Tana would shake and be very unsettled in the car and although her local vet had run blood tests and treated his sore back, the next proposed step to help address his anxiety was a drug similar to Prozac.

We found that Tana still had some tenderness in his back and treated this as well as his anxiety with a number of therapies including neutraceuticals, herbs, homeopathics, NIS therapy and a special Calm Coat kindly donated by The Dog Coat Company. Together with behaviour modification training that Belinda continued with, Tana bounced back beautifully.

Tana and Belinda do wonderful work all around the world teaching people about the special bond between animals and humans and the mind-blowing work that Disability Assist Dogs do to help so many people. The dynamic pair visit hospitals and special needs facilities and let patients pet and sit with Tana, bringing a different sort of companionship into their world. Tana has even been known to get a lady out of bed and eating when she had refused to for days.

Belinda and Tana have been on the Good Morning show, in several magazines and newspapers, books and their outstanding efforts amongst the community earned them the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medallion for Volunteer Services for Animals in New Zealand in 2012.

One late night last week Tana had become subdued and lost his spark. Belinda was visiting Tauranga and phoned our after hours number to find Dr Tara at the end of the line. Dr Tara met them at the clinic and found Tana to be very sick and sore in his abdomen. She instituted an intensive care regime with fluid therapy, various medications to ease his pain, injections and ran blood tests then took x-rays to try and find out what was wrong. After nursing Tana through the night she was still very concerned and I came into work to help because she had a busy morning of consultations ahead.

We ran more tests that were still inconclusive and then put Tana in our Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber hoping that this would help to support him by easing inflammation and helping to control any infection (as it usually works wonders with so many health conditions). When he came out of the hyperbaric chamber he gave us a brief tail wag but it wasn't long before we could see that his condition was still severe and so we made the decision to do surgery in the hope of finding something simple that we could repair.

Tana took a while to stabilise under anaesthetic but he fought through like a trooper. Unfortunately surgery was not as rewarding as we had hoped as we didn't find any specific problem that we could fix but we relieved some pressure off his gall bladder and flushed his abdomen which seemed to ease his discomfort.

The next few days and nights we spent nursing him with Belinda at his side every day and either Dr Tara, Super Sue or I monitoring him through the night. Tana and Belinda had an influx of messages of support from all over the world and some of his fans drew him pictures and sent him cards which were put up on the wall next to where he rested during the day in hospital.

Tana's blood tests were looking a bit better but his protein levels still weren't bouncing back and so we ordered in special plasma from the canine blood bank and gave him 2 plasma transfusions.

The laboratory then helped us to identify an infection in his abdomen that was resistant to many drugs and because Tana was still not stabilising we had no choice but to do another surgery to try and find the source of the infection. We were worried about the risk of another anaesthetic but without the surgery Tana was just getting worse.

Tana was amazingly stable through the anaesthetic and we began making progress looking for the site of infection and at the same time cleaning up the mess in his abdomen. Suddenly Tana's blood pressure dropped and then his heart stopped. We began resuscitation but unfortunately, despite all of our very best efforts to do everything that we possibly could to save him, Tana had passed on.

We are devastated, Tana and Belinda are loved by so many people and Tana has left a hole in our hearts. This is definitely not the outcome that Belinda deserves... a relentlessly unforgiving process but she continues to inspire us with her incredibly gracious and positive approach.

We have loved working with Belinda and Tana, their intelligence; bravery and beauty have touched us all and no doubt always will!

Although Tana can never be replaced, having a canine companion to help Belinda to continue to live with her disability related challenges, and do the wonderful work that she does is important so we are hoping to help raise funds to get Belinda another assistance dog.

If you would like to make a donation to this wonderful cause, please let us know or visit this donation page http://givealittle.co.nz/cause/belindasdisabilityassistdog - We have kickstarted this by donating $3000.

Thank you Tana and Belinda for being such a truly inspirational duo. RIP dear Tana as your legacy lives on.

See more about Tana and Belinda on: www.theshepherdsrealm.com/2014/08/epilepsy-dogs.html 

www.ppadt.org.nz 


Sometimes disaster strikes when least expected. This month Dr. Liza shares tells us about a delightful dog Fubu who became paralysed after an accident but went on to make an incredible recovery thanks to the dedication of her wonderful owners and some amazing complementary therapies....

Adventure and fun might sometimes not turn out as one expects, which was found by friendly and exuberant Fubu.

Fubu loves everyone but especially loves chasing possums. After a recent chase, having just caught her possum, Fubu impacted at high speed into a bank which left her unconscious and paralysed.

The severe trauma of impact had damaged Fubu's brain and spinal cord and it took her two days to regain full consciousness. She lay on her side, in critical condition and unresponsive besides for her occasional wide eyed and helpless wondering at what was happening around her.

We treated Fubu with many therapies at our disposal including inta-venous fluids and vitamin C, NIS therapy, herbs, homeopathics and as part of an overall treatment plan, Fubu underwent several sessions of HBOT on consecutive days. The high concentration of oxygen available to her body had profound antiinflammatory effects on her spinal cord allowing for accelerated healing. In addition to this, HBOT helped to instil a generalised feeling of well being.

After her first session Fubu delighted us by lifting her head, then went home and was interested in eating! Three sessions later she wagged her tail for the first time and after a week she could again stand with the help of her extremely dedicated owner who created her a trolley with wheels to support her so that she could move around! The activity helped to strengthen her muscles and after a few weeks she was able to stand and walk a bit on her own.

3 months later, Fubu was able to run around with only a minor loss of movement of her one front leg. She continued to make steady progress and has been living a wonderful life, running around with no sign of remaining problems and hopefully she's been a bit more cautious chasing possums!!!


This month Dr. Liza shares some valuable tips on helping animals to cope with stress and anxiety.

Stress has an important role to play in the survival of any species but it becomes a problem when it is ongoing and an animal is unable to cope. Stress of any kind impairs the body's ability to heal and impacts their quality of life. Stress and anxiety can predispose to a number of health issues including infections, allergies, skin problems, bladder inflammation in cats and a number of other diseases.

Symptoms of stress can include behavioural changes, obsessive licking or chewing, aggression, depressed behaviour or hiding, barking and even diarrhoea to name but a few. A number of factors can cause stress and anxiety including extreme weather, fireworks, storms, moving house, changes in routine, feeling unwell, not getting enough exercise, overcrowding, the loss of another pet or owner, or even not knowing their place in the family "pack" or being constantly badgered by another animal eg. A newly introduced cat in the area or a new puppy that just wants to play the whole time when the old dog needs to rest.

Limiting stress by getting to the root of the problem and avoiding stressful situations is ideal but sometimes this is impossible. In these cases it is important to help the animal to cope with the stress as effectively as possible.

A vet check will help to identify underlying issues. A balanced approach is important ensuring that your pet has enough exercise, rest and relaxation, playtime and optimal nutrition. Sub-optimal nutrition is a huge factor undermining animals' sense of well-being and their ability to cope with stress. Good nutrition with a well balanced raw, natural food diet that is free of chemicals and preservatives is an important first step in helping to take the edge off (and often alleviate!) behavioural disorders, stress and anxiety.

Nutrients such as B vitamins are well known for helping animals and humans deal with stress and reduce nervousness. Other nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids are helpful to moderate extreme behaviours and anti-oxidants can be incredibly useful to help an animal to "feel well in itself" and thereby cope better with stress. The latter are also helpful to help boost the immune system and prevent infection. Tryptophan, an amino acid, helps to bring about the feeling of calmness and well-being;

A "magic bullet" that many animal owners make use of for themselves and their animals is Flower Essences, the most well known being Rescue Remedy. Homeopathic remedies may also be helpful. Calming herbs such as skullcap, valerian and lavender have a calming effect are useful. Other herbs such as ginseng and astragalus are adaptogenic and help animals to cope better with stress.

There are also commercially available pheromones, types of chemicals that animals use to communicate, which help dogs and cats to feel calm and relaxed available from vets. A Christchurch company has developed the Canine Calm Coat helping to reduce anxiety by gentle compression with a comfortable coat. Many pets benefit from this. Behavioural training can also be very important.

There are many options to help alleviate stress. Often a combination provides a highly effective approach and animals are transformed to enjoy improved health and vitality.


Happy new year and best wishes for a fantastic 2015!!! In this newsletter, Dr. Liza tells about some amusing moments with GastroIntestinal (Tummy) Upsets;

Dogs get up to all sorts of mischief and often eat things that would be way better not eaten providing some amusing moments...

One Saturday we had a call from a lady who was very worried that her pup had just eaten a mouse that had eaten some poison and wanted our help "Before I could stop her eating the head, she was already swallowing the body and the tail went down like a piece of spaghetti"!

The Pup came in and we gave it some medication to make it vomit. Within seconds the pup brought the mouse up in reverse - tail first followed by the body and head, which provided for a really funny sight and a baffled pup.

A while ago we had a dog in called Celene, a big German Shepherd who has had surgery before to remove a stone from her intestines - she has a habit of swallowing all sorts of things. Despite her owner's efforts to give her fluffy toys with no eyes or other attachments that she can swallow, Celene was in to visit us again....

She was seen playing with a Barbie doll but Barbie's head and arms had mysteriously disappeared and Celene had been vomiting up blood giving us a good clue that Barbie's missing bits were doing a tour through Celene's gut.

We needed to take x-rays of Celene after dosing her with a special substance that shows up easily on x-ray that outlines any suspicious object in the gut, which doesn't show up ordinarily. A sequence of shots needs to be taken as the substance moves through her gut.

Celene was most cooperative, despite not feeling too well she tried to jump on the table each time we needed her on there and then lay perfectly still in position for the shot - a real pleasure to work with. She went on to make a full recovery.

One Christmas eve a little border collie X labrador puppy who had devoured a 500g box of chocolate, (wrappers and all!!!) sometime that morning came in to see me. Chocolate can be toxic and so I gave him a little injection and within a few minutes, out came all the chocolate and the wrappers too (in a technicolor projectile vomit!), amazing what can fit into a little pup! The effects wore off a little while later after all was revealed and none the worse off, the little guy trotted out the door wagging his tail, no doubt looking forward to some breakfast!


Season's greetings and best wishes to you and yours for a fantastic festive season and 2015! With celebrations and wonderful family meals the trend at this time of year, our furry friends are often prone to getting tummy upsets. This month, Dr. Liza explains what causes tummy upsets and what can be done to help.

As with any dis-ease, a gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) upset is the body's way of saying that something is wrong. With vomiting and diarrhea, it's generally nature's way of cleansing out or ridding itself of something that is causing irritation or upset. Vomiting occurs when the disturbance is in the upper GIT, while diarrhea develops when it's in the lower GIT.

It is also important to differentiate between vomiting, where the animal has abdominal contractions, retches and eventually brings up something (this is usually amusing to my clients when I demonstrate "uugh, uugghh, uuugghhh, blaaaaah" and even more amusing when my client repeats this back in agreement!), and regurgitation where the animal suddenly and comparatively uneventfully brings up something from the gut (just "blaaaaah"!) - this gives an idea as to whether the problem is in the lower gut (vomiting) or higher up (regurgitation).

There a number of reasons for GIT disturbances, some due to longer term (chronic) problems such as food intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease, worms, organ failures and others which occur more suddenly (acute) such as toxins or poison exposure, something being stuck like as a furball, various infections both bacterial and viral, rotten food being eaten or even simple things such as stress or a sudden diet change, especially common in young kittens.

If your dog or cat is still relatively bright and the vomiting or diarrhea is not profuse, it may be possible to help to support their body and let it run its course. If your animal is collapsed, vomiting profusely, has blood coming out or is straining unsuccessfully then seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.

Practical management of a GIT upset involves giving the GIT a rest, ensuring that the animal has sufficient fluids and salts, supporting the GIT to help toxins pass though and to allow for repair. If this does not work then there is likely to be a more complex underlying issue and further diagnostics or treatment would be warranted.

First and foremost ensure that your animal has sufficient fluid, with plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration, as well as electrolytes (salts) and glucose which is especially important in very young animals whose glucose levels plummet very quickly. This can be in the form of a
broth created by boiling up meat, rice and vegetables or a mixture of 4 cups of warm water and % cup honey. In animals that aren't drinking, this can be dripped in with a dropper or syringed in carefully by placing small amounts on the animals tongue and allowing it to swallow while it's sitting or lying upright.

Slippery elm powder, kaolin and bismuth are wonderful internal poultices to help soothe and heal the inflamed GIT lining. Use 20-40 mg of dried slippery elm per kilogram three times a day mixed in water or food. Alternately mix 1 teaspoon of powder in 1 cup of water and give kittens 14 teaspoon, cats and small dogs 1 teaspoon, medium dogs 30 - 60 ml and large dogs 90 - 120 ml 3 times daily.

In adult animals allow 24 hours before giving any food to give the GIT a rest. Young pups and kittens require food much sooner, giving them a 4 - 12 hour fast depending on their condition should be sufficient. Commence with bland food such as boiled lean chicken, egg, cottage cheese and pasta or rice feeding 4 - 6 smaller meals through the day. Do this for 3 days and then gradually re-introduce their normal food.

Adding oatbran and probiotics from unsweetened acidophilus/lactobacillus yoghurt or commercial formulations will help to normalize bacterial flora in the GIT and minimize overgrowth of the "bad bugs". Activated charcoal might also be useful if there are toxins present either from poisons or produced from the overgrowth of certain bacteria. Use 2 grams per kilogram daily.

Various homeopathics are also often useful and are best used under the guidance of a homeopath. Use either complex remedies or individual 30 C potencies 4 hourly for 3 doses and if there's no change then another remedy is usually indicated. In very acute cases, dose more frequently and then decrease the frequency to effect. Useful remedies are Nux Vomica for occasional vomiting, Arsenicum for vomiting and diarrhea where the animal is thirsty and Merc Cor for acute diarrhea.

In chronic conditions such as IBD, aloe vera juice is also beneficial to help improve digestion and normalize GIT function however ensure that it is not preserved with sodium benzoate or benzoic acid which is toxic to cats. A dose of 1 ml per 5 kilograms daily is good support but be aware that it can also have a slight laxative effect.

For the management of longer term problems various nutritional programmes including optimal amounts of nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, as well as regular treatments with therapies such as NIS (Neurological Integration System), Acupuncture, homeopathy, Bowen therapy, etc. can help to make a marked difference


This month, Dr. Liza tells the story of an amazing dog called Truda who will always be remembered for her dogged determination!

Truda, a twelve year old Labrador came to see us for the first time. She had a number of problems; arthritis which was being treated with anti-inflammatories and an injectable form of glucosamine (this can be very helpful at supporting joints), recurrent skin infections that needed regular courses of anti-biotics, she was obese but most concerning to her owners was a large tumour on the side of her chest about three quarters of the size of a rugby ball and it had been growing quickly!

The tumour was a cancerous growth called a spindle cell tumour which means that it was locally invasive and to remove it completely by surgery would be a huge operation. At her age, with all of her health issues Truda's Mum and Dad weren't too keen on putting her through surgery. They wanted our help to treat Truda with complementary therapies so that surgery wouldn't be necessary.

When I examined Truda I found that she was overweight, her skin had a low grade infection, she had obvious pain and inco-ordination of her back legs and spine due to her arthritis and muscle weakness and her eyes looked tired. Each time she lay down or got up it was a huge effort and her large tumour hung from her side adding to her discomfort. Although the tumour was a big issue, at that stage it was the least of her worries given that she was so sore and run down.

Cancer in our pets, as with us humans, is a fairly common occurrence nowadays. There are many factors which contribute to this increasing trend including poor nutrition, genetics, pollution in our environment and infections, to name but a few.

Cancer develops when a cell begins to grow and divide out of control and isn't stopped and contained by the immune system. From a holistic point of view we recognize the multifactorial nature of cancer. The development of this serious condition reflects that the body has been damaged and the immune system has failed to recognize and stop the cancer process from progressing.

We devised a treatment plan for Truda making use of herbal medicine, neutraceuticals, NIS (neurological integration system), acupuncture and bicarbonate therapy. We also changed her diet to include more natural food, including raw meat which she loved! Our aim was to support her health and vitality, help strengthen her muscles and joints, boost her immune system and ideally help it to recognise the tumour and destroy it.

Each time Truda visited she showed amazing determination and progress. She would reluctantly come into the clinic, preferring to rather be out having a walk at the park, get her treatments and in true lab style, appreciate being given doggy treats. She displayed an improvement in her general health, she was brighter, moving around more easily and her skin and coat were much healthier. Unfortunately there had been no change in the tumour size and we were coming to a point where there was no other option except surgery but could she manage such a big operation?

We ran a panel of blood tests to check that her liver and kidneys were ok. Her results were impressive for an old girl. There were no abnormalities which gave us peace of mind that she would be likely to cope with the anaesthetic.

To help her through the procedure, we began the day of her surgery with a session in our hyperbaric oxygen chamber to pre-oxygenate her body. Her operation went well and we removed as much of the tumour as we could.

That afternoon we had her snoozing soundly on some powerful drugs. Not much roused her until we offered her some food. Her nose twitched acknowledging the food and as it registered in her brain that food was present she immediately sat up and wolfed it all down! A couple of hours later we took her out for toileting and with amazing strength she dragged me at the other end of her drip line and lead to the car park looking for her Mum and Dad and her way home! She went on to make a full recovery.

A year after her surgery, she was a happy dog. Although she was slow and her walks in the park were more about "smelling the roses" and greeting passersby in her very social manner. She had good quality of life and continued to age gracefully until she was 15 and a half years old when her devoted Mum and Dad had to make the decision to put her to sleep. We're sure she's in doggy heaven smelling the roses and eating as many treats as she wants without putting on weight!


With Spring having sprung there are many pollens in the air, warmer humid weather and more outside activity for many animals. These can be factors that contribute to skin irritations which can be difficult to manage in some animals. In this article Dr. Liza explains a bit more about itchy skin conditions and what can be done to prevent and ease them...

An itchy animal will scratch or chew at themselves causing inflammation, leading to a further itch which often progresses to infection and a vicious cycle is established. Conventional medicine then makes use of antibiotics to control the infection and cortisone or antihistamines to suppress the itch as a means of breaking this cycle. The prevention of this scenario is our ultimate goal and to achieve this, we need to address the underlying issues.

Animals have an itch threshold, basically a line drawn at a certain level which is different for each individual depending on their genetic make-up. There are five main factors which play a role in causing animals to itch. These are diet, stress, fleas, environmental factors and irritation from waxy ears, sore teeth, full anal glands, etc. Other contributors can include hormone imbalances, mites, worms and infections. As a practical first line of defence we focus on managing the main contributing factors so that the itch threshold is not reached.

Nutrition plays a major part. Poor quality food, artificial preservatives, allergies to specific proteins and lack of essential fats, vitamins and minerals can all play a role in contributing to the itch. Generally we recommend a natural, raw food diet diet together with the addition of optimal amounts of vitamins, anti-oxidants, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids (natural anti-inflammatories) found in high concentrations in flax oil and cold water fish. Sometimes it is necessary to design a special diet to address specific issues.

Stress weakens the immune system and lowers the body's itch threshold. In cats we commonly see itchy skin problems and establish in the history that there is a new tomcat in the area bullying the cat. Stress can also be due to other factors such as a much loved owner going away, a new baby in the house or even a fellow companion no longer being present. Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence are wonderful remedies to help animals cope with stress.

Fleas (and other parasites such as sarcoptic mange) can contribute greatly to an itch, either a few fleas or even the saliva from just one fleabite ("Freddie the flea" could be hiding somehwere in the house, jump onto your pet for a quick snack and then jump back off leaving many owners sure that fleas don't play a role) might cause an itch to last for a couple
of weeks.

Environmental factors can be difficult to isolate or control for example wandering jew, a plant to which many dogs react with a violent itch. Pollens may also be a primary factor and homeopathics may be used to help manage symptoms. Also, many dogs love playing in the sea but the salty water can cause them to be itchy, it is therefore a good idea to always hose them down with fresh water afterwards. Various shampoos can also create an itch while others are wonderful at helping to soothe irritated skin. It is important to be aware of these factors that may play a role and limit exposure where possible.

There are many options available to help a chronically itchy animal, but for long-term success, much time, effort and patience are often necessary. A visit to your vet will help to eliminate other causes of irritation and help you to devise a good management strategy to keep your pet's tail wagging!


20 Year old (140 in human years!!!) Paddy the cat had sore teeth and needed a dental. Dr Liza tells us how things unfolded for this amazing girl...

Animals' fantastic recoveries from major life threatening conditions as well as health issues which undermine their health provide elating highs and moments to remember.

With the integration of our Hyperbaric Chamber, which allows animals to receive high concentrations of oxygen to be delivered to all their tissues stimulating healing tremendously, and other therapies that we use such as intravenous vitamin C, homeobotanicals and various nutritional supplements, we have been having wonderful results with animals requiring assistance in areas of their health which are difficult to deal with successfully from a strictly traditional point of view.

These are often conditions like allergies, cancer, auto-immune problems and arthritis but sometimes these wonderful therapeutic aids can be very beneficial for routine veterinary practice such as helping animals to pull through and recover from anesthesia as smoothly as possible.

Paddy, the 20 year old cat, made a day trip from Auckland (2.5 hours away) to see us so that we could anesthetize her and extract some teeth that had been hurting her. Although all Paddy's blood tests and her clinical examination were excellent for an old girl (140 in human years!!!), anesthesia always carries an element of risk and for older animals. It's sometimes only after the event that their bodies deteriorate and so I explained all of this to Paddy's owner who was still keen to go ahead as she believes that Paddy still has a few years left on this planet yet and wants her to be comfortable.

After being given extra anti-oxidants and B vitamins leading up to the big day, Paddy had a session in the chamber to saturate her body with oxygen which helped to support her under anesthetic and assist with her recovery. We then anaesthetized her, cleaned her teeth and extracted the problem ones and treated her with all the fantastic supportive aids we have on hand. She was very slow to wake up and although we had peace of mind that we'd done everything as well as we possibly could and so far she'd been stable, I was worried that she might not pull through this next recovery phase.

Her owner was delighted to see a very sleepy Paddy and that afternoon they drove back to Auckland. The next morning her owner called to say that she was very concerned as Paddy hadn't had anything to drink, although she had eaten and had a very restless night pacing around for quite a while before she finally settled.

I was over the moon, she'd eaten and she'd had the energy to pace around, that was fantastic news! Paddy made a very good recovery and from the looks of things, she may well be around for a number of years to come.

Feeding animals with the right food and supporting their systems with nutritional supplements, to promote their health and assist with various ailments, can work wonders.


This month Dr Liza shares some useful information about dental health. Sore teeth can cause pain and lead to a number of health issues and as always, prevention with a few simple tips is better than cure...

One of the major foundations of health is a healthy oral cavity. This is the place where nourishing the body begins as food is taken in and begins to be broken down and digested making valuable nutrients available.

In our modern world, dental disease is one of the biggest dis-eases affecting our furry friends. Sore teeth and gums are not only uncomfortable but set up a cascade of events that lead to further deterioration of our pets' health.

With improper dental hygiene, excessive amounts of unhealthy types of bacteria accumulate in the mouth, attaching to tooth surfaces which leads to the formation of dental calculus or tartar. These provide a greater surface area for more bacteria to accumulate in ever deepening pockets where toxins are produced and more bacteria multiply leading to gum inflammation or gingivitis and is usually the origin of putrid smelling breath.

Bacteria then have the potential to enter the bloodstream and to lodge in major organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver leading to organ failure or systemic infections. In its attempt to prevent this from happening, the body launches its next line of immune defense.

The constant battle between the body's immune system and these invading bacteria drains the body of important resources and the inflammatory cycle that is set up causes the production of free radicals which act like hot cinders flying off a home fire into the surrounding carpet do and cause cellular damage. Together with the local tissue destruction, this cumulative damage, over time can contribute to systemic degenerative diseases such as cancer and auto-immune disease.

There are many commercial foods, chew toys and even pet toothpastes and toothbrushes advertising their essential contribution to your pet's health. But despite this, dental disease still proliferates and often painful and diseased teeth need to be extracted and vets routinely do tooth scaling and polishing under anesthetic to help maintain a healthy oral cavity.

Common signs of dental disease include bad breath, red gums, the avoidance of harder foods, repetitive lip licking, drooling and sometimes weight loss, increased drinking and lethargy.

Dogs and cats have sharp triangular teeth and jaws designed for cutting, dicing and crushing, not for chewing as herbivores such as horses and ruminants that have large flat teeth with jaws that grind from side to side do.

When our pets are fed a healthy well balanced diet containing fresh raw meat and raw bones from a young age, as Mother Nature intended, dental disease is rare and generally only occurs in the form of broken teeth due to trauma.

With a well balanced diet the body will have a normal pH and the right nutrients available to ensure that minerals in saliva are available to maintain and repair teeth and that the mouth environment is inhospitable for the proliferation of pathological (disease causing) bacteria.

Good dental care, which includes care of your whole animal will add many quality years to your pet's life and is an investment which is well worthwhile. It's never too late to start!


Sometimes rare and unusual things happen in veterinary practice and things don't always go according to plan. This month Dr. Liza tells us a story about a lovely cat called Tom and his recovery from Leprosy.

Leprosy in cats is a relatively rare disease caused by bacteria that are similar to the type that cause tuberculosis. Unlike human leprosy, the presenting problem is usually raised skin lumps that can appear in one or more places. Feline leprosy is spread by rat bites and cats of any age may get it. It can usually be treated.

Tom is a gorgeous cat, very affectionate and a real character. One day his owner Sue noticed a lump on his toe about half a centimeter in size that was raised and a bit red but didn't seem to be bothering him. We put him onto a course of anti-biotics incase of a common infection as well as high doses of vitamin C which is helpful to support the immune system and assist with the resolution of many skin issues.

A couple of weeks later there was no change in the lump and there was a second lump coming up on Tom's forearm. He was a little subdued and we were concerned about him.

The next step was a fine needle aspirate (FNA) to determine what the lumps were. A FNA uses a fine needle at the end of a syringe to suck some of the lump material out and squirt it onto a microscope slide. We then send the sample to the laboratory where the pathologists examine it under a microscope. The conclusion was that Tom had feline leprosy.

There are two main avenues of treatment; medical and surgical. Sue and I decided to start treatment with the medical approach and if it didn't work then we would do surgery to remove the lumps at a later stage.

We prescribed some homeopathic drops, a broad spectrum anti-oxidant for immune support and a strong drug, Rifampicin, to kill the leprosy bacteria.

The morning of his second dose of the Rifampicin Tom had an anaphylactic reaction to the medication. His face and paws swelled up severely, his breathing became labored and his life was in danger.

Thank goodness Sue spotted the problem and acted quickly to bring him into hospital. We gave Tom adrenalin as well as corticosteroids to help his body to resolve the anaphylaxis and then also placed him onto intra-venous fluids.

Additional supportive treatments were given later on; intra-venous vitamin C, which boosts recovery and a therapy called NIS - Neurological Integration System, a therapy originally developed for humans which has profound effects on balancing the body and restoring health. We use this therapy to help animals with a variety of health issues including stubborn infections and trauma.

Tom was initially very subdued but through the day he went on to make a steady recovery and he went home that evening to devour his dinner, a little tired but much brighter. The next day he was just about back to his normal smoochy self and the astonishing thing was that his leprosy lumps had reduced to half their size overnight!

Because of his anaphylactic reaction to the drug, Tom didn't get any more medication but he went on to make a full recovery with the lumps disappearing completely within a few days and they haven't returned since.


In this newsletter Dr. Liza explains more about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and how this incredible treatment can work to save animals lives and to improve their quality of life.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been used in human medicine since the beginning of the 20th century. Based on sound scientific principles, it is now an accepted treatment modality, for several conditions including non-healing wounds, compromised skin grafts, infections, gas gangrene, traumatic injury, certain poisonings and burns. We are very pleased to offer this incredible healing aid, which promotes health and well-being in a stress free manner for our furry friends.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) basically means giving oxygen under pressure. This allows for a far greater amount of oxygen to be available to tissues in the body. Oxygen at optimal levels has profound anti-inflammatory effects; it helps to rid the body of infection both directly by killing certain bugs and indirectly by supporting the immune system and assists to accelerate healing, often dramatically!

Normally oxygen is carried by the red blood cells in the blood stream and at any given time in a normal human or animal breathing air (which has 21 % oxygen), approximately 96% of red blood cells are saturated with (carrying) oxygen. When breathing 100% pure oxygen instead of air, all red blood cells carry oxygen and deliver it to cells within reach of circulating blood vessels.

Under pressure in the chamber, like divers submerging under water, oxygen dissolves into all of the body fluid and tissues. This means that it is no longer dependent on the blood vessels and red blood cells for delivery and can easily reach important areas such as injury sites and the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to which oxygen delivery might be compromised in an injured or diseased human or animal. The principle is the same as the bubbles in a fizzy drink which are dissolved when the bottle is closed under pressure but fizz out once the pressure is released when the bottle is opened.

HBOT allows for an increase of 12 - 15 times the normal oxygen concentration in the body. This promotes natural healing and recovery and is commonly used to assist in the following conditions as well as many others:

• Severe skin and tissue damage
• Fracture healing
• Major systemic or local infections
• Intervertebral disc herniation
• Inflammatory conditions such as pancreatitis
• Nerve damage
• Athletic injury
• Post surgical swelling and recovery
• Organ dysfunction and failure such as liver disease and kidney failure

HBOT may be used in adjunct to most other veterinary or alternative treatment. Only animals who have certain kinds of ear, sinus or lung problems or are critically ill may not be able to be treated.

During HBOT the animal simply sits or lies down and relaxes in the chamber breathing pure oxygen while the chamber is pressurised. A treatment session lasts 1 to 2 hours and animals tolerate it well and typically respond beautifully to as little as 1 to 5 treatment sessions depending on their individual needs.


As a vet Dr. Liza sometimes faces some very difficult situations helping her patients. Some animals are seriously injured or diseased and face a high likelihood of a dire outcome but thankfully there are some incredible therapies like Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and intra-venous vitamin C that can be lifesaving. In this newsletter, Dr Liza tells us about Tyson, a gorgeous young pup, and his remarkable recovery from severe ant bait poisoning....

Tyson's incredible recovery from ant bait poisoning

Tyson, a gorgeous 6 month old American Bulldog was brought in to see me first thing on a Saturday morning. He had been vomiting and salivating overnight, wasn't interested in eating and was a little lethargic, which is totally different to the exuberant and joyous young pup that he is.

I examined him and suspected a gastro-intestinal upset, a common occurrence at this time of the year, and gave him a few injections to help him feel better. He went home to be monitored closely by his loving owner.

By the afternoon Tyson was deteriorating rapidly. I did a home visit to see him and found that he was vomiting up blood, lying on his side unresponsive and was beginning to go into shock.

I rushed him to the clinic where we quickly put him onto a drip and started him on some intravenous vitamin C, which can be an incredibly valuable aid at helping the body to fight off infection and assisting tissue healing.

Within a few minutes, he started to stabilize but we were nowhere near "out of the woods". With his internal bleeding and collapsed state I was very worried about him and knew that unless we had some kind of miracle happen, his life was in great danger.

Thankfully, we are very lucky to have one of only three veterinary hyperbaric oxygen chambers in New Zealand. Treatment in the chamber (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy or HBOT) has profound healing effects as it delivers high concentrations of oxygen to all the tissues of the body which accelerates healing, kills bugs and promotes vitality. I treated Tyson in the chamber as soon as he was stable enough and an hour after his treatment he was standing up!

That night I slept with him at the clinic to monitor him and ensure he was getting all the medications that he needed. He was still very weak but would wag his tail when I went to check on him. Through the night he continued to vomit up large amounts of browny red fluid with bloody globules and meaty looking bits meaning that he was still bleeding inside, in fact so severely that his gut lining was sloughing off.

By Sunday morning he was again very lethargic and could hardly move. His caring owner came into visit him and was distraught; we had a long way to go if he was to pull through. She reported that there was a lot of ant poison near her house where Tyson spent a lot of time and this helped to explain his symptoms... small amounts of ant poison can lead to tummy upsets but larger amounts cause the gut to bleed and can be deadly.

We repeated his HBOT which helped to perk him up, he sat up and again wagged his tail. Through the day he slowly looked brighter and even wanted to drink some water but because of the severe damage to his gut he just vomited it all up again despite all the anti-vomiting medication he was getting. We kept him on his drip and that night we treated him again with HBOT. He then started to have very watery diarrhea but at least there was no blood coming through which meant that at last his internal bleeding had stopped and his gut was beginning to heal!

By Monday morning he was looking stronger and could even go for short walks outside, he still continued to vomit though and was losing a lot of weight, his ribs now really showing after 3 days with no food and severe illness. In the afternoon he received an acupuncture treatment and by the next morning he hadn't vomited at all overnight!

Tyson continued to make a steady recovery and by the Wednesday he was able to eat some food and keep it down, which was remarkable given the severity of the damage to his gut.

He is now a fit and healthy young dog with no sign of any problems. Thanks to the incredible love and devotion of his owner as well as the fabulous therapies of HBOT and acupuncture, Tyson survived severe ant poisoning and will hopefully never be that sick again.


Working as a vet is filled with all sorts of challenges. In this newsletter Dr. Liza shares some amusing stories where communication with animals' owners/care-givers has been tricky:

I love emergencies, they require quick thinking, elegant action and masterful communication with the animal's owner / care-giver to succinctly explain the situation, gather enough information to help treat the animal effectively and to delicately handle the owner's emotion, which might be extreme at times but sometimes, effective communication can be tricky...

One night I had a few after hour emergencies to handle and was just about to doze off at 12a.m. when the phone rang. I picked up and a Chinese chap who couldn't speak very much english said "dog eat tablets, now cutting corner, must bring to vet".

Some 40 minutes later I was presented with a 4 month old Chihuahua that was "cutting corner". I examined the little guy and found that he had an increased temperature, dilated pupils but was very bright although as soon as I put him on the floor he would run around unstoppably in circles which was him "cutting corner"!

I was a bit baffled as to why this pup was behaving so strangely at which time the owner pulled out a packet of "Clarinase", a decongestant containing pseudoephedrine (which has a similar effect as adrenalin on the body). He said that he thought that the dog had eaten 3 tablets that afternoon - enough to even get an adult human feeling a bit hyperactive and this was a 4kg Chihuahua!!!

No matter what I tried to help calm the little fella down... sedatives, other drugs and even rescue remedy, nothing worked. I eventually decided to put him in a well padded cat carry cage and let it work its way out of his system while I got some sleep.

The next morning he was still "cutting corner" but his pace had slowed substantially and that afternoon he was a lot better and we sent him home. He was one exhausted pup for a day after that but went on to make a good recovery.

Another late night I had a Japanese lady come in with her cat which she said had a weta attached to its tongue—or the head half of the weta, anyway. Weta's are a type of native insect and basically a big cricket-like creature with a sharp pincer-like mouth. In South Africa we have parktown prawns which are similar but they are bright red and a lot uglier than a weta and to me they are 1 of the scariest creatures on Earth!

The cat must have been playing with the weta and it grabbed hold of the cat's tongue with its pincer-like mouth and wouldn't let go. The cat had tried to pull it off—but had only succeeded in detaching the front end of the weta from the back.

Before I opened the carry cage to examine the cat and see how I could help, the Japanese lady told me with her accent, "Be vewy vewy caweful as cat is vewy vicious—other vet who see her say to sedate." These types of scenarios can be tricky and it's not too uncommon to have cats with these qualities named "Sweety" or "Angel"!

Anyway, thank goodness, the cat behaved herself and we managed to detach the strong mouthparts of the weta without an anesthetic and the kitty cat was most relieved to be separated from the play toy to which she had become so attached!!!

There are occasions in practice when wives won't make any decisions about spending money on their animals without first consulting the "Man of the house". My old boss in Auckland Rose used to coach us on how to handle these situations with care and would outline the importance of only speaking to either Mr or Mrs only when it comes to their pet as inevitably there is a disagreement and it's best for us to stay out of it!

One night at the practice in Auckland my colleague Beth examined a little cat, Spotty, who wasn't well. Her owner, Mr. Kemp wanted Beth to find out what was wrong and to fix her without spending any more than $90 and to phone if there was any further expense. Beth attempted to do just that, but when she needed to find out if she could run an additional blood test she spoke Mrs who wouldn't let Beth go ahead until she had the go ahead from Mr as if anything went wrong Mrs would be in trouble.

Beth eventually diagnosed that Spotty had cystitis (bladder inflammation) and sent the kitty home on a few tablets, 1 of which was a drug similar to valium in a very low dose (1 eighth of a tablet) to keep her calm and help to relieve the discomfort.

A couple of days later, Spotty returned. I examined her and was baffled. she was dehydrated and pretty flat, but otherwise I found nothing else wrong. I offered Mr K a few options of further diagnostics to help establish what was wrong but he was insistent that he had already spent too much money and only allowed us to provide basic supportive care which included some fluid under her skin to rehydrate her and keep her in hospital for the day for further monitoring but that was all.

The end of the day came and Mr K came to collect Spotty who had perked up remarkably. We explained that we didn't know what was wrong with her but she was now normal and should be fine. He fished her tablets out of his pocket and said "should we still be giving her these. " pointing at the medication that Beth had previously dispensed to help keep Spotty calm that had a valium type effect "...a half of 1 of these twice a day?"

Beth and I looked at each other, everything now made sense. Spotty had been so overdosed on the Valium type drug that she hadn't been eating or drinking and so she'd become dehydrated. We explained this to Mr K who couldn't believe it as he and his wife had argued about this. He said that it was 1 eighth of a tablet while she had said that it must be 1 eighth of all the tablets in the bag (we gave her 4) and of course he listened to his wife's brilliant logic and dosed the cat.... Yeah, right!!!


Longer daylight hours means that it's cat breeding season and there are many kittens looking for homes. Through ARRC Wildlife Trust's "Spay the Stray Cat Campaign" we have been working hard to reduce the number of stray and unowned cats in Tauranga and thus far we have taken more than 600 off Tauranga's streets!

A very important part of addressing this problem is to educate people about the great importance of desexing their animals and looking after them responsibly.

Here is some information about caring for your new cat or kitten and if you don't have 1, please contact ARRC (07) 579 9115 as we have plenty of lovely cats and kittens looking for homes and we can help!

Introducing Your Cat to its New Home

For the first 2 weeks in its new home it is VERY IMPORTANT to keep your cat / kitten indoors so that it can become settled in its new environment. Cats and kittens that are let outside too early are likely to wander and become lost.

It is useful to have a bed or special blanket in a designated place in the house that is quiet and peaceful where your new pet can escape to when it feels threatened by other pets, children or visitors.

Nutrition

Feeding your cat healthy and wholesome food will help it to stay in good health. Cats are naturally carnivores and depend on good quality protein and fat to keep them fit and strong.

Feed your kitten / cat a food that is approved by your veterinarian and that is ideally free of chemicals, preservatives and high amounts of grain.

With kittens always change their diet slowly as they are prone to getting tummy upsets from sudden diet changes.

Worm & Flea treatment

Fleas and worms can be extremely harmful parasites. Not only do they cause a tremendous amount of irritation but they are also responsible for health problems such as flea allergies, sore tummies, diarrhea and they are capable of infesting young animals so severely that they can cause them to be anemic and very sick.

There are a number of ways to reduce worm and flea burdens numbers. Firstly supporting your pet's immune system with good nutrition will go a long way to making them less tasty to fleas and more able to defend against worm burdens. Regular treatment with worm and flea products are important to help keep your pet healthy. Some products are of much better quality than others and there are some products that can have toxic side effects so be sure to check with your vet what the most user friendly option for your pet is.

With fleas, environmental control is very important as typically the number of fleas on any dog or cat is only the tip of the ice berg reflecting a much greater flea population in the animal's environment of both adult and immature fleas. Therefore addressing the environment is a very important component of flea control. Immature fleas can be destroyed by regularly hanging pet bedding out in the sunshine, thoroughly vacuuming carpets on a regular basis and sprinkling them with borax or diatomaceous earth afterwards.

Vaccination and Regular Health Checks

Vaccinating your kitten / cat can be an important way of helping to prevent serious life threatening diseases like panleukopenia and it can help to reduce cat flu. If your kitten or cat has received a vaccination, its vaccination booklet will indicate when a booster vaccination is recommended at your local vet.

Many vaccines now hold for 3 years but at least an annual health check at your vet is recommended to help keep your pet in top health.

Desexing

ARRC ensures that any adopted kittens and cats are desexed to stop them from breeding and to help ensure that our community has fewer unwanted cats and kittens. Unfortunately pet overpopulation is a huge animal welfare issue worldwide and many animals are abandoned, aren't adequately cared for or can't be rehomed by animal shelters leading to millions being euthanized each year.

ARRC is proud that for the duration of our involvement in managing Tauranga's unowned cat population no cats or kittens have been unnecessarily euthanased - if they have been tame and healthy enough to find homes for they have been or are in the process of being rehomed.

Desexed cats are less likely to have territorial behaviors and get into fights which is important in helping to reduce their injuries and the need to see the vet.

Microchipping

A microchip is approximately the size of a grain of rice. It is inserted under the skin usually between the shoulder blades and offers a reliable means of identifying an animal. This can be a fantastic help when an animal has been found and it has no collar or other identifying features and when the microchip is listed on the national database, it is relatively easy to reunite an animal with their owner. Microchipping can be done at any age

Pet Insurance

Throughout a pet's life as part of their health maintenance plan they should ideally have an annual vet check. This can help to pick up on problems such as dental disease, arthritis, ear infections and many more things. Sometimes health problems develop suddenly and often unexpectedly and especially for occasions such as these, pet health insurance can be invaluable.

A good Pet Health Insurance Plan will cover basic health checks as well as major health issues which may crop up. Ideally choose a pet health insurance plan that covers complementary and natural therapies in addition to all the benefits of conventional veterinary medicine and surgery so that you can easily give your pet all the healthcare options that they may need.

Cats and Wildlife

Looking after your cat responsibly ensuring that they are well cared for and do not threaten wildlife is an important part of helping to preserve our natural heritage. Here are some tips on how you can help:

• Ensure that your cat always has access to good quality food
• Keep your cat inside at night so that it is less likely to prey on wildlife (and get into fights)
• Provide toys and regular playtime so that your cat is well entertained and exercised and less likely to need to hunt
• For those cats that do hunt wildlife, a bell may be placed on their collar to help warn native wildlife about the cats' presence. Another option is a special "cat bib" that can help to prevent wildlife being caught.
• Never abandon unwanted cats. It is unfair to leave them to fend for themselves and it is a threat to our wildlife.
• Unless you are a responsible cat breeder, always have a new cat desexed.


This month Dr. Liza tells us some entertaining stories about her work:

My work is always full of fun. Here are a few stories that will hopefully make you smile.

A while ago I gave a talk on the importance of good nutrition in aiding health problems and maintaining health in dogs and cats. The turnout was great and the audience lively with lots of excellent questions. 1 point which I put across strongly is the importance of keeping things as natural as possible and the great value of raw meat. As frequently happens with these talks, there's someone who just doesn't get it and asks a question at the end illustrating that they haven't taken a word that's been said.

An older man kept on asking little questions like this, eventually giving us all the long story of how his cat runs around outside all morning then comes inside, rubs up against everything
and bites at his leg.....As the audience became more and more impatient with his rambling I
was very chuffed with my response "Sounds like your cat wants some raw meat"! and recommended a consultation to address all of his concerns.

Years ago when I did some part time work for the Rotorua SPCA we had Ruby the cat in hospital as she hadn't been eating and wasn't feeling very well. We had done exploratory surgery of her abdomen to try and find out what was wrong but found no major abnormalities and kept her in hospital on a drip, trying to get her to eat. No matter what we tried, she just wasn't interested in food.

One morning I arrived to find Ruby in her cage with a budgie. I was baffled... Cara (the vet that I fill in for) had come up with a special therapy called "budgie Therapy". She figured that having potentially live food around may stimulate Ruby's appetite and .. She was right. That morning Ruby ate for the first time in days and thank goodness the budgie had suffered no ill effect from its "cat therapy"!!!

On the topic of budgies, I once had an interesting request. a little boy came in with his recently deceased budgie and asked if we could please do a post mortem to confirm that the budgie had died from falling off its perch. It was gently explained that it was more likely that the budgie was very sick, died and then fell off his perch!


As with humans, our pets can become addicted to food that is unhealthy for them. In fact, research has indicated that for humans during early childhood the brain resets the needs of the body according to what foods are consumed during the formative years. This may lead to cravings of these foods later on in life which can be detrimental to health if the food is not nutritious.

I believe that this is true to a certain degree with our pets, especially cats who are fed grain based diets as kittens and will only settle for similar foods later on in life which overrides their natural instinct to eat meat. In addition to this some foods have additives or are coated with substances which cause animals to be attracted to the food and eat it even though the nutritional value is poor.

Getting pets, especially fussy cats and certain toy breed dogs, to eat new foods that are healthier for them can be a tedious process but it is generally well worth it in the long run as an animal's health improves in leaps and bounds when their body is given the right balance of nutrients from natural ingredients.

• A good way to start, which is also useful for pets who have sensitive stomachs and are easily upset by a change in diet, is to convert them gradually over a 2-week period. Start off with 7/8ths old food and 1/8th new food - mix in well, use this for 2 days. For the next 2 days mix of the old food with 14 of the new food. Then for the next 2 days 5/8ths old food and 3/8ths new food.........etc. they often gradually make the change.

• Another trick, if they're only keen on biscuits / crumbles, is to crush them up and sprinkle them on the new food. Cats may find the new food more appealing if you add a few drops of soy sauce.

• Some animals respond positively if one places a bit of the new food in their mouth, they taste it and decide "OK, this isn't so bad" and then devour the rest.

• Stroking, patting and praising them while they eat and hand feeding them to get used to the change is a very handy tactic as they're much more amenable to eating when receiving affection.

• When all else fails, try explaining to them that this new food is good for them and will make them feel better. Believe it or not, this has worked in a number of cases!

Some pets end up having their way and won't make the change. For some ill animals, bad eating habits are better than not eating at all, especially if it is in their final days when quality of life is of utmost importance.

With most pets it is worth persevering, as their long-term health will be greatly enhanced by good nutrition.


The festive season can be a crazy time of year and with vet work there's often lots to do. In this month's newsletter Dr. Liza shares some insights into one of her days at this time of year...

My cell phone rings at 6.47am and I race out of bed to hear one of our clients on the other end of the line very concerned about her nine-year-old staffie Zak who doesn't seem to be able to stand up on his back legs and has been panting for the last hour. I arrange to meet her at the clinic in 20-minutes, already thinking that this will be a musculo-skeletal injury and shouldn't be too tricky.

On arrival at the clinic Zak is far worse than I expected. He's unresponsive, lying on his side, paddling his legs and having a seizure. I get baseline bloods, inject intra-venous valium which settles him slightly and then place an intravenous line running in vitamin C. Covering all bases, I inject him with an anti-inflammatory, antibiotics, Atropine and Vitamin B's. Thankfully by this time my colleague Karen has arrived and she brings out her acupuncture needles to help settle Zak.

Holistic Vets, as the front for our wildlife trust ARRC Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, www.arrc.org.nz, we're in the midst of receiving an abundance of baby birds that cats have caught or well meaning people have found, thinking that they need vet care. In between this onslaught, a little blue penguin is dropped off having just been found floundering in the waves. Its body condition is poor and it's dehydrated and anemic. With the help of our nursing team we give him fluids and warmth and hope for the best, but we know our efforts are likely in vain as much of the wildlife work we do is relentlessly unforgiving.

Today has back to back consults through the morning and surgery to do as well. Our first case is Zen, a Siamese cat in for a laparotomy (surgery to explore his abdomen) as Karen has identified an abdominal mass. Zen is one of my oldest patients and we're all hoping for a simple fix and a good outcome. After not eating for a few days, we were concerned about him being able to survive the anesthetic so he had the benefit of a pre-anesthetic session in our hyperbaric oxygen chamber to hyperoxygenate his body. We find this to be of awesome benefit to geriatric and compromised animals.

Our first consult for the day is Diesel, a gorgeous 52kg bull mastiff with a huge hotspot (a localized skin infection that can be very painful) on his face. He's always glad to see me, despite the occasional atrocity that I commit such as squeezing his anal glands. I shave and clean his hotspot, clean out his ears which are full of black debris and send him home with some meds and herbs/homeopathics to ease the discomfort and to help get his body back in balance to prevent another hotspot from developing.

As Diesel's owner pays at the reception, Diesel gives a great big shake of his head and a glob of slobber gracefully flies over the counter into the lap of our receptionist Emma!

My next patient is Pepe, a little Chihuahua, who is in for a dental examination and nail trim. As long as I don't poke and prod him, Pepe is an angel but last week when I attempted to give him a health check and trim his nails I was met with ferocious growls. I had to use sedativeszSo today I was glad to find some tooth decay to justify the help of sedatives to investigate his mouth further and give him a manicure.

It's only 10am and it's time to perform the laparotomy on Zen. I quickly do a last check on the little blue penguin - he's not looking much better - and Zak who has settled down relatively well and only has a slight head tremor left but is still pretty dazed.

We induce, shave and prep Zen and I do a midline incision and begin to investigate. It's not good news: an extensive pancreatic tumour is adhered to his spleen and stomach. I ring his owner and share the news, she's upset but glad that we finally know what is wrong with him and she requests that we put him to sleep on the table. I share the news with our nurse Louby and tears well up in her eyes. As 'Silent Night' plays on the radio we put him to sleep peacefully.

I go to check on the penguin and find that he has just died as well. At least Zak is doing OK, even though we're not out the woods with him yet.

Pepe is next on the list for this morning's surgery, he's nice and chilled out after his premed and is easily anesthetised. Once entubated, I find both sides of his jaw to have severely infected molars, most likely the reason for his stroppy behavior last week. I'm delighted to find a logical reason and best of all it can be remedied. I extract his teeth while he receives vitamin C by I/V , Traumeel, various flower essences, a anti-inflammatory and Vitamin B injections at strategic acupuncture points to assist his recovery. He wakes up quickly after his procedure and within an hour is looking bright.

It's nearly lunchtime and I quickly squeeze in replying to some e-mails and returning calls to clients. At lunch I race off to the gym for a quick work out. I normally go after work, but tonight I have a massage booked that I've been looking forward to for weeks. I arrive back to see Karen with Roxi, a gorgeous little bichon who came to us three weeks ago having been to two other vets and being diagnosed with a disc prolapse and paralysis of her hind legs. Roxi underwent several sessions of acupuncture, had some Chinese herbs and sessions in our chamber and was standing within a few days. It's so lovely to see her walking around and happy!

The afternoon is full of animals booked in for NIS (Neurological Integration System), a therapy derived from applied kinesiology and osteopathy which I have found to be incredibly helpful for an array of health problems. I work with Kim, who is a human practitioner but she helps me with animals one afternoon a week. Our first case is Petal, a very timid cat who has suffered from severe milliary dermatitis that hasn't responded to other therapies. Petal's owner wonders how we'll treat her as she's very scared and doesn't like being handled. Like most cats, after the first few things that we do, Petal calms down and to the amazement of her owner lets us do everything that we need to. We advise that she ideally needs another treatment but this should start to make a big difference within a couple of weeks.

Our next case is Leo a gorgeous Russian Blue, who is in for his third session of NIS. Leo's back is still sore and we're baffled, as most cases respond well to 2 sessions. I ask Karen for her input and we devise another strategy of adding in some herbs and Pentosan injections. It's so wonderful to have her input and help after being a solo vet in my practice for 6 years.

The afternoon flows on and finally we have Zak's lab results which indicate hugely elevated muscle enzymes which may indicate trauma, heat stress or poisoning but nothing else to go
on. By now, Zak has also had a treatment in our hyperbaric chamber and his head tremors have stopped and he seems to be more responsive. I speak to his owner and offer her overnight hospitalisation or the option of taking him home. We're pleased that she'd prefer the latter - most of our clients are very responsible and adore their animals, they often elect to monitor their pets overnight and ring us if problems arise. I warn that he could start fitting again and dispense some meds just in case.

Pepe is discharged but wouldn't walk to his owner, he insisted on being carried. Moments before he'd been out for a walk with Louby and happily trotted along wagging his tail. We figured that Pepe would be milking his owners' sympathy for everything that he could.

I love being on call but tonight I'm overjoyed to give the responsibility to Karen and head off to my long-awaited massage at the home of my massage therapist. As I drive into her property, I see Abby the Labrador scooting her butt along the ground as a special greeting just for me - 'Yay vet, you're finally here, my butt needs your help!'. So I park, get out a rubber glove and some KY jelly, squeeze her full anal glands, wash up and finally lie down to my wonderful relaxing massage and restful evening.

Back at work the next day, our first patient in is Zak. After a sad day with Zen and the penguin yesterday, Louby is reluctant to come out of the staffroom dreading further issues with Zak. As Zak's owner pulls up into the car park I walk out to meet them expecting to need to carry Zak in but before I get to the car, Zak has jumped out and is running toward reception, eyes bright and tail wagging.

What an awesome start to the day! It's successes like this that make this job so worthwhile.

Best wishes for a fabulous festive season and prosperous 2014!


Ear infections are common and can cause severe pain and discomfort to your animal. Recognizing the symptoms early on and halting the progression of ear dis-ease is very important to help prevent serious long term problems.

Dogs and cats have an external ear comprised of relatively long ear canals which are made up of the outer vertical ear canal running downward to meet the horizontal ear canal which runs almost at right angles to the vertical ear canal. The external ear is separated from the middle ear by a fine membranous sheath known as the ear drum which connects to the delicate ear bones that are responsible for an animal's hearing.

Most commonly we see infections of the outer ear which may be identified by observing any of the following signs in animals; head shaking, tilting of their heads to one side, scratching at their ears, slight hearing loss or in severe cases animals can be lethargic and inappetent. On closer inspection the ear might be red and inflamed, and contain discharge which could be yellow pus, wax or black material and might have a putrid smell.

By visualizing the ear canal and ideally the ear drum with an ophthalmoscope, we can identify ear mites, foreign bodies such as grass seeds in the ear, protuberant growths, inflammation, infections or problems of the ear drum. Samples of ear content may be analyzed to confirm various bacterial infections.

There are a number of ear medications, both conventional and more natural, which have antibacterial properties and will easily drown ear mites. These are important to help get on top of the problem but from a Holistic point of view we look further than the bug and attempt to uncover why the body is out of balance and why the ear canal is a hospitable environment for infection which it shouldn't be in a healthy animal.

Various genetic factors will predispose certain breeds to problems; Labradors with hairs in their ear canals and spaniels who have long ears encourage a moist environment for bugs to prosper. In animals with long term ear problems, they might have thickened ear canals which cause narrowing of the ear canal space and subsequently are more likely to develop recurrent infections.

These animals need to have their ears regularly cleaned with a good ear cleaner (a simple solution is a 1% dilution of Hydrogen peroxide, but ensure that your animal's ear drum is intact with a visit to your vet). By instilling a generous amount into the ear and massaging the ear canal to ideally hear the "squish" noise that the liquid makes, debris will be loosened and most animals really enjoy the rub as it relieves their irritation immensely. Because of the great length of the ear canals, just wiping the visible outer ear simply doesn't do enough to keep ears clean.

In the greater scheme of things, the ears are simply an extension of the skin and as with skin problems, ear infections are generally easily prevented by keeping animals healthy with a natural raw food diet, that is free of chemicals and preservatives and provides optimal amounts of vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids, as well as basic management with the regular use of an ear cleaner in animals predisposed to problems.


Dr. Liza has been working with ARRC Wildlife Trust's awesome team to help address Tauranga's massive stray cat problem with their "Spay the Stray Cat Campaign". In just over a year they have helped more than 400 stray cats and along the way there have been some memorable moments and opportunities to have a good laugh. Dr. Liza shares some of these...

An elderly couple adopted a gorgeous cat from ARRC called Blossom. A couple of weeks later Sue, our ARRC co-ordinator, rang to enquire as to how Blossom was settling in. The couple were most concerned as the main part of their life for a number of years had been watching television and they found that Blossom was scared of the television. They then shared, much to ARRCs relief, that they now live with the TV off most of the time and their beloved Blossom is a well settled and happy cat!

A lady rang up very distressed about a cat that was hanging around her house. With further conversation Sue determined that the cat belonged to the lady's neighbour and advised that unfortunately ARRC was unable to help in this situation but made the helpful suggestion that she get a dog to discourage the cat from coming over. The lady was most satisfied with this advice.

A lovely couple adopted a young female cat and were delighted to have her since their old cat had recently died and they missed her terribly. Two weeks later they rang ARRC as they had a problem; their gorgeous new cat loved the company of their neighbour's cat and seemed to be spending a lot of time at the neighbour's house which they weren't happy about at all. They were keen to adopt a second young cat as soon as possible so that they could give her some cat company to entice her to stay home and they now have two delightful ARRC cats that stay home and give them plenty of entertainment and affection!

One day an elderly gentleman rang, having been referred to ARRC by several organisations. He was concerned about a stray cat that was under his bed that only seemed to be there at night when he was going to sleep. Sue asked a series of questions to determine if she was able to help and after ascertaining that the windows and doors to the bedroom were shut, none of the neighbours had a cat or had seen a stray cat and the gentleman had also never actually seen the cat (just thought it was there), they eventually came to the conclusion that perhaps it was his medication and that he should perhaps check in with his doctor!

A lovely handsome cat was brought to us by a kindly member of the public who had been feeding it for over a year as it had been left behind when the neighbours had moved, unfortunately a common scenario that we encounter. They thought that he was a girl and named him Tinkerbell but after a vet check all was revealed, we identified that she was a he and Tinkerbell was renamed Tinkerballs. After desexing his name needed adapting to Tinkerballess and was later changed to more dignified "Tinker".

It never ceases to amaze us how many kittens are brought in having never had human contact yet they are delighted and at ease being handled. Our very first kitten that helped us to launch our campaign with his presence on radio and in the newspaper was one such kitten that we named Felix. It was not long before he found a loving home setting us on track to get our campaign off to a great start.

Our work in Tauranga is ongoing but hopefully next breeding season will reflect a decrease in stray cats needing homes from the work that has been done. We are so grateful to the many wonderful businesses and people that have provided us with financial and other support and infinitely thankful to our wonderful cat / kitten fosters without whom this project would be impossible. Ultimately education about responsible pet ownership, as well as conservation and environmental sustainability is a huge key to help get to the root of this problem and is a main focus of our ARRC Kids Education Programme that is due to be launched in 2014.


Guidelines on How to Give Your Cat or Dog a Tablet

Dosing your dog or cat with tablets that may be needed to treat various health conditions is not always an easy task. In this months' newsletter Dr. Liza outlines some helpful strategies and guidelines...

It's always useful to hide the tablet in your pets' food but for pets that manage to "edit" the package and eat everything but the tablet or for tablets with a poor taste that may not be so easy to hide try the following which is especially useful for dogs:

1. Pick a tasty treat eg. Meat or cheese

2. Prepare 3 bite size pieces and feed the 1st piece untainted to lull your pet in, giving it a sense of security so that it doesn't think there's something suspicious going on

3. Then follow with the 2nd piece that has the tablet neatly hidden inside and quickly follow this with the 3rd piece. Most dogs and some cats will be focusing on the 3rd piece and gulp the 2nd piece (with the tablet) down without noticing

Another method is to dose the tablet directly:

1. Hold your cat around the top of its head with your middle finger and thumb at each corner of its mouth or for your dog hold both sides of their muzzle. Use your left hand if right handed and visa versa

2. Point their chin towards the sky and have someone hold their front legs and body if there may be any wriggling or scratching

3. Hold the tablet in your other hand between your thumb and index finger. Then using the middle finger of the same hand gently pull down on the bottom jaw to open their mouth

4. Once open, place the tablet at the back of the throat and give a quick push of the tablet down their throat with your index finger.

5. Then close their mouth and wait for them to swallow while still aiming the chin toward the sky and rub gently under the neck until it has swallowed. For stubborn pets holding a treat in front of their nose or dribbling a small amount of water into their mouth can encourage them to swallow

6. Reward them with affection or a food treat

If this fails try the following:

1. investing in a pill popper, a helpful little device that allows the dosing of the tablet

2. Crush the tablet and mix it into some tasty food

3. Crush the tablet and mix it into some butter, marmite or vegemite that you can smear on their coat and cats especially should lick it off as they groom themselves

4. Crush the tablet and dissolve it into water which can then be syringed in to their mouth


Years ago I worked part time at the SPCA in Rotorua and really loved working with the fabulous team and helping all sorts of lovely animals. Whilst I love working with our Holistic Vets clients who are generally incredibly intelligent and go to great lengths to look after their animals, in contrast some of the clients that I saw at the SPCA weren't as devoted to their animals. Additionally some of these people weren't overly intellectually endowed as illustrated by the following stories.

One day the SPCA had a phone call "My dog's been limping for a month, do you think he's got a broken leg?" Of course they were advised to bring the dog in promptly.

Munchy (a delightful labrador cross Sharpei) arrived, walking on 3 legs, with his owner, his wife and their little kid. They entered the consultation room and I went through a series of questions to get a better idea as to what the injury might be which made things really clear....... The collective IQ of this family was about three!

Munchy had a swollen ankle joint that grated when I manipulated it pointing to a previous dislocation or fracture. His owners couldn't afford X-rays and my chances of getting them to understand (a) the importance of resting him to let it heal and (b) how to rest him properly, were very slim!

I decided that the best that we could do for this doggy would be to put him in a cast which would hopefully allow some healing to take place by restricting the joint's movement. We placed him in a beautiful blue cast and sent him home with strict instructions that I wrote out in my best handwriting and explained them slowly and carefully to his owner. I asked that they please bring him back each week so that we could check to make sure that his cast was OK, not to let him run around outside and to return ASAP if the cast got wet or smelly.

So Munchy went on his way, well almost.... Just after he left, Munchy's owner quickly returned because he'd just remembered that he'd left his kid behind! Thank goodness he did remember as that's 1 kind of stray animal we didn't want to cater for!

Of course, 3 weeks later, Munchy returned for his first revisit! He had been left to run around outside in the wet for a last couple of weeks, his cast was smelly and he was chewing it indicating underlying irritation! This was of huge concern as an infection could be a massive problem and interfere with healing. We carefully removed the cast and despite a smelly skin infection, he was at least bearing some weight on the leg. At least the cast had helped his leg to heal and hopefully we made a small difference to this poor hounds' quality of life.

Some animals make it really clear that they're very happy to see the vet (which is always a boost to our egos!). Mischief (a gorgeous young fluffy male ginger cat) was placed on the examination table at the SPCA by his owner (who reeked of alcohol) and came up to me at great speed rubbing up against me as if to say "I'm so glad to see you, PLEASE help me?!"

Mischief's owner was concerned that he was vomiting up his food with fur in it occasionally. I examined him to find thick knots in his fur and a match in his coat, the fleas were winning 2 -nil!. OK seriously, this must have been the after party because the fleas were running around all over the show - there were heaps of them!

Because Mischief was being fed poor quality food (limiting his ability to maintain a healthy immune system and coat) and probably living in a flea infested environment, the fleas on his coat were running rampant and irritating him. He was grooming as best as he could (not enough to keep knots out of his coat) but ingesting a lot of fur and occasionally bringing it up.

I started to explain to his owner that Mischief would likely need a general anesthetic so that we could groom the knots out of his coat as most cats don't cooperate while awake and it can sometimes be very painful but I had my doubts as to whether we would get his owners' consent as it was clear that Mischiefs' owners had financial constraints and that he wasn't their first priority.

Mischief continued to rub up against my hand as if inviting me to help him. I got the hint and began trying to remove the knots from his coat... I was amazed at how beautifully he cooperated and purred as I removed 1 chunk after another and finally had him knot free as I explained to his owner how she could feed him better quality food, keep the fleas away and help to brush his coat to keep the knots out. It was really satisfying providing Mischief with so much relief and hopefully Mischief's owner paid more attention that Munchy's!


It never ceases to amaze me what fantastic changes take place when an animal begins to receive a well balanced, wholesome, natural diet with optimal amounts of nutrients. Older animals show a remarkable improvement in their general vitality and well-being while younger animals show improvements in these areas as well as pronounced positive changes in their temperament and overall tractability.

Sub-optimal nutrition is a huge factor undermining animals' sense of well-being and their ability to cope with stress, which is usually the underlying issue of many behavioral problems.

Unfortunately many commercial foods don't manage to achieve this. They are generally heavily processed destroying a significant amount of nutrients and, especially biscuit or crumble formulations, are very deficient in vital omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. In addition to this, they frequently contain additives to improve the taste of the food, which may not only be detrimental to long term health but also contribute greatly to an animals' poor behavior.

High concentrations of sugar (also listed as corn syrup or sucrose) and some artificial flavorings in certain foods have also been linked to behavioral abnormalities such as nervousness, hyperactivity, anxiety and aggressive behavior in children and pets.

It has been shown that optimal amounts of omega 3 fatty acids are of great assistance to children with ADD and to people who experience mood swings and this is true for animals as well. Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B's are especially helpful to support the nervous system and to moderate extreme behaviors. Tryptophan, an amino acid, helps to bring about the feeling of calmness and well-being; it can be a very useful aid in reducing dominance associated aggression.

As part of resolving behavioral disorders, we always address nutrition as an important first step in helping to take the edge off (and often alleviate!) behavioral disorders and anxiety. Other useful tools are Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence, calming herbs such as skull cap and valerian and therapies like NIS and homeopathy. Additional considerations of importance are guidance from an experienced animal behaviorist and aids such as toys.

All in all it can be challenging to treat behavioral problems but once the basics are applied, most animals can be well managed and quality of life restored for all involved!


In this months' newsletter Dr. Liza tells us about some of her entertaining encounters with the elderly...

Working with animals always allows for entertaining moments and sometimes the origin of these is from the animals' owner, many of whom are incredible people. Our elderly clients often amaze me with their approach to life, handling the challenges of old age gracefully and wearing a smile on their face despite their difficulties as well as their wonderful dedication to their animals.

One of these special people is Mavis who's 90 years old and requested a home visit to examine a young cat that had decided to make itself resident in her home (as they do!) and also to please tell her if it's a he or a she, although she had already named the cat Thomas.

Having concluded that her new very handsome long-haired white cat was a he, she was delighted as she would not have to reconsider his name, although she had thought that an adaptation to "Thomasina" would be a simple solution. I completed my examination pronouncing him to be in good health and Mavis asked if I was in a hurry to get away.

Thankfully she was my last call for the day and I had an inkling of an idea what was coming as she's a very kind lady so I said "no" to which she replied "good, then you'll stay for a cup of tea." At which point she opened her cupboard revealing a plate of buttered fruit cake slices awaiting our attendance.
Mavis lives alone and still manages to get around and keep a lovely home, she's pretty amazing but shared with me her frustration at no longer being able to attend to her garden and how annoying old age can be.

I empathized and told her about my amazing grandad Sonny, who used to play squash with me up until a few years ago, who says that "old age is mother nature's final insult!"

On a recent visit to see him he told me about his deteriorating eyesight... "Darling, if I look over at that man mowing the lawn without my glasses, I see 3 of him. This old age does have its advantages though.... When there's a pretty girl, I take off my glasses and there are 3 of her too"!

Another of our lovely elderly clients is Helga who has a gorgeous Persian cat called "Pugnacious". Pug was in desperate need of a groom as his coat was terribly matted and he was definitely hosting a vast family of fleas making him incredibly uncomfortable and agitated. He came in for a groom and after 40 minutes of heavy labour brushing out the excess hair there was a huge pile of fur that we later showed to Helga.

Helga was overjoyed with what we'd done to make Pug more comfortable and told me that she's going to tell her whole family about our services as most of them have pets and she has 39 grandchildren and great grandchildren - there are some fabulous perks to looking after our clients well!


As animals age, their ability to maintain health and vitality becomes limited and growing old gracefully can be a challenge! An older animal in the wild becomes slower, less able to hunt or graze, and keep up with their peers. Subsequently their condition deteriorates further and the natural cycle is that they do not survive for very long.

Keeping animals outside of their natural environment places the responsibility upon our shoulders to ensure that their care and maintenance is of a high enough standard to allow for quality of life.

A great contributing factor to the aging process is free-radical damage. Free radicals are produced by the body's natural metabolic processes through various chemical reactions or they might be introduced into the body as toxins from food or environmental sources.

The damage they cause to cells may be equated to the sparks that are thrown off a fire which eat away at the carpet in front of the fireplace. The cumulative result of this "wear and tear" is usually obvious later on in life as degenerative changes such as organ failures, joint damage, sensory losses of vision and hearing and the development of dis-ease such as cancer.

Anti-oxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, which are found in nutritious foods and in various nutritional supplements, act as free radical scavengers and help to limit the damage caused as well as help to aid in repair. It therefore follows that, in addition to tender loving care, a well balanced diet full of optimal amounts of nutrients with low levels of chemicals and preservatives is an incredibly valuable factor in maintaining your animal's quality of life and to support their immune systems, which are often compromised in older animals. Dental care is also of utmost importance to assist in nutrient availability, especially in our equine friends.

As the winter months roll in, older animals' circulation and their ability to thermoregulate and keep themselves warm may be limited. In addition to this, problems such as arthritis and incontinence are more obvious and animals are less inclined to move around stopping regular wear of their nails which can grow long enough to put strain on their nail beds or even grow inward into their pads which is extremely painful. Their decreased flexibility also makes it difficult for them to groom themselves, especially if they are obese, leading to knotted coats which are uncomfortable and also harbor parasites such as fleas.

Warm and comfortable bedding will go a long way to keeping them comfortable and regular, gentle exercise as well as massage will alleviate tension in their muscles. Some dogs and cats require their nails to be trimmed every six to eight weeks and their coats to be regularly brushed.

When it is no longer possible to preserve an animals' quality of life, it becomes necessary to consider euthanasia as it is the quality of their life rather than the quantity which is of utmost importance. This can be a difficult decision but is often a kind release from the pain and discomfort that some aged animals ultimately suffer from and I'm convinced that there's a special place for animals in heaven!


One of the therapies that I use on a regular basis NIS, Neurological Integration System which makes use of applied kinesiology and acupuncture meridian principles to rebalance the body often bringing about incredible improvements to health and well-being and allows for astounding results. Some of the animals that we treat show a dramatic improvement almost immediately like the gorgeous ragdoll cat that had come to us with a head tilt that she'd had for over a year. She hadn't responded to any medications and her local vets didn't know what else to do for her. After her 1st session of NIS, for the 1st time in a year she began to carry her head straight and was almost back to normal.

With some older and debilitated dogs they have such a marked improvement in their energy levels that their owners can't keep up with them and they jokingly ask if we can undo the good work that we've done to slow them down a bit!

We've also helped "Casper" the friendly goat who was attacked by a dog , Beryl the Feral cat (owned by a lovely Afrikaans couple who proudly announce in their rolling rrrrr accent that "Berrrryl the ferrral has arrrrrived) and a little mouse called Squirt who had been dropped and ever since had been unsettled and constantly breathed very rapidly with a little squeak. We treated Squirt with NIS (the littlest animal I have worked on besides for Jack the puppy who we found had a sore neck and made a remarkable recovery from being at death's door with "fading puppy syndrome") and as we progressed through his treatment his breathing slowed, the squeaking became less and he's been much better since, such a rewarding process!

Most animals just settle down and let us work on them and many an owner has been amazed at their cat or dog that usually won't sit still or let other people handle them just sit quietly and let us help them. Not so for young hyperactive Luka, a Labrador puppy who had developed eczema. Luka's lovely owners Pat, a tall, well built and burly man with deep voice and Maggie a petite and gentle lady wanted her to have a NIS session.

Maggie brought her in for treatment but Luka wouldn't sit still and we followed her around the consult room trying to treat her. She wouldn't listen to us asking her to sit and good old bribery with doggy treats only kept her still for a moment before she again became restless. We had a breakthrough thought and in a best attempt at a deep voice simulated Pat's command "Sit Luka", next thing Luka sat dead still and let us proceed without too much more distraction, it was most amusing!

Arnie, a huge New Foundland Dog would pace around the room but would finally sit or lie down if we offered him tasty doggy treats. After a while he was so good at sitting down for us that we forgot to offer him treats so he decided that a new strategy was needed and every few minutes he would intentionally get up to pace so that he could be given more treats!


There are a great variety of ailments that animals present with. These include infections, overuse injuries, traumatic wounds, metabolic conditions, degenerative diseases, allergies, autoimmune problems and poisonings.

For any condition there are a number of effective solutions that we make use of to relieve pain, combat infection, assist with inflammation and accelerate healing. Often for optimal healing, a variety of modalities, which complement each other, are employed to streamline the healing process and generally with complementary therapies they work by supporting and guiding the body back into a healthy and balanced state.

One of the tools that we employ is the Neurological Integration System, NIS, which is a highly effective, gentle way of re-establishing balance in the body and aids in the healing of many conditions.

NIS has been developed as a healthcare system (at the Neurolink centre) primarily for humans, taking into consideration acupuncture meridians, principles from other healing modalities and the body's inherent healing wisdom. It works on the premise that the body has a remarkable capacity to heal itself. When this healing ability is impeded and dis-ease is present, NIS views this as a failure of the body to recognise the problem and institute its incredible restorative capacity to self heal.

A useful analogy is to consider a light being switched on at the wall. If there is a break in the circuit between the light and the switch, then the light simply won't light up when the switch is flicked. But if the circuitry is functional, then with just one flick of the switch - "Hey Presto", there's light!

Similarly, if all of the body's circuits are functional, then the manifestation of dis-ease is not likely as all healing systems will be in place and working as they should to ensure the early recognition of any imbalance which will bring about restorative processes to ensure that health is maintained.

With a series of muscle tests, NIS identifies which of these circuits are malfunctioning and allows us some insight into establishing a reason behind the animal's discomfort.

We then proceed to integrate the circuits of the body and thereby re-establish their working capability. The body then works wonders in its efficient and elegant manner to relieve pain and to restore health.

A NIS session can take ten to forty minutes depending on the severity of the animal's illness. Animals usually relax during NIS and generally respond well after just one session. Results are sometimes immediate and occasionally miraculous but when you know what the magician knows, it's no longer magic!


I love being a vet, it's so wonderful to have the opportunity to help animals feel better and to give their owners peace of mind. Occasionally though it's not necessarily the most dignified job under the sun but definitely makes for amusing anecdotes.

One day I had a call from a client, she was concerned about her dog Rocky as he seemed sore and she wanted me to go out to her farm and have a look at him.

As I got out of my car heading to my boot to get my gear Rocky, a huge Rhodesian ridgeback, came up to greet me and nudged the side of his head into my hand - not the usual sniff of my pants and shoes that my patients generally do straight away since my pants tend to be the "doggy newspaper" with all the animals that I encounter through the day!

We went inside and he continued his head nudging and as I began to examine him it became clear that it was his ear that was bothering him. Some drops would sort them out but there was something more that was causing his discomfort and as I was pondering this he promptly began to drag his butt on the floor, a classic sign that his anal glands were likely to be uncomfortable... It's neat when I can understand what an animal is trying to tell me!

Anal glands usually deliver a small amount of fluid as a dog poops and provide a wealth of information to other dogs that sniff it. When the glands get blocked or infected the smell can be putrid! I explained to Rocky's owner that we should take him outside to express them as it can be quite a smelly procedure but he would feel greatly relieved afterwards.

I had my back to Rocky's owner who was keeping his front end occupied and my rubber gloved hand got to work. I'm usually cautious to catch the content in a swab but this time, before I knew it, I had squirted warm and stinky "anal gland juice" onto my face.

With relief I realized that Rocky's owner hadn't seen the mess that I'd made so I managed to maintain my dignified professional composure and quietly used the inside of my shirt to wipe the stuff off my face! I completed the job; Rocky was fine and obviously relieved to be done with the procedure. I quickly asked if I could go and wash my hands before we continued discussing Rocky's treatment.

I got to the bathroom of the farmhouse and BUGGER.... No mirror and no towel either! So I washed my face off as best as I could. "eau de anal gland cologne" fumes booming from my shirt and headed off to finish our consultation with a smile on my face.

We had a few things to discuss and then I said my goodbyes. Rocky's owner waved me on my way and said "Gosh, those anal glands are really smelly, it's still lingering in the air!" - little did she know that it was permeating from me!


Bugs such as bacteria and viruses as well as parasites such as fleas and worms are common in the lives of our animals and in fact, many of these unwanted residents live normally on or in the body's of our animals.

With any infection, there are two main factors allowing for progression. Firstly the susceptibility of the host (animal) and secondly the virulence (ability to cause disease) of the bug. Whilst there are some infections where the bug is extremely virulent, more commonly these days we see infections that arise from bugs which are common residents. This has a huge amount to do with the immune systems of our animals not coping as well as they should.

From a Holistic Viewpoint, the presence of an infection is the tip of the iceberg, underlying this is the big question of why is the body out of balance and not managing to maintain health so that it naturally repels bugs and parasites.

Stress of any kind will impair the body's ability to heal and limit an animal's general vitality. Limiting stress by avoiding stressful situations such as overcrowding or adverse weather conditions and making use of remedies such as Emergency Essence or Rescue Remedy will go a long way to supporting the immune system indirectly.

To allow for the body's inherent healing wisdom to function optimally and do what it does best (heal!), there are three main tiers from which it draws its resources. Firstly nutrition, providing the good fuel, secondly the healing mechanism must be running smoothly, and thirdly the presence of toxins will act as "spokes in the wheel" of healing. An analogy would be running a car; you may put in all the best fuel but if the engine is faulty or it is clogged up with waste then it won't run smoothly or go at all.

As always, good nutrition of as much raw, natural food as possible that is free of chemicals and preservatives as well as high in optimal amounts of nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants can make a huge difference to the body's ability to naturally combat infection.

Extra nutrients such as Vitamin C and Grapeseed extract are superb at helping to boost the body's defenses as well as mop up damage caused by free radicals (which cause cell damage) and thereby allow the body's resources to be freed up to support healing and maintain health. Intra-venous vitamin C, used by your vet can work wonders to assist in severe infection.

Herbs such as Golden Seal and Garlic have superb anti-microbial properties and Echinacea used as a preventative aid for a week or two at a time can work wonders to help ward off infections.

Homeopathy is also a wonderful tool and is best used under the guidance of a qualified homeopath for an individual's specific requirements. However, complex formulations can be easily applied in high risk situations such as in catteries or kennels to assist in preventing infection.

Therapies such as Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, NIS, Bowen Therapy, Acupuncture, Massage and many more can also be very supportive tools to assist the body's natural defenses.

All in all, and as usual, by respecting natural principles, infections may be easily prevented and resolved adding quality of life and increasing longevity.


Simba, a 1 month old male Shin Tzu pup, had a large mass on the side of his abdomen that had suddenly appeared and grown significantly over a three day period. The next day he had radical surgery to remove the growth which was then identified as a fibrosarcoma, a very aggressive cancerous growth.

Simba was given a poor prognosis but his owner was determined to try whatever we could to help him given that he had made such a wonderful recovery from his big surgery and he was a lovely dog.

We treated Simba with a number of complementary therapies: NIS (Neurological Integration System to support his immune system and vitality), neutraceuticals (Grapeseed Extract, Transfer Factor, Anti-Oxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B17) and herbs (Curcumin, Astragalus) to help prevent regrowth of the tumour. For 7 months it all worked beautifully and there was no further growth of the tumour and at 8 months of age he was in excellent health. He was bigger and stronger than the other pups in his litter, so much so that he was becoming slightly aggressive towards the dogs that he was living with and his owners decided that it was time to neuter him.

Hi neuter surgery went well but within a month of the operation the tumour began to regrow and Simba's owner had decided not to intervene with another big surgery but to simply let him live out the rest of his life as long as he had quality.

Simba handled the tumour growth incredibly well but it was getting so big that it was causing his hip to dislocate and he couldn't bear weight properly on his left back leg. Despite this he was bright and happy and still ran around playing with the other dogs at home making it difficult for his owner to make the decision to put him to sleep.

His owner then decided to proceed with another surgery to remove the tumour. At the time of surgery the tumour weighed 900 grams (Simba weighed 8 kg)! We worked carefully and thoroughly to remove as much of the tumour as possible but knew that it would be impossible to get it all out.

Because of the high risk of the tumour regrowing after surgery we used extra therapies like Bicarbonate treatment and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). The high concentration of oxygen delivered to his tissues with HBOT assisted with his recovery and possibly helped to kill remaining cancer cells.

Simba made a great recovery. He is now nearly 4 and a half years old, showing no sign of tumour regrowth and living a happy life.


My name is Monty and I was born the most adorable dog in the world. I love everybody and everything. Anyone who pays me some attention becomes my new friend. I whimper at other dogs when we are out walking as I want them to stay and play and try to make friends with cats but they run away from me. I don't understand why.

I came to live in the Bay of Plenty when I was 9 months old. I am a Lhasa Apso/ Tibetan terrier cross. My new Mum and Dad saw me on Trade Me and fell in love.

The first night we arrived in Papamoa I settled down in my bed and started scratching and scratching and scratching. I couldn't sleep because I scratched all the time. I licked my feet a lot too and kept my new parents awake an awful lot. My Mum took me to the Vet which began a weekly process while he tried all sorts of things to make me better. He thought I may have an allergy to something like kikuyu grass but nothing seemed to help. I had a cortisone injection and lots of antibiotics and the vet found I had a very bad ear infection. He thought I had had it since I was a very young puppy as my ear canal was thickened and not nice and soft and pink like
most puppies are.

My Mum and Dad took me back & forwards to the Vet for several months and my Mum was getting very worried about all the medication I was having and what to do as nothing he tried seemed to help. Eventually the Vet suggested that Mum and Dad take me to a skin specialist in Hamilton.

My Mum went home very sad and tired (from my scratching all the time). She cried a little bit as she loved me so much but was worried that Dad and she wouldn't be able to keep me if my health was going to be so expensive. Dad said why don't you give Liza Schneider a ring at Holistic Vets and see if she can help. So that is how we ended up at Holistic Vets.

The first time we drove up to Holistic Vets I just thought it a very cool place. I bounded in the door to be met by Louby who made such a fuss of me. She gave me a treat too.

Then I decided to visit Lisa the other vet (she didn't know I was going to bound into her office) and she was just lovely too - she gave me a treat as well. I decided this was a very awesome place to visit where everyone pats you and makes such a fuss. At that moment Liza came out and well I thought she was too nice looking to be a vet. Liza even has the same coloured eyes as me. She called me "Mr Monty" and that made me puff my chest out. Fancy being called Mr before I am fully grown!

Liza told Mum to throw out any commercial dog food and to put me on a raw diet of chicken and fish and lots of vegetables. She gave me a multivitamin and vitamin C. She also made me up some homeopathic drops to help my itching and more advice on what I should eat. The result of our visit was truly amazing how quickly I started getting better.

Liza was so kind and checked on me every few weeks and each time I was even healthier than the time before. She said I wouldn't fully recover until my ear infection had gone and sure enough it eventually cleared up and I am now fit as a fiddle. My doggy friends at the park can't believe how much energy I have and I can run really, really fast. I wear all my friends out.

A lady at the Park came up to my Mum and said I was the most sociable dog she had every met. That is because I am so happy now. All my short life I have had itching and ear ache and now I feel so well.

I can't thank my friends at Holistic Vets enough. I love them all and so enjoy going to see them. I love Liza the most but one small thing - I do wish she would keep her fingers out of my butt!

A big thank you to you all
Love & hugs
Monty (Mr)
Xxxxxxxx


Adventure and fun might sometimes not turn out as one expects, which was found by friendly and exuberant Fubu, a gorgeous young American Bulldog.

Fubu loves everyone but especially loves chasing possums. After a chase, having just caught her possum, Fubu impacted at high speed into a bank which left her unconscious and paralysed.

The severe trauma of impact had damaged Fubu's brain and spinal cord and it took her two days to regain full consciousness. She lay on her side, in critical condition and unresponsive besides for her occasional wide eyed and helpless wondering at what was happening around her.

As part of an overall treatment plan, Fubu underwent several sessions of HBOT (Hyperbaruc Oxygen Therapy) on consecutive days. The high concentration of oxygen available to her body had profound antiinflammatory effects on her spinal cord allowing for accelerated healing. In addition to this, HBOT helped to instil a generalised feeling of well being.

After her first session Fubu delighted us by lifting her head, then went home and was interested in eating for the first time since her accident! Three sessions later she wagged her tail for the first time and after a week she could again stand with the help of her extremely dedicated owner who created her a trolley with wheels to support her so that she could move around! The activity helped to strengthen her muscles and after a few weeks she was able to stand and walk a bit on her own.

3 months later, Fubu was able to run around with only a minor loss of movement of her one front leg. She continued to make steady progress and has been living a wonderful life, running around with no sign of remaining problems and hopefully she's being a bit more cautious chasing possums!!!


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been used in human medicine since the beginning of the 20th century. Based on sound scientific principles, it is now an accepted treatment modality, for several conditions including non-healing wounds, compromised skin grafts, infections, gas gangrene, traumatic injury, certain poisonings and burns. We are very pleased to offer this incredible healing aid, which promotes health and well-being in a stress free manner for our furry friends.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) basically means giving oxygen under pressure. This allows for a far greater amount of oxygen to be available to tissues in the body. Oxygen at optimal levels has profound anti-inflammatory effects; it helps to rid the body of infection both directly by killing certain bugs and indirectly by supporting the immune system and assists to accelerate healing, often dramatically!

Normally oxygen is carried by the red blood cells in the blood stream and at any given time in a normal human or animal breathing air (which has 21 % oxygen), approximately 96% of red blood cells are saturated with (carrying) oxygen. When breathing 100% pure oxygen instead of air, all red blood cells carry oxygen and deliver it to cells within reach of circulating blood vessels.

Under pressure in the chamber, like divers submerging under water, oxygen dissolves into all of the body fluid and tissues. This means that it is no longer dependent on the blood vessels and red blood cells for delivery and can easily reach important areas such as injury sites and the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to which oxygen delivery might be compromised in an injured or diseased human or animal. The principle is the same as the bubbles in a fizzy drink which are dissolved when the bottle is closed under pressure but fizz out once the pressure is released when the bottle is opened.

HBOT allows for an increase of 12 - 15 times the normal oxygen concentration in the body. This promotes natural healing and recovery and is commonly used to assist in the following conditions as well as many others:

• Severe skin and tissue damage
• Fracture healing
• Major systemic or local infections
• Intervertebral disc herniation
• Inflammatory conditions such as pancreatitis
• Nerve damage
• Athletic injury
• Post surgical swelling and recovery
• Organ dysfunction and failure such as liver disease and kidney failure

HBOT may be used in adjunct to most other veterinary or alternative treatment. Only animals who have certain kinds of ear, sinus or lung problems or are critically ill may not be able to be treated.

During HBOT the animal simply sits or lies down and relaxes in the chamber breathing pure oxygen while the chamber is pressurised. A treatment session lasts 1 to 2 hours and animals tolerate it well and typically respond beautifully to as little as 1 to 5 treatment sessions depending on their individual needs.


Cody, a lovely Newfoundland, had ongoing issues with his skin for years. He suffered from a condition called atopy as well as recurrent fungal infections that caused him to be consistently itchy making him scratch, chew his paws and have sore ears.

The only way his symptoms were made bearable was by dosing him with steroids, to suppress the itch, and anti-biotics as well as anti-fungals but he'd come to a point that even with these on board he was still itchy, smelly and uncomfortable.

When I first examined Cody, I found that his coat was dry and his skin had flakes making it look like he had dandruff. He also had a very musty smell to his coat which is often present with persistent fungal infections and also a thick mucous discharge in the corners of his eyes indicating a low grade ongoing inflammation. In addition to this I noticed that when he walked he was quite stiff and he had a lack of muscle mass, especially along his lower spine and back legs. This is common in dogs with back issues.

From a holistic point of view we recognise that the presence of an infection represents an imbalance in the body. When we rebalance the body and boost the immune system, getting to the root of the problem, we often get resolution of the problem and end up with dogs that smell much better, are no longer itchy and are a lot happier.

Next I addressed Cody's diet, which is a crucial key in helping to manage and resolve itchy skin conditions. I was very impressed with the well balanced homemade diet that Cody was being fed by his owner, Eileen. It included meat, bones, vegetables and a variety of important supplements such as MSM and glucosamine to support his joints as well as fish oil. Good quality fish oil supplements are free of heavy metal contaminants and contain high concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3's are very important for health and well being; they help to support joints, give the skin and coat an extra barrier of protection, boost the immune system and they also have natural anti-inflammatory properties.

The prednisone (a type of steroid) that vets may use to try and manage dogs with itchy skin has some negative effects, one of which is suppression of the immune system. When used long term, it can make it more difficult for us to help the body to rebalance and to heal itself naturally. Since Cody had been on these drugs for years, I warned Eileen that it may take a while before we made significant headway with Cody's skin issues (usually we see results for most dogs within 2 to 4 weeks).

For Cody we devised a treatment plan using a therapy called NIS (Neurological Integration system) to help boost his immune system and get his body to naturally rebalance and to stop his infection. We also put him onto a herbal / homeopathic tonic to help his joints and detoxify his body. The presence of toxins act as "spokes in the wheel" of healing. An analogy would be running a car; you may put in all the best fuel but if the engine is clogged up with waste then it won't run smoothly or go at all.

We also made some adjustments to Cody's diet to exclude grains and red meats, as these can sometimes aggravate skin conditions, added in a multivitamin as well as anti-oxidants to help combat damage by free radicals (which often compromise the immune sytem and may cause damage to joints and other tissues in the body) and increased the amount of probiotics in his diet to help restore the "good bugs" in his body that are instrumental in assisting the body to combat infection.

Cody revisited 3 weeks later, he had hardly been scratching or chewing at his paws at all and was so much happier in himself. When I examined him I was delighted to find that his eyes were brighter and no longer had the thick mucous in the corners, his coat was a lot less
flaky and he smelled almost normal, indicating that we were making good progress with his skin but his movement was still stiff. We repeated the NIS treatment and this time paid closer attention to his spine and hind legs.

After this treatment, Cody's movement improved and he was able to walk around smoothly with much less discomfort. Over the following months, he continued to make good progress. Although he occasionally has mild relapses, Eileen manages to keep his symptoms under control and recently reported that "his coat looks fabulous and he now trots around like a sprightly youngster with attitude".

Itchy skin conditions can be extremely frustrating for pets, their owners and their vets. Although some dogs may need drugs such as steroids or anti-histamines to manage a serious itchy skin condition, there are many options available to help get to the root of the problem and reduce or eliminate the need for these drugs but to help ensure a successful outcome, the sooner these are applied, the better.


One of the major foundations of health is a healthy oral cavity. This is the place where nourishing the body begins as food is taken in and begins to be broken down and digested making valuable nutrients available.

In our modern world, dental disease is one of the biggest dis-eases affecting our furry friends. Sore teeth and gums are not only uncomfortable but set up a cascade of events that lead to further deterioration of our pets' health.

With improper dental hygiene, excessive amounts of unhealthy types of bacteria accumulate in the mouth, attaching to tooth surfaces which leads to the formation of dental calculus or tartar. These provide a greater surface area for more bacteria to accumulate in ever deepening pockets where toxins are produced and more bacteria multiply leading to gum inflammation or gingivitis and is usually the origin of putrid smelling breath.

Bacteria then have the potential to enter the bloodstream and to lodge in major organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver leading to organ failure or systemic infections. In its attempt to prevent this from happening, the body launches its next line of immune defense.

The constant battle between the body's immune system and these invading bacteria drains the body of important resources and the inflammatory cycle that is set up causes the production of free radicals which act like hot cinders flying off a home fire into the surrounding carpet do and cause cellular damage. Together with the local tissue destruction, this cumulative damage, over time can contribute to systemic degenerative diseases such as cancer and auto-immune disease.

There are many commercial foods, chew toys and even pet toothpastes and toothbrushes advertising their essential contribution to your pet's health. But despite this, dental disease still proliferates and often painful and diseased teeth need to be extracted and vets routinely do tooth scaling and polishing under anesthetic to help maintain a healthy oral cavity.

Common signs of dental disease include bad breath, red gums, the avoidance of harder foods, repetitive lip licking, drooling and sometimes weight loss, increased drinking and lethargy.

Dogs and cats have sharp triangular teeth and jaws designed for cutting, dicing and crushing, not for chewing as herbivores such as horses and ruminants that have large flat teeth with jaws that grind from side to side do.

When our pets are fed a healthy well balanced diet containing fresh raw meat and raw bones from a young age, as Mother Nature intended, dental disease is rare and generally only occurs in the form of broken teeth due to trauma.

With a well balanced diet the body will have a normal pH and the right nutrients available to ensure that minerals in saliva are available to maintain and repair teeth and that the mouth environment is inhospitable for the proliferation of pathological (disease causing) bacteria.

Good dental care, which includes care of your whole animal will add many quality years to your pet's life and is an investment which is well worthwhile. It's never too late to start!


Wildlife rehabilitation in New Zealand revolves mainly around birds since we have very few native mammal and reptile species.

Different species tend to be prone to certain problems for example, kingfishers, hawks and moreporks (a little owl) tend to come in with wing fractures, seagulls and shags often get fishing line wrapped around them or hooks stuck in their beaks and ducks and geese are more prone to diseases like botulism, where stagnant water has a certain bacteria that produces a toxin and causes birds to become paralyzed.

It can be very frustrating working with wildlife, especially birds, as many of them die so easily despite our best efforts but when they recover and are able to be released back into the wild it is extremely rewarding.

A while ago we had a gorgeous morepork brought in who was caught on a barbed wire fence. When I examined him he was very weak, he couldn't stand or lift his neck up; it would just hang. We made him a special neck brace and a tripod-like contraption to help support him and force fed him with a syringe.

After a few days he was managing to stand on his own but still couldn't lift his head at all. We couldn't find any abnormalities so concluded that his neck muscles needed strengthening, which would take time but we dosed him with various homeopathics and grapeseed extract to hasten his recovery.

A few days after that he was moved to an aviary and was seen proudly holding his head up for longer and longer periods at a time. He really enjoyed plowing into the mice that he was fed, which was excellent exercise for his neck! Not long after that he was released back into the wild.

We have a pest control company who provides us with rodents that they've trapped to feed to our birds of prey and there's also one of our volunteers Ellen's cat, "Mrs Boo", who brings in whole mice that she's caught and takes them to Ellen as if she knows we need them!

Many of New Zealand's domestic cats are a great threat to our native birds as they prey on them but "Mrs Boo" is an example to all cats as she catches only pest species like mice and donates them to our cause!

There's also Elmo, a cat belonging to some of our clients who have a lovely dairy farm up in the Kaimais (mountains near Tauranga). Elmo is also a great example of a "native bird friendly cat" as he only stalks fluff balls and dead leaves!

A frequent problem that we encounter is birds that have flown into a window and have been stunned. If the bird has no obvious injuries, we advise leaving it in a dark box for a few hours to recuperate and it can then be released.

Apparently one day, one of our volunteers gently opened a box in which there was such a bird. Very quietly and carefully she reached into the box, gently picked the bird up and then threw it up into the air to give it a head start flying. She was devastated when the bird reached maximum height and then plummeted back down to earth........it was no longer alive!

Another bird brought in for care by the Department of Conservation was a Kingfisher. He had an injured wing and a warning label on his box with his newly acquired name "Mr Grumpy" - most appropriate given his knack of biting at people's fingers with his sharp beak through the breathing holes in his box! He went on to make an excellent recovery and is hopefully a whole lot less grumpy winging his way somewhere out there.

And, while I'm on the topic of birds, one of the many perks of being a vet is that our patients generally don't talk back, however, a vet friend of mine told me once of a parrot that she treated; as she turned around after examining the bird she heard it say "bugger off"!


Some pets travel very well while others may be anxious, scared and even car sick. Here are a few tips to consider to help make travelling a pleasant experience for you and your pet.

Car Sick or Destination Sick?
Some cases of "car sickness" are actually anxiety about the destination. If your pet only gets in the car to go to the vet or the groomer (or any other destinations that they may dislike or find stressful), the solution may be as simple as taking short trips to places that they enjoy visiting; or taking a short drive and returning home to treats and cuddles. If your pet is scared at the vet clinic, take them in occasionally just for pats and treats to help them associate it with a good experience. Most vet clinics are delighted to have the opportunity to create a pleasant experience for your pet.

Timid or Tourist?
Some animals enjoy the security of an enclosed place during travel and seem much less stressed if they're confined to a crate or carrier. Others like to look around and enjoy the scenery - harnesses that connect to the seat belt in your car are great for this. You may have to experiment to see what your pet prefers.

If you do use a carrier, it's often helpful to have a familiar soft toy or blanket in with your pet. Avoid putting food or water in a carrier when travelling; rather provide these on stops or arrival at the destination.

Your pet should never be unrestrained in a moving vehicle. Even a minor accident can cause serious damage to a pet-turned-projectile.

How Calm are You?
If you're stressed, you may be inadvertently transferring your stress to your pet. Pets often pick up on their owners' underlying stress.

Is Your Pet Healthy?
Hormonal or biochemical imbalances (like adrenal or thyroid disease) can affect your pet's ability to deal with stress. Minor chiropractic sub-luxations can also contribute to motion-sickness or uneasiness. Additionally, they can make it painful to make the subtle posture shifts needed to maintain balance in a moving vehicle. This would be a major consideration in a pet that used to travel well and has become anxious over time. A thorough check up at least once a year can be very helpful to identify any of these underlying issues.

Tried and Trusted
Ginger: very effective at settling a queasy tummy. Give a small amount of ginger, either fresh ground root or extract, about 30 minutes before travelling.

Lavender: the scent of lavender is very calming to pets. Put a few drops of lavender essential oil on a cloth or cotton ball near your pet about an hour before travel. Also put a little lavender in the car about 20 minutes before travel. Remember that your pet's nose is much more sensitive than yours, so a little goes a long way. If you can barely smell it, that's about the right strength for your pet.

Rescue Remedy/Emergency Essence: These are very handy for any kind of stress, trauma or anxiety. 4 drops in their mouth or even rubbed on their coat can be used every half hour or even every few minutes as needed to help calm them down.... These remedies are of great use for stressed people too!

Cocculus: If your pet truly suffers from motion sickness, homeopathic Cocculus 30c, given 15 minutes before travel may really help. If your trip is longer than an hour, take some along to give hourly, if needed.

DAP (Dog appeasing Pheromone) and Feliway: Pheromones are natural chemicals produced by dogs and cats. They have proven chemical effects on animal behavior and assist with anxiety and stress problems.

Sedation: In some cases, especially for long distance travel, some animals may require tranquilizers to help them to travel more comfortably but in many cases addressing the basics above helps to make all the difference.


I've just returned from a wonderful holiday in South Africa to see my family and friends and also to enjoy the beautiful land with its incredible diversity of wildlife and rich landscape.

I was very fortunate to pay a visit to one of the many exquisite game reserves and was delighted to see the amazing wildlife. There were elephants, giraffes, many hippos, baby crocodiles, turtles, a little tortoise crossing the road, monkeys, zebra, buck such as impala, springbuck, kudu, waterbuck a vast array of birds and so much more.

I love natural wilderness and especially the African Bush, it's a very special place to be. Very well put by J. Livingstone "Not a recollection of the mind, but a tingling, prickling participatory kindling of the flesh. For a precious instant I have rejoined. For one moment of arrested infinity, my human alienation dissolves. I am home and when I feel it I recognize it instantly. I recognize also, with terrible sadness, that I had forgotten to miss it".

It's been over a year since I've had a holiday and I'm so pleased to be feeling refreshed and ready to be back at work doing what I love, helping animals. This has all been made possible by the arrival of our fabulous new vet at Holistic Vets, Lisa (!!!).

Two years ago, after growing Holistic Vets from a little mobile service out of the boot of my car into a vet clinic, I employed another vet to help me because running a vet clinic alone vetting in New Zealand can be pretty intense as we have to provide 24 hour emergency care for our patients. I was so excited, with another vet on board, it enabled me to have my first official day off and I spent it with my mom who was visiting from South Africa, without my cell phone!

We were walking on our magnificent beach at the base of Mount Maunganui when a couple of kids called to us to go and have a look at the penguin in the rock pool. It was a little blue penguin, a species which we see relatively commonly at the vet clinic for wildlife rehabilitation, and I was overjoyed to be appreciating it in its natural environment.

As we watched him in the water I observed that he was swimming around in circles and when I looked a little more closely I noticed that his head was tilted to the side, both indicators that he was likely suffering from some degree of brain damage. And so on my first day off, I caught the penguin, walked to the car and took it with my Mom to the vet clinic for treatment.

Many years ago I arrived back in New Zealand from yet another trip to South Africa. It was a late Friday night and the weather was a bit colder than when I had left a couple of weeks before. That night trying to fall asleep I noticed (thanks to the colder air), the noise of the trains nearby to where I lived.

Saturday was a day for sleeping late and getting organized - shopping, sorting out the house and picking up the dogs from the kennels where they stayed.

On Saturday night I made a few phonecalls to let some people know that I was back in town. I spoke to the vet at the after hours vet clinic, where I loved to do the occasional shift, to find out about any work available over the weeks ahead. He told me that he had needed my help earlier on in the week as his Mom was quite ill. Anyway she was still ill and of course I said that if he needed to leave work suddenly, I'd fill in for him...

As the Powers that Be would have it, 20 minutes later I got the phone call to say that his Mom was ailing badly and he needed me to cover for him so that he could leave work. So off I went, jet-lag and all to do what I love, help the furry creatures!

I had a busy night with quite a few serious cases and I got to bed at 3a.m.. At 7a.m. the next morning I woke from a deep sleep hearing bells and hooters. Unworriedly I rolled over and went back into a deep sleep; in my drowsy state I assumed that I was back at home and that the train was coming past. But the noise kept up and gradually it dawned on me that I was at the vet clinic and someone was trying desperately to get my attention.

At that realization I jumped out of bed and raced downstairs. A chap had just run his german shepherd over and she was in critical condition - collapsed, pale, blood coming out of her nose (from the sound of her lungs it was clear that he'd driven over her chest). Situations such as these require quick action; I placed a drip and gave a host of drugs to help her to stabilize.

Bit by bit, hour by hour as her odds of survival changed from 10% to 90% she become a bit perkier and was breathing more comfortably. By the time I left to go home at lunchtime she was even wagging her tail. Her owner, a young guy who had just left home to live alone and had been at her side since he'd run her over just shook his head, grateful that she was alive, saying "I hate it when parents are right, they keep telling me to back out of the drive more slowly!"


An itchy animal will scratch or chew at themselves causing inflammation, leading to a further itch which often progresses to infection and a vicious cycle is established. Conventional medicine then makes use of antibiotics to control the infection and cortisone or antihistamines to suppress the itch as a means of breaking this cycle. The prevention of this scenario is our ultimate goal and to achieve this, we need to address the underlying issues.

Animals have an itch threshold, basically a line drawn at a certain level which is different for each individual depending on their genetic make-up. There are five main factors which play a role in causing animals to itch. These are diet, stress, fleas, environmental factors and irritation from waxy ears, sore teeth, full anal glands, etc. Other contributors can include hormone imbalances, mites, worms and infections. As a practical first line of defence we focus on managing the main contributing factors so that the itch threshold is not reached.

Nutrition plays a major part. Poor quality food, artificial preservatives, allergies to specific proteins and lack of essential fats, vitamins and minerals can all play a role in contributing to the itch. Generally we recommend a natural, raw food diet diet together with the addition of optimal amounts of vitamins, anti-oxidants, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids (natural anti-inflammatories) found in high concentrations in flax oil and cold water fish. Sometimes it is necessary to design a special diet to address specific issues.

Stress weakens the immune system and lowers the body's itch threshold. In cats we commonly see itchy skin problems and establish in the history that there is a new tomcat in the area bullying the cat. Stress can also be due to other factors such as a much loved owner going away, a new baby in the house or even a fellow companion no longer being present. Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence are wonderful remedies to help animals cope with stress.

Fleas (and other parasites such as sarcoptic mange) can contribute greatly to an itch, either a few fleas or even the saliva from just one fleabite ("Freddie the flea" could be hiding somehwere in the house, jump onto your pet for a quick snack and then jump back off leaving many owners sure that fleas don't play a role) might cause an itch to last for a couple of weeks.

Environmental factors can be difficult to isolate or control for example wandering jew, a plant to which many dogs react with a violent itch. Pollens may also be a primary factor and homeopathics may be used to help manage symptoms. Also, many dogs love playing in the sea but the salty water can cause them to be itchy, it is therefore a good idea to always hose them down with fresh water afterwards. Various shampoos can also create an itch while others are wonderful at helping to soothe irritated skin. It is important to be aware of these factors that may play a role and limit exposure where possible.

There are many options available to help a chronically itchy animal, but for long-term success, much time, effort and patience are often necessary. A visit to your vet will help to eliminate other causes of irritation and help you to devise a good management strategy to keep your pet's tail wagging!


Christmas day was very busy - cats don't seem to believe in a peaceful festive season so many abscesses and bruised kitties from cat fights plus the occasional 1 getting hit by a car but thank goodness no major casualties. That night a little west highland terrier called "Jock" was rushed in by his very concerned owners as he had helped himself to some meat off the barbecue and had a bone stuck in his throat. He was choking and about to pass out.

I had just finished unblocking a cats bladder (they get crystals in their urine which blocks up the urethra stopping urine escaping from the bladder and if they don't get help they can die) and rushed out into the consulting room to find a gasping Jock.

We quickly anaesthetized him and cleared his airway of all the saliva then passed a tube down his airway to keep it open. I couldn't feel any bone at the back of his throat so next was to pass a tube down his oesophagus and make sure the bone had gotten to his stomach. No such luck... it was stuck just before his stomach in the region of his diaphragm and I couldn't push it through.

The bone had to come out, otherwise the blockage could cause major problems and the only way we were going to get to it was to do surgery. We put Jock under anesthetic and I cut through Jocks stomach so that I could reach upward to his oesophagus and grab the bone but I battled to retrieve it, it was jagged and firmly lodged. Eventually I used a fabulous instrument called and "Alice Tissue Forceps" and after a good while of struggling and a few unmentionable words passing between my lips, we finally had the bone out of Jock.

Next was to sew up and make sure that abdomen was clean but I was very worried. how much trauma was done to the oesophagus (which doesn't heal too well), was the abdomen clean enough as any spillage of the gut content could cause major infection? Jock's owners, being the fantastic dog owners that they are, wanted the very best for Jock and so at 2a.m. on Boxing day I managed to arrange a session of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy which kills any bugs and gives his body the best possible chance of healing at a much greater rate. Have a look at www.holisticvets.co.nz for more info.

We returned to the clinic at about 3:30a.m., Jock was looking good (he was alive and perky!) so into a cage he went to sleep off his rough night while I unblocked another cat that had come in just before we left!

By the time I had finished up and gone to check on Jock he had chewed up his water bowl as well as the drip line going into his arm, he wanted to go home where he sleeps on a bed, what's with this cage story?!

Jock went on to make an incredible recovery and has never had such a stressful Christmas day since!

New year's day was busy as well. That night I was just about to doze off at 12a.m. when the phone rang. I picked up and a Chinese chap who couldn't speak very much English said "dog eat tablets, now cutting corner, must bring to vet". I proceeded to explain where the clinic was to which he replied that he didn't know where we or the motorway were but he'd get a taxi.

And so I again attempted to doze off but soon enough I had a call from the taxi driver, an Indian chap who couldn't speak much English either, to get our address.

Some 40 minutes later I was presented with a 4 month old Chihuahua who had an increased temperature, dilated pupils but was very bright although as soon as I put him on the floor he would run around unstoppably in circles!

I was a bit baffled at which time the owner pulled out a packet of "Clarinase", a decongestant containing pseudoephedrine (which has a similar effect as adrenalin on the body), and he said that he thought that the dog had eaten 3 tablets - enough to get an adult human a bit hyperactive and this was a 4kg Chihuahua!!!

I had the answer but no matter what I used to calm him down (being careful not to put strain on his already stressed heart). valium, other drugs and rescue remedy, nothing worked. I eventually decided to put him in a well padded cat carry cage and let it work its way out of his system while I got some sleep!

The next morning he was still at it but a bit slowed down and that afternoon he was a lot better and we sent him home hopefully never to return with a drug overdose!!!


Fleas can be extremely harmful parasites. Not only do they cause a tremendous amount of irritation to their hosts but they are also responsible for flea allergy dermatitis, the transmission of other parasites such as tapeworm and Haemobartonella (outside of New Zealand, there are a number of other parasites they transmit) and they are capable of infesting young animals so severely that the amount of blood which they suck leaves these animals anemic.

Fleas have evolved with their hosts for thousands and thousands of years and as with all parasites, it is virtually impossible to completely eradicate them. However, in any given population of animals, some individuals will have a greater flea burden than others indicating that some animals have qualities that make them less hospitable to these parasites. Some of these tendencies are genetic but an excessive flea burden is often an indication that an animal has a weakened immune system.

A healthy animal in a healthy and suitable environment (some breeds are not suited to the hot and humid climates in which they live) is unlikely to have an excessive parasite burden. From a Holistic point of view we question why the fleas are present on a specific individual and endeavor to re-establish balance so that natural harmony is restored and there isn't an overpopulation of fleas.

There are a number of ways to reduce flea numbers. Firstly supporting your pet's immune system with good nutrition will go a long way to making them less tasty to fleas. Vitamin B's and garlic in particular are wonderful aids but be cautious with garlic as it can be toxic in excess to dogs and cats. Various herbs, essential oils, diatomaceous earth and a citrus wash can be used externally as flea repellants and regular flea combing will help to monitor flea numbers and reduce them further.

Sometimes these gentle methods are not enough to deter fleas and the animal may benefit from other supportive therapies or might need the assistance of stronger commercial products which are exceptionally effective at killing fleas and have their place helping to preserve the quality of life of our pets. Some of these products are more toxic than others so use your discretion and seek your vet's advice with which one to use.

Typically the number of fleas on any dog or cat is only the tip of the ice berg reflecting a much greater flea population in the animal's environment of both adult and immature fleas. Therefore addressing the environment is a very important component of flea control.

Cedar, eucalyptus or pennyroyal oils on dogs' bedding may be used to deter fleas but are toxic if ingested. Immature fleas can be destroyed by regularly hanging pet bedding out in the sunshine, thoroughly vacuuming carpets on a regular basis and sprinkling them with borax or diatomaceous earth afterwards.

By using a holistic approach to manage both animals and their environment, and by respecting natural principles, animals can be kept flea free and healthy.


My cell phone rings at 6.47am and I race out of bed to hear one of our clients on the other end of the line very concerned about her nine-year-old staffie Zak who doesn't seem to be able to stand up on his back legs and has been panting for the last hour. I arrange to meet her at the clinic in 20-minutes, already thinking that this will be a musculo-skeletal injury and shouldn't be too tricky.

On arrival at the clinic Zak is far worse than I expected. He's unresponsive, lying on his side, paddling his legs and having a seizure. I get baseline bloods, inject intra-venous valium which settles him slightly and then place an intravenous line running in vitamin C. Covering all bases, I inject him with an anti-inflammatory, antibiotics, Atropine and Vitamin B's. Thankfully by this time my colleague Karen has arrived and she brings out her acupuncture needles to help settle Zak.

Holistic Vets, as the front for our wildlife trust ARRC Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, www.arrc.org.nz, we're in the midst of receiving an abundance of baby birds that cats have caught or well meaning people have found, thinking that they need vet care. In between this onslaught, a little blue penguin is dropped off having just been found floundering in the waves. Its body condition is poor and it's dehydrated and anemic. With the help of our nursing team we give him fluids and warmth and hope for the best, but we know our efforts are likely in vain as much of the wildlife work we do is relentlessly unforgiving.

Today has back to back consults through the morning and surgery to do as well. Our first case is Zen, a Siamese cat in for a laparotomy (surgery to explore his abdomen) as Karen has identified an abdominal mass. Zen is one of my oldest patients and we're all hoping for a simple fix and a good outcome. After not eating for a few days, we were concerned about him being able to survive the anesthetic so he had the benefit of a pre-anesthetic session in our hyperbaric oxygen chamber to hyperoxygenate his body. We find this to be of awesome benefit to geriatric and compromised animals.

Our first consult for the day is Diesel, a gorgeous 52kg bull mastiff with a huge hotspot (a localized skin infection that can be very painful) on his face. He's always glad to see me, despite the occasional atrocity that I commit such as squeezing his anal glands. I shave and clean his hotspot, clean out his ears which are full of black debris and send him home with some meds and herbs/homeopathics to ease the discomfort and to help get his body back in balance to prevent another hotspot from developing.

As Diesel's owner pays at the reception, Diesel gives a great big shake of his head and a glob of slobber gracefully flies over the counter into the lap of our receptionist Emma!

My next patient is Pepe, a little Chihuahua, who is in for a dental examination and nail trim. As long as I don't poke and prod him, Pepe is an angel but last week when I attempted to give him a health check and trim his nails I was met with ferocious growls. I had to use sedativeszSo today I was glad to find some tooth decay to justify the help of sedatives to investigate his mouth further and give him a manicure.

It's only 10am and it's time to perform the laparotomy on Zen. I quickly do a last check on the little blue penguin -he's not looking much better - and Zak who has settled down relatively well and only has a slight head tremor left but is still pretty dazed.

We induce, shave and prep Zen and I do a midline incision and begin to investigate. It's not good news: an extensive pancreatic tumour is adhered to his spleen and stomach. I ring his owner and share the news, she's upset but glad that we finally know what is wrong with him and she requests that we put him to sleep on the table. I share the news with our nurse Louby and tears well up in her eyes. As 'Silent Night' plays on the radio we put him to sleep peacefully. I go to check on the penguin and find that he has just died as well. At least Zak is doing OK, even though we're not out the woods with him yet.

Pepe is next on the list for this morning's surgery, he's nice and chilled out after his premed and is easily anesthetised. Once entubated, I find both sides of his jaw to have severely infected molars, most likely the reason for his stroppy behavior last week. I'm delighted to find a logical reason and best of all it can be remedied. I extract his teeth while he receives vitamin C by I/V , Traumeel, various flower essences, a anti-inflammatory and Vitamin B injections at strategic acupuncture points to assist his recovery. He wakes up quickly after his procedure and within an hour is looking bright.

It's nearly lunchtime and I quickly squeeze in replying to some e-mails and returning calls to clients. At lunch I race off to the gym for a quick work out. I normally go after work, but tonight I have a massage booked that I've been looking forward to for weeks.

I arrive back to see Karen with Roxi, a gorgeous little bichon who came to us three weeks ago having been to two other vets and being diagnosed with a disc prolapse and paralysis of her hind legs. Roxi underwent several sessions of acupuncture, had some Chinese herbs and sessions in our chamber and was standing within a few days. It's so lovely to see her walking around and happy!

The afternoon is full of animals booked in for NIS (Neurological Integration System), a therapy derived from applied kinesiology and osteopathy which I have found to be incredibly helpful for an array of health problems. I work with Kim, who is a human practitioner but she helps me with animals one afternoon a week. Our first case is Petal, a very timid cat who has suffered from severe milliary dermatitis that hasn't responded to other therapies. Petal's owner wonders how we'll treat her as she's very scared and doesn't like being handled. Like most cats, after the first few things that we do, Petal calms down and to the amazement of her owner lets us do everything that we need to. We advise that she ideally needs another treatment but this should start to make a big difference within a couple of weeks.

Our next case is Leo a gorgeous Russian Blue, who is in for his third session of NIS. Leo's back is still sore and we're baffled, as most cases respond well to 2 sessions. I ask Karen for her input and we devise another strategy of adding in some herbs and Pentosan injections. It's so wonderful to have her input and help after being a solo vet in my practice for 6 years.

The afternoon flows on and finally we have Zak's lab results which indicate hugely elevated muscle enzymes which may indicate trauma, heat stress or poisoning but nothing else to go on. By now, Zak has also had a treatment in our hyperbaric chamber and his head tremors have stopped and he seems to be more responsive. I speak to his owner and offer her overnight hospitalisation or the option of taking him home. We're pleased that she'd prefer the latter -most of our clients are very responsible and adore their animals, they often elect to monitor their pets overnight and ring us if problems arise. I warn that he could start fitting again and dispense some meds just in case.

Pepe is discharged but wouldn't walk to his owner, he insisted on being carried. Moments before he'd been out for a walk with Louby and happily trotted along wagging his tail. We figured that Pepe would be milking his owners' sympathy for everything that he could.

I love being on call but tonight I'm overjoyed to give the responsibility to Karen and head off to my long-awaited massage at the home of my massage therapist. As I drive into her property, I see Abby the Labrador scooting her butt along the ground as a special greeting just for me - 'Yay vet, you're finally here, my butt needs your help!'. So I park, get out a rubber glove and some KY jelly, squeeze her full anal glands, wash up and finally lie down to my wonderful relaxing massage and restful evening.

Back at work the next day, our first patient in is Zak. After a sad day with Zen and the penguin yesterday, Louby is reluctant to come out of the staffroom dreading further issues with Zak. As Zak's owner pulls up into the car park I walk out to meet them expecting to need to carry Zak in but before I get to the car, Zak has jumped out and is running toward reception, eyes bright and tail wagging.

What an awesome start to the day! It's successes like this that make this job so worthwhile.


Hello and welcome to our October 2011 email newsletter! As a follow up to our last newsletter, Dr Liza covers further first aid tips to help you and your furry friend...

An astute animal owner knows when their animal is compromised and will often be able to associate an earlier experience with this insight eg. The dog who has eaten a rotting carcass who is off their food and vomiting or the cat who was heard in a cat fight the night before and is now limping.

Having a good working knowledge of what signs to look for to determine if your animal's health is at risk is a very helpful investment. By observing your animal's vital signs (breathing rate and depth, colour of mucous membranes, heart rate and temperature) regularly when they are healthy will help you to detect an abnormality.

Subtle signs of illness might include a quiet or depressed demeanor, poor appetite, heavy eyes and a dull coat. Other more obvious indications of dis-ease include rapid or difficult breathing, elevated or depressed pulse or heart rate, collapse, pale or bright red colour of the gums, difficulty walking or severe lameness, yelping out in pain, sudden bloating of the abdomen, severe vomiting and diarrhea as well as blood loss.

Some of these signs and symptoms are fleeting and pass quickly while others persist and might indicate a serious underlying problem. Always have Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence on hand, and if the animal isn't settling, seek veterinary advice. There are a number of basic diagnostic tools to apply that will help you and your vet or vet nurse to assess how urgent veterinary input is in any given situation.

Heavy or rapid breathing are important indicators of pain or distress. Especially if the animal's gums are blue or purple with abnormal breathing, they aren't getting enough oxygen and they are likely to have damage to the respiratory system which might be in their lungs, circulation or red blood cells not transporting enough oxygen around.

If they're having difficulty inhaling, the problem is probably in the upper airway but if it is difficulty exhaling then the lower airway is likely to be dis-eased or damaged. Pale gum colour might indicate shock or anaemia and red gums will indicate severe congestion or septicaemia.

A very valuable tool to indicate good circulation and hydration status is called the capillary refill time (CRT). Identify a part of the gum which is pink, ideally above the canine teeth. Use a thumb to press it briefly with some light pressure. It will momentarily turn white and should turn pink again within two seconds. If this time is delayed beyond this then there is likely to be a serious problem.

An animal's core temperature is another valuable tool used to assess their status. A low temperature indicates poor circulation while a slightly high temperature may be an indicator of pain and a severely elevated temperature is likely to indicate major infection.

The heart rate is influenced by most of these factors and will be elevated with high temperature, rapid breathing and pain or stress. A persistently elevated or depressed heart rate with none of the above influences requires further investigation.


Having an understanding of useful tools to apply to support an acute crisis or emergency, until veterinary attention is obtained can make a huge difference to the outcome in a critically injured animal.

The most important question to answer is "Is the animal stable?". This means that they are breathing regularly and normally and the colour of their mucous membranes (gums in mouth, some animals have black areas of pigment making it difficult to assess) are pink, they are conscious and responsive, there's no major pain or discomfort and there is no significant blood loss.

An unstable animal who doesn't meet one or more of these criteria is very likely to need immediate care. Ideally phone ahead to the vet with an outline of the situation so they're prepared and no time is wasted.

When an animal is unconscious or gasping and battling to breathe and their mucous membrane colour is white, purple or blue, check that their airway is clear. Pull their tongue forward out of their mouth and look for any obstruction such as a foreign object or vomit and clear it away or hold their head downward to help fluid to drain out.

If they are not breathing after you have cleared their airway then attempt to perform "mouth to nose" resuscitation by closing their mouth and breathing into their nostrils with just enough air to make their chest rise. Allow the air to be released and repeat every 10 seconds in larger dogs, and every 5 seconds in cats and small dogs.

An animal which is battling to breathe, despite a clear airway, is best positioned lying on their chest to allow their lungs to expand as easily as possible.

The next priority is to feel or listen for a heartbeat on the left side of the animal's chest, just behind their elbow. If there is no heartbeat then position the animal on its side and begin to massage the heart by compressing it with gentle but firm pressure on either side of the ribcage rhythmically between breaths. Check for a heartbeat every minute and stop compressions once the heart has resumed beating.

There are three very useful acupuncture points to which you can apply pressure with your finger nail or a blunt object to assist with resuscitation. These points are in the middle of the nasal plane in line with the bottom of the nostrils, the tip of the tail and the middle of the main pad of the hind feet.

If there is an obvious site of bleeding, apply pressure with a dressing or tourniquet. For an obvious fracture, use a splint such as a stick or block of wood bandaged on to stabilize the limb and in the case of a suspected back injury, transport the animal on a solid stretcher to prevent movement.

Keep the animal warm and dose Emergency Essence or Rescue Remedy. A couple of drops may be applied to the inside of the lip every five minutes until the animal is stable. Generally this works well and it is also often useful for the owner to have some too!


Dogs get up to all sorts of mischief and often eat things that would be way better not eaten providing some amusing moments...

One Saturday we had a call from a lady who was very worried that her pup had just eaten a mouse that had eaten some poison and wanted our help "Before I could stop her eating the head, she was already swallowing the body and the tail went down like a piece of spaghetti"!

The Pup came in and we gave it some medication to make it vomit. Within seconds the pup brought the mouse up in reverse - tail first followed by the body and head, which provided for a really funny sight and a baffled pup.

A while ago we had a dog in called Celene, a big German Shepherd who has had surgery before to remove a stone from her intestines - she has a habit of swallowing all sorts of things. Despite her owner's efforts to give her fluffy toys with no eyes or other attachments that she can swallow, Celene was in to visit us again..

She was seen playing with a Barbie doll but Barbie's head and arms had mysteriously disappeared and Celene had been vomiting up blood giving us a good clue that Barbie's missing bits were doing a tour through Celene's gut.

We needed to take x-rays of Celene after dosing her with a special substance that shows up easily on x-ray that outlines any suspicious object in the gut, which doesn't show up ordinarily. A sequence of shots needs to be taken as the substance moves through her gut.

Celene was most cooperative, despite not feeling too well she tried to jump on the table each time we needed her on there and then lay perfectly still in position for the shot - a real pleasure to work with. She went on to make a full recovery.

One Christmas eve a little border collie X labrador puppy who had devoured a 500g box of chocolate, (wrappers and all!!!) sometime that morning came in to see me. Chocolate can be toxic and so I gave him a little injection and within a few minutes, out came all the chocolate and the wrappers too (in a technicolor projectile vomit!), amazing what can fit into a little pup! The effects wore off a little while later after all was revealed and none the worse off, the little guy trotted out the door wagging his tail, no doubt looking forward to some breakfast!


As with any dis-ease, a gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) upset is the body's way of saying that something is wrong. With vomiting and diarrhea, it's generally nature's way of cleansing out or ridding itself of something that is causing irritation or upset. Vomiting occurs when the disturbance is in the upper GIT, while diarrhea develops when it's in the lower GIT.

It is also important to differentiate between vomiting, where the animal has abdominal contractions, retches and eventually brings up something (this is usually amusing to my clients when I demonstrate "uugh, uugghh, uuugghhh, blaaaaah" and even more amusing when my client repeats this back in agreement!), and regurgitation where the animal suddenly and comparatively uneventfully brings up something from the gut (just "blaaaaah"!) - this gives an idea as to whether the problem is in the lower gut (vomiting) or higher up (regurgitation).

There a number of reasons for GIT disturbances, some due to longer term (chronic) problems such as food intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease, worms, organ failures and others which occur more suddenly (acute) such as toxins or poison exposure, something being stuck like as a furball, various infections both bacterial and viral, rotten food being eaten or even simple things such as stress or a sudden diet change, especially common in young kittens.

If your dog or cat is still relatively bright and the vomiting or diarrhea is not profuse, it may be possible to help to support their body and let it run its course. If your animal is collapsed, vomiting profusely, has blood coming out or is straining unsuccessfully then seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.

Practical management of a GIT upset involves giving the GIT a rest, ensuring that the animal has sufficient fluids and salts, supporting the GIT to help toxins pass though and to allow for repair. If this does not work then there is likely to be a more complex underlying issue and further diagnostics or treatment would be warranted.

First and foremost ensure that your animal has sufficient fluid, with plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration, as well as electrolytes (salts) and glucose which is especially important in very young animals whose glucose levels plummet very quickly. This can be in the form of a broth created by boiling up meat, rice and vegetables or a mixture of 4 cups of warm water and % cup honey. In animals that aren't drinking, this can be dripped in with a dropper or syringed in carefully by placing small amounts on the animals tongue and allowing it to swallow while it's sitting or lying upright.

Slippery elm powder, kaolin and bismuth are wonderful internal poultices to help soothe and heal the inflamed GIT lining. Use 20-40 mg of dried slippery elm per kilogram three times a day mixed in water or food. Alternately mix 1 teaspoon of powder in 1 cup of water and give kittens % teaspoon, cats and small dogs 1 teaspoon, medium dogs 30 - 60 ml and large dogs 90 - 120 ml 3 times daily.

In adult animals allow 24 hours before giving any food to give the GIT a rest. Young pups and kittens require food much sooner, giving them a 4 - 12 hour fast depending on their condition should be sufficient. Commence with bland food such as boiled lean chicken, egg, cottage cheese and pasta or rice feeding 4 - 6 smaller meals through the day. Do this for 3 days and then gradually re-introduce their normal food.

Adding oatbran and probiotics from unsweetened acidophilus/lactobacillus yoghurt or commercial formulations will help to normalize bacterial flora in the GIT and minimize overgrowth of the "bad bugs". Activated charcoal might also be useful if there are toxins present either from poisons or produced from the overgrowth of certain bacteria. Use 2 grams per kilogram daily.

Various homeopathics are also often useful and are best used under the guidance of a homeopath. Use either complex remedies or individual 30 C potencies 4 hourly for 3 doses and if there's no change then another remedy is usually indicated. In very acute cases, dose more frequently and then decrease the frequency to effect. Useful remedies are Nux Vomica for occasional vomiting, Arsenicum for vomiting and diarrhea where the animal is thirsty and Merc Cor for acute diarrhea.

In chronic conditions such as IBD, aloe vera juice is also beneficial to help improve digestion and normalize GIT function however ensure that it is not preserved with sodium benzoate or benzoic acid which is toxic to cats. A dose of 1 ml per 5 kilograms daily is good support but be aware that it can also have a slight laxative effect.

For the management of longer term problems various nutritional programmes including optimal amounts of nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, as well as regular treatments with therapies such as NIS (Neurological Integration System), Acupuncture, homeopathy, Bowen therapy, etc. can help to make a marked difference


Animals' fantastic recoveries from major life threatening conditions as well as health issues which undermine their health provide elating highs and moments to remember.

With the integration of our Hyperbaric Chamber, which allows animals to receive high concentrations of oxygen to be delivered to all their tissues stimulating healing tremendously, and other therapies that we use such as intravenous vitamin C, homeobotanicals and various nutritional supplements, we have been having wonderful results with animals requiring assistance in areas of their health which are difficult to deal with successfully from a strictly traditional point of view.

These are often conditions like allergies, cancer, auto-immune problems and arthritis but sometimes these wonderful therapeutic aids can be very beneficial for routine veterinary practice such as helping animals to pull through and recover from anesthesia as smoothly as possible.

Paddy, the 20 year old cat, made a day trip from Auckland (2.5 hours away) to see us so that we could anesthetize her and extract some teeth that had been hurting her. Although all Paddy's blood tests and her clinical examination were excellent for an old girl (140 in human years!!!), anesthesia always carries an element of risk and for older animals. It's sometimes only after the event that their bodies deteriorate and so I explained all of this to Paddy's owner who was still keen to go ahead as she believes that Paddy still has a few years left on this planet yet and wants her to be comfortable.

After being given extra anti-oxidants and B vitamins leading up to the big day, Paddy had a session in the chamber to saturate her body with oxygen which helped to support her under anesthetic and assist with her recovery. We then anaesthetized her, cleaned her teeth and extracted the problem ones and treated her with all the fantastic supportive aids we have on hand. She was very slow to wake up and although we had peace of mind that we'd done everything as well as we possibly could and so far she'd been stable, I was worried that she might not pull through this next recovery phase.

Her owner was delighted to see a very sleepy Paddy and that afternoon they drove back to Auckland. The next morning her owner called to say that she was very concerned as Paddy hadn't had anything to drink, although she had eaten and had a very restless night pacing around for quite a while before she finally settled.

I was over the moon, she'd eaten and she'd had the energy to pace around, that was fantastic news! Paddy made a very good recovery and from the looks of things, she may well be around for a number of years to come.

Feeding animals with the right food and supporting their systems with nutritional supplements, to promote their health and assist with various ailments, can work wonders.


How to give your dog a daily check-up?

I love emergencies... They require quick thinking, elegant action and masterful communication with the animal's owner to succinctly explain the situation, gather enough information to help treat the animal effectively and to delicately handle the owner's emotion, which might be extreme at times.

What constitutes an emergency for dog owners is always relative; for example one night I had a phone call from a little old lady very concerned because she had found a knot in her dog Daisy's coat and urgently wanted to have her seen to remove it! The other extreme is the scenario where we get a phone call late at night "My dog's been vomiting for two weeks and has collapsed this morning, can I bring him in?"!

An astute animal owner knows when their animal is compromised and will often be able to associate an earlier experience with this insight eg. The dog who has eaten a rotting carcass and is off their food and vomiting or the dog that jumped off a great height the day before and is now limping.

Having a good working knowledge of what signs to look for to determine if your dog's health is at risk is a very helpful investment. Observing your dog's behavior from a distance is the first step.

Things to look out for include free flowing movement with no lameness or sign of discomfort, a bright and alert demeanor, they're not acting out of character (eg. A dog that loves to chase his ball and is just lying in the corner not keen is an indication that something is wrong), eating and drinking as well as peeing and pooping normally - consistency and frequency - bloody pee may indicate a trauma, a growth or bladder stones, peeing frequently could indicate infection, hormonal imbalances or organ damage and different coloured poop can be indicative of a variety of things. Us vets are fascinated with these details as they provide many clues to various problems. Yes, we're a strange bunch, did you know that vets are the only doctors who eat their patients!?!?

The next step is a hands on health check. Getting your dog used to having this done from an early age, by practicing at home at least twice a week, can help you to pick up problems early on and prepare your dog for a veterinary examination, which can be stressful if they sick or sore and are not used to being examined. When performing a health check it's wise to work in a systematic manner to ensure a thorough check. It's useful to begin at the head and work your way backwards.

Eyes
Ensure that they are open (as opposed to half closed which may indicate pain), bright and clear of discharge (watery, green, yellow or mucous white), that there is no redness or inflammation around them and that there's nothing inside them for example a seed or hair. This is important in toy breeds that often have hairs hanging into their eyes and cause irritation. A little bit of "sleep" (caked debris) found in the corners of a dog's eyes, especially first thing in the morning, may be considered normal but I usually find that by feeding a diet with a wholesome diet including natural goodness and optimal amounts of important nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and anti-oxidants reduces the occurrence substantially.

Ears
Look inside the ear canal for any sign of wax, debris or discharge. A browny wax is sometimes present indicating a yeast infection (a bug called Mallasezia). If there's a green or yellow discharge, get your dog to the vet as there's most likely a severe infection underway. It usually pays to give the ears a good sniff as a putrid smell will often be present before some infections become visible, one of the reasons being that a dogs' ear canal is very long (much longer than a humans)... It has both a vertical ear canal and narrower internal horizontal ear canal. Usually a dog will scratch at their ears or rub them frequently on the ground if they are bothering them.

For dogs that are prone to ear problems, having their ears regularly cleaned with a good ear cleaner (available for your vet or use a simple solution such as a 1% dilution of Hydrogen peroxide, but ensure that your animal's ear drum is intact with a visit to your vet) can be an excellent preventative aid. By instilling a generous amount into the ear and massaging the ear canal to ideally hear the "squish" noise that the liquid makes, debris will be loosened and most animals really enjoy the rub as it relieves their irritation immensely. Because of the great length of the ear canals, just wiping the visible outer ear simply doesn't do enough to keep ears clean.

Nose
Ensure that there is no discharge from the nostrils and there's no redness or inflammation, crustiness or changes in pigment of the nose. It is perfectly normal for the nose to change from wet to dry and cold to warm all in the course of a few hours. A warm nose can reflect a fever, especially if your dog is a lethargic or acting out of character.

Mouth
A very valuable tool to indicate health is the gum colour, which should be a salmon pink and not pale or purple. Another invaluable aid that reflects good circulation and hydration status is called the capillary refill time (CRT). Identify a part of the gum which is pink, ideally above the canine teeth. Use a thumb to press it briefly with some light pressure. It will momentarily turn white and should turn pink again within two seconds. If this time is delayed beyond this then there is likely to be a serious problem.

Get your dog used to having their mouth opened and inspected. Examine their gums for redness, receding gums, rotten or broken teeth and objects that may be stuck like fur and even bones. Feeding raw bones is a fabulous aid to preserving dental health for dogs that don't just gulp them down but cooked bones are to be avoided as they easily splinter, get stuck and are difficult to digest.

One of my favourite "quick fixes" for an animal is to dislodge a stick or a bone splinter stuck in their mouth as it provides such instant relief! I once had a call asking if a client could please bring their dog in as it had a bone stuck in its mouth. I was looking forward to seeing the dog and experiencing the rewarding process but was incredibly surprised to see what walked through the door. this dog (a middle sized cross breed named "Munchie"!) had been chewing on a big pelvic bone and had managed to get the hole in the pelvis wedged firmly around his lower jaw making him look ridiculous with this huge bone firmly attached to his head.

We anaesthetized him but couldn't pry the bone off his jaw, and I ended up having to saw it off! Once complete, I reversed his anaesthetic and Munchie trotted out the door somewhat lighter and of course tail wagging!

Body
Running your hands gently but firmly over the rest of your dogs' body will help you to detect any lumps or sore areas. They will love the contact and it is a wonderful idea to integrate some massage to help make the health check a pleasant experience for your pooch.

Observe the texture and appearance of their coat. A healthy coat should shine and feel smooth and silky as opposed to dry and brittle. Ensure that there are no skin issues like scabs, pustules, rashes, whelts or areas of bleeding.

Limbs and Paws
Gently flexing and extending each joint (the carpus or wrist, elbow, shoulder, tarsus or hock, knee and hip) is useful to help pick up injuries or arthritis. Pain or the feeling of clicking or crunching in a joint may indicate arthritis.

A thorough paw examination is of wonderful assistance to us vets who sometimes struggle to explore a paw that is infected or inflamed. Look for thorns, seeds, pieces of glass, lumps, redness and discharge between the pads as well as check the nails to ensure that they are not overgrown. The correct length is easily visible in dogs with white claws as you may easily see the quick (the sensitive nail bed which is the tender pink area) and about 1 mm of nail growth beyond it so that the nails line up approximately level with the foot pads on the floor. If they extend beyond this then a nail trim may be needed.

Don't forget to check your dogs' dew claws (if they have them as some dogs are born without them and some breeders prefer to have them removed when they're pups). These are the 5th toe (like a humans' thumb) on the inside of the foot about half way up to the carpus or wrist. Because these claws don't make contact with the ground and aren't regularly worn down they may easily overgrow, sometimes curling backwards and into the skin which is painful!

I was over the moon, she'd eaten and she'd had the energy to pace around, that was fantastic news! Paddy made a very good recovery and from the looks of things, she may well be around for a number of years to come.

Feeding animals with the right food and supporting their systems with nutritional supplements, to promote their health and assist with various ailments, can work wonders.


One of the many things that I love about being a vet is that you never know what will unfold on any given day and one learns to expect the unexpected. Another delightful aspect of vet work is that there's usually some colourful character (the animal or owner or both!) to work with.

One night I received an after hours emergency call from Mr Bear's owners... the gorgeous 1 year old chocolate lab had been investigating the content of the fishing tackle box and now had a fish hook stuck in his lip. He had been was pawing at it in an attempt to dislodge it and was quite uncomfortable.

I arrived to be greeted by a tail wagging Mr Bear who clearly hadn't discussed the pros and cons of body piercings with his owners! I've known Mr Bear since he was born and the slightly sheepish look he had was different from the innocent puppy expression that he donned when I had seen him last. The 2 lovely young chaps looking after him held him as still as they could while I examined the extent of the hook's invasion but Mr Bear was not happy about being still, he would have rather been playing!

It was clear that Mr Bear would need to be sedated in order for me to remove the hook properly. I injected Mr Bear with a wonderful sedative and within a few minutes he was snoozing beautifully on the lounge carpet.

The hook was caught inside his lip with the barb fully imbedded. To remove it I needed to push it completely through his lip and once it was through we cut off the barbed end of the hook with some wire cutters and then finally slipped the rest of the hook out from the site of entry.

Fish hooks can sometimes be very dirty and cause infection at the site of penetration so I carefully disinfected the area and gave Mr Bear a dose of anti-biotics, stopped the bleeding and then we were done.

The beauty of the sedative that I love to use is that it's fully reversible so I gave Mr Bear the reversal to wake him up and advised the guys who were lying at Mr Bears side throughout the procedure that it should take 5 or 10 minutes for him to come around.

10 minutes later we were all still at his side patting him and talking to him, awaiting his return to consciousness. The guys were a little worried about the delay and I assured them that some animals can take longer and all of his vital signs were stable so we had nothing to be concerned about.

Another 10 minutes went by and Mr Bear was still snoozing away apparently enjoying his drug induced restful slumber, the guys beginning to grow impatient as they still had a lot to do before the night was over.

I lifted Mr Bear's head to hopefully give him some stimulus to respond to and the next moment he stood up excitedly wagging his tail and looking at us as if to say "What happened, what did I miss?" to which he received the reply from his loving owner "Bear, you just milked that for everything that you could, didn't you!".


We often see animals in need of a good home as was the case 2 years ago... A black cat (with attitude!) was uplifted by the local SPCA with a huge non-healing wound to his cheek which we surgically repaired and helped heal with our Hyperbaric Chamber. Once mended, he was put up for adoption but since he was unable to find a suitable home, our fabulous staff decided that we would adopt him and named him Frank.

He came to us quite skinny with a poor coat ("Manky Frankie") which improved in leaps and bounds once we'd had him on a raw meat diet with some omega 3 fatty acid supplements for a couple of weeks.

Frank fitted in relatively well, however being an older fellow (we estimated he was around 16 years old) who had been through a lot in his life, he had some unfortunate habits that we unsuccessfully attempted to "unteach" him, such as his occasional toileting in inappropriate places ("Skanky Frankie"), his grumpiness when asked to move from the reception desk and/or my consultation room ("Cranky Frankie"), and finally he had a "dirty old man" streak doing various inappropriate things with his Frankie Blanky and his toy dog ("W__ky Frankie")!!!

Soon after he arrived we noticed that he drank a lot of water and peed more than usual for a cat, as well as had quite a ravenous appetite but wasn't gaining much weight. We ran some tests and diagnosed diabetes mellitus, a disease also occurring in humans where the cells in the body are unable to take up glucose / sugar from the bloodstream either because they are resistant to insulin (the hormone which helps glucose uptake) - Type 2 - or the body is not producing enough insulin (from the pancreas) - Type 1.

Frankie needed to have regular insulin injections to help regulate his blood sugar levels but what he ate made a big difference to his well-being. He went through a stage where he would only eat "Junk Food" (cheaper commercial food which is generally bulked up with grains and fillers) and refused anything else, including his supplements. His coat became dry and flaky, he lost weight, he was more cranky than usual and it was difficult to get his insulin dose exactly
right.

Eventually we found some great rabbit meat which he loved and once he started eating this regularly and taking his anti-oxidant, mineral and omega 3 fatty acid supplements again his health again improved and he was a much happier boy! A great example of what a difference a good diet with the right supplements can make to quality of life.

3 days ago Frankie suffered a severe stroke and we put him to sleep. We have no doubt that there's a special place for him in kitty heaven and hopefully he's being a good boy!


Ruby, a gorgeous bullmastiff who originally came to see me with major skin problem (which resolved with a good natural diet free of chemicals and preservatives as well as optimal amounts of important nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants) was unexpectedly mated by her handsome bullmastiff boyfriend Diesel and judging by her belly, the litter was going to be big.

Her owners had been in contact on a regular basis as her due date drew near but 1 afternoon things were sounding concerning. She had been very unsettled for most of the day and contractions had begun a couple of hours ago but there was still no baby and she was very restless and so I went along and did a home visit to assess the situation.

Now, Ruby is a very sensitive soul and although she would obligingly take the doggy treat that I offered her and politely wag her tail in the consult room, she'd usually have a shy look on her face and be very keen to leave as soon as she could, which didn't fill me with satisfaction that she felt comfortable in my presence. This time I walked through the door and the look on her expressive face was somewhat different "Oh, thank goodness you're here nice vet person, at long last someone who understands and can help to get these things out of me" as she pushed up against my legs indicating that she was keen on my attention to give her relief ASAP!

I examined her to find that she had a puppy in the birth canal but it had its arms flexed backward and I wasn't able to correct it's positioning to get it out easily. We decided that a caesarian may be the best approach and I went ahead to the clinic to prepare the surgery and get our puppy resuscitation team in (delivering pups can be a huge job with many hands needed). A few minutes later in came Ruby with the puppy just about pushed out... all she needed was a ride in Dad's van and "Walla", a puppy was delivered!

The pup was a big boy and appropriately named "Buddha". We settled Ruby in and she proceeded to deliver another 3 healthy pups without assistance but then became restless with no more pups despite her contractions. With some assistance, Ruby delivered 2 more pups which were unfortunately dead and with a green discharge showing indicating that a pup is in trouble, we decided to go in and do a caesarian.

Surgery went very smoothly and we were all amazed to find that she had another 7 pups delivered by caesarian to give her a litter of 12 live pups and 14 total, a huge litter for a 1st time Mom! Ruby's owners were awesome at helping to surrogate feed the babies as they grew and now, 8 weeks later they're all very glad to be sending the highly demanding pups on to new homes and catch up on some sleep and down time!


As a vet, I frequently make use of nutritional supplements for my patients (and myself, they give me a shiny coat!) to help them regain and sustain good health.

A few weeks ago I met Snoopy, a gorgeous little dog who came to see me as his owner was concerned about a number of issues... After befriending him with the aid of a few doggy treats and some friendly pats I examined Snoopy to find he was overweight, his coat was very dry and matted and his movement was a little stiff, most likely due to arthritis that many dogs develop as they age these days.

We made some changes to Snoopy's diet (adding more wholesome and natural food) including supplementation with important nutrients like omega 3's and anti-oxidants.

Last week I was delighted to see Snoopy in the reception area. He came bounding up to greet me with smooth and easy movement, he had lost some of his "middle age spread" and his coat was a lot softer and shinier. Best of all, his owner commented that he absolutely loves his new food and the improvement in his general demeanor and energy levels, since making the diet change, is huge!

A good diet with the correct supplementation will bridge the gap from just normal health to OPTIMAL health and will go a long way to preventing disease and enhancing the quality of your animal's life.


As a Holistic Vet, I enjoy the variety of animals that I see and especially the fabulous feeling of helping them to heal and preserving their long term health.

Last week I had a call from a new client, Mrs Prince, to please come out and see her 17 year old cat, Meggy, as she was worried about her. Meggy had not been herself and had just been lying in the same place all day.... At that age I wondered about the possibility of this cat running out of lives!

I arrived to find an unhappy tortoiseshell cat (they are typically a little stroppy and frequently unco-operative) lying in the centre of the room. As I approached Meggy to examine her, she started hissing and growling and I started to wonder if I'd need a hand with her. At this point Mrs P piped up "I'm sorry dear, but I won't be able to hold her for you as I've got very severe arthritis." - GREAT!

Thank goodness I managed to examine her relatively easily and found a slightly elevated temperature and a sore back complicated by underlying arthritis but no other major health problems - pretty impressive for an aged kitty!

It turned out that Meggy gets bullied by the neighbor's cats, which stresses her a lot, and I suspect that they'd caused her this injury.

I gave Meggy an anti-inflammatory injection to ease her pain quickly and dosed her with some homeopathic drops to help speed her recovery. My recommendations for her long term health included omega 3 fatty acid and vitamin B supplements, to help her cope with the stress, as well as glucosamine to assist her arthritic joints and suggested that this might be helpful for Mrs P's arthritis as well!

Meggy was walking around and a lot happier a half an hour after I left, but I'm still awaiting a progress report from Mrs P!