Gawler Animal Hospital Pet of the Month | Gawler Animal Hospital

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Gawler Animal Hospital
76 Adelaide Road
Gawler South
SA 5118

08 8522 3500

The Burmese- the vets' cat!

Meet Marco Polo, the latest addition to the MacPhail family! He's a Burmese kitten, roughly 6 months old now, and has taken up position as 'top dog' in the household. It took him about 24 hours to convince the actual dogs in the house that we was boss, even at 12 weeks of age! It's amazing what a bit of body language can achieve, even when there's not much of you in terms of physical stature.

Marco is one of several Burmese to have joined our family over the years. I was first introduced to the joys of the breed when I started in small animal practice in Tea Tree Gully, many years ago. We had a patient named Shanks, who boarded with us on a regular basis while her owner went off on business travel. Shanks was incredibly friendly - she loved draping herself around your shoulders and I got into the habit of doing hospital patient rounds with this delightful little character in tow. Bit warm in summer but fantastic on cold winter days! I've been a fan of the breed ever since those days. We've now had 3 Burmese at home and old Flynn is still going strong at Paralowie Veterinary Surgery, where I brought him in as the 12-week-old practice cat. He was a one-man (cat) meet-and-greet team there and will be sorely missed by many when he eventually gives in to old man time.

In fact, I've discovered over the years that the Burmese is the number one breed of choice when it comes to vets and I know of many colleagues who own them. Actually, I'm not so sure that's an appropriate term as we are more like providers and co-habitants than owners when it comes to Burmese cats! They are very friendly cats and very people-oriented. They're much more outgoing than most breeds and exhibit many of the same traits that make dogs so popular as pets. Actually, I've often thought of them as being the dog of the cat world. For example, Marco has now decided he's one of the gang when it comes to going out for a run with the dogs. He spends his time sprinting from one tree to another but will interrupt this by giving one of the dogs a flying shoulder charge if they get in his way! Despite this, he's very gentle when it comes to playing with the latest 2-legged addition to the MacPhail family (my grand-daughter) who finds him to be a wonderful source of entertainment.

You should be aware, if you're thinking or taking on a Burmese, that this is a long-term commitment. As a breed, they're very long-lived, and we frequently see Burmese lasting until their late teens or early twenties. They're generally a very healthy breed of cat, although historically have been a bit prone to diabetes. Nonetheless, I can't think of a better addition to the household and can thoroughly recommend the breed. If you're still not convinced, ask Marco - he'll tell you how special he is!!

Lexi Bleeze - farewell old friend!

It was a sad day for all of us when had to say goodbye to ‘Lexi’ Bleeze recently. I ran a story about Lexi last year following her surgery for bone cancer. Her owners, John and Carolyn Bleeze were delighted with her recovery from treatment and she was a real trooper in coping with life on 3 legs, following amputation of the affected leg.

Osteosarcoma is a very aggressive malignant bone tumour and frequently spreads to other parts of the body, even with surgery and medical treatment. This proved to be the case with Lexi, unfortunately. In the months following her initial diagnosis, secondary tumours appeared in her other hind leg, her spine and eventually her lungs. Despite this, she remained a very cheerful, happy dog and didn’t allow her condition to slow her down much. She came in to see me on a monthly basis and coped remarkably well. Although not quite as spritely or active as she once was, she still had a very good quality of life.

The disease finally caught up with Lexi although, even then, she had been very happy right up to the end. I’d seen her 2 days before and Carolyn had remarked how well she was doing. Sadly, within 24 hours of this visit, Lexi started to deteriorate very rapidly. The following day, it was obvious that her time had come. 

Although it was a very sad day when we had to say goodbye to Lexi, she’d had 18 months of wonderful life following her initial diagnosis. It’s a credit to John and Carolyn that they gave her this chance and that they’ve looked after her so well over all of this time. Actually, I suspect they might say that Lexi has looked after them just as well!

I know that John and Carolyn appreciate the great work done by Dr Alana in performing the original surgery and giving Lexi many more months of happy life. Lexi’s regular monitoring visits really brought a smile to our faces and we’re all enormously sad to have to say goodbye to her – farewell, old friend!


'Nevis' Maclachlan - Gawler Animal Hospital Vets visits Edinburgh!

As you can see from the accompanying photo, the Gawler Animal Hospital bandana has been spotted in exotic locations again! In this case, we have 'Nevis' Maclachlan visiting Edinburgh Castle. Nevis is a very enthusiastic black labrador boy owned by Fo and Tom Maclachlan - he loves nothing better than to go touring around with his owners and seems to pay precious little regard to any "No Dogs Allowed' signs - a dog after my own heart! As Fo is my sister, I think this may make Nevis my 'dog-in-law'!

As anyone who has ever visited Edinburgh will know, the castle sits in prime spot on top of a volcanic plug, towering over the centre of the city. There's been a castle there since the 600's and some elements of the current structure have been in existence since the 900's. It's a fabulous place to visit for any history buffs. The 'One-a-Clock Gun' still blasts off every day and gives both the pigeons and tourists a bit of a scare. Worthy of note for pet-lovers is also the pet cemetery which is perched on the edge of the castle, and contains the graves of a number of pets once owned by the commanders of the military garrison posted in the castle over the centuries.

Nevis was also snapped outside the Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh. This lovely little restaurant in the middle of old Edinburgh (it's on George IV Bridge if you ever get a chance to visit) was made famous by one J.K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series. As a somewhat impoverished and un-employed single mum, she spent her days sitting in the cafe (Edinburgh can be a v cold place in winter if you can't afford heating!) working through her draft ideas for the first Harry Potter book. As such, you could say Harry Potter was born there! With the phenomenal success of the books, JKR is now in good position to afford as much heating as she wants but still visits the Elephant House for fun, rather than by necessity. As it turns out, Nevis lives just around the corner from JKR  and they cross paths, from time to time, when he is doing his rounds of the neighbourhood.

Nevis' other claim to fame is his underwater retrieving ability. He's the only dog I've come across that will pick up the scent of a rock that's been thrown into the water and bring it back. He'll spend as much as 30 seconds with his head fully submerged, searching for a particular stone, and never fails in finding it - what a legend! 

‘Chaos’ Roberts - a happy little possum! 

Chaos is a young male Brush-tail Possum who was first brought in to see us in March by Kelly Roberts and weighing a massive 95gm!! Kelly had adopted orphan Chaos and needed some help with diet and care. Dr Alana was happy to provide this advice and sent Kelly home with some Wombaroo supplements and husbandry advice.

A week later, Kelly returned with a very sore little possum who had developed a swelling over his right hip. X-rays of his hip showed a degenerate femoral head which was probably caused by a poorly developed blood supply to this area of bone. We see a similar condition in small-breed dogs and this is known as Legg-Perthe's disease. Other potential causes would be infection in the bone or trauma, although there had been no other evidence of this.

Although the prognosis for recovery was very guarded, Kelly was determined to give Chaos the best possible chance. Dr Alana prescribed some antibiotic medication (this can be tricky in itself as possums can react badly to certain drugs) and strict rest. She was delighted to see a much-improved Chaos at his revisit in a weeks time. The swelling and pain had settled and he was moving much better. Kelly reported that he was also eating and drinking well and seemed to be a happy character.

Over the following few weeks, he continued to improve, although by this stage he was starting to feel a bit frisky and was coming between Kelly and her husband! Brush-tail possums are often a lot more aggressive than their Ring-tail cousins and so this wasn't entirely surprising.As he was now a house pet, this was a problem, however, and so we duly arranged an appointment for him to see the surgeon. Later that week, he was desexed by Dr Alana. A follow-up visit revealed that he had recovered well from his encounter with the surgeon and that he was starting to show less male territorial behavior.

At last report, Chaos was becoming a very welcome house-pet and a fully fledged member of the family. Although we wouldn't necessarily recommend a Brush-tail possum as the ideal family pet, in this case, it's worked out very well for both Chaos and the Roberts family. Well done Kelly and Dr Alana for working towards a great outcome!!

‘Lexi’ Bleeze – our 3-legged friend! 

Lexi is an 11-year-old Australian Cattle Dog ( a Blue Heeler) and has been coming to us since she was a puppy with her owners, John and Carolyn Bleeze from Cockatoo Valley. Although Lexi is very familiar with the pathway to our front door (multiple visits over the years!), when she came in to see Dr Sarah in April, Carolyn and John knew that there was something seriously amiss with her. She’d been out for a walk and had a minor rumble with her brother. There didn’t seem to be a lot of malice in this disagreement but Lexi pulled up lame on her right hind leg afterwards. Carolyn brought her straight in to see us and this set in chain an unusual series of events.

Our first thought was that she may have damaged her cruciate ligament. The leg was stable and she could walk on it but was sore after exercise. We rested her and started her on anti-inflammatory medication. After a week of treatment, she wasn’t much better so we admitted her for x-rays. To our surprise (and dismay), it turns out she had a fracture of the tibia (shin-bone)!

Its very unusual for a dog with a fractured leg to be able to bear weight and it’s very uncommon for a Cattle Dog to sustain such an injury without major force being applied (as any Cattle Dog owners will know, they’re tough as old boots!). We were also very concerned with the radiographic appearance of Lexi’s bone structure and suspected that an underlying bone cancer may be the cause of the fracture. We sent our x-rays to a specialist surgeon and he agreed with us that bone cancer was very likely.

We sat down with John and Carolyn and went through all of our options. Although we could have repaired the fracture, there was a very real risk that the diseased bone would not heal and that bone cancer would spread elsewhere in the system. In the end, we all agreed that the best outcome for Lexi would be to amputate the leg.

Our first step was to take some more x-rays to ensure there was no spread of cancer to Lexi’s chest or abdomen. Happily, there was no evidence of any problems there. We duly went ahead with the surgery and Dr Alana performed the operation with her usual efficiency. Lexi recovered well from anaesthetic and spent that  night in hospital with us. Her response the following day was fabulous and she never took a backward step. She had obviously been in a degree of pain prior to surgery as she bounced back to her normal happy self in no time. Although she developed a minor degree of swelling over the leg in the week following surgery, she recovered well from that and was jumping in and out of the car within a short space of time.

Carolyn and John have been delighted to have their girl back to her normal self (albeit with one leg less) and we’re hoping she has several years ahead of her as a result! Well done Drs Sarah and Alana for their efforts. It’s great to see a good result come from a potentially very bad situation.

'Simone' - A real Argentinian Character 

Simone is a little dog who lives in Colonia Pellegrini, a town in the heart of Argentina's Ibera Natural Reserve. Why am I writing about Simone and what does an Argentinian dog have to do with Gawler Animal Hospital? Simple answer is that my eldest daughter, Cat, is currently travelling through South America (on her extended and delayed honeymoon) and sent me the story after she’d come across this charming little character. It was nice to hear about both the differences and the similarities in the way we (and the Argentinians) treat our pets. Here’s what Cat had to say about Simone.

 “Colonia Pellegrini (look it up, if you like) is a village where dogs basically have free rein. They seem to rule the place, and come and go as they please. They spend their days doing the round of the 30 odd properties in the village, coming to greet and play with you in the street. The dogs’ owners seemed completely unconcerned about this and there was no evidence of any canine anti-social behavior going on (perhaps the occasional romantic interlude in full view of the general public!).

 Hard to know how much veterinary attention was available to them but the dogs seemed perfectly happy and relaxed. ‘Simone’ was one of these dogs and he really caught our attention with his delightfully friendly antics after seeking us out. ”

 Cat couldn’t let this go without some photos for the Gawler Animal Hospital website and so brought out her trusty travelling bandana for the photo-shoot.

 “Needless to say when we tried to convince Simone to pose for the photo with the bandana, he didn't want a bar of it! He likes to run around in circles like a lunatic, and likes to nibble on your toes but didn’t see the need to pose for some veterinary hospital on the other side of the world! Great fun but not much of a fashion model - Oh well, maybe in the next town!”

 Thanks Cat, keep up the good work and thanks for letting us know about this little character!


'Jessie' Peterson 

Jessie is a new arrival in the Peterson household and is now settling in well. Her introduction wasn't quite so smooth, however, having to contend with a big cat and and an even bigger Alaskan Malamute (Monty). Her initiation was caught by the local papparrazzi, as you can see for yourself!







 Who are you, little dog? I haven't seen you around here before.




I'm Jessie. Can I sit with you as that big hairy dog over there isn't too happy to see me?






Okay kid, I don't have a lot of time but tell me all about it.





Right let me give you the heads up as to how it works around here.  Stay outta the big guy’s face as he gets grumpy. Do that and everything will be good. And whilst we’re on the subject, stay outta mine too and we’ll get on just fine.



Thanks for that, I can see we're going to be best of friends!









Ed note: they are indeed best of friends and even Monty the Malamute is accepting Jessie very well now!!

'Snitz' Brealey's Big Day Out 


Every now and then, some of our vaccination reminder letters prompt a response from the recipient - your pet! One such 'letter to the editor' arrived in the (e)mail yesterday from 'Schnitzel', an 8-year-old Dachshund owned by Jan Brealey of Willaston. Along with a photo of 'Snitz' after a particularly mischievous episode, I thought this should go up on the website as our January 'Pet of the Month'!


"Dr Dave MacPhail

& all the friendly staff

Gawler Animal Hospital


Hi All,

I'm sorry that you had to send my Mum a 3rd reminder.

She has been on and on about not being able to afford my visit to you ..... too many bills ......electricity ...gas ... rates...... Telstra ... not to mention Christmas.... Blah  Blah  Blah!

I've finally convinced her to get her priorities right & think about MY health.

Even though I don't fancy the prick much, the treats afterwards are pretty good.


See you soon,


PS - my Mum has attached my photo for me ... yes, I was having a great time but I was caught out. She wasn't impressed ... no sense of humour!"


"Islay' MacPhail- Breed identification exercise! 


No particularly good reason for Islay to be voted onto the pet of the month list but, as it's the silly season, I thought I'd exercise editor's rights and put her in there (my dog, you see)! For those of you in the know, you'll recognize Islay as a Scottish Deerhound. There aren't very many of them around in South Australia so not a well-known breed. As would be apparent, the breed originated in the highlands of Scotland and were used in packs to hunt deer. To this day (as my other dogs would tell you if only they could talk), Deerhounds retain the habit of playing by simultaneously biting their prey on the back of the neck and knocking them over with a timely shoulder 'bump'. Unfortunately for my other dogs, this combined two-prong attack usually ends up with a score-line of Deerhound 1 - other dog 0!!

There was a time when it was illegal for Deerhounds to be owned by anyone other than the royal family (who also owned all the wild deer stock by default). Penalty for such illegal possession of either death or deportation to Australia (but not many available boats so generally the former option)! Fortunately, the laws have been relaxed somewhat as these dogs are the most faithful, gentle-natured creatures going and make wonderful pets. They do take up a lot of space, however, and don't do too well travelling in a small car! They also tend to favour a one person, one dog scenario - Islay would live in my pocket given the opportunity!! Surprisingly, although watching her in full flight is an exercise in poetry-in-motion, they don't need a huge amount of exercise and can be very relaxed dogs. If you want to keep one in a small house, though, be prepared to spend a lot of time stepping over them as they make a point of sprawling out and occupying maximum floor space!

So that's Islay - a Scottish Deerhound. A gentle giant of a dog, much loved in the MacPhail household and, to my mind, a deserving candidate for pet of the month!

"Obie' Zuiani - A little prevention goes a long way in preventing pet dental disease! 


At Gawler Animal Hospital, one of the most common conditions we treat is dental disease in both dogs and cats. Just like our own teeth, if we don’t look after our pets teeth, dental disease develops very quickly. The end result of this is gingivitis, plaque and tartar build-up, gum recession and pain. By the time we get to have a look, there’s often irreversible disease and we need to remove teeth (see our latest blog on dental disease for more details).

As such, it’s great for us to see a case of an owner doing a fantastic job of looking after his pets oral hygiene and preventing dental degeneration. This was just the situation with ‘Obie’ , a golden Labrador dog owned by Ian Zuiani of Bibaringa, who came in to see Dr Beck Thompson this week.

‘Obie’ had needed dental surgery on three occasions over the last couple of years and had suffered slab fractures of two of his molars. This is a common injury in dogs that chew a lot of bones and results in a slab of enamel breaking off and leaving the more sensitive and porous portion of the tooth exposed. Over time, this often leads to infection and pain in the tooth. Unfortunately, this was the case with Obie and we had needed to remove both of these teeth.

We had a long chat with Ian about the implications of this as the remaining molars would be more prone to plaque build-up as the result of these extractions (it’s the scissor action of chewing that keeps teeth clean and if the opposing tooth has been removed there is no more scissor action happening!). We started up a program of brushing and a specific dental diet (Hills T/D, it’s a brilliant diet) and arranged a series of revisits to monitor Obie’s progress.

The results have been fantastic!!! At Obie’s recent visit, Dr Beck was delighted to find Obie’s mouth in really good condition with no evidence of plaque build-up and no gingivitis. Ian has been feeding Obie Hills T/D, a diet designed specifically to clean pets teeth as they eat (don’t be fooled by supermarket diets that have a ‘dental’ claim, they just don’t work, unfortunately). Ian has also been brushing Obie’s teeth on a daily basis. You may think it sounds funny to brush a pets teeth but, just like for ourselves, brushing is by far the best way to prevent dental disease. Most dogs can learn to accept tooth brushing. Actually, a lot of cats will accept brushing as well if you go slowly and gently to start with. If you’re having trouble with any of this, give us a call and we can give you some tips and tricks

The end result of Ian’s great oral care is that Obie is doing really well and we don’t need to do anything further at this stage. We’ll monitor Obie every six months. We feel strongly enough about this that we don’t charge anything for dental monitoring and we recommend doing this for the life of the pet! So well done Ian and Obie, with ongoing care, you’re doing a great job in preventing more dental disease!!



'Snoopy' Giurelli - A great example of why puppy vaccinations are so essential 


At Gawler Animal Hospital, we recently came across a case of parvo-virus in a young pup and it was a great reminder to us all of why puppy vaccinations are so important.

We were presented on a Monday morning with young Snoopy, a 7-week-old Golden Retriever pup who had been bought by the owners a couple of days before.  He’d been a bit off-colour over the weekend and the owners, Kate and Alberto Giurelli, had presumed this was due to change of diet. By the time he came to us, however, Snoopy was deteriorating rapidly and was a very sick little puppy. Dr Carolyn Ellis examined Snoopy and ran some tests in our in-house laboratory. Unfortunately, this showed us that he was positive for parvovirus, a very unpleasant and highly infectious viral disease of the intestinal tract. Although he had been vaccinated the day before he was picked up by Kate and Alberto, he would have contracted the virus during the week prior to this and so vaccination was too late to help him.

We discussed the situation with Kat e and Alberto and, much to their credit, they decided to go ahead with treatment. This involves intensive care in hospital, intravenous fluids, antibiotics and pain relief (it’s a very painful condition). After 5 days in hospital, we were all very relieved to see significant improvement and were able to send Snoopy home. Even at this point, he wasn’t out of the woods but has progressed steadily ever since with continued antibiotics and a special diet. If we can get him through the next couple of weeks without any setbacks, Snoopy should go on to lead a full and normal life.

Although this case has had a good outcome, it is an expensive disease to treat and causes considerable distress for the pet and for the owners. Not all cases have such a good outcome and, sadly, parvovirus is an ever-present threat in the dog world. As such, it brings up a number of questions we are asked by our clients regarding puppy vaccinations. For further details, please see our recent blog posted on our Gawler Vets website about puppy vaccinations.


'Georgie' Roesler - Georgie bounces back - again!! 

Georgie, a five-year-old Cocker Spaniel owned by Sally Roesler of Craigmore, has become a real favourite at Gawler Animal Hospital over the last couple of years. She has been suffering from a disease known as Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia (bit of a mouthful, sorry!) which occurs when the immune system starts to break down red blood cells (with disastrous consequences).. .

Georgie first developed the problem over 2 years ago and came to us in a very poor condition. Dr Steve Crouch attended to Georgie and it was clear from the first examination that she was quite anaemic. She spent the next couple of days in hospital while we stabilised her condition. Blood tests confirmed that she was markedly anaemic and we were able to establish that this was, indeed, caused by an immune-mediated problem.

Immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA) is something we see on a reasonably regular basis and is a fatal disease if left untreated. We’re not sure what causes the immune system to suddenly turn on its own cells but that’s exactly what it does, in this case, targeting red blood cells specifically. The result is that the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood is greatly diminished and the patient becomes progressively weaker and more run down.

In Georgie’s case, her condition was severe enough that we needed to give her a blood transfusion in order to stabilise her. Treatment of the disease longer term involves modifying the immune response and this is done with a cocktail of drugs. After a couple of days, we were able to send Georgie home and to continue monitoring her on a daily basis initially

Over the next few months Georgie settled down and we were able to gradually reduce the dosages of drugs she was on. After about 18 months, we weaned her off treatment completely and continued to monitor her response.

All went well until the beginning of June when Georgie suddenly crashed again. The disease had recurred and Georgie was a very sick little girl once more. In many cases, a recurrence of the disease is harder to bring under control but, luckily, Georgie responded very well to treatment. Despite a couple of minor complications along the way, she seems to be back under control again.

In the meantime, she’s coping very well with all of the blood tests and medications. It can be a real challenge for both patient and owner to cope with all the visits but it’s a testament to Sally’s care that things have gone so well. Under the watchful eye of Dr Steve, we’re hoping to see Georgie lead a long and happy life. Well done to all concerned for such a good result!!

'Mother 2' - Gawler Vets looking for loving home for special camp dog the case when we were asked to help rehome a Northern Territories camp dog. ‘Mother 2’ (not our naming, sorry!) is a delightful little dog in need of a home. Her plight was brought to my 

attention by David Stephens, one of our regular clients at Gawler Animal Hospital. David approached me at our recent AWL fundraiser in Dead Man’s Pass and asked if I could help. His daughter, Alys, is a field ecologist, based in Arnhem Land, and provides scientific support for local Aboriginal communities and their Ranger groups in preserving and managing the biodiversity of their ancestral country. With her work, Alys spends a lot of time ‘out bush’ and came to know and admire this little dog during her travels.

Let me tell you her story, as relayed to me by Alys.

“Mother 2 is somewhere between 2 and 3 years old. About 18 months ago she arrived very skinny at the Djelk Ranger shed in Maningrida, co-parenting the pups of another female (Mother 1.... the names have stuck unfortunately). The pups of Mother 1 were re-homed and Mother 1 was unfortunately hit by a car. Mother 2 remained at the Djelk shed. Due to the few and far between vet visits to Maningrida, she became pregnant and gave birth to 7 pups (because she was so well fed at the shed). Not long after that the vet was finally allowed to make a visit and she was desexed.

She has gradually become less and less a camp dog and more in need of a stable home. She is incredibly loving, loyal, intelligent, fit and protective of wherever she calls home. Due to her camp dog upbringing she is initially wary of other dogs but will quickly adjust once she understands they are all meant to share the same space. She roams fairly free and is not used to being fenced - she would be most happy on a reasonable sized property. She loves to be walked, run with joggers and gallop with bike riders - she deserves a fit and active life.

Unfortunately my partner and I cannot make a long term commitment to an animal at this stage of our lives. However we cannot simply abandon her to be a homeless camp dog. We will cover the cost of sending her anywhere in Australia as long as we are sure it is to a good home.”

I’ve promised David and Alys that we’ll do our best to help re-home this special little dog as I think she deserves a new start in life. From all descriptions, she’ll make a very caring pet although I think she’ll need to be in the right environment. She’s not exactly a ‘townie’ dog and she’ll need a bit of space to flourish. If anyone has any interest, please feel free to contact us directly and we can act as the go-between. Although we haven’t seen her, as yet, we would give her a full physical exam before sending her out to a new home.

If we can manage to rehome this little camp dog, everyone at Gawler Vets will be delighted to have helped!

Jock Dawson -  Jock’s Amazing Story of Survival after Emergency Surgery 

Last month, a little Jack Russell named Jock arrived at our doorstep in a very bad way and

needing emergency surgery to save his life. Owned by Kylie and Matt Dawson of Evanston Park, Jock is a feisty little character (most Jack Russells  are but Jock takes this to extremes!) and had been attacked by a much larger dog during the night. Matt discovered him in the morning with huge wounds to his throat area. Jock was conscious but in a bad way and Matt rushed him in to the surgery. Our nurses recognised that he was in need of immediate emergency care and rushed him through to the treatment area where they started him on oxygen, intravenous fluids, antibiotics and pain relief. 

Dr Steve Crouch was immediately brought out of a consulting session to attend to Jock. It was apparent that he had massive damage to his throat including a complete tear through his trachea (windpipe). Our first concern was to establish an airway so that Jock could breathe properly. Having done this, he was taken straight into surgery and underwent 2 hours of surgical cleanup and repair. 

Matt and Kylie were aware that the chances of Jock surviving were poor, even with surgery. However, with every passing hour, his prognosis improved. Even after surviving surgery, there was a major risk of him dying from the effects of his wounds or that he would develop pneumonia. All of this was complicated by the fact that Jock was not exactly appreciative of our efforts to save him and provided the staff with some distinct dog-handling challenges once he woke up from anaesthetic!! 

Despite this, we were able to care for him in hospital and he showed steady improvement with no signs of pneumonia or tissue breakdown. After three days in hospital, he was much stronger and we felt he was able to go home. Over the next two weeks, Jock went from strength to strength and has now made a full recovery. As a side benefit, he has even become a much more compliant patient and seems to have realised that we are actually trying to help him!

Well done Matt and Kylie for persisting despite a very poor initial prognosis. They were absolutely determined to save him. Their determination was not only matched but exceeded by little Jock and I suspect this played a major part in our success. Apologies to any other clients who were kept waiting while we managed to re-schedule and catch up with our consult list! They all understood the urgency of the situation and, I think, would like to be given the same immediate attention if it was their pet involved. Well done to all the staff for a fantastic team effort. It was a minor miracle that Jock came through after his emergency surgery and it really is an amazing story of survival!!


Thirsten Rowe - Senior Pet Health Check 

We recently had a demonstration of the value of senior pet health checks when we saw Thirsten , a 14 year old Jack Russell boy owned by Kay Rowe of Dublin. Over the last year or so, it appeared that Thirstens age was finally catching up to him. He’d developed a heart condition and was starting to have a lot of difficulty with his breathing. Kaye was really concerned that this was starting to affect his quality of life and so brought him in to see us.

On examination, it was obvious that Thirsten was struggling a bit and his wheezing was making life uncomfortable for him. Dr Alana suggested to Kaye that we admit Thirsten and carry out a senior health package. This is a bank of tests designed to give us a good picture of general health status in our older patients. Kaye was very keen to do this and so Alana went to work immediately. 

We carried out  blood tests, a urinalysis and tested his blood pressure.  The results indicated that Thirsten had an increase in liver enzymes and  high blood pressure. This made us suspicious of a disease known as Cushings Disease and we were able to confirm this with an additional blood test.

We had ended up with a bit of a shopping list of problems by this stage including heart disease, bronchitis and cushings disease. The Rowes were keen to get started on treatment to see if we could improve Thirstens quality of life. Dr Sarah and Dr Alana worked together to come up with a treatment plan. After some early setbacks, Thirsten is now feeling much happier and coping very well with his multiple challenges.  This has taken a lot of commitment and hard work on the part of his owners but, as Kaye pointed out to us recently, Thirsten is now acting more like a 4 year-old than a 14 year-old! For our part, we’re really happy that our senior pet health checks are helping us to achieve some great results so well done Sarah and Alana!!

Happy 21st Birthday Samantha! 

Once considered a death sentence in cats, chronic kidney disease has done little to slow down ‘Samantha’ Wilton. Almost 7 years after first being diagnosed with renal failure, Samantha has reached the grand old age of 21!

Samantha was initially diagnosed in 2006 and has been on medication ever since. Not so long ago, we would have considered 12 months as a very good outcome in these circumstances so that’s a fantastic result.. Samantha is living proof of the power of current medical advances (along with very dedicated owners!) in treating older cats!

To celebrate the occasion, Phil and Bronwyn Wilton held a birthday party for Samantha. Dr Beck and nurse Jane went along to help with celebrations. They have both been very involved in her treatment and have come to know Samantha very well over the last few years. Despite all the attention from numerous visitors, Samantha seemed quite unfazed and not sure what all the fuss was about!

Phil and Bronwyn have been absolutely fantastic in their care for this special cat and should be commended for all they have done for her. Well done, also, to all of the staff but particularly to Beck and Jane. We know that Samantha will continue to do battle with her kidney disease and we’ve told Bronwyn we expect an invitation to this little cat's 25th party as well!!

Honey Bezzina - A Lucky Escape 

Honey is a lovely but mischievous little kitten owned by Carley Bezzina of Hewett. Ever since arriving in the Bezzina household, Honey has been eating some pretty odd things but nothing quite as impressive as a sewing needle and thread! All of that changed last week, however, and Honey has now used up one of her nine lives!

Carley called us one day to say that Honey was bringing up fluids and seemed to be making an unusual noise with her breathing. She also seemed a bit out of sorts, although she was still eating small amounts. Dr Beck Thompson examined her and, much to her surprise, could see the end of a sewing needle protruding from the roof of her mouth!

Beck immediately took Honey through and prepared her for an anaesthetic. This was duly carried out and the needle, along with about 6 cm of thread, was removed from its position embedded in the soft palate.

 Honey seemed much more comfortable as soon as she recovered from anaesthetic and was sent home later that day with some antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. 

Honey has been pretty lucky with this as the damage could have been much more severe if she had managed to swallow the needle. Fortunately, that didn't happen and so she’s had a lucky escape.  Carley brought her back in to see us a few days later and was delighted to report that Honey was back to her normal (read mischievous) self!  Let’s hope she sticks to a more conventional diet in future!!!

Obi Lunau - A Happy Reunion 

Obi is a lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy owned by Julie Lunau of Williamstown. Obi had a lucky escape last month after he panicked during a thunderstorm and broke through the fencing before disappearing into the nearby forest. In his terrified state, he was in no position to find his way home and wasn’t seen for days. The Lunau family pulled out all the stops to try and find Obi, posting numerous ‘missing’ flyers and conscripting friends and family to search for him.  He was spotted one day in the forest but was too scared to respond even to Julie, his owner. He ran off again and the family feared that they had lost him for good.

The story has a happy ending, however. Ten days after going missing, Obi appeared at a nearby property. He was very scared and in very poor condition and had probably eaten next to nothing during his ten day ordeal. Luckily, the owners of the property had seen one of the flyers and recognized Obi as the missing dog in question. They contacted Julie who raced over to their property to find a very distressed Obi. It took him a couple of hours to settle, during which time Julie was afraid he would panic and bolt again. He eventually allowed her to approach him, however, and she was able  to put a lead on him and take him home.

 Obi had lost over 10kg during this time. He was very nervous but gradually improved. Luckily, he has had no permanent damage and is steadily regaining the weight he lost. Although we’ll have to work on his fear of thunder, he should return to his normal happy, healthy self over the next few weeks.

Thunder phobia is remarkably common in dogs and can result in some very stressful situations and injuries through the resulting  panic. Fortunately, there are several treatments and methods  we can use to help with this condition. If you do have a dog with a fear of thunder (or other loud noises such as fireworks), please don’t hesitate to give us a call for help.

In the meantime, we’re delighted to report that the Lunau family has had a very happy re-union and we’re hoping to have Obi around for many years to come after his terrible ordeal!


Puppy Training Class 

The Class of October has just graduated from their ‘Puppy Pre-School’ training program!

They were a really happy bunch of pups and had a great time learning how to socialise with each other. The owners also had a lot of fun and learnt the basics of puppy training over the four-week course. 

Each month at Gawler Animal Hospital we welcome a brand new batch of puppies into our Puppy Pre-School class. The purpose of these 4 week training sessions is to introduce young pups to new situations, to people and to other dogs. It’s a great socialization exercise and the pups have a huge amount of fun whilst learning some basic manners. By the end of four weeks, they almost all come bounding in to the hospital looking for their new-found friends! We find that this also has enormous long-term benefit for these pups and future visits to the hospital are far less stressful as they retain good memories of the happy experiences they’ve had here. 

The sessions are run by Sonia, Sam and Mel, three of our great veterinary nursing staff. They all love doing this and have great fun with the pups. Whilst taking owners through the techniques of dog obedience training (really important with very young pups), Sonia, Mel and Sam  also discuss a wide variety of healthcare topics such as vaccination, parasite control, diet, desexing and many others. 

Classes are aimed at young pups between the ages of 8 and 14 weeks (at time of starting) and we restrict the numbers to 6 in each class. This means that each pup (and owner) gets plenty of individual attention and has a very positive experience. Family members are encouraged to come along to the sessions and to join in the fun. Pups must have had their first vaccination at least and will not be mixing with un-vaccinated dogs at any stage. 

Classes are run on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 6.00 to 7.00. Given the limitations on places and to avoid disappointment, we encourage puppy owners to contact Sonia as soon as possible on 8522 3500.  



'Ollie' MacPhail 

As practice owner, I'm allowed to say that Ollie is special - he belongs to my daughter, Kirsty, and has been a very significant part of our family for the last 12 years now! I'm going to indulge myself by putting him in as 'Pet of the Month' but I think he does deserve mention on his own merits. Ollie is a blue Burmese and has had a long and checkered medical history with the latest instalment being a recent bout of pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is actually much more common in dogs (generally from eating too much fatty food) but can also afflict cats. Our first indication that something was amiss was when Ollie refused his breakfast (normally, he's demanding second breakfast shortly afterwards!). I took him straight into the hospital and we started him on an intravenous drip as he was becoming dehydrated. Blood work and an ultrasound exam confirmed that he had an upset of his pancreas. He stayed in the hospital for four days on intravenous fluids and a cocktail of treatments aimed at relieving the pain and inflammation in his pancreas (it makes both dogs and cats feel very miserable). I'm happy to report he made a full recovery and is now back to his normal delightful self. As an aside, Burmese cats are considered the vets cat - more vets own Burmese cats than any other breed I've seen and that is attributable to their lovely nature.

Actually, we very nearly lost Ollie many years ago after he was hit by a fast-moving car on the One Tree Hill Road and went missing for 3 days. As it turned out, he had broken both hips in the accident but managed to drag himself half way down our driveway before coming to a halt in some long grass. He owes his life to our pet ram, 'Rambo' (not my choice of name, blame my children for this!). The ram loved company (horses, dogs, cats, people, he didn't mind!) and simply laid down beside Ollie and stayed with him. I realised that something was amiss as 'Rambo' didn't normally lie in that spot and he'd been there 2 days in a row. On investigation, I discovered Ollie in a very poor state and close to death. He spent a week in hospital before he was in any state to undergo surgery. The worst affected of his hips was operated on initially and then, once he'd had a chance to recover from that, we fixed up the second hip.

To see Ollie sprinting across our paddocks now, you wouldn't know he'd had any kind of problem but, if not for a pet ram, he wouldn't be with us at all!! Although my daughter now owes me (and Rambo) a permanent debt of gratitude, I suspect that's one invoice I'm very unlikely to ever see paid!!  



'Charlie' McCaffrey 

Charlie is yet another lovely Great Dane pup (we do see normal breeds as well, trust me!) who was brought in to us recently by his owners, John and Sherran McCaffrey of Blakeview.  Charlie was only 9 weeks old and had only recently arrived in the McCaffrey household. He had become very lethargic overnight and was clearly not well

 Charlie was examined by Dr Sarah Hill who discovered that, as well as running a high temperature, Charlie was very sore in a number of his joints.  We quickly ran some blood tests which revealed a high level of inflammation. Radiographs of hips, elbows and shoulders were normal, fortunately, and we were relieved that there was no evidence of damage to the joint surfaces. The likely cause of the problem was a bacterial or viral inflammation of multiple joints (polyarthritis).

 Charlie was started on a combination of antibiotics and pain relief medication and hospitalised overnight. By the following morning, he was considerably improved and was sent home later that day. Charlie improved steadily over the next few days and is now back to being a normal, happy pup. He is moving freely and showing no further sign of joint pain. Although he’ll be monitored over the next few months, there is every chance that he will now lead a normal life with no ongoing problems in his joints.

 Well done Dr Sarah and all the staff – much as it pains us all to see a young pup in distress, it’s lovely to see such a complete recovery and a great result!


‘Derango’ Dow 

 Derango is a lovely Great Dane puppy who came to his owner, Michael Dow from Williamstown, via the Great Dane recovery network (re-homing of dogs that have not worked out with the previous owners, for one reason or another). Unfortunately, he came with a serious deformity of his front legs. Michael quickly recognized that all was not well with Derango’s conformation and arranged an appointment to see Dr Steve Crouch, our orthopaedic surgeon.

 On examination, Dr Steve could see that Derango had marked twisting of his front legs. Radiographs of the legs showed an abnormality in the relative growth rates of the radius and ulna, the two major long bones in the foreleg. The result of this unequal growth was a distinct bowing of the legs. Although the joints all appeared normal, there was no question that, over time, Derango would develop severe arthritis due to his poor conformation.

 With this condition, and during the growth phase (and giant breeds such as Great Danes continue to grow well into their second year), it is possible to get a return to normal conformation with corrective surgery. The surgery involves making an incision through the radius and allowing the leg to move into a more normal position. Over time, the incision  stabilises and heals  in a straight alignment. In this case, both legs were affected equally badly and so bilateral surgery was required.

 Although Derango had only been with Michael a few days, he had no hesitation in deciding to go ahead with surgery and, within 2 days, Derango was already walking well and was ready to go home. He was confined to quarters over the next few weeks to allow healing to occur but is expected to do very well. This is a fantastic result and will make a huge difference to Derango’s quality of life and life expectancy! Well done to Dr Steve and our dedicated nursing team and to Michael for making such a commitment to the new member of his extended family. We look forward to seeing a happy, lively and active Derango for many years to come!!



'Gus' Blakemore 

Gus is a three-year-old ‘Westie' cross dog and was brought in to us by his owner, Ann Blakemore from Gawler, with a complaint of having been completely off his food for the previous three days. He had also been drinking more than normal for some time.

On examination, Dr Carolyn Ellis was concerned about Gus' water intake and general condition. She promptly ran some blood screens using our newly installed ‘in-house' pathology system. We had the results back within ten minutes and these indicated that Gus had an elevation of kidney enzymes (potentially consistent with acute kidney failure) but also a change in sodium and potassium levels.

The change in electrolytes can be seen with a condition known as Addison's disease, which is caused by an abnormality of the adrenal glands. Addison's disease is known in the veterinary world as ‘The Great Pretender' as it can cause a multitude of clinical signs and can mimic many other diseases (kidney failure in Gus' case).

Dr Carolyn suggested to Ann that we run a separate test, which would confirm our diagnosis. As one of only 4 veterinary hospitals in South Australia to have this facility, we were able to run the test immediately and to have a result within an hour. During this time, we had started Gus on intravenous fluids to improve his hydration levels and to correct the electrolyte imbalance we had already seen. Once the diagnosis of Addison's disease was confirmed, we were able to start immediate treatment, and by the following morning, Gus was feeling much happier. He went home the same day on tablets and will be checked again on a regular basis.

Addisons is a relatively easily controlled condition and Gus has a good prognosis. He will need ongoing testing and possibly adjustments to his medication dosage. He will also need ongoing medication for life. Other than this, however, he should be able to lead a normal happy, healthy lifestyle!

Within the space of twenty-four hours and with the help of our new pathology equipment, we had been able to make a complete diagnosis, start treatment and send Gus home feeling much happier. This is a fantastic result! Well done to our Dr Carolyn Ellis and our nursing team and to Gus' owner Ann for picking up so quickly on the early signs of disease.



'Cougar' Stevens 

Haemolytic Anaemia, Hepatitis, Arthritis, Sore Feet, Etc, Etc!!

‘Cougar' is a very happy, 9-year-old Staffy Cross owned by the Stevens family of Evanston. He first came to us a little over a year ago with a history of recent lethargy and weight loss. Blood-work showed that Cougar had developed a condition known as Immune-Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA). This was caused by red blood cells being destroyed by Cougar's own immune system and is a condition we see occasionally in dogs.  Cougar was started on immediate treatment to try and control the immune reaction and to prevent any further loss of red blood cells. Without treatment, IMHA is a rapidly fatal disease and the Stevens' were determined to do whatever they could to save Cougar.

Initial treatment was complicated by the development of hepatitis (an inflammatory condition of the liver) and also of a heart murmur (leaky heart valves). Secondary bouts of enteritis made Cougar feel pretty unwell and he continued to lose weight. For several weeks, it was touch and go as to whether he would pull through and the family were seriously considering whether they might be going to lose Cougar. After several blood tests and multiple courses of both anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics, we finally started to see an improvement in Cougar's blood picture.  After about 3 months of treatment, our veterinarians felt they could start to reduce the dosage of immune-suppressant drugs.

Cougar has remained stable ever since although he is still (and probably always will be) on medication. Not content with causing his owners so much grief with the Anaemia, he has since developed shoulder arthritis and a painful condition of his feet! The arthritis is being well controlled with a series of injections. Juliet Stevens discovered that covering Cougar's feet caused a huge improvement in his walking and so we ordered in some special boots to protect his feet (Staffy's may look tough but they often have quite thin, sensitive skin!). The result (as you can see in the photo) is a happy and bouncy Cougar who, despite his multiple challenges,  has remained a delightfully cheerful dog throughout all of this.

His successful treatment is a testament to the determination of his owners and has been a delight for us all to see at Gawler Animal Hospital. Well done to our treating veterinarians Dr Beck Thompson, Dr Steve Crouch and Dr Carolyn Ellis (as well as our dedicated nursing staff) who all had a part to play in Cougar being around to celebrate another Xmas.


Funny pet videos

Every now and then, a client comes up with what we think is a very funny video about pets and people. We'd like to share some of these with you and hope you find them as amusing as we did! If there is a video clip that you've seen, let us know and we'll add it to our collection.


Funny Cats in water

Simon's cat 'Let me in'

Simon's Cat 'Cat-man-do'

The Ultimate Dog Tease

The Skateboarding Bulldog

Cats High on Catnip

Party Animals