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Meet surgeon Dr Orly Zemer

Thursday, September 20, 2018



Dr Orly Zemer DVM ECVS joined us as a veterinary surgeon and lecturer in small animal surgery in late 2017.

Orly graduated from her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2007. She completed her internship at the veterinary teaching hospital there and served as the attending clinician in the emergency and critical care department. She then completed her small animal surgical residency program in 2014 and became an ECVS Diplomate in 2015.

Orly has been working happily in our small animal surgery team ever since. 

Learn more about our small animal surgery services.

Clinical trial: Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease in dogs

Thursday, September 06, 2018




Is your dog suffering for vomiting, diarrhoea and weight loss? Your pet may have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).


Similar to IBD for people, IBD in dogs is a group of diseases that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Signs and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and even abdominal discomfort.

Unfortunately, IBD encompasses a lot of different processes, and part of the difficulty in treating the disease in dogs is trying to figure out the responsible cause. IBD can be due to a response to something in the diet, a change in the type or numbers of bacteria in the gut or some other substance in the gut. Genetics also plays a role, which is why some breeds of dogs seem to get this disease more than others.

We are seeking dog participants for this research study which aims to find the best treatment for IBD in dogs.

Current methods for diagnosing IBD in dogs can be onerous and time-consuming as they go through a step-by-step process in which biopsies alone cannot determine the most suitable treatment.

In this study, we will be assessing the bacteria that are present in your dog’s small intestine and faeces at the time of diagnosis, and then in its faeces as we initiate and optimise treatment. In addition, we will look to identify the function of those bacteria, how your dog responds to those bacteria and whether there is any change in the body’s normal inflammatory response.

Participate in our research study looking for best methods of treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs.

Eligibility criteria

Candidate dogs must meet these criteria to take part in the trial:

  • Signs of chronic (> 3 weeks) gastrointestinal disease (vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss)
  • No recent treatment with antibiotics or prednisolone
  • Able to travel to U-Vet Hospital in Werribee
  • Able to visit for re-assessments after the first visit every 2-4 weeks until clinical remission. Your last visit will be 3 months after clinical remission.

Enquiries

To enquire about the trial, please contact us on (03) 9731 2000, or email vet-hospital@unimelb.edu.au with the subject line 'IBD in dogs clinical trial', your name and phone number.

 

New minimally invasive treatment for abnormal shunt vessels

Thursday, September 06, 2018


Image: Dr. Stewart Ryan with Cleo, the first intrahepatic shunt patient treated at U-Vet Hospital

The small animal surgery service at the U-Vet Hospital is a leader in developing minimally invasive treatments for dogs and cats to avoid large open surgical procedures

Portosystemic shunts (PSS) are abnormal communications between the portal vein and the circulation taking blood back to the heart. Shunts refer to holes or small passages that move, or allows movement of, fluid from one part of the body to another. When a shunt vessel is present, the liver does not receive the normal amount of blood from the portal vein so nutrients are not absorbed, toxins are not removed and protein production is reduced. 


Image: The team performing an IR procedure for shunt attenuation

So far the team have performed over 10 interventional radiology (IR) procedures to close abnormal shunt vessels within the liver.

The whole procedure is done through a small access point in the jugular vein in the neck. IR uses wires and catheters passed through blood vessel to deliver stents and coils to close abnormal blood vessels. Dogs treated with this technique avoid a major invasive open surgical procedure that has significant risks.


Image: X-ray of a stent (metal/plastic tube) in caudal vena cava, a large vein returning deoxygenated blood to the heart, and coils in shunt vessel.

To date dogs treated with IR have done very well with return to normal clinical activity and status and reduction in need for medications and diet. 

There are many surgery procedures that can be done using IR techniques.
To find out more please contact the small animal surgery service at vet-sa-surgery@unimelb.edu.au





Are you concerned about desexing a dog with Von Willebrand disease or Factor VII deficiency?

Thursday, September 06, 2018



Are you concerned about desexing a dog with Von Willebrand disease or Factor VII deficiency?

Dogs with these conditions are prone to excessive bleeding due to abnormal clotting mechanisms.  It is important to perform an ovariectomy/ovariohysterectomy on these patients to decrease the risk of bleeding during normal oestrus.

At the U-Vet Hospital, we use a laparoscopic (keyhole surgery) approach to perform the surgery in the most minimally invasive way to reduce the risks of bleeding and complications.

In these patients we determine their blood type and produce appropriate blood product with the help of our Blood bank service (e.g., Cryoprecipitate).

We use these products to transfuse the patient prior to performing laparoscopic ovariectomy/ovariohysterectomy. After the procedure the patient is put into recovery and monitored in ICU overnight.

Laparoscopic procedures for the small animal surgery referral team at U-Vet is a routine procedure and takes approximately the same amount of time and recovery is quicker.


 
Images: Our surgeons performing a laparoscopy procedure.

To find out more, please contact the Small animal surgery coordinator at vet-sa-surgery@unimelb.edu.au.


Clues of diseases in animal blood cells

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


Image: Normal red blood cells from a dog 

When checking an animal for disease we often collect blood to check for blood cell abnormalities. Normal red blood cells in mammals are round, but occasionally we see abnormal and interesting shapes that can be a clue of disease.

Normal red blood cells from a dog, like the image above, are round and have a pale centre. The big blue cell in the lower right of the image below shows a leukocyte (eosinophil) which is part of the body's normal immune system. They help the body fight infection and other diseases.

Here are some examples of cases we have had with abnormal blood cells which have showed signs of diseases.

Case 1:
This dog was anaemic (had low red blood cell count). When we examined the blood film we saw lots of crazy erythrocyte shapes which supported the presence of a bleeding cancer called haemangiosarcoma. We call these crazy starfish shapes acanthocytes – but we think the one in the centre of the magnified image looks like a leafy sea-dragon (if you use your imagination). 



Image: Red blood cells of a dog with haemangiosarcoma, a type of bleeding cancer.


Case 2:
This dog was also anaemic (had low red blood cell count) and we were trying to find out why. When we examined the blood film we noted red blood cells with blisters (upper left) and the fragmented blood cell in the centre which our pathologist from New Zealand thought looked like a Kiwi bird. These changes suggested the cells were being damaged as they moved through abnormal vessels. The dog was later diagnosed with kidney and heart disease.



Image: Red blood cells of a dog later diagnosed with kidney and heart disease.
 

Case 3:
This rabbit was losing weight and was found to be anaemic (had low red blood cell count). When we examined the blood film we saw this fish-shaped erythrocyte which was a fun incidental finding.



Image: Red blood cells of a rabbit who was anaemic.


For further information and to make an appointment, contact us.

Clinical trial: Investigation of stem cells as treatment for spinal cord injuries in dogs

Friday, August 24, 2018



Do you know of a dog with a spinal cord injury that has resulted in severe neurological issues like loss of hindlimb mobility or paraplegia, loss of feeling or bowel and bladder dysfunction? We are exploring a new treatment for dogs based on the latest human medicine research, and you may be able to help.

Spinal cord injury (SCI) can be as devastating for dogs as for humans. The most common cause of SCI is intervertebral disc disease. To date no therapeutic method has been shown to successfully treat this disease in dogs with the most severe lesions, but neural derived stem cell therapies have shown promising results in humans. This trial will enable our veterinarians to explore the safety and feasibility of this treatment for dogs and evaluate improvements it may deliver to neural and motor function.

Eligible participant dogs will receive a free of charge initial consultation, treatment services, MRI imaging, and all research-related medical care and medications during the clinical trial.

This project has been approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of the University of Melbourne (#1714234).

Eligibility criteria

Candidate dogs must meet these criteria to take part in the trial:
  • Must be affected by a spinal cord injury with severe neurological deficits. These may include: loss of voluntary motor function of hindlimb or complete paraplegia, loss of sensation to the level of the spinal lesion, and dysfunction of bowels and bladder.
  • Must have been diagnosed or treated more than three months ago.
  • Older than 6 months of age
  • Less than 20kg body weight.

Enquire now

Please first ensure your dog meet the eligibility criteria above.

To enquire and register your interest, email Dr Matthias le Chevoir and the research team and include the following details:
  • “Investigation of stem cells as treatment for spinal cord injuries in dogs” in the subject line
  • Your first name and last name
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • Your preferred method of contact (phone or email)
  • Your preferred time of contact (if by phone).
A member of our research team will be in touch to provide more information and to arrange for a suitable time.



How do you feed your pet a balanced diet? Interview with Dr Sasha Herbert

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How do you decide what foods are best for your pet?

Listen to our exotic pet registrar Dr Sasha Herbert speak to Hilary Harper on the ABC Radio Melbourne about how to choose a well-balanced diet for your pet, different types of pet food available, pet food research, labelling and industry standards for different small animal species including dogs, cats, parrots, guinea pigs and reptiles.

Sasha also answers some interesting questions from callers about foods they feed their pets and whether it is a balanced diet.

Read more about what to feed your dog. For advice on other animal species and more information, contact us to book a consultation.

​Calling to dog owners for canine CPR research study

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Do you want to learn life-saving skills for your dog?

Participate in our University of Melbourne U-Vet Hospital research study and learn how to perform CPR on your dog for free.
Dogs, like humans, may suffer from a standstill of their hearts, a condition known as cardiac arrest. The only treatment for cardiac arrest consists in compressing the animal’s chest and deliver mouth-to-snout breaths, a treatment called cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

As CPR needs to be administered immediately, dog owners need to be ready in an emergency and know how to provide this potentially life-saving treatment to their dog.

Luckily, veterinarians have developed a set of recommendations on how best to perform CPR on dogs, however, how can dog owners learn CPR in the most time- and cost-effective manner?

This research study seeks to find the most effective delivery method for canine CPR training to dog owners. Led by emergency and critical care vet and senior lecturer Dr Manuel Boller, the study will be held at University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Hospital in Werribee and begins at the end of August 2018.

Eligibility criteria

This research study is for dog owners to participate. To be eligible for participation, please confirm you meet the following criteria.

Are you:
  • Over 18 years of age?
  • An owner of a dog?
  • Able to perform mild physical activity including the following? 
    - You will be required to kneel next to a dog manikin (models used for medical simulation) and bend over to deliver chest compressions. Do not participate if you foresee that this may be difficult or painful.
    - You will be asked to provide mouth-to-snout breaths to the manikin. You will use single use face shields for sanitary protection. Do not participate if you have an impaired immune system (for example, you need to take immunosuppressive medication). 
  • Never received previous CPR training in either humans or dogs?
  • Able to commute to U-Vet Hospital located in Werribee on two occasions?
  • Able to devote an initial 90 minute session and a follow up 15 minute session after 2 months?
  • Available between the end of August and October?

Enquire now

Please first ensure that you meet eligibility criteria above.

To enquire and register your interest, email dog-cpr@unimelb.edu.au and include the following details:
  • “Canine CPR Research Study” in the subject line
  • Your first name and last name
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • Your preferred method of contact (phone or email)
  • Your preferred time of contact (if by phone).
A member of our research team will be in touch to provide more information and to arrange for a suitable time.





Riley the cat reaps the benefit of philanthropy

Friday, July 27, 2018


Image: Gail Thomas' cats, Millie (left) and Riley (right)

Riley the cat and his fellow fur-friends in need are reaping the benefits of owner Gail Thomas' generosity. Gail, a long-time supporter of U-Vet Hospital, and the small animal internal medicine service, in particular began her philanthropic endeavours with us in 2011 when she helped us obtain our glucose monitoring equipment after her cat, Millie, was diagnosed with diabetes.

Gail continues to support this area and has since helped many animals over the years, having contributed to purchases of new and improved equipment for animals with diabetes to have their blood sugar continuously monitored at home rather than in hospital. 

In 2017, Gail had generously donated to help establish our new ward for housing of cats and dogs treated with radioactive iodine.


Image: Riley the cat

Coincidentally her cat Riley was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism early this year and with her generosity in contributing to the new ward, he was able to be treated and cared for in that same ward, spending eight days there following his treatment. We are very happy to report that Riley loved the new accommodation and responded very well to the treatment!

Gail's support and that of others like hers over the years has been invaluable to U-Vet Hospital, helping us to care for more animals. We would like to take this opportunity to thank her, and all our clients, for supporting our work. All of our clients support the work we do – in some cases through donations but also through trusting us to care for their beloved pets.

If you would also like to help us in providing improved care for animal patients, you can become a Friend of U-Vet or donate.

Making the carrier cat-friendly

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Does your cat run and hide as soon as the cat carrier makes an appearance?

Getting cats used to the carrier and making it a safe place for them can reduce the stress of vet visits.

Here are some top tips to helping your cat be comfortable in a carrier:

  • Ensure the carrier is suitable for your cat. It needs to be large enough to sit or lie down comfortably, clean, have holes for breathing and looking out and a door for your cat to enter voluntarily. Carriers where the entire top can be removed makes is easier for your vet to examine your cat without fuss.

  • Make the carrier seem like home. Include familiar bedding and bring a familiar blanket or towel to cover the cage.

  • You can spray synthetic pheromones in the carrier to make it seem safe and soothing

  • Before your visit to the vet, have your cat become familiar with the carrier at home by having it out for them to explore, and reward your cat with stroking or treats.


There are also medications to help reduce stress. These can be given prior to a visit. Ask your vet if this could be something that helps your cat.

This video produced by International Cat Care shows some ways you can help your cat to be comfortable in a carrier. You can view further interesting cat advice videos on their website.