Emergency: Open 24hrs/365 days 
Emergency Call: (03) 9731 2000

Latest News


Obesity in dogs and cats

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Obesity is the most common form of malnutrition seen in pets. It is defined as an excessive accumulation of fat in the body which eventually leads to adverse effects on health and your pet’s life span. 41 per cent of dogs and 32 per cent of cats were overweight or obese according to 2013 figures from Animal Health Alliance (Australia) .

Obesity leads to:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Elevated cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations
  • Cardiovascular disease (lung and heart issues)
  • Reduced tolerance to exercise and heat
  • Joint and mobility problems
  • Increased risks if your pet undergoes surgery or anaesthesia
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Possible increased risk for certain forms of cancer.

The cause

Obesity is usually caused by a combination of an inactive lifestyle and eating too many calories. Very rarely, certain hormone diseases can also lead to obesity.

It is important that your pet has a healthy, active lifestyle and is fed strictly controlled portions to prevent your pet from becoming overweight and obese.

Is your pet overweight?

Ideally, if your pet is a healthy weight you should be able to feel the ribs of your pet through a small fat layer.

If you cannot feel your pet’s ribs or if they have lost their waist line, they are overweight.

If your pet is overweight

Weight loss is vital to the health of your overweight or obese pet, unless there is an underlying cause to your pets’ weight.

If you suspect that your pet is overweight, it is always best to seek veterinary advice.

Below are three important factors to guide you in helping your pet lose weight:

Behaviour modification
Avoid feeding your pet high-calorie table scraps and frequent feeding of dog biscuits and treats. It may be surprising to know that bones have a very high calorie content.

Do not encourage or allow begging during meal times.

This can be achieved by keeping your pet out of the kitchen during meal time preparation and gradually decreasing the amount of treats given. You can also substitute treats with attention, cuddles and play instead.
Ensuring your pet is fed at the same time each day can also aid in preventing begging.

2. Exercise regime

Increased activity contributes to energy use that is necessary for weight loss.

Always start with slow and low intensity of exercise especially if your pet is used to a sedentary lifestyle.

As a general guide, 10 minute walks every day or every second day is a good start which should eventually lead to increased time and frequency.

Walking, running, playing fetch and other games are recommended forms of exercise, though ensure to start slowly.

3. Diet management

The aim of dietary management is a restricted calorie diet. Manage your pet’s diet with the following steps:
Weigh your pet and set a goal for weight loss.

Next, calculate your pet’s caloric requirement for maintenance of body weight (this can be discussed with your regular veterinarian). Feeding a diet that provides 60-70 per cent of the calories necessary for maintaining current body weight usually results in weight loss.

Do not attempt to severely restrict calories as this can cause a rebound in your pet’s weight due to the effects of severe calorie restriction on the body’s metabolic rate.

It is important to feed a well-balanced diet such as commercial pet foods that are formulated to contain adequate amounts of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. You can obtain prescription commercial diets that are aimed at weight loss as they contain fewer calories either being low in fat and high in digestible fibre and carbohydrates.

Alternatively, you may trial reducing the amount of food in your pet’s current diet. Reduce the amounts provided in each meal by one-third, and supplement with low calorie fibrous foods such as pumpkin or carrot.

If you feel the need to feed the odd treat, most dogs and cats like pieces of carrot or broccoli stalks which are low in calories.

For further information and to make an appointment for your pet, contact our General Practice.


Athena the kitten's endoscopy

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Image: Athena the Devon Rex kitten

Athena is a 7-month-old Devon Rex kitten who went on a bit of adventure.

While she was playing at home, she accidentally swallowed the rubber stopper from the end of her toy. She came into U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital with trouble breathing and on her chest X-ray it could be seen that the stopper had become lodged in her airway.

An object which is in a place it is not supposed to be, such as the airways or intestines, is called a foreign body. The foreign body was removed via endoscopy by our internal medicine team.

Endoscopy can be used in animals, like it is in people, to allow us to see inside the airways and remove objects or collect samples without surgery.

Athena made a full recovery and is now back to her normal playful self.

Image: Athena’s chest X-ray

A clip from the endoscopy: the rubber stopper that was lodged in her airway is being removed

Image: Athena under anaesthesia with the removed foreign body next to her

Image: U-Vet’s happy internal medicine team at 6am having removed the foreign body

Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital joins the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Melbourne

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital has been purchased by the University of Melbourne to enhance the clinical experience in equine medicine, surgery and reproduction for students completing the internationally recognised Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.

The Hospital will continue to operate in its existing structure and under the current managers and specialist veterinarians, Dr Jim Vasey and Dr Angus Mckinnon.

University of Melbourne veterinary students will gain experience in all aspects of equine practice by undertaking rotations with leading specialists and veterinarians at the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital.

This will be in addition to the students’ training with the specialists at the University of Melbourne Equine Centre in Werribee, which will retain its focus on equine medicine and surgery, performance and lameness management, sports medicine, rehabilitation and emergency and critical care, with access to advanced diagnostic imaging.

Professor John Fazakerley, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences said that the Faculty was keen to work with the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital because of its strong reputation as a world-class centre for equine practice.

“Through the hospital, we will be able to expand learning opportunities for students, increasing their exposure to first opinion and reproduction cases including working with mares and foals,” Professor Fazakerley said.

“As the Goulburn region has a high resident horse population, students will also have the opportunity to visit clients in the region. This is limited at the University’s Equine Centre in Werribee due to its suburban location. The Hospital will compliment services offered by the Werribee Equine Centre and strengthen the faculty’s international reputation in veterinary education.”

Ross McPherson, University of Melbourne Deputy Chancellor said that the investment reflected the University’s commitment to strengthening its relationships in the Goulburn Valley, a region of importance for University engagement.

“Our association with the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital builds on our presence in the region which includes the Dookie agriculture campus, the Rural Health Centre and Academy of Sport, Health and Education, and it will increase our student population within the community,” Mr McPherson said.

“We look forward to strengthening our existing relationships and enterprises in the Goulburn Valley, to enrich our learning, teaching and research by building closer ties in the region.”

Media enquiries: Nerissa Hannink | 0430 588 055 | nhannink@unimelb.edu.au

Dr Claire Cannon on cancer in pets

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Monday 11 December
WYN FM – Life and Style with Rob Richardson

Listen to Dr Claire Cannon, oncologist at U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital, speak to Rob Richardson at WYN FM about cancer in pets, particularly in dogs and cats, the treatment options available and future research and clinical trial opportunities.

Dr Cannon advises that if there is something out of the ordinary with your pet such as lumps and bumps on their skin or body, it is important to get it checked out by a vet.

While there are different cancer treatment options for pets including chemotherapy and surgery, she emphasises that the goal of cancer treatments in pets is so that they can live their normal lifestyle without significant side effects.

Find out more about our Oncology services.

Dr Leonie Richards on cats and Christmas trees

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

13 December 2017
ABC Radio Sydney – Breakfast with Robbie Buck

Listen to Dr Leonie Richards, Head of General Practice, U-Vet Veterinary Hospital, University of Melbourne explain why cats are obsessed with Christmas trees during her interview with Robbie Buck, ABC Radio Sydney.

With cats being particularly fascinated with Christmas trees, Dr Richards said there are dangers of cats knocking items off the trees, chewing off strings on baubles and swallowing tinsel. She noted that strings and tinsel can be swallowed into a ball and act like a plug in the intestine which can cause various problems and if stuck, it will need to be retrieved at the vet using an endoscope, or in extreme cases, major surgery. She added that dogs are not as fascinated with glittery things though they may be more inclined to create havoc with the presents under the tree.

For further information, read ‘Why Cats Obsess over Christmas Trees’.

Reuben’s experience with surgery and chemotherapy for osteosarcoma

Friday, December 01, 2017


Reuben with his owner Sharon and his oncology vet Dr Claire Cannon

Did you know that cancer in dogs and cats is as common as it is in people?

Reuben the rottweiler began limping on his left front leg in September. After being diagnosed with a type of bone cancer, he received surgery to his leg and chemotherapy. While his owner Sharon recalls the first couple of weeks being tough, he is now functioning well with three legs and began chemotherapy.

Bone cancer is common for dogs, especially in large breeds like rottweilers. Amputation is an important part of treatment as it removes the source of pain. Though it might sound frightening, most dogs and cats adjust well with three legs. Reuben is a good example of how well dogs can adapt to their new ‘tripod’ life and do most of his normal activities.


Case study

X-ray of Reuben’s left lateral humerus
Reuben is a six-year-old rottweiler who presented to the U-Vet Surgery service for evaluation of suspected osteosarcoma. He initially presented to his regular veterinarian for left forelimb lameness, which was becoming progressively worse over the last two months despite medication with NSAIDs.

Radiographs were concerning for an aggressive bone lesion in the left proximal humerus. Chest radiographs showed no evidence of gross metastasis. Fine needle aspirate of the area was attempted, and cytology was inconclusive. Most of the cells were consistent with relatively normal osteoblasts though there were some larger more atypical cells present.

On orthopaedic examination at U-Vet, pain was localised to the left shoulder region. Given the classic breed, location and radiographic appearance and the absence of evidence of inflammation, infection or secondary neoplastic processes on cytology, a presumptive diagnosis of osteosarcoma was made Reuben went on to have a left forequarter amputation and histopathology confirmed the diagnosis of osteosarcoma. Reuben is getting around well on three legs and has started chemotherapy treatment with the U-Vet Oncology service.

Many vets are unsure if they need a definitive histopathologic biopsy diagnosis before proceeding to amputation surgery. A presumptive diagnosis of primary bone tumour can be made based on typical signalment (breed, age, anatomic location) and typical radiographic findings (mixed lytic – productive pattern). Osteosarcoma represents approximately 80% of primary bone tumours in dogs. For cases of suspected bone tumour, the biggest things to rule out prior to surgery are those where amputation may not be recommended – i.e. secondary tumours (carcinoma being the most common tumours that metastasise to bone), or infectious diseases. These can often be largely ruled out based on history, physical examination, radiographic appearance, and ideally cytology.

FNA cytology can be a useful diagnostic test to determine neoplasia versus non-neoplastic disease, which can allow owners more comfort to proceed with a major surgery such as amputation. If an adequate sample can be obtained, useful information is gained from cytology in the majority of cases. Choosing the most lytic area of the lesion based on radiographs and moving the needle around until you feel it ‘sink’ into the bone can help with getting a diagnostic sample.

Ultrasound can also help to directly identify areas of lysis and guide FNA. In lesions where there is minimal or no cortical lysis then FNA may not be as useful a test. ALP staining on cytology slides can be used to confirm osteoblastic origin Performing a bone biopsy requires general anaesthesia and results can be expected to take a minimum of 7 days to be available which delays definitive treatment, and there is a potential increased risk of pathologic fracture.

Most dogs, including large and giant breed dogs, function extremely well after amputation. Relative contraindication for amputation include other concurrent orthopaedic disease (e.g. cruciate disease, moderate to severe OA), obesity or neurological conditions (e.g. lumbosacral disease. degenerative myelopathy).

Chemotherapy is recommended following amputation in canine osteosarcoma, and usually starts about 2 weeks after amputation. The most commonly used drug is carboplatin, but combination protocols with doxorubicin are also used. Usually a total 4-6 treatments are given at 3 week intervals. Again, most dogs tolerate chemotherapy very well with minimal side effects. The addition of chemotherapy as part of a multimodality treatment approach to osteosarcoma increases median survival time from 3-5 months with amputation alone to 10-12 months in dogs without visible metastatic disease at the time of amputation. A novel treatment for canine osteosarcoma using HER2 targeted immunotherapy in combination with surgery and chemotherapy is showing great early promise and is currently in development in the USA – no information as yet on when or if it will be available in Australia, but it is an intriguing area of research!

For further information about chemotherapy in pets, visit Chemotherapy in pets FAQS


Keeping your pets safe over the festive season

Friday, December 01, 2017


Image: Heath Cajandig, Flickr


Providing them somewhere safe to retreat to, playing some music or TV to provide background noise (not too loudly), draw the curtains/blinds and most importantly seek veterinary attention or advise beforehand if your pet is nervous or has displayed anxiety towards fireworks or loud noises. Prevention of stress is much easier than treating the symptoms.


Make sure that food is not left unattended at BBQ functions. Pets can become very unwell if they gain access to leftovers or rubbish bags containing leftovers.

Don’t leave food on the front edge of the bench or on low tables. We’ve seen dogs grab fully wrapped turkeys, eat all the turkey meat and the plastic wrap! In these cases, the wrapping is as big a concern as anything else.

Festive food treats are not necessarily treats for pets. Ham is very salty and fatty, chocolate is toxic and like with us, too much of anything is not good.
Don’t give your pet the left-over bones from the roast as cooked bones fracture and can block the intestinal tract.

Gifts and the Christmas tree

Choose safe gifts for your pets.

Be careful with placing Christmas decorations at “pet height”. We know they are inedible, but a surprising number of pets don’t.

Don’t leave food gifts under the tree. We can’t see what they are, but animals don’t need to see to smell what is inside.

Leaving your pets home alone

IF you are spending Christmas day away from home, make sure your pets are in a secure place with plenty of shelter and water. Be sure water bowls can’t be accidentally knocked over.


Never leave your pets in your car, even on a mild day.

When planning to walk your dog, be sure the footpath is not too hot for their paws. You should be able to leave your hand on the concrete for 5 seconds without any discomfort. If you feel discomfort, the path is too hot.

Protect your pets from heat stress and avoid long walks or extensive playing, even on mild days, especially if your dog is not used to it. Ensure your pets always have access to water and if you can, bring them inside on hot days.


Be sure your gates and doors are secured to ensure your pets aren’t accidentally let out by your guests.

Keep your dog on a lead around waterways and bushy over-growth to protect them from snakes.

Most importantly – if in doubt, call us for advice. We’re always happy to help any time, day or night.


U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital and Werribee campus redevelopment

Monday, October 16, 2017

A $63 million redevelopment will enhance facilities for pet treatment and training for future veterinarians at the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital and Werribee campus.

Learn More >

Snakebite map for pets launched

Thursday, August 31, 2017

As the weather warms up, veterinarians are preparing for snakebite season with an interactive map to record when and where pets are bitten. The SnakeMap Project aims to better predict, prevent, diagnose and treat snakebite in animals as well as people.

The SnakeMap Project is the first of its kind in Australia and was devised by emergency and critical care veterinarians Dr Manu Boller and Dr Kylie Kelers from the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital.

Dr Boller teamed up with UVet Animal Hospital snakebite expert Dr Kylie Kelers, along with veterinary emergency and critical care experts from across Australia, epidemiologists and human snakebite experts.

The secure, electronic research database was established to allow veterinary hospitals across Australia to enter their snakebite data. The data can then be used as a medical resource for vets and, in the future, as a snakebite forecasting system for pet owners and the public anywhere in Australia.

Data collected in the SnakeMap includes information on the bitten animal, the location and time of the snakebite - including exact coordinates of the bite if known, the treatment provided, including antivenom administration and breathing support, and the outcome of the treatment.

Media Coverage

Channel 9 news: http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/08/29/18/22/snake-maps-to-pinpoint-danger-areas-for-australian-pets?ocid=Social-9News

Emergency vet instructs: Learn to perform CPR on a dog in 5 minutes

Thursday, August 24, 2017

If a dog collapses and stops breathing it is most likely in cardiopulmonary arrest and every second counts. In this short video, Dr Erica Tinson, senior resident in veterinary emergency and critical care at the U-Vet Animal Hospital in Werribee provides instructions to pet owners on how to respond. In under 5 minutes, Dr Tinson explains how to recognize cardiopulmonary arrest and how to perform CPR in a dog following the newest pet CPR guidelines.