News2018-05-06T20:22:40+10:00

Toxic Plants

Spring is the perfect time show off our green-thumbs, by filling our homes and gardens with luscious flowers and plants! As beautiful as they can look, some of these can pose a threat to our furry friends.
Cats, dogs, birds and pocket-pets alike can become curious and easily tempted for a nibble of your new plant. Some pets can become itchy or even unwell, just by sniffing or brushing against these troublesome plants.

Here are some of the more common, more toxic plants and flowers that could cause problems for your pet:

  • Azaleas
  • Cannibis
  • Chives
  • Cycad, Sago Palm and Zamia Palm
  • Daffodils & jonquils
  • Devil’s ivy (pothos)
  • Diffenbachia (dumb cane)
  • Holly
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangeas
  • Lantana
  • Lillies (including Asiatic, day, Easter, Japanese show, stargazer, tiger, red, western and wood lillies)
  • Mistletoe
  • Moses-in-the-Cradle
  • Oleander
  • Philodendrons (including swiss cheese plant, heart leaf and fiddle leaf philodendrons)
  • Rhododendrons
  • Tulips
  • Wandering Jew
  • Yesterday, today, tomorrow

Of course, there are many other types of plants that can upset your pet.
Some of the more common symptoms these plants can cause if ingested include:

  • Lethargy
  • Itchy or red skin
  • Itchy and irritated eyes
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Excessive and unusual drooling
  • Excessive or unusual thirst
  • Disorientation or a lack of coordination
  • Pain around the abdomen area
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty or rapid breathing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness

These symptoms can vary greatly depending on which plant your pet may have come into contact with, so you may only notice one or two – it is important to be diligent and act fast.
If you are concerned your pet may have ingested a toxic plant, be sure to give us a call right away so we can commence diagnosis and treatment. If you can, take a photo of the plant, or take a snippet so we can try to identify what it is causing the issue.

If you have any questions or are worried about your pets interacting with any of the plants in your home or garden, give our friendly team a call on (02) 9351 3437 or email us at univet@sydney.edu.au.

Parasites

As the weather warms up, we start to see more parasite problems for all sorts of pets.
Here are some of the more common parasites we come across, as well as some information on the problems they cause and how to get rid of them.  Fleas and ticks are of particular concern for Sydney dogs

Fleas

Fleas can be difficult to spot and not all pets carrying fleas will be itchy! Look out for these clues:

  • Your pet might constantly be scratching or chewing and become quite irritable.
  • You might notice red, sore-looking bumps or blisters on your pet’s skin.
  • If you look close enough, you might see ‘flea dirt’ – this is a flea waste product that looks like tiny little flecks of pepper.
  • Sometimes, you can even see the fleas moving around themselves – tiny little brown or black wingless insects, with an incredible jump!

Flea bites are not only uncomfortable and frustrating for your pets, but they can also lead to serious wound infections, anaemia, tapeworms, and dermatitis.
Moving swiftly is the key to flea treatment! You will need to treat:

  • Every pet in your household
  • Pet bedding
  • Carpet
  • Furniture
  • Any other soft furnishings a flea or its eggs might be hiding

In clinic, we offer a wide range of products and tools to treat your pet for fleas, and we can offer some very helpful tips for dealing with an outbreak. Give us a call if you have any questions, or book online to organise an appointment.

Ticks

Ticks can be found in every state of Australia. There are many different species of ticks, and some pose a significant threat to the wellbeing of our pets. The most common species that affect our pets are the paralysis tick and the brown dog tick.

  • Paralysis ticks are particularly dangerous, as they deliver a neurotoxin into our pet’s bloodstream as they feed, leading to severe paralysis of the muscles – including the heart, proving fatal. They are particularly common on the eastern sea board, including Sydney, up to 20 km inland from the coast
  • Brown dog ticks are not deadly themselves but can cause dermatitis and anaemia, as well as carry some nasty diseases, including Ehrlichiosis, which has only recently been discovered in more northern parts of Australia, and is spreading to some southern parts.

The best practice is to regularly check your dog for ticks after being outside – run your fingers through their coats to feel for any unusual lumps on their skin. Be sure to check over your pets’ entire body, especially:

  • Around their head and ears
  • Inside their ears
  • In their mouths
  • Under their tail
  • Between their toes
  • Underneath their collar

Ticks are sneaky and can easily latch onto many different areas on your pet.

If you come across a tick, be sure to give us a call to organise its removal as soon as possible – it is vital to act quickly and we will ensure to remove all of the tick – even a small part leftover can continue to cause problems for your furry friend.

Keeping your dog protected year-round from ticks is key – we recommend tick prevention treatments like chewable tablets, spot-on drops or tick collars. Speak to us today for our recommendation and prevent your pet from any unnecessary discomfort and illness.

Mosquitoes

Dogs, cats, rodents. and birds make for easy targets and tasty snacks for mosquitoes. While the mosquito bite itself is more annoying than threatening, mosquitoes can spread heartworm and other potentially fatal parasites to your pets.  Cats can develop mosquito bite related skin allergies.

We recommend making sure there is no stagnant or still water around the backyard – this is where mosquito larvae grow. Cats with mosquito bite allergies should be brought indoors between dusk and dawn, or make sure they have a safe, meshed area to sleep in. Pet safe mosquito and insect repellents are available that may be used. Speak to us if you have any concerns about mosquitos in your area.

Heartworm and Intestinal worms

The prevalence of heartworm disease is thankfully now very low in the Sydney area.  However we do occasionally diagnose a positive case in dogs who have not travelled to a tropical area.  It is transmitted via mosquito bites.  We currently recommend ongoing heartworm protection in Sydney dogs to avoid an increase in prevalence of this nasty parasite.  It can cause severe lung and pulmonary artery disease

Many different intestinal  worms can affect our pets and importantly can also cause disease in humans!. Some more common worms we see are:

  • Roundworm
  • Hookworm
  • Tapeworm
  • Whipworm

Intestinal worms are more pathogenic in younger animals so it is extremely important to maintain vigilience with treatment in puppies and kittens.  However as humans can be affected by dog and cat intestinal parasites, lifelong treatment is recommended.

Prevention is the best cure – by administering regular preventatives which are available in various forms and combinations with other parasite control products. Ask our team for advice on the best preventative for your pet. If your pet is unwell, please book a consultation.

If you have any concerns about parasites and your pet, give us a call on (02) 9351 3437 to organise a consultation or book online to discuss these with your vet.

Grass Seeds

Springtime means grass seed season, and for something so tiny, they can cause a lot of big problems for your pet! The issues they can cause range from minor discomfort right through to potentially life-threatening conditions.

Grass seeds are naturally designed to travel – they are small, lightweight, come in all different shapes, and are spiky or sticky, meaning they can be easily picked up and caught in all kinds of uncomfortable places on animals – it can be tricky to know what to look for.

When checking your pet for grass seeds, make sure to inspect their coat thoroughly – the hair can become matted if the seed has been there for a longer period. Be sure to remove the seed as soon as you see it (pick or cut it out of your pet’s fur), as it can easily become lodged in another area, causing bigger issues.

Be sure to keep an eye out for grass seeds in these other areas:

  • Feet – this is the most common place for grass seeds to cause problems. Once lodged in the skin between the toes, they can track deeply into the foot itself. This can create a ‘draining sinus’ – which is a small hole in the foot, which oozes discharge. Look for persistent licking at the feet/toes, limping, swelling and discharge.
  • Eyes – your pet’s eye can become irritated, red, painful and potentially swollen if there is a seed stuck here. This can lead to ulcers on the eyes, and potentially further problems. Look for discharge or rubbing of the eye area.
  • Nose – grass seeds can easily be sucked into your pet’s nasal passages while they are sniffing around. If the seed makes it all the way to the lungs, it can cause serious infection. Look for persistent sneezing and nose bleeds.
  • Ears –. They can lead to a ruptured eardrum and chronic ear infections. Look for a sudden head tilt, persistent head shaking or ear flicking, and red, inflamed ears which may be smelly and have discharge.
  • Mouth & throat – a lodged seed could easily be pushed through tissue and move to internal organs, causing a whole new suite of problems. Look for coughing, gagging/retching, pawing at the mouth, excessive salivation/drooling, reluctance to eat or drink, or your pet appearing generally unwell.

Unfortunately, grass seeds are an unavoidable part of having fun outside in the warmer months. Try to keep your pet away from longer grass (especially if you can see the seeds!) and make brushing a regular occurrence after a walk or time outside. Always check thoroughly between every toe after a walk in grass seed prone areas.  They are definitely more prevalent in rural settings.

Keeping long hair on feet and paws trimmed short will help with preventing grass seeds being caught, and makes finding and removing them much easier.

If you cannot remove a grass seed from your pet’s coat (with your fingers, tweezers or scissors), give us a call to organise removal. If you find a seed lodged in their skin, mouth, eyes, ears, or another body part – please do not try to remove it yourself! You can inadvertently push the seed further into the tissue, making removal far more complicated as they can be very difficult to locate once they start to move through the body

If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call on (02) 9351 3437 today, or book an appointment online.

Senior Pets

Aging is an unavoidable part of life, and when it comes to our pets, some will age without any major issues, and some will need a little extra TLC. It is important to know what age-related changes look like and how to manage them appropriately, so we can ensure our pets are comfortable.

When does my pet become a senior?
This can vary between individuals and can be greatly influenced by breed, size, pre-existing health conditions and living situations, but typically:

  • Small dogs – six to seven years old
  • Large dogs – five to six years old
  • Cats – eight to ten years old

You might notice some physical and behavioural changes, such as:

  • Greying or whitening fur around the nose and mouth or throughout the coat
  • A general ‘slowing down’ or a slightly less bouncy personality
  • Longer and more frequent naps throughout the day
  • More frequent urination, and perhaps the odd ‘accident’
  • Increased vocalisation – this can be caused by increased anxiety, confusion or frustration

Common Senior Pet Ailments
Some of the age-related changes our pets may experience may be uncomfortable and impact their daily lives a little more than a greying moustache. If you notice any of the below it is important to have your vet check them out to determine a plan to help your pet

  • Arthritis (inflammation of the joints, making it uncomfortable to stand up and move around).
  • Loss of eyesight –caused by a clouding of the eyes, cataracts or other eye diseases.
  • Loss of hearing.
  • Incontinence – this is common in older pets but there are plenty of treatment plans your vet can recommend. Incontinence can also indicate urinary tract infections, kidney disease or hormonal changes.
  • Weight changes – due to reduced physical activity and/or changes in hormones as they age, older pets can gain weight. You may also find that they lose weight due to a changed appetite, reduced nutrient absorption, reduced muscle mass or even a digestive illness. Weight gain or loss as a pet ages isn’t normal and should be investigated by your vet.
  • Lumps and bumps are definitely more common as our pets age! It is always recommended to get them checked by a vet to rule out possible nasties.
  • Smelly breath – just like us, our pet’s immune systems weaken with age, so their bodies can’t fight off germs as easily as they once did. We can see this as gum disease, tooth decay, or other infections in the mouth, leading to smelly breath. Smelly breath can mean a painful mouth for your pet (not to mention offensive to us!) so check in with our team if you notice this.

How can I make my senior pet more comfortable?
There are plenty of ways to manage your pet’s aging, and these tips are very easy to implement:

  • Talk to your vet about your pet’s diet – they may need more nutritious food for nurturing specific conditions and even the inclusion of dietary supplements.
  • Let your senior pet sleep inside in winter – keeping them comfy and warm will keep them feeling safe and secure, as well as help to alleviate any arthritis symptoms.
  • Provide them with soft and easily accessible (not too high or low) bedding.
  • Add extra water bowls around the house (and closer to their bed area) so they do not need to move around unnecessarily.
  • Raise food and water bowls to prevent your pet needing to hunch to access the contents.
  • Offer extra litter trays or make sure their toileting area is easily accessible.
  • Keep your senior pet active with simple, low impact activities and exercises.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature. As pets age they may struggle with regulating their body temperature – in winter keep your pet indoors where possible, move their bedding inside and investigate pet jackets or jumpers for some breeds.

If you have a senior pet, we invite you to come into the clinic for a health check to make sure your best friend is in tip-top shape, especially ahead of the winter months where the cooler temperatures can slow everyone down. Call us on (02) 9351 3437 or email univet@sydney.edu.au to book your consultation today.

Dental disease and prevention

Dental disease is one of the most common but preventable diseases in pets. It is not only painful and uncomfortable, but the procedure to clean and remove teeth becomes more complicated and often more costly the longer it is left untreated.

What is dental disease?

Dental disease is caused by a bacterial infection that builds up in a substance called plaque. Plaque is made up of food particles and saliva. It sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed, will calcify into tartar (or calculus). Over time the bacterial infection in tartar causes irreversible changes to occur. These include the destruction of supportive tissues and bone, resulting in red gums bad breath and loosening of teeth.

How do I prevent dental disease?

Good oral hygiene is the most effective way of preventing dental disease. This can involve dental chews, teeth brushing or a special dental diet. During your dental or regular health check-up, our team will be able to offer recommendations on how to keep your pet’s pearly whites shining.

How do I know my pet has dental disease?

  • Common signs of dental disease include:
  • Bad breath
  • Painful mouth
  • Reduced appetite
  • Bleeding or receding gums
  • Discoloured teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Difficulty chewing

It is important to keep an eye on your pet’s teeth, and gums, as dental disease can progress rapidly if left untreated.

What happens if my pet has dental disease?

If your pet develops dental disease, our team will be able to discuss the most appropriate treatment options with you. This may involve teeth cleaning or removal.

If your pet is showing any signs of dental disease or has never had a dental check-up before, book an appointment with one of our vets.

Novel Efficacy Trial in Canine Lymphoma with Autologous Cancer Vaccines

Lymphoma is a very common and often an aggressive cancer in dogs. Immunotherapy is a new form of cancer treatment, aiming to target the cancer with the body’s own immune system. We have developed a treatment vaccine for lymphoma using an animal’s own cancer protein. Results of our safety clinical trial showed that the vaccines are safe, and anti-cancer effects are seen in some dogs with lymphoma.

Who is eligible?
• Dogs diagnosed with multi-centric lymphoma without severe clinical signs*
• Receive/Receiving chemotherapy or prednisolone alone

What costs will the study cover?
• Production and administration of vaccines
• Portion of diagnostic and monitoring tests

For more information, please visit
• Dr. Katrina Cheng
(katrina.cheng@sydney.edu.au)
• Associate Professor Peter Bennett
(Peter. bennett@sydney.edu.au)
• Dr. Chris Weir
(chris.weir@sydney.edu.au)

*A standard consultation with the oncology team at UVTHS is required to confirm eligibility

Read More

Efficacy trial in autologous cancer vaccine for dogs diagnosed with lymphoma treated with chemotherapy or palliative care

Introduction:

Lymphoma is a very common and often an aggressive cancer in dogs. Chemotherapy improves quality of life and extends lifespan of diagnosed dogs, but most dogs eventually die from their diseases. Immunotherapy is a new form of cancer treatment, aiming to target the cancer with the body’s own immune system. We have developed a treatment vaccine for lymphoma (NOT for cancer prevention), using an animal’s own cancer protein. Results of a safety clinical trial showed that the vaccines are safe, and anti-cancer effects are seen in some dogs, especially ones with lymphoma and mast cell tumours.  We are very excited to start our next phase of efficacy trials in dogs diagnosed with lymphoma. We hypothesise the use of additional cancer treatment vaccines will prolong the survival in dogs treated with chemotherapy or prednisolone.

Inclusion criteria:

  • Dogs, at least one year of age, diagnosed with multicentric lymphoma, intermediate to large cells, B or T cells, WHO stage 1-5
  • Confirmed diagnosis of lymphoma with cytology or histopathology
  • Good function of liver, kidneys, acceptable blood cell counts and free of severe clinical signs associated with lymphoma or other concurrent diseases
  • Dogs received no more than 1 chemotherapy protocol for the chemotherapy group

Study protocol:

  • Once enrolled, dogs will be examined and standard diagnostic and staging tests will be performed. Some of these would have been performed at their local vet
  • A sample of one of the cancerous lymph nodes will be removed surgically
  • A portion will be stored in the freezer (Fresh Frozen in a plain container) for generation of the vaccine, while another portion will be stored in formalin to confirm the diagnosis
  • In addition to the standard chemotherapy or prednisolone (Palliative steroid), dogs will be allocated randomly to have either placebo (adjuvant only), or the vaccines every 2 weeks for 4 doses, then monthly for 2 other doses
  • Blood tests will be performed regularly to monitor for any adverse reactions associated with the use of vaccines
  • Dogs with progression of cancer and are in the placebo groups, will receive the vaccines if they have not received the vaccines

Owner responsibilities:

  • Follow appointment schedule required by the study protocol
  • A monitoring sheet to record any adverse reactions occurring at home
  • Chemotherapy group:
    • Payment of standard diagnostic and staging tests to evaluate lymphoma, including biopsy and associated fees with some costs covered by the trial
    • Payment of standard chemotherapy treatments and associated monitoring and treatment costs
  • Prednisolone group:
    • Payment of prednisolone or other required palliative medications

What will the study cover?

  • The study will cover the production and administration of the vaccines
  • Portion of the diagnostic tests required for the diagnosis
  • Portion of the monitoring tests required for treatment monitoring
  • In the case of adverse events directly related to the trial, up to $1000 for each dog to cover treatments of any adverse reactions associated with the vaccines

 

What next?

  • If you are a pet owner and your dog is suspected to have lymphoma, please express your interest in enrolling your dog into the clinical trial to your attending veterinarians. This is important so your veterinarian can store some cancer samples for the generation of cancer vaccines. Your veterinarian or yourself can contact us for further information
  • If you are a veterinarian interested in enrolling your patients, please contact us for further information

 

Who is involved in the project?

  • Oncology Service at the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Sydney
  • Kolling Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney

Leptospirosis update 25/08/2020

Attention dog owners!

There has been another confirmed case of Leptospirosis earlier this month  in a dog that lived in Crows Nest.  The dog was not vaccinated against Leptospirosis and sadly had to be euthanised due to kidney failure. We were unable to identify the causative strain (serovar) in this dog as the dog died so quickly that it did not have time to  develop an antibody response. The previously reported strain (serovar) known as Copenhageni was identified as the cause in the previously reported cases from Newtown and Balmain seen this month. This is the first case of Leptospirosis seen in Crows Nest. Last year we saw 8 cases between May and November and these dogs lived in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Glebe and Redfern.

Importantly, we have not seen any infected dogs which have been vaccinated against Leptospirosis. Therefore, please vaccinate your dog against Leptospirosis if you live within a 5km radius of Surry Hills, in Balmain, Crows Nest or its immediately surrounding suburbs or if your dog is in contact with rats. A vaccine has to be given twice 2-4 weeks apart and yearly thereafter to ensure protection.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause acute kidney failure and liver disease in dogs. Dogs become infected by contact with urine from rats or indirectly via contaminated water or soil. They can also become infected by hunting and eating rats.   Prevention of leptospirosis is achieved by limiting contact to sources of infection and vaccination. Until recently clinical leptospirosis has only rarely been reported in Sydney. Therefore, historically, dogs have not been routinely vaccinated against this disease. Clinical signs can initially be very vague such as lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Importantly, leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease which means that humans can become infected as well, for example through contact with rat urine or urine of infected dogs, through skin wounds or through the mucus membranes (eg in the mouth).

Leptospirosis update 14/08/2020

Attention dog owners!

There has been another confirmed case of Leptospirosis this week in a dog that lives in Balmain.  The dog had been in contact with rats and was not vaccinated against Leptospirosis. The dog has been treated at UVTHS this week and fortunately appears to be recovering.  Preliminary results show that the previously reported strain (serovar) known as Copenhageni has been the cause in both this dog and another reported dog from Newtown last week, however further testing is required to confirm this in one of the cases. This is the first case of Leptospirosis seen in Balmain. Last year we saw 8 cases between May and November and these dogs lived in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Glebe and Redfern.

Importantly, we have not seen any infected dogs which have been vaccinated against Leptospirosis. Therefore, please vaccinate your dog against Leptospirosis if you live within a 5km radius of Surry Hills, in Balmain or its immediately surrounding suburbs or if your dog is in contact with rats. A vaccine has to be given twice 2-4 weeks apart and yearly thereafter to ensure protection.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause acute kidney failure and liver disease in dogs. Dogs become infected by contact with urine from rats or indirectly via contaminated water or soil. They can also become infected by hunting and eating rats.   Prevention of leptospirosis is achieved by limiting contact to sources of infection and vaccination. Until recently clinical leptospirosis has only rarely been reported in Sydney. Therefore, historically, dogs have not been routinely vaccinated against this disease. Clinical signs can initially be very vague such as lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Importantly, leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease which means that humans can become  infected as well, for example through contact with rat urine or urine of infected dogs, through skin wounds or through the mucus membranes (eg in the mouth).

Leptospirosis update 06/08/2020

Sadly, there has been another confirmed case of Leptospirosis this week in a dog living in Newtown.  The dog was not vaccinated against Leptospirosis and sadly had to be euthanised due to severe kidney failure. We are currently still investigating which strain (serovar) has been the cause. This is the first case of Leptospirosis this year and the first case reported in Newtown. Last year we saw 8 cases from May to November and these were from Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Glebe and Redfern.

Importantly, we have not seen any infected dogs which have been vaccinated against Leptospirosis. Therefore, please vaccinate your dog against Leptospirosis if you live within a 3km radius of Surry Hills, in Newtown or its immediately surrounding suburbs or if your dog is in contact with rats. A vaccine has to be given twice 2-4 weeks apart and yearly thereafter to ensure protection.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause acute kidney failure and liver disease in dogs. Dogs become infected by contact with urine from rats or indirectly via contaminated water or soil. They can also become infected by hunting and eating rats.   Prevention of leptospirosis is achieved by limiting contact to sources of infection and vaccination. Until recently clinical leptospirosis has only rarely been reported in Sydney. Therefore, historically, dogs have not been routinely vaccinated against this disease. Clinical signs can initially be very vague such as lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Importantly, leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease which means that humans can get infected as well, for example through contact with rat urine or urine of infected dogs, through skin wounds or through the mucus membranes (eg in the mouth).

LEPTOSPIROSIS UPDATE February 2020

There have been no further cases of Leptospirosis reported since December. The total case number is now 11 with 8 cases diagnosed since May 2019.  All dogs were from Surry Hills, Darlinghurst , Redfern and Glebe and all died or were euthanised.

It is important to note that the recent weather (warm with heavy rainfall) may result in conditions conducive to another increase in case numbers. Therefore, please remain vigilant!

We again want to emphasize the importance of considering the differential diagnosis of Leptospirosis in all dogs with nonspecific clinical signs (lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, haemorrhages, conjunctivitis) that originate from the area in question. In these dogs (and especially if owners mention contact with rats or stagnant water) we recommend offering blood tests (CBC, biochemistry) and urinalysis.  Consistent clinicopathological abnormalities include marked azotaemia, marked increases in liver enzymes, moderate to severe hyperbilirubinaemia and glucosuria. However, these changes can be absent very early in the course of the disease. Therefore, urine and blood collected into EDTA should be sent for leptospirosis PCR (important: samples need to be taken BEFORE antibiotics are given) and serum should be collected in order to perform MAT to determine the serovar. Serum can be stored until results for PCR return and then submitted if PCR is positive, or can be sent to the University of Sydney for research.  In suspicious cases please retain some EDTA, serum and urine samples for leptospirosis research if possible. If rat contact is confirmed (and the dog has been in the affected area) we recommend:

  • treatment with doxycycline 10mg/kg SID if no hepatopathy is present
  • treatment with IV penicillin or their derivatives (ampicillin, amoxicillin, amoxicillin-clavulanate) if liver enzymes are elevated pending PCR results, if PCR is positive start doxycycline as soon as administration of oral medication is possible

Duration of treatment

Treatment should be continued until PCR and serology results have returned.

Patients who return a positive PCR result have the diagnosis confirmed. Treatment with penicillin derivatives should be continued. As soon as it is possible to give oral medication, a two-week course of doxycycline (10mg/kg SID) is recommended to ensure that the infection is cleared from the kidneys.

A negative PCR result does not exclude the diagnosis in a dog that has been treated with antibiotics before taking blood and urine. Acute and convalescent (after 7-14 days) MAT titres should be tested, where a 4-fold increase in titre for individual serovars is consistent with infection.  In these patients, treatment with penicillin or penicillin derivative should be continued until the convalescent titre has been tested. In the case of a 4-fold increase in MAT titre the diagnosis is confirmed. As soon as it is possible to give oral medication, a two-week course of doxycycline (10mg/kg SID) is recommended to ensure that the infection is cleared from the kidneys.

A negative PCR result in a dog that has not been treated with antibiotics before taking blood and urine and with a negative MAT titre excludes Leptospirosis. Antibiotic treatment can be stopped.

Zoonotic risk

Importantly, leptospirosis is a zoonosis. Therefore, suspicious cases should be isolated. Ideally, a urinary catheter should be placed to avoid contamination of the environment as well as to monitor urine volume output. It is imperative to avoid contact with urine and to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, impermeable gowns, a face mask and glasses. Isolation is usually maintained until the dog has been treated with IV penicillin or penicillin derivative for at least 72 hours.

Owners of dogs that are not unwell and have no clinicopathological abnormalities consistent with leptospirosis, but have had contact with rats, should regardless be advised to avoid contact with their dogs’ urine.

If you have any further questions, any suspicious cases or you want to submit samples for the Leptospirosis research study please contact Christine Griebsch at the University of Sydney (christine.griebsch@sydney.edu.au, 02 9351 3437).

UVTHS Update on Leptospirosis

The latest from UVTHS’ canine medicine specialist, Dr Christine Griebsch

20th August 2019

Unfortunately another dog has died from Leptospirosis at our hospital on the 10th of August. The case was confirmed as a definite positive last week and we were able to identify serovar Copenhageni as the strain of Leptospira infecting this dog. Copenhageni is the serovar that we are currently vaccinating dogs for. This case brings the case number up to 7 confirmed cases. Two cases were detected last year and there have been five cases since May this year. Unfortunately all of these dogs have died or required euthanasia due to a poor prognosis. Cases were all confined to Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Redfern and Glebe.

Reports of cases from other areas are false.

Infection can occur via intact mucus membranes (mouth, nose and eyes) and abraded skin through contact with soil, water or food that have been contaminated with infected rodent urine. Bite wounds from infected rodents and ingestion of infected rodent tissue can also transmit infection. Clinical signs of Leptospirosis can be very vague initially such as lack of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Ultimately this can progress to acute kidney failure and liver disease causing jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin). Therefore, if your dog has been walked in areas of risk or hunts rodents and becomes unwell please seek immediate veterinary attention.

The current recommendation is to vaccinate dogs living in areas within a 3km radius around Surry Hills, dogs that go for walks in this area and dogs living in the wider inner west that are known “ratters”. Two vaccines need to be given 2-4 weeks apart. The current vaccine we are using is covering serovar Copenhageni only. So far we have been able to identify this serovar as the infecting serovar in 2 of the cases and it is unknown if more serovars are involved.

Researchers at The University of Sydney are working hard to get further information, investigating all new cases and trying to gather data about the general exposure (seroprevalence) to Leptospira in the Sydney dog population. Therefore we ask all dog owners to please help by allowing your dogs to participate in our research. If you want to help please ask your veterinarian to take a blood and urine sample from your dog before vaccination against Leptospirosis and fill out a questionnaire. All veterinarians in the Sydney area should have received relevant forms.

Please also take care of yourself! While no cases of human Leptospirosis have been linked to the current outbreak in dogs, Leptospirosis can affect humans as well! Healthy dogs and cats can shed Leptospira in their urine and are a potential source of infection. Therefore, please avoid contact with urine from your pets, wash your hands after patting them especially before you eat, avoid contact with stagnant water in affected areas and make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables before consuming them.

Practitioner Evenings

The University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Sydney has a number of Practitioner Evenings each year. Below are the planned dates for these evenings. For further information on speakers or to inquire about attending please contact Clare Hughes on (02) 8627 6194 or by email clare.hughes@sydney.edu.au .

AUGUST 13th – ‘New tricks in analgesia in practice: life beyond buprenorphine’

OCTOBER 1st 

NOVEMBER 26th

Sydney dog gets $50,000 operation to fix mitral valve in lifesaving Australian first

Article by AAP featured in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Read the full article here.

Man’s best friend is red-green colour blind, study shows

Is the ball red or green? Your dog may not know.

Kemal Atlay, Science reporter.

http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/2017/11/12/dogs-red-green-colour-blind/

Case Study – Ruggles, Newfoundland

Ruggles is a long time patient of Sydney Uni Vet and was visiting the practice due to a heart condition he had. He had an irregular heartbeat (so-called atrial fibrillation) which caused him to feel unwell (poor appetite, weight loss, poor exercise tolerance). This condition was treatable however the practice did not have the defibrillator required to treat Ruggles.

Ruggles ‘Dad’, a longtime client and supporter of the practice kindly offered to make a donation to cover part of the cost of the equipment to treat his dog and others with a similar condition.

Dr Beijerink and the practice were able to quickly arrange the delivery of the defibrillator so Ruggles could be treated. This machine consists of delivering at exactly the right moment a therapeutic dose of electrical current to ’reset’ the heart rhythm. The treatment was a success and Ruggles has recently been back in the practice for a check-up. The great news is that his heart rhythm is successfully converted back to normal for extended time, and Ruggles also has been great (good appetite, good activity level). We couldn’t be happier with this result at this stage and thank Ruggles’ Dad for all his support as many other dogs have also now benefited from the practice having the defibrillator machine.

You can help more animals like Ruggles and be part of the University’s INSPIRED campaign by giving to Sydney Uni Vet Hospital.

Consumer Demands for Smaller Dogs Resulting in Debiliating Health Problems

BAER Testing

Deafness occurs in dogs probably with the same frequency as in people. The most common causes are congenital (recognised generally in the first 6 months of life) and age related (senile or degenerative deafness).

Congenital deafness is most likely due to a genetic abnormality and is seen more commonly in some breeds including Dalmatians, Australian Cattle Dogs (ACD’s) and English Bull Terriers. It can, however, be seen occasionally in any dog breed and deafness is usually apparent by 6 weeks of age. Deafness may affect one or both ears. Deafness due to genetic abnormality unfortunately is permanent.

Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) testing is the most sensitive test in assessing hearing. Other less sensitive tests are available e.g. BAERCOM, but these tests are significantly less accurate.

Breeders of Dalmatians, ACDs, English Setters and Bull Terriers are encouraged to routinely have puppies hearing evaluated by BAER testing prior to pups going to pet homes, and before making breeding decisions in an effort to reduce the incidence of deafness in their breeds.

Researchers at the University of Sydney are working with Dalmatian breeders to try and establish the genetic basis for hearing loss in this breed.

BAER testing can be used to evaluate the hearing of any dog (or cat), young or old that is suspected of being deaf in one or both ears. It is a test that determines whether cochlear function (inner ear) and the “wiring” to hear, is intact. The volume of the sound in the test can be varied but this test does not assess degree of any partial hearing loss. However “selective” deafness can be distinguished from true deafness!

BAER testing requires ear plugs to be worn and 3 fine electrodes to be inserted under the skin. A mild sedative is usually given prior to testing so the foam earplugs don’t irritate puppy’s ears.

A lot of cuteness in these photos!

Saving Ranger

Ranger is a happy and healthy 13 week old Kelpie-cross pup who has faced his share of trauma already at such a young age. He was found lost and alone, wandering through rugged bushland around Abercrombie Caves in NSW’s Central West, at least 20km from any roads. He appeared from out of nowhere – tiny, injured and afraid, he was only nine weeks old.

We have named him Ranger because this area has an infamous history as being a hideout for bushrangers such as Ben Hall, Frank Gardiner, and the Ribbon Gang. Our little puppy was roaming around out there just like a bushranger.

THIS IS THE AREA KNOWN AS GROVES CREEK FALLS, ABERCROMBIE CAVES, WHERE RANGER WAS FOUND BY A FAMILY OUT BUSHWALKING FOR THE DAY

Ranger was emaciated and had a broken front leg which he was struggling to drag along the ground. At first he was afraid but quickly started wagging his tail once in the car and safe. On the lap of a caring person he breathed a huge sigh, like a sigh of relief, then he slept in the car all the way to Bathurst. He was totally exhausted.

Ranger was taken straight to a local vet to be examined and it was apparent his injury was several weeks old. His left foreleg had multiple fractures and he had significant nerve paralysis. Further examination of his ribs and hips indicated that he had not eaten anything for at least 4 or 5 days.

RANGER THE DAY I FIRST MET HIM – GETTING SOME MUCH NEEDED MEDICAL CARE AND ATTENTION

Veterinary advice was that Ranger’s leg would need to be amputated and the surgery could cost several thousand dollars. It was clear that a nine week old puppy requiring significant surgery prior to adoption, was most likely ‘unadoptable.’ Consequently, his future appeared grim. After having had such a terrible struggle for survival in his short life, refusing him help was an option too cruel to bare.

The Dogs for Diggers program managed by Louise Kelly at Bathurst Correctional Centre, immediately undertook to adopt and help little Ranger – perhaps he could be a therapy dog for one of our brave soldiers from Afghanistan or Iraq. He had already proven he was just as tough, overcoming extreme adversity just as they have.  Surely any one of our war veterans could relate to Ranger’s struggle to survive when the odds were stacked against him.

PLAYING WITH HIS TOYS IN MY OFFICE

The University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Sydney agreed to help and they reviewed Ranger’s injuries in an attempt to save his leg. The care and compassion they gave to our little boy was wonderful. He was given the best medical attention possible and remained in hospital for six days. Unfortunately, despite all their efforts, specialist orthopaedic surgeons could not save his leg and it needed amputation.  Thanks to all the staff at the Hospital for their kindness towards Ranger. On one occasion a staff member phoned just to tell me that Ranger was a “superstar”, and that they all adored him.

The amazing volunteers from German Shepherd Dog (GSD) Rescue also put their hands up to help Ranger. They travelled from Sydney to Bathurst and back with our injured boy, delivering him to the University for his specialist treatment. Of course, Jo and Heather from GSD Rescue also fell in love with our brave baby boy and continued to check on his progress though out his stay in hospital.