44 Rankeilor Street
Dunedin South, New Zealand, 9012
Phone: 03 456 2345
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We have mentioned pet insurance before in a previous newsletter, but recent cases prompted the need to repeat it.

Sadly there is no government funded healthcare for pets as we have for ourselves, thus the responsibility for payment of treatment and care rests with the owner. Accidents happen – we know that, so do unexpected illnesses. With the right pet insurance those costs are covered, with perhaps an excess to be paid as with other insurances. The premiums can be paid by monthly instalments so those payments can be budgeted for. Some premiums can be as little as $10/month for cats or $16 /month for dogs - a couple of cups of take-away coffee. With insurance when your pet falls ill or has an accident the last thing you have to worry about is money.

So let’s get started. Four weeks of free cover is only available from us as your veterinary clinic, and only whilst your pet is under one year old. Your pet needs to be given a full check-over to ensure good health – this can be done in conjunction with vaccinations or de-sexing.  Insurance companies have a cut-off age of 7-8 years for starting pet insurance, but if your pet is insuranced before that age, the cover continues for as long as you wish to pay the premiums.  We know pets, like us, often have more problems as they age; insurance helps with those costs.

The best veterinary care often involves referal for specialist treatment. The  following story shows how such treatment can be expensive ($15,000) and affordable at the same time (linked with permission)

Talk to our staff about the various options that are available.


Buddy, recovering following cruciate surgery

Contents of this newsletter

01  Interesting case - gardeners be aware

02  Keeping an eye out for arthritis

03  An arthritis-friendly home

04  Treatment options for arthritis

05  One very helpful dog

06  Alert for all cat owners

01 Interesting case - gardeners be aware

Fergal out surveying the garden from a safe vantage point

If you are a keen gardener and use fertiliser around your plants, be a little careful if you have inquisitive pets. We recently had a young kitten presented as an emergency situation, where the kitten had sudden onset of drooling, diarrhoea, muscle twitching, tiny pupils and inability to stand up. Typically, poisoning cases are often caused by toxins like snail bait or insecticides. In this case, there was no known exposure to toxins. Because the signs looked like organophosphate poisoning [organophosphates are a common base for insecticides including older flea treatments], the kitten was given emergency treatment for this type of poison. The owner was asked to do a careful check of their property to ensure that the kitten had not eaten anything it shouldn’t have. After a good look around the property, the owner found a bag of gardener’s “blood and bone” fertiliser that had multiple bite marks and a torn top. “Blood and bone” is known to cause gastro-intestinal signs like vomiting and diarrhoea but not the signs seen in this kitten. However, a search of an international veterinary database revealed that some blood and bone products do contain organophosphates.
Because we had started treatment based on the patients signs within 12 hours the kitten had recovered, going home the next day.
So, when gardening, ensure all the products you use are placed in a room or cupboard where nosey pets cannot get to them!

02 Keeping an eye out for arthritis

Our pets are more likely to suffer from arthritis during the colder weather so now is a great time for an arthritis check with us. Most of the signs of arthritis are subtle and will sneak up on your pet over many years. You may not even realise that your pet is in pain.

Arthritis is caused by the wearing down of the smooth cartilage that covers the bones at the end of a joint. Usually this cartilage helps joints move freely but as time goes by, the ends of the bones become exposed and rub together. Ouch! You can imagine this causes your pet considerable pain.

Your pet won’t necessarily limp. Some of the more subtle signs to watch out for include:


  • Might have trouble jumping into the car or up on the couch
  • Will be stiff and sore when getting going - especially in the morning or after lying down
  • May show behaviour changes such as being grumpy when touched on the back


  • Will be hesitant to jump up or down from your lap or from the furniture
  • Might land ungracefully (in a heap!) when jumping down
  • Will become reluctant to climb the back fence or climb trees
  • Sometimes have a scruffy or matted coat as they are no longer able to groom comfortably

Don’t be tempted to put these changes down to 'he's just getting old' as your pet may be in significant pain. 

The good news is that there is plenty we can do to slow the progression of the disease and make sure your pet is pain free. Book an appointment today and we'll establish whether your pet has arthritis.

03 An arthritis-friendly home

To help your arthritic pet live a comfortable life we recommend a balanced and multi-targeted approach. This can help reduce the need for large amounts of medication and lessen the potential side effects of any one treatment.

A few small changes at home can help improve your pet’s comfort so here are our top tips:

  1. Keep your pet’s weight in a healthy range to reduce the load on the joint
  2. Provide a dry and comfortable bed, away from draughts and with plenty of padding – heated beds are a good idea for winter
  3. Use a portable ramp to help your dog in and out of the car
  4. Provide an additional piece of furniture so your cat doesn't have to jump so high to reach his favourite sunny spot
  5. Continue to exercise your pet in moderation; gentle daily walks for dogs help keep the joints moving and muscles toned

Ask us for more information on how to make your home arthritis friendly.

04 Treatment options for arthritis

If we’ve diagnosed your pet with arthritis we will work with you to come up with a suitable management plan. A well-rounded approach will help your pet get the most out of life. 

Some of the treatments might include:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Help to reduce pain and inflammation quickly. Can be given short term but may be needed for the rest of your pet’s life - we just need to monitor your pet’s kidney and liver function.

Note: It is critically important that you do not give human arthritis medications to your dog.

Disease modifying drugs

Given as a regular injection, these help to relieve pain and help to preserve joint cartilage. Read more here

Physical therapy

Massage, muscle strengthening exercises, laser therapy and TEMS are all useful forms of physical rehabilitation for arthritic joints. Ask how we can help with these.


Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may be helpful in improving your pet’s joint function and may help slow down the progression of arthritis.

Diet modification

A diet high in essential fatty acids (with added nutriceuticals) may help reduce inflammation and improve your pet’s mobility. Ask us about the specific prescription diets we have available.

It’s essential you return for regular check ups so we can assess the progress of your pet and ‘tweak’ the program if necessary.

05 One very helpful dog

Does your pet like to help out around the home? 

This month we've found a couple of very impressive videos for you. Baron, a German Shepherd, helps stack the dishwasher - and sort the laundry!

What an amazing pooch! It's time to start delegating those household jobs.

06 Alert for all cat owners

Another reminder about the importance of vaccination.  New Zealand is unique in having a large number of feline infectious enteritis cases (also known as feline parvovirus or feline panleukopenia) compared to the rest of the world.

This disease is highly contagious and is spread by contact with faeces, urine and blood from infected cats. Cats may seem lethargic, have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting. It can cause death in a very short time in some cats.

Cats that do recover from the infection can continue to shed virus for at least six weeks. Therefore cats can still be a potential source of infection without demonstrating any clinical signs. Once shed, the virus can survive for months to years in the environment.You can read more information about the virus here.

Call us today to check on your cat's vaccination status.