44 Rankeilor Street
Dunedin South, New Zealand, 9012
Phone: 03 456 2345
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That TradeMe dog may not be the bargain you wanted.

It is an undoubted fact that owning a pet brings many benefits to us. Companionship, caring for another, fun, love  - all of these are possible when we treat our pets with the respect they deserve. New Zealand is a pet-loving and pet owning population. We have the highest ownership of cats per head of population in the world as well as a large dog population.

Dog owners get their pets from 3 common sources:  friends, breeders and on-line. Getting a dog from a friend or a reputable breeder allows you to see the puppy before acquiring it and hopefully to see its parents.  But acquiring a puppy online has many potential problems.

There are sellers on internet trading sites that tout themselves as “breeders” which they are technically:  they are breeding puppies for sale. Reputable breeders care about the puppies they breed, usually breeding to achieve success at dog shows rather than for making money. They will have good knowledge of potential health issues and will work to breed “healthy” puppies.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for many online breeders, who are breeding to make a quick dollar.  These “breeders” are often selling cross-bred puppies with exotic sounding names. The problem with this is that there is no “quality control” of these puppies. When you agree to buy one of these puppies, you are unlikely to be able to view the puppy or its parents, so you are buying purely on the information supplied in the ad and perhaps a telephone discussion.

It is not uncommon for us to see a puppy at its first or second vaccination and find that it has health issues that the owner is not aware of.  Common faults we see are:  poor jaw conformation, potentially causing problems with teeth development and requiring expensive remedial dentistry; umbilical hernias, that are likely to require surgical repair; and joint defects like knee cap problems. Another big concern is that there are potential temperament problems with cross bred dogs.

Pure breeds are pretty well researched for both temperament and health issues. There are some good websites that provide information about pure breeds (SELECT-A-DOG).

If you are considering buying a puppy from an online breeder, take some practical steps to ensure you don’t end up with a “dud”. Don’t let your emotions of seeing a cute, cuddly creature distort your thoughts. Go to the breeders property to view both the puppy, its litter mates and parents. Have an objective look at the kennel conditions - does it seem that the breeder is caring and careful?  If the breeder says it has been “vet checked” asked to see the veterinarian’s report. If there is none, ask the breeder to provide you a copy of the veterinary report on the puppy you are considering buying. Talk to other people who have bought similar puppies - have they had any health or temperament problems? Make your purchase conditional on a clear health check with your own veterinarian.

Contents of this newsletter

01  Tricks

02  Repeat medication

03  Top tips on bathing your dog

04  Can I bathe my cat?

05  Kidney disease is thirsty work

06  Creating the best cat toilet

07  Continual Improvement

01 Tricks
weasley aug 21 Copy

I was recently asked to help out with a school project  and one of the questions was about what tricks you can train your dog.

My answer was that you are only limited  by your imagination and your dog’s physical ability. You can use any language or words you choose, as long as you and your dog (and other family dogs) know what each command means.   With new puppies it is handy to write that list and put it somewhere central like the fridge.

My own son is a big Harry Potter fan and named our Border Terrier “Weasley”. One of the tricks he wanted to teach was “expeliamus” – for roll –over. Teaching the roll-over part was easy, then he wanted to do it using a wand.

We started small – with a pointed finger and made the roll-over sign at the same time as voicing the command. Gradually we extended the finger by adding a stick, until it was about the length of a ruler…then we dropped the voice command.

So now Weasley rolls over with a wand/stick.

There are lots and lots of tricks you or your children can teach their dogs; it is a great way for kids and dogs to bond, have fun and to stay busy, and get tired together.

As you can imagine there are lots of videos on You Tube, and some are seriously brilliant. Below are a few to enjoy and maybe pick up a few ideas and some tips on training.

One other great website is from the late  Dr Sophia Yin, veterinarian and trainer.



02 Repeat medication

We appreciate that everyone has busy lives and that sometimes things get forgotten or left until the last possible minute, however we do respectively ask that requests for repeat medications give us at least 24 hours notice.

We may be dealing with emergencies or in-patients, or that your pet needs to be seen by one of the veterinary team for their six monthly check-up, so the more notice the better.

The team will endeavour to fulfil your request as quickly as possible but please be aware that a wait may be required without the 24 hour notice.

Thank you for your help and co-operation!

03 Top tips on bathing your dog

While we are on the topic of spa baths we thought we'd share our top tips for making bath time easier with your pooch. 

1. Choose the right shampoo - never use human shampoo (even baby shampoo) as it's the wrong pH for your pooch. If your dog is itchy, oily or has sensitive skin, we can recommend the most suitable shampoo for your dog. 

2. Pop some cotton wool in your dog's ears to prevent any water sneaking into the canal - don't forget to take it out after you've finished.

3. Provide a non slip surface - put a towel on the bottom of the bath, or a non slip mat to help your dog feel more secure and prevent slipping. 

4. Place a towel over your dog to prevent water going everywhere when the inevitable shake occurs.

5. Jam some steel wool in the plug hole to catch the wet fur and make cleaning up easier.

If you need any more information about bathing your dog you can always ask us for the most up to date advice. We'll even make sure your dog is clean enough to sleep in your bed!

04 Can I bathe my cat?

When it comes to cats and water, things can get pretty hairy! Most cats hate being immersed in water and find the bath an incredibly stressful experience.

Thankfully you don't really need to bathe your feline friend as they are equipped to take care of their own personal hygiene. They have a rough surface on the top of their tongue that acts as a brush.

Having said that, some cats are better at grooming themselves than others so you may need to groom your cat from time to time to help remove dead hair and prevent matting. This is especially the case with longer haired cats. Matting can cause pain and discomfort, and in some cases, your cat may need sedation to have any matting clipped off safely.

Some tips to remember:

  • Always check for matting in the armpits and around the bottom
  • If your cat is overweight or arthritic she may not groom herself properly
  • A decrease in self grooming can be a sign of illness or pain - call us if you are concerned

You should NEVER wash your cat in a flea shampoo as these are almost always pyrethrin based and ARE POISONOUS TO CATS. You should also be aware that dogs bathed in pyrethrin shampoos can be a source of poison for your cat if she licks and grooms your dog. It is best to avoid using flea shampoo if you have a cat around.

Call us if you think your cat might have some grooming issues - we are always happy to help. 

05 Kidney disease is thirsty work

If your pet is thirstier than usual it could be a sign of kidney disease. Sometimes the increase in thirst can be subtle but if you find yourself filling up the water bowl more regularly, or notice your pet drinking from the shower or toilet, you should arrange a check up with us.  

The kidneys contain thousands of little factories called nephrons and their job is to work out how much water should be conserved in the body. Once damaged or destroyed, nephrons do not function properly and can't regenerate. As a result, the body doesn't conserve enough water so your pet will need to drink more to stay hydrated.

Toxins, drugs, diseases or even just old age can harm the nephrons, and your pet may not show any signs until 75% of these nephrons are damaged.

Other than increased thirst watch out for:

  • increased urination
  • weight loss
  • vomiting
  • lethargy

Many other diseases present with similar signs to kidney disease (such as diabetes) so it is important that we investigate further. Measuring your pet's water intake over 24 hours and bringing us a morning urine sample are two things you can do to get the investigation process started. A blood test, urine testing and a measure of your pet's blood pressure may then be necessary.

If we detect that your pet's kidneys are not working properly, the earlier we initiate treatment the better.

It's best to arrange an appointment with us as soon as possible if you notice any changes in your pet's thirst. 

06 Creating the best cat toilet

Photo credit: Marie Hennessy

When it comes to the loo, cats can be fastidious. They tend to like a quiet and private area (who doesn't?) and most prefer plenty of soil to cover things up.

If your cat uses a litter tray, there are some golden rules you should follow to help prevent any problems. 

  1. Provide a tray for every cat in the house plus an additional tray -  two cats should have three trays
  2. Place the tray in a quiet area 
  3. Remove faeces daily and change the litter entirely every 2-3 days
  4. Never use cleaning chemicals in the tray - rinse with warm water
  5. Don't use fragranced litter or plastic liners as cats hate these
  6. Some cats hate a covered tray as it traps the smell, while others prefer the security, so you might need to see what works for your cat

Remember that cats are very clean creatures and prefer deep litter and a large tray to toilet so they can bury their urine and faeces - this is usually why a sandpit is very attractive.

Finally, if your cat isn't using the litter tray correctly you should ask us for advice. There may be other medical issues such as a urinary tract infection complicating the problem or in some cases anxiety, both of which need veterinary treatment.

07 Continual Improvement

As part of our promise to continually improve our practice, we have quite a bit of renovations coming up. Most will take place behind the scenes (we will be very happy to share photos when they are complete), but a few will take place in our waiting area. We aim to keep it business as usual and any disruptions to a minimum. Please bear with us during these exciting developments.