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Aberfoyle Hub Veterinary Clinic
Hub Professional Centre
Aberfoyle Park, SA, 5159
Phone: 08 8270 5155

Barb’s Bits

I promised Ian I wouldn’t talk politics at my conference in America, but instead politics came to me - a veterinarian who, on seeing my name tag, said “Australia? Aren’t you a socialist country?” I was flummoxed, so I said “I don’t know what you mean – we have a democratically elected government in a country that has universal health care, and a safety net (of sorts) for the disadvantaged. Is that what you mean?”

He went on “But you can’t have guns! How do you protect yourself from the crazies when you can’t have guns? Don’t you have crazies in Australia?” Gently his wife pulled his arm and steered him down the aisle, away from the socialist non-gun-toting crazy Aussie who thought the conversation especially bizarre, given there had been a mass shooting in Chicago just the night before…

Later in the week I went to a musical event, and was scanned to ensure that I wasn’t “packing”. There had been an incident a few days before, I was told, where a woman in the audience had a cardiac arrest - the commotion of trying to resuscitate her caused a mass panic in the crowd believing that someone had been shot. Three people were injured and one person’s leg was broken in the ensuing stampede.

In Dorothy’s words – There’s no place like home!


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Contents of this newsletter

01  Jodie's Wall

02  Autumn shenanigans

03  Starting out on the right paw

04  Why Puppy Preschool is so important

05  Calm cats

06  When good behaviour goes bad

07  Molly, Pet Focus of the Month

01 Jodie's Wall
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The mystery painting is.....

As Barb was away for much of February, we didn't organise an artist for this month on Jodie’s Wall. Instead we are displaying another of Barb’s paintings - come in and see which one! Barb started painting in her 30’s, had a 20 year hiatus while building up Aberfoyle Hub Vet Clinic, but has taken up painting again now her hours have reduced. Barb paints mostly in oils – she loves the richness, warmth and subtlety of the pigments, and the fact the paint stays wet a long time!

All of our clients are invited to display their art on Jodie’s Wall. There is no judgement about quality, but the art does have to promote positive and life-affirming themes. Save us from displaying another of Barb's paintings - please contact us at for details of how you can display yours!

02 Autumn shenanigans

Autumn is here and we've got a great video to share with you of a Dog Named Stella (from the northern hemisphere) who loves getting the most out of life! Click here to see her shenanigans on YouTube.

03 Starting out on the right paw

You may not have ever thought about it but good behaviour really starts before you decide to get a new pet. It can be easy to rush the process meaning you are not prepared or properly equipped for the new arrival.

Here are some tips to help start you off on the right track:

1. Choose a pet appropriate for your lifestyle. We cannot stress this enough. Problem behaviour is generally not as common for pets kept in the right environment. Ask yourself some honest questions such as: Are you home enough to appropriately care for a pet and give them the attention and love they need and deserve? How much exercise will you be able to give a dog and do you have the time to do this? Would a cat be a more suitable choice? And would re-homing a more mature pet be more sensible? Puppies and kittens require lots of time not to mention patience! 

2. You need to plan! The first few months are critical when starting out. This is a key time to help your pet adjust to your lifestyle and family.  Will you have time to put in essential training such as Puppy Preschool? Are you and your family going to be able to be consistent with training? Have you got a plan in place for your pet when you go away?

3. Are you in a position to care for a pet? Are you going to be able to provide your pet with essential health care, parasite prevention, a premium quality diet and necessary grooming to make their life happy and comfortable? 

4. If you are getting a puppy or a kitten, check out their relatives. Ask to meet Mum and Dad to see how they interact with other pets and people and try to choose a confident and friendly puppy or kitten if possible. 

We are always here to help you and can answer any questions you might have about choosing the right pet for your family, just ask one of our friendly team today.

04 Why Puppy Preschool is so important

When it comes to good behaviour, did you know that the most critical time in your dog's life is during their first four months of life? Socialisation with other dogs and experiences in the big wide world at this time are extremely important for a sociable and well-behaved pooch. 

If you are caring for a puppy during this critical time you should think about the following:

1. Puppies have brains like little sponges. A puppy's brain is ready to absorb and process everything they do and experience. The more they are introduced to during this period, the better - it helps them become a well adjusted and happier dog in the future.

2. Puppy Preschool is the first booking you should make on your dog's social calendar. Puppy Preschool is a great way for dogs to develop confidence and learn how to interact with each other. This helps with canine interactions in the future, such as park plays and social gatherings. And don't worry, Puppy Preschool is a safe environment as all puppies must be up to date with their vaccinations. Ask us for more information.

3. Puppyhood is a good time to introduce your dog to different noises and experiences. If they learn how to behave when the vacuum is going, when there are cats in the 'hood or around traffic and other people, it will help make future outings much more pleasant! Don't forget to also introduce your puppy to some longer stints at home alone. We can recommend some great boredom busters to keep your puppy stimulated when you head out as you want your dog to learn to be happy and feel safe during  any 'alone time'.

And don't forget that good behaviour and training doesn't stop after the age of four months! It is crucial to continue with positive reinforcement and to reward your dog for good behaviour throughout their entire life.

When it comes to pet behaviour, you should always ask us for the best advice - we are here to help.

05 Calm cats

Many people put off bringing their cat to the vet as they feel it is just too stressful. As a result, we don't get to see your feline friend as often as we should and unfortunately, this means many health problems may go undetected. Dental disease, heart disease and kidney disease can sneak up on your cat slowly, often without you noticing.

With this in mind, we would like you to know that there are a few ways we can help reduce the stress associated with vet visits. Our first option is a pheromone spray that you can use in the cat carrier to enable your cat to feel more safe and secure. The pheromone spray is the same pheromone cats release when they feel happy and relaxed. We also recommend you spray it on a towel and use this to cover the cat carrier. This may help your cat feel safe and avoid them making eye contact with patients of the canine variety. 

For cats that need some extra help to reduce their anxiety, we have a few medications available that we can give you to administer to your cat before their visit. Ask us for more information on how we can assist you with this.

When your cat arrives to see us we can move them into an area away from any dogs and will always work closely with you and your cat to reduce any stress associated with a vet visit. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet's veterinary visit you should ask us for advice. 

06 When good behaviour goes bad

When it comes to pet behaviour, there's a saying we use in the veterinary world: "There's no such thing as bad behaviour, it's just normal behaviour in an inappropriate setting." Put simply, this means what you may perceive as "bad behaviour" such as barking at the doorbell, is a normal response for a dog who is trying to alert you to the fact that someone is at the door - it's just not desirable from a human's point of view.

In some cases, 'bad behaviour' may actually be a symptom of something else that is wrong in your pet's world, such as a medical problem or pain.

When it comes to dealing with some of these issues, we are the best people to talk to. A behavioural consultation and exclusion of other medical issues are essential. We will be able to put together a plan for your pet and make some recommendations to deal with inappropriate behaviour. Here are just a few of the more common behavioural problems we discuss with our clients on a daily basis:


Spraying: This problem is frequently reported to us by cat owners.  It looks a bit weird but usually involves cats backing up against a vertical surface (such as curtains) and urinating. The behaviour is typically brought on by stress and territorial issues.

Scratching: Scratching is normal cat behaviour and is used to communicate or mark territory. It's something they must do and it can be easier to direct their scratching towards an acceptable surface, especially in the early stages, rather than trying to stop the damage later. Ask us for more advice. 


Barking: It's important to understand that barking is a normal way that dogs communicate. Dogs might bark to get attention, during play, hunting, territorial defence, and in fearful and anxious situations. We can help you identify the reason your dog is barking and provide advice about how to control it.

Destructive behaviour: Dogs do not destroy things vindictively and there are many other reasons your dog may be destructive, including separation anxiety, boredom, inadequate exercise, investigation, fear or phobias. We'll try to determine the cause of your dog's destructive behaviour and what to do about it. 

If you have a question about your pet's behaviour, we are the best people to ask. 

07 Molly, Pet Focus of the Month
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Molly is a cheeky soul!

Molly is a 10 year old terrier that had been “a bit off” for the last two weeks, and had stopped eating for the last day or so. It was immediately noted that her gums were quite pale, and abdominal ultrasound showed a damaged area in her spleen.

The spleen is the blood reservoir of the body, and damage to the spleen carries a high risk of fatal rupture. Molly had a critical condition, and for welfare reasons required either euthanasia or surgery. Surgical removal of the spleen might not cure her underlying disease, especially if it was cancer, but it would stop a fatal splenic rupture which would almost certainly prolong her life.

Splenectomy is a tricky and costly surgery, and patients usually require blood transfusions to survive. Even so, Molly’s parents chose to proceed to surgery, and a family member offered their own dog to be her blood donor. Molly suffered significant blood loss but the surgery went well, and she recovered uneventfully. Even better, histopathology found that the damage to the spleen was most likely to be a benign process. Now we are hopeful that Molly will have a much longer and happier life than would otherwise have happened – what a cause for family celebration!