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

Barb's Bit

We have been blessed with a few different visitors recently - an old friend from New South Wales, and a friend's teenage son from Canada. It was lots of fun being thrust out of our normal routine, and seeing Adelaide through a tourist's eyes - we live in such a great city. For Ian in particular, it was great to have some more male company - with only one other male in the house at home, and none at work, he may feel a bit of an endangered species!

Here are some places that we really enjoyed going to - the O'Halloran Hill Driving Range; McLaren Vale wineries; Cleland Wildlife Park; the Adelaide Oval Showdown (even in the nose bleed section, this was heaps of fun!); Belair National Park; Adelaide Hills wineries; Onkaparinga Gorge; Mt Lofty at sunset; fish and chips at the beach; Port Adelaide..... Of course, if we had had time, we would have ventured away for the weekend, and goodness, doesn't that open up the possibilities!

When you have visitors, what are your hot tips for places to visit in Adelaide and South Australia?

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Contents of this newsletter

01  Jodie's Wall

02  How to keep a senior pet happy

03  Dental care for senior pets

04  Case study: Canine Vestibular Disease

05  Why you should adopt an older pet

06  Euthaniasia and how to know when it's time

07  Sandy, Pet Focus of the Month

01 Jodie's Wall
June for Jodies wall

Meg the Beaglier 10

This month on Jodie's Wall we are displaying a glowing acrylic artpiece by Joanna Collins, an Adelaide Hills acrylic artist. Joanna says "I am passionate about painting all animals, especially our beloved fur and feathered family members. Special care is taken to capture your pet's personality and unique characteristics on canvas. Each painting involves multiple, thin layers of paint to create depth and a unique patchwork of colour."

More examples of Joanna's beautiful work are on her Instagram page - Pet portrait commission enquiries can be directed to Joanna on 0438 878 689 or via email -

All of our clients are invited to display their art on Jodie's Wall. There is no judgement about subject or quality, but the art does have to promote positive and life-affirming themes. Please contact us at for details

02 How to keep a senior pet happy

Senior pets are special. They are loyal and loving and in most cases, will have been through a number of major life events with you. The senior years can creep up on our furry friends and most people aren’t even aware that dogs and cats are classified as senior when they reach 7 years of age!

We think it’s important you are aware of some of the things you can do to help keep your senior pet happy and healthy so here are our top tips:

Feed an appropriate diet
As our pets age, their nutritional requirements change. Older animals don't cope well with excessive nutrients or particular deficiencies. Protein levels in their diet are important, as is their calorie intake. Being the correct weight can have a huge impact on their quality of life and mobility. We recommend you feed your senior friend a complete and balanced premium food suitable for a mature pet. Please ask us for a specific diet recommendation.

Keep an eye out for changes at home
You know your pet better than anyone, so keeping an eye out for any changes is a critical habit to develop. Fluctuations in weight, appetite, thirst and urination can be an indication that there’s something amiss. The presence of a cough, a change in sleeping habits, stiff joints and accidents around the house can also ring alarm bells. Get in the habit of running your hands over your pet every week to feel for any new lumps or bumps. If you find anything new or unusual, arrange a check with us as soon as possible. And don't be tempted to put changes down to 'just getting old'.

Arrange twice-yearly health checks
An average year for your pet can be equivalent to 6-8 years for humans, so it should be no surprise that many changes can occur to your pet's health over 12 months. More regular health checks are absolutely essential for your ageing pet, even if you don’t notice any changes at home. A check-up at least every 6 months will help us monitor your pet and allow us to perform any necessary blood and urine tests or further imaging. Prevention of disease and early management is always ideal. Our aim is to help your pet live a happier and more comfortable life.

Phone us if you have any questions about your senior pet, we are here to give you the best advice.

03 Dental care for senior pets

It is very common for us to see an older pet with dental disease but many people can be reluctant to pursue a dental procedure as they are worried about their senior pet having to undergo an anaesthetic.

As our pets age, they may not be as good at fighting off bacterial and viral diseases as they once were so this is the time when good dental health is absolutely essential. Untreated, dental disease can also lead to other problems such as heart disease and kidney disease, not to mention cause your pet considerable pain.

It’s not uncommon for senior pets to have worn-down teeth or be missing the odd tooth and this can potentially affect their ability to chew and digest their food. They may also have painful gingivitis or exposure of the sensitive parts of the teeth secondary to dental disease. Given that our pets can be very good at hiding pain, many owners put the subtle changes of dental disease, such as being a bit quieter than usual or a reduced appetite down to 'just getting old'.

Veterinary anaesthetics are equivalent to those used in human medicine and are very safe. In order to provide your senior pet with the safest anaesthetic possible, prior to the procedure we will recommend a blood and/or urine tests to check the overall health of your pet and tailor the anaesthetic protocol accordingly. Your pet will also go on an intravenous drip to help protect their kidneys and other organs throughout the procedure, and this will also allow them to recover from the anaesthetic faster.

Regular dental checks along with a whole-body examination will help reduce the likelihood of dental issues and ensure your pet is happy and comfortable, something every pet deserves in their old age. 

We are always happy to discuss any questions you might have about your pet’s health.

04 Case study: Canine Vestibular Disease

Toby is a 12-year-old german shorthaired pointer who went to bed as normal one evening only to wake the next morning unable to stand. It was as if Toby had suddenly lost his balance altogether. He appeared to have a head tilt and his eyes were ‘jerking’ irregularly.

His owners were understandably very distressed. His decline was so rapid and they felt something very sinister was at play. They prepared themselves for the worst.

Examination of Toby revealed he was most likely suffering from signs of Canine Vestibular Disease (also referred to as ‘old dog disease’).

The vestibular system is located in the brain but has components in the inner ear and middle ear too. It is basically in charge of maintaining normal balance but if it’s not, well, things can go haywire!

What causes vestibular disease?

Middle or inner ear infections, drugs that are toxic to the ear, trauma or injury, tumours, and hypothyroidism can all cause vestibular symptoms. Thankfully Toby had none of these and when no specific cause is found, the condition is called ‘idiopathic vestibular syndrome’.

Toby was given a drug to help reduce any nausea he was suffering from his loss of balance. He also needed to be supported to stand over the next few days but thankfully improved rapidly (another characteristic of the idiopathic form of the disease). His rapid improvement supported the original diagnosis, but if he had failed to improve or deteriorated even further, we would have recommended further diagnostic testing (such as an MRI) to see if there was a hidden underlying cause.

What is Toby’s prognosis?

Toby's prognosis is excellent - with his early and rapid recovery, all indications are that the problem has fully resolved. Not all patients are so fortunate though. The symptoms of this disease are most severe in the first 24-48 hours, and some animals cannot even hold themselves upright during this time. Most patients improve over a 2-3 week period (as was the case for Toby), but more severely affected patients may become so weakened in those first few days that they are unable to regain normal mobility and euthanasia is the most humane option.

We are always here to answer any questions you might have about the health of your pet.

05 Why you should adopt an older pet

If you've been thinking about getting a new pet have you considered adopting an older animal? There are plenty of positives when it comes to giving an older pet a home and a great companion is just one of them!

Here are three good reasons why an older pet can be a good choice:

1. You know what you are getting when it comes to size and temperament plus they are also generally more mellow, relaxed and independent.

2. Senior pets are mostly toilet-trained which means you can relax a bit when it comes to potty-training and the state of your carpet!

3. You are giving a pet a second chance at finding a forever home. You might be surprised at how these pets seem to know how lucky they are, and turn out to be fantastic pets and life-long companions.

We can point you in the right direction when it comes to adopting any pet - ask us for more information.

06 Euthaniasia and how to know when it's time

As pet owners, we all want to give our beloved furry friends a good life. What we don't usually talk about is how to give them a good death.  The end of your pet’s life is a topic that’s hard to think about but it's an important one and something we as veterinarians navigate every day.

Making a decision about when it's appropriate to euthanase a pet can be one of the most difficult times of your life. Most of us hope we never have to make the decision and it would be nice if all of our pets passed away peacefully in their sleep at the right time, but the reality is that this is not always the case. Most of the time we have to make that decision for them because if we don’t, their last moments may be distressing and painful and this is not the end that any pet owner wants.

There is never a 'right' or a 'wrong' decision and you know your pet better than anyone. It can be agonising trying to decide the right time to let them go, because we never want to say goodbye to those we love. As owners, though, we must always ask ourselves – what is in the best interests of my pet? We are here to support you through the process and always here to answer any questions you might have. Sometimes just talking about euthanasia can help you be better prepared for it. Even talking about whether you will bury or cremate your pet can help you feel more prepared for when the time comes.

We as humans are a voice for animals and euthanasia can relieve pain and suffering. In the end, this is the greatest gift we can give our pets.

Please reach out to us if you wish to talk through euthanasia and your pet.

07 Sandy, Pet Focus of the Month
Sandy at the beach

Sandy enjoying her last beach walk

Sandy, Ian and Barb's beautiful, naughty, loving 15 year old labrador, is our Pet Focus this month.

By any measure, Sandy had a life of joy and meaning. She was an integral part of the family as the children grew up, and she was also an integral part of Hub Vet Clinic family: she was delivered by caesarian by Ian; she attended Erin's Puppy Preschool; she was a Hub Happy Feet dog walking group member; she saved the lives of at least 6 dogs as a blood donor; she helped teach hundreds of children in local schools and kindys about living with and respecting pets; and many of her antics featured in Barb's Bit stories – of stolen doughnuts, of goldfish retrieving, of being swept out to sea. Yes, she was one of a kind!

Throughout her life, Sandy had various health concerns - she had epilepsy; she had numerous lumps internally and externally; she had some dental issues; and she had arthritis. Fortunately, these health concerns were pretty manageable. Her seizures were controlled by diet; her lumps didn't limit her quality of life; some teeth were extracted and others kept clean as she aged; and her mobility was maximised by weight control, exercise, diet and medication. Overall, she was pretty lucky!

Sandy had a good death too. She was supported palliatively as she grew older, she was treasured and treated in her last days and, when euthanased, Sandy passed away peacefully bathed in love (and tears).

Sandy, you lived life to the full and with no regrets! Farewell, beautiful girl.