Aberfoyle Hub Veterinary Clinic
Hub Professional Centre
Aberfoyle Park, SA, 5159

Phone: 08 8270 5155

Barb's Bits

This May we finally farewelled Tom Junior, our once-feisty rooster who, many years ago, pinnned Bob down in fear of his well-being on the gravel driveway. Only a few weeks after Tom Jr's passing, we noticed white feathers in that same driveway and, sure enough, Foxy Loxy had taken advantage of our roosterless coop and "vanished" both Marilyn and Ingrid. The sad circle of life.

Tom Senior, however, is fortunately alive and kicking, and we ushered in his adulthood with his 18th birthday celebration - a "small gathering" of 40+ teenagers at our place. With all the negative media surrounding 18th birthdays, Ian and I were a little anxious, but with some planning on our part and a great bunch of friends on Tom's part, The Gath couldn't have gone better. What a relief!

And of course, May was our 16th Biggest Morning Tea - this year we raised over $1100 for cancer research! You have all been wonderful in the way you support this fantastic fundraiser, which will inevitably help us, our loved ones, and also our pets - thank you so much!


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Contents of this newsletter

01  Heart disease and what to watch out for

02  Get to know your pet's SRR

03  Heartworm - is prevention really necessary?

04  Cat performs CPR

05  Happy pets

06  Focus of the Month, Pet Hero Jay Jay

01 Heart disease and what to watch out for

Diseases of the heart can be sneaky. They tend to creep up on your pet, and clinical signs might not appear until the heart is in serious trouble. 

Knowing the signs of heart disease, and starting treatment early, can make a big difference to your pet's quality of life and longevity. 

Heart disease leads to a failure of the pumping mechanism of the heart. It is often referred to as congestive failure as it results in pooling of blood in the lungs.

The signs to look out for in dogs and cats: 

  • Laboured or fast breathing
  • An enlarged abdomen
  • Weight loss or poor appetite

Signs to look out for in dogs only:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • A reluctance to exercise and tiring more easily on walks
  • Weakness or fainting associated with exercise

The good news is that there are medications available to help your pet's heart work better. We will initially recommend X-rays and possibly an ultrasound of the heart so we know we are choosing the most suitable medication.

If you think your pet is showing one or more of the above signs, it is important that we see them for an examination. Early treatment can help your pet lead a longer and happier life.


02 Get to know your pet's SRR

"What is SRR?" we hear you ask. SRR refers to Sleeping Respiratory Rate and it is very useful in the assessment of the onset or recurrence of left sided congestive heart failure (CHF) in both dogs and cats. The good news is you can easily perform this test at home!

Left sided congestive heart failure occurs with many of the common cardiac diseases in our pets.  When pressure in the top left heart chamber increases and blood backs up into vessels within the lung, it results in fluid accumulating in the lungs. This fluid, referred to as pulmonary oedema, causes an increase in your pet's respiratory rate.  

How to monitor Sleeping Respiratory Rate

The recording should be done when the animal is asleep in a thermo-neutral environment (ie, not too cold, not too hot). This should be repeated daily for 2-3 days (to get a baseline variation), and then once or twice weekly.

Normal SRR 

Normal SRR in dogs and cats is less than 30 breaths per minute, often in the high teens or low 20s. Consistent SRR greater than 30 breaths per minute in patients with underlying heart disease is strongly suggestive of developing CHF (although respiratory disease needs to also be ruled out). 

What to do if the SRR is high

Contact us if your pet's SRR is consistently over 30 breaths per minute.  If everything else suggests CHF as the cause, we may perform chest X-rays and start your pet on a medication trial. 

An elevated SRR can also be caused by high blood pressure, anaemia, pneumonia, heat stress or a fever so if you are concerned about your pet it is best to arrange a check up with us as soon as possible. 

03 Heartworm - is prevention really necessary?

Adult heartworms lodge themselves in the heart leading to heart disease

The prevention of heartworm disease is one of the most important things that you must do for your pet. Heartworm is the most dangerous of all the worms, and an intestinal ‘all wormer' tablet does not prevent heartworm infection.

Mosquitoes spread heartworm and wherever there are mosquitoes, there is the risk of heartworm. When the mosquito feeds on your pet's blood, larvae enter the blood stream. These larvae mature into worms that can reach up to an astounding 30 cm in length!

The worms eventually become lodged in your pet's heart leading to heart failure and sometimes death. Dogs are more commonly affected by heartworm disease but cats may also be at risk.

This disease is definitely a case of prevention being better than the cure. Getting your pet started on the right heartworm medication can be confusing, especially with so many choices on the market.

There are topical treatments, oral treatments and an injection for dogs. Ask us for the most suitable prevention for your pet - we will make sure your pet is protected.

04 Cat performs CPR

We read an amazing story this month!

A 72 year old man with a history of heart related problems visited his GP after being repeatedly attacked by his loyal moggy - while he was sleeping.

The smart thinking GP thought that “perhaps the cat was witnessing something which it deemed required intervention.” 

The GP sent the man, who had a history of artery disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, to have an overnight monitoring assessment. The assessment revealed that the man had sleep apnoea and a slow heart rate and his heart beat was intermittently pausing for 7 seconds!

“Although 7 second cardiac pauses do not normally require cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the patient’s cat rushed in, knowing no better, to perform C(at)PR.” 

The man's sleep apnoea was successfully treated and his cat has since refrained from ‘saving’ him. It seems the cat was somehow picking up on the patient’s ‘impending doom.’

Perhaps C(at)PR is the next big thing in animal detection of human diseases?!

The article appeared in the April 2014 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal

05 Happy pets

Check out June's feel good video. We are especially fascinated by the cat in this clip. This video is a nice reminder that a healthy pet equals a happy pet! 


06 Focus of the Month, Pet Hero Jay Jay
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Jay Jay is a 13 year old cattle dog who has been coming to us since she was 4 months old. She has been a bit more regular at our clinic for the last few years, as happens to many older animals, with her share of dramas - eating a chocolate christmas gift; skin issues; arthritis; and dental disease.

Last year Jay Jay developed cancer, which a specialist surgeon successfully treated by removing a third of her tongue - it took her a little while to learn to eat and drink with a shorter tongue! Earlier this year, another tumour grew on the tongue, which was again successfully removed.

This month, Jay Jay has a new problem - a lump on her toe. Lumps on toes are very serious in dogs and cats, and we are still in the process of finding out what this latest issue is. Jay Jay is very blessed to have owners who have had the ability to pursue, further than most, what is in her best interests. What great Pet Heroes!