Medical & Surgical Services

surgical

Radiography

Our practice is equipped with the latest Carestream Digital processor and can take digital radiographs (also called X-rays) of your pet.  Our veterinarians will discuss your pet’s case and conduct a thorough physical examination to determine if your pet requires radiographs.

Radiographs are a very important tool to help us diagnose diseases in animals, particularly for conditions involving bones, the chest or abdomen.

What happens to my pet when it is booked in for radiographs?

To have radiography taken most of our patients are admitted into the surgery for at least a half day unless it is an emergency and we’ll take them immediately. We may request that you bring your pet in unfed on the morning of admission, as they will most likely be sedated or anaesthetised to allow us to take the best quality radiographs possible.

Once the radiographs have been taken we will give you a call or book an appointment for our veterinarians to show you the digital images and to discuss the diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet.

Why do pets need to be sedated or anaesthetised to have radiographs taken?

When we have radiographs (X-rays) taken the pet is required to keep perfectly still, often in quite unnatural positions. 

Most pets would never lie still enough, in the correct position, for us to take good quality radiographs required to diagnose their condition. 

Sedation and anaesthesia allow us to get the most useful radiographs possible.

How are radiographs made?

Taking a radiograph is very similar to taking a photo, except we use X-rays instead of light rays. The usefulness of radiography as a diagnostic tool is based upon the ability of X-rays to penetrate matter. Different tissues in the body absorb X-rays to differing degrees. Of all the tissues in the body, bone absorbs the most X-rays. This is the reason that bone appears white on a radiograph. Soft tissues, such as lungs or organs, absorb some but not all of the X-rays, so soft tissues appear on a radiograph in different shades of grey. 

We will demonstrate and explain the radiographs when your pet goes home.

We are fortunate that with advances in technology – veterinary radiography has become an entire field of expertise. There will be some situations where the Practice will recommend we refer your pet’s radiograph to a specialist Veterinary facility to obtain a better interpretation of the images. Our vets will discuss this possibility if it becomes appropriate.

Ultrasonography

Our hospital is equipped with an ultrasound scanner to assist with the evaluation of your pet’s condition if required.  Our veterinarians will discuss your pet’s case and conduct a thorough physical examination to determine if your pet requires an ultrasound examination. An ultrasound scan is a very important tool to help us diagnose diseases in animals, particularly for conditions involving soft tissues, such as those found in the abdomen, or the heart.

What is an ultrasound scan?

Ultrasound scanning is a painless procedure that uses high frequency sound waves (inaudible to humans) to produce images of structures within the body. When sound waves are directed into the body, some are absorbed by body tissues and others bounce back. The sound waves that bounce back are measured by the ultrasound machine and are transformed into an image on a screen. The images can be printed or recorded. Extensive training is required in order to correctly use this equipment and interpret these images.

Ultrasound scans are most useful for looking at soft or fluid-filled organs; like the liver, kidney, bladder and heart. It is less effective for examining bones or air-filled organs, like the lungs.

What happens to my pet when it is booked in for an ultrasound scan?

Most of our patients are admitted into hospital for the day to have an ultrasound scan done. We ask that you bring your pet in unfed on the morning of admission for two reasons. Many animals will need to be sedated to allow us to do the best scan possible and a recent meal will result in increase gas shadows in the stomach.

The area to be scanned will have the hair clipped, so your pet may look quite different when they come home.  No pain is felt during an ultrasound exam, however, discomfort from pressure may be experienced. Sedatives may be necessary for those animals that won’t stay still or are uncomfortable. During the scan a water-soluble gel is applied over the clipped area to be examined and a transducer (probe) is placed on the skin.

Once the scan has been done we will give you a call or book an appointment for our veterinarians to show you the images and to discuss the diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet.

Clinical Pathology

Clinical pathology involves the laboratory evaluation of blood, fluids or body tissues in order to identify the existence of disease. Common laboratory tests include blood chemistries and electrolytes, complete blood counts (haematology), blood clotting times, urinalysis, faecal tests, biopsy examination, cultures and infectious disease testing including PCRs.

Our animal hospital is equipped with an in-house laboratory that allows our veterinarians to quickly perform many of these diagnostic tests to achieve an accurate and rapid diagnosis. This is especially important in very ill animals and those requiring immediate or emergency treatment. Some general screening tests more specialised tests will need to be performed by an external veterinary laboratory.

Our in-house laboratory can provide results within minutes.  Specialised testing may take 12-24 hours for blood results or up to 5 days for biopsy results, depending on the nature of the test being performed. Ask your veterinarian when to call for your pet’s laboratory results.

Specialist Referrals

When an animal develops an unusual illness or injury, there is often a need for specialised expertise and equipment to properly diagnose and treat the problem. If your pet has a problem that requires this level of expertise we can refer you to a specialist that has earned our trust and confidence in order to give your pet the optimal chance of recovery.

Australian registered veterinary specialists undergo a rigorous training and examination process to obtain their qualifications, and like human specialists are considered to be the epitome of knowledge in their field. We work closely with several Specialist Veterinary Institutions (UQ Gatton, VSS in Brisbane and The Cat Clinic in Brisbane) and together we can offer optimum care for pets that require this service.

Specialists are independent veterinarians and set their own fees. It's a good idea to ask them about costs when you call to make an appointment.

Our sense of responsibility doesn't end just because you've taken your pet to a specialist. If you find yourself faced with difficult decisions regarding the recommended treatment, please don't hesitate to call us. We'll be pleased to help you evaluate your options.

We’re happy to discuss and organise a specialist referral if required by your pet.

Desexing

Desexing or neutering your pet is a surgical procedure that prevents them from being able to reproduce. In male pets it is commonly referred to as “castration”, and in female pets as “spaying”. This is the most frequent surgery performed by our vets, andin the vast majority of cases your pet is home the evening of surgery.

The most common age to desex your pet is at 6 months, however there are situations when juvenile desexing (desexing at 3-4 months of age) is conducted and there several situations where older animals require the operation.

There are many benefits to desexing your pet before 6 months.

They include:

  • Preventing unwanted litters, which can be very costly, and may add to the already overwhelming number of stray animals that are put down each year
  • Prevention of testicular cancer and prostate disease in males, and it can help prevent pyometra (infection of the uterus) and mammary tumours (breast cancer) in females
  • Stopping the “heat” cycle in females 
  • Decreasing aggression towards humans and other animals, especially in males
  • Decreased spraying of urine in male cats and urine marking by male dogs
  • Being less prone to wander, especially in males
  • Living a longer and healthier life
  • Reduction of council registration fees for dogs

Common questions about desexing

“Will desexing affect my pet’s personality?”

Your pet will retain their pre-operation personality, possibly with the added bonus of being calmer and less aggressive.

“Should my female have one litter first?” 

No – it is actually better for her not to have any litters before being spayed. Her risk of developing mammary cancer increases if she is allowed to go through her first heat.

“Will it cause my pet to become fat?” 

Your pet’s metabolism may be slowed due to hormonal changes after desexing, however this is easily managed with adjusting feeding and ensuring adequate exercise. There is no reason a desexed pet cannot be maintained at a normal weight.

“Is desexing painful?” 

As with all surgery, there is some tenderness immediately after the procedure, but most pets will recover very quickly. We administer pain relief prior to surgery and after surgery too. In most cases, your pet will likely need some encouragement to take it easy!

“Will my dog lose its “guard dog”instinct?” 

No, your dog’s guarding instinct will be unaltered by the surgery.

What to do before and after surgery

Before surgery:

  • Make a booking for your pets operation.
  • If your pet is a dog, wash them the day before surgery as they are unable to be washed after until the stitches are removed.
  • Do not give your pet food or water after 10pm the night before the operation.
  • An option exists for a pre-anaesthetic blood test may be performed prior to surgery to check vital organ function.
  • The vet will perform a thorough physical examination before administering the pre-operative sedation.
  • Some pets will require intravenous fluid support during surgery. This will be discussed with you prior to the procedure.
  • To ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible, all pets receive narcotic pain relief in the pre-operative sedation prior to the operation.

After Surgery: 

  • Keep your pet restrained and quiet as the effects of anaesthetic can take a little while to wear off completely.
  • Keeping them quiet is also essential to allow the wound to heal.
  • Food and water should be limited to small portions only on the night after surgery.
  • Ensure all post-surgical medications (if any) are administered as per the label instructions.
  • Ensure your pet’s rest area is clean to avoid infection.
  • Check the incision at least twice daily for any signs of infection or disruption (eg. bleeding, swelling, redness or discharge). Contact the practice immediately if these symptoms appear. Do not wait to see if they will spontaneously resolve.
  • Prevent your pet from licking or chewing the wound. Special cone-shaped Elizabethan collars assist with this problem. A single chew can remove the careful stitching with disastrous effects.
  • Ensure you return to us on time for routine post-operative check-ups and removal of stitches.

If you have any concerns before or after your pet has been desexed, please call us immediately to discuss.

Orthopaedic Surgery

Orthopaedic surgery encompasses any surgery that is related to bones or joints. It includes procedures such as fracture repairs, ligament repairs and spinal surgery to name a few.

The expertise of our veterinarians’ and our practice’s wide range of surgical equipment allows us to perform certain orthopaedic surgical procedures that your pet may require.

These may include:

  • Cranial cruciate ligament repair
  • Fracture (broken bone) repair
  • Amputations for severe injuries or bone cancer cases

Complicated orthopaedic cases, such as spinal surgery, will need to be referred to a specialist orthopaedic surgeon.

Our veterinarians will assess each case individually and provide the best advice for you and your pet.

Soft-Tissue Surgery

Our veterinarians’ high level of expertise and our practice’s surgical suite allows us to perform the vast majority of soft tissue surgical procedures that your pet may require. 

Soft tissue surgery encompasses any surgery that is not related to bones. It includes procedures such as desexing, exploratory laparotomies, caesareans, lump removals, biopsies, wound stitch-ups, removal of intestinal foreign bodies - the list is very long!

A very common soft tissue surgery is the removal of lumps. Some lumps may require a biopsy prior to removal to help understand whether they are cancerous or not. This information assists us in planning the surgery accordingly to give your pet the best possible outcome. Once they have been removed we may recommend sending them to our external laboratory for histopathological analysis.

Although most lumps are benign (not harmful), a minority are more serious (malignant). In the case of malignant tumours, early removal and an accurate diagnosis is extremely important to maximise the chances of looking at the range of therapeutic options and aiming for a good outcome.

If you find a lump or bump on your pet please make an appointment to visit one of our veterinarians to discuss any surgery your pet may require. 

Ophthalmic Cases (Eyes)

Ophthalmic surgery is the specific area of pet care involving treatment of an animal’s eyes.

For certain breeds, this service also involves the examination and certification of breeding dogs to verify their eyes are in good condition.

Eye examinations require specific equipment, such as an ophthalmoscope (a magnifying light to look into the eye). Our veterinarians may also use a special dye called fluorescein (it glows a green/yellow colour under a UV light) to identify damage to the cornea (the clear layer at the front of the eye). Many eye conditions can be managed with medical treatment, however, specific conditions may require surgery.

Our practice is fully equipped to offer the following eye surgeries:

  • Entropion surgery to prevent ocular damage from inward pointing eye lashes/eyelids
  • Ectropion surgery to correct outward facing lower eyelids
  • Eyelid tumour removal
  • Surgery to repair corneal ulcers (ulcers on the eye surface)
  • Enucleation (removal) of the eye for severe glaucoma or cancer cases  
  • Cherry eye surgery to correct a protruding third eyelid in dogs

Our veterinarians can also refer your pet to a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist for specialised procedures such as eye ultrasound, vision testing or cataract removal.

Dentistry

Veterinary dentistry is a rapidly growing area of veterinary practice. We have seen a greater awareness over the last 25 years of its importance to the overall health of the animals we treat. Just like humans, our pets are vulnerable to gum disease and problems with their teeth.

Alarmingly, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from some form of dental disease by the age of three years.

Just like humans, pets’ teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gums has a significant impact on their overall quality of life.

Dental disease begins with a build-up of bacteria in your pet’s mouth. Bacteria, combined with saliva and food debris, can cause a soft film called plaque to accumulate on the tooth. As calcium salts are deposited in the plaque it turns to a hard material called tartar (brown or yellow material starting near the gum line of the tooth). 

Without proper preventive or therapeutic care, plaque and tartar build-up leads to periodontal disease, which affects the tissues and structures supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can cause oral pain, tooth loss and potentially significant problems with the heart or kidney.

Common signs of dental disease, in order of severity, include:

  • Yellow-brown tartar around the gum line
  • Inflamed, red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Change in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth

If your pet is showing any of these signs of dental disease please book an appointment to see one of our veterinarians.  Early assessment and action can save your pet’s teeth!

How can I prevent dental disease?

Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care. The best way to begin this is to accustom your pet from an early age. Dental home care may include:

  • Feeding pets raw meaty bones or special dental diets. Suitable chewing options will vary between different animals and their individual preferences. This can help reduce the accumulation of tartar.
  • Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which may help keep the teeth clean.
  • Brushing teeth daily – just like us! This is the best form of dental hygiene. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are now available. Please do not use human toothpaste formulas on your pet as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic.

Often a combination of options is required. Regular and frequent attention to your pet's teeth may avoid the need for a professional dental clean under a general anaesthetic, and will also improve your pet's overall health.

What does Veterinary dental attention involve?

It is the same as a dental scale and polish done by a Human dentist. However, unlike us, our pets won’t sit still or open their mouth to allow a comprehensive cleaning of their teeth. For this reason our pets need to have a general anaesthetic for a professional dental clean. 

Your pet will need to be assessed by one of our veterinarians.  The degree of dental disease will be assessed to determine if extractions, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories will be required. From this assessment an idea of the costs involved can be established.

The assessment will include a physical exam, and maybe blood tests and urine tests to ensure they are healthy prior to having an anaesthetic. Narcotic pain relief is included in every pre-operative sedation given prior to the general anaesthetic being administered

Once anaesthetised, a thorough dental examination is carried out. This process involves charting all present teeth and evaluating their condition, including the degree of tartar, gingivitis (gum inflammation) and any pockets in the gums around the teeth.

Our Practice is equipped with the latest IM3 Veterinary Dental Equipment. Our veterinarians will remove the tartar above the gum line using a special ultrasonic scaler (just like a Human dentist uses for our teeth). The teeth are then polished using a dental polisher and specialised fine-grade paste. If the dental disease is not severe, the procedure will end here.

However, if certain teeth are so severely affected they cannot be saved, extractions will be necessary. In some cases, gum surgery is required to close the holes left behind when a tooth is extracted, and dissolvable stitches are used for this procedure.

Your pet may be given an antibiotic course and further anti-inflammatory medication if indicated. Pets are generally able to go home on the same day. They will be required to come back in approximately two weeks to assess how well the mouth has healed and follow up on appropriate ongoing dental prevention measures.

If you have any questions about dental care or professional cleaning please do not hesitate to contact us.