All posts by AP

Reward-based training

Dogs play an important part in many of our lives. With proper training from an early age, they can learn to interact with people in a positive way.

With this in mind the Australian Veterinary Association has developed a set of practical recommendations for vets and dog trainers on training methods based on positive reinforcement.

Reward-based training: a guide for dog trainers outlines the benefits of reward-based training and identifies some of the problems associated with alternative training methods. It also includes a number of case studies, examples of training and comprehensive list of references for further reading on the subject.

Pet Insurance

(This post is archived on our website at https://www.hallvet.com.au/about/pet-insurance/)

Some perspective…

According to the Australian Companion Animal Council,

  • vet fees only account for about 1/4 of the cost of your pet,
  • about 1/3 is spent on other services (toys, kennels, grooming, holiday accommodation etc) and
  • the rest – nearly 1/2 – is spent on food.

Big Bills

But there are times when vet bills loom large because of accident or illness. In the last four years at Hall Veterinary Surgery, about 90% of invoices over $1000 were for dogs. They included conditions as diverse as dog-fight injuries, pancreatitis, surgery for cancers, blocked waterworks, broken bones or cruciate ligaments, snake bite, heart failure, car accidents, tick paralysis, vomiting, diarrhoea, and chemotherapy for cancer.
Big bills hit young pets as well as old.

Budgeting

If unexpected vet bills would blow your budget, you could try one of these strategies to minimise the fallout:

  1. Pet insurance costs range from about $18/month (cats, accident only) or $33/month (dog, accident only) up to $65/month (dog select breed, accident/illness.
    Depending on pre-existing conditions and payout limits, pet insurance will reduce the impact of most big bills. Some plans work on a co-payment system, which reduce the premium if you pay 20% or more of any bill.
    Most insurance companies reimburse you after you’ve paid the vet.
  2. A low-fee credit card kept for emergencies only.
  3. Self-insure by putting a monthly contribution into an interest-bearing account. This is the most cost-effective method for small costs; you don’t have to worry about pre-existing conditions and you can economise on multiple pets -as long as they don’t all get sick at the same time. You can also budget for costs that aren’t covered by the pet insurance companies. These include vaccinations, worming, flea and tick protection and wellness programmes. The average monthly costs below will give you an idea of what to put aside. If a big cost comes up before you’ve accumulated enough you’ll still have to bridge the gap.

Total Spend

The table below shows amounts carers spent on individual pets over the last four years. It breaks this down to the average monthly cost of vet care and the percentage of dogs and cats in that spend category. This is the average per pet for all products and services offered at Hall Vet Surgery, including flea and tick products, prescription diets, dental work, big surgeries, cancer treatment, desexing and vaccinations.

Total spent over 4 Years Ave per Month Dogs Cats
$500 $10 54% 38%
$1,000 $21 28% 17%
$2,000 $43 9% 4%
$5,000 $104 1% 0.4%
$10,000 $208 0.1%

So you can think of the percentages as indicative of the chance that your pet will cost at least that much in vet bills. eg if you own a cat, there’s a 1:250 chance your cat might total $5,000, or a 1:10 chance that your dog might cost over $2,000 over four years.

Pet insurance is more cost-effective if your pet is unlucky enough to have a bad accident or becomes ill. But you have to have your pet insured before it happens!

Our most popular dog and cat breeds

The nine most popular dog breeds (combined with Crosses) that have visited the practice in the last 12 months are

Maltese 8.0%
Staffordshire Bull Terrier 7.7%
Jack Russell Terrier 6.6%
Border Collie 5.6%
Labrador Retriever 4.9%
Kelpie 4.8%
Shih Tzu 3.1%
German Shepherd 2.8%
Beagle 2.2%



The nine most popular cat breeds are

Domestic Short Hair 53.4%
Domestic Medium Hair 9.0%
Domestic Long Hair 7.6%
Burman/Birman 8.8%
Ragdoll 3.5%
Siamese 2.6%
Persian 2.2%
Burmese 1.7%
Himalayan 1.5%

Chemotherapy And Cytotoxic Drugs

What is chemotherapy?

Cancer chemotherapy uses cytotoxic drugs to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately they also affects normal rapidly multiplying cells like those that line the gut and bone marrow cells that produce blood cells.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of uncontrolled growth of cells. Cells are the basic structural units of the body. Normally they replicate to replace themselves as they age. In cancer a particular cell line multiplies in an inappropriate and uncontrolled manner.

What are cytotoxic drugs?

Many anti-cancer drugs are cytotoxic. Cytotoxic means “damaging to cells”. These drugs block cell growth and division and thus prevent cancer cells from multiplying. Cytotoxic drugs act only on rapidly dividing cells such as cancer cells but they can also harm normal body cells.

What side effects do cytotoxic drugs have?

Because cytotoxic drugs affect all rapidly dividing cells in the body, normal cells in blood-producing bone marrow, the gut, skin and reproductive organs are also affected.

Many animals on chemotherapy experience no side effects. However, they are more prone to infections, bleeding, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite.

Animals do not lose all their fur with chemotherapy drugs. Reproductive function is usually not relevant.

Some cytotoxic drugs cause liver, kidney or heart problems. The most serious side effect of chemotherapy is infection. We monitor for these problems with regular blood tests.

Am I at risk of exposure from these drugs?

Cytotoxic drugs are very potent and must be handled with care. We admit animals to hospital to administer most chemotherapy. Some are given by injection while other drugs are given as capsules or tablets.

Do not to handle urine or faeces after any chemotherapy session.

This information is of a general nature only, and must not be used as veterinary advice except where directed by your veterinarian. Hall Veterinary Surgery does not warrant the suitability of this information for specific cases. If your animal is unwell or you want to act on this information, please contact us on 6230 2223.

Cat Care Information Evening

You are invited to Hall Veterinary Surgery’s

Cat Care
Information Evening

On Wednesday 21st September, 2011, 7pm

at Hall Pavilion

Gladstone Street, Hall ACT

Learn why your cats behave (or misbehave) the way they do, how to care for your older cat and why regular checkups are vital to cats’ health and comfort. Win heaps of prizes and join us for supper.

Entry is FREE but you MUST R.S.V.P. by 14th September, 2011

Phone 62302223, or talk to one of our Receptionists

 

 

August is dental health month at Hall Vet Surgery!

August is dental health month at Hall Vet Surgery! If you’ve not taken advantage of our offer below, please read on.

Bring your pet in for a free dental check this month and learn how to keep your pet’s mouth and teeth clean and healthy.

Dental health is essential to overall health in our pets.

4 out of 5 pets over 3 years old live with dental disease, infection and pain but are very good at hiding it from us. (Source: Dr. Anthony Caiafa. University of Melbourne, Veterinary Clinic and Hospital.)

So make sure your pet is happy, healthy and pain free, phone 6230 2223 to make an appointment for a free dental check during Hall Vet Surgery dental month.

 

Effect of Training Method on Dog Learning

From Applied Animal Behaviour Science via the RSPCA’s Science Updates Issue 33.

Dogs are trained by their owners using a variety of techniques.
Although the use of reward-oriented training protocols has increased in popularity in recent years, many owners still report using different kinds of punishment, especially for specific, unwanted behaviours, such as stealing an object.

However, there have been few empirical studies on how an owner’s training style affects a dog’s temperament and later ability to learn new tasks.

The authors of this paper surveyed around 50 dog owners in the UK, to ask them about the methods used when training common tasks such as toilet training, sitting on command and walking to heel. The owners were then interviewed in their own homes, and their interactions with their dog were video recorded, especially while training the dog to perform a novel task (touching an object with its nose). The researchers found that dogs owned by subjects who reported using a higher proportion of punishment were less likely to interact with a stranger, and those dogs whose owners favoured physical punishment tended to be less playful.

Dogs whose owners reported using more rewards tended to perform better in the novel training task. Ability at this novel  task was also higher in dogs belonging to owners who were seen to be more playful and who employed a patient approach to training. The authors conclude that, for dog owners, the use of reward-based training appears to be the most beneficial for the dog’s welfare, since it is linked to enhanced learning and a balanced and healthy dog-owner relationship.

Rooney, N.J. & Cowan, S. (2011) Training methods and owner–dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 132: 169-177.

How cats and dogs drink…

There has been some excitement in science circles recently about how dogs and cats drink.

In the November 2010 edition of Science, Pedro Reis et al. of MIT released an article showing high-speed camera observations of a domestic cat lapping water. Their claim is that the lapping mechanism is more about the column of water which follows the cat’s tongue, rather than the small amount scooped up by the (backwardly flexed) tip of the cat’s tongue. You can watch the videos and draw your own conclusions.

Miffed at aspersions cast upon dogs by the MIT researchers, A. W. Crompton and Catherine Musinsky from Harvard published in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters a letter, How dogs lap, complete with x-ray video, which showed the same mechanism in dogs.

Having viewed both sets of videos (cats and dogs), I’m still not convinced that they are actually taking up much of that column of water, and I conclude that the majority of what is lapped is still that scooped up – very deftly – by the backward pointing tip of their tongues. We invite you to watch the videos and draw your own conclusions.

A review of the new report is on ABC Science Online.