Friday, April 2, 2010

1. Visiting other veterinary premises

April 2 to 10, 2010

I took time off to refresh my mind. To see what best practices the other vets in Perth are doing and to visit the Murdoch University Veterinary School and to update myself on veterinary medicine and surgery issues in Perth.


Apr 2, 2010
HEARTWORM VACCINATION PROTECTS THE DOG FOR 10 YEARS?
During an exercise walk with Daniel, a vet student and his Bichon, he told me he opted for the heartworm vaccination because the vet told him that the protection lasts 10 years. "I have not heard of this vaccine," I said. "Are you sure? The Proheart vaccination I use in Singapore lasts one year. This is an alternative to heartworm tablets which must be taken monthly." Daniel said, "Maybe 5 years."
I need to check this out. Convenience and less vaccination are what the dog owner wants. This incident shows that many dog owners are not too keen on the technical details but want convenience. Daniel had not heard of the oral heartworm medication which must be given monthly. I don't blame this young man. There are other priorities for this young man.

ANNUAL VACCINATION ISSUES IN PERTH
In Australia, some owners are unhappy with vets who propose annual vaccinations when they read from the internet that there are vaccines which protect the dog for 3 years. Unfortunately, such owners don't know the technical details and assume that the vaccine used is a combined vaccine. For example, 8-in-one vaccine protects against 8 diseases. This type of vaccine does not give 3-yearly protection for all 8 diseases.

The 3-yearly vaccine is a different type and presently is not available in Singapore. If it is available, it will protect against one disease as it is meant for that disease. So, an average owner reads in the internet that there is a vaccine that offers "protection for 3 years" but does not read further. He becomes unhappy when his vet is still advising annual vaccination, trying to make money out of him and has no interest in his dog's health.

Communication is important in this respect, possibly by a newsletter. Many owners in Singapore are not too keen on technical details. In Singapore, the vaccine protects against 8 or 9 dog diseases and therefore, I still advise yearly vaccination as the best way. It will be expensive to check antibody levels for the dog to see how long the protection is before vaccination. In any case, Singapore does not have the laboratory facilities to do such testing.

REFERRAL FROM PET SHOP PUPPY SELLERS IN PERTH
I asked Daniel how he chose the vet for his puppy vaccination. "Is it because the vet is nearest to your house?". He said, "The pet shop recommends him." He had his Bichon neutered by the same vet. No further interaction with this vet for the past 2years. Pet shop and breeders are great referrals for the first-time puppy owne if the vet does puppies business with them. I used to have this advantage when I was doing vaccination for 80% of the dog breeders and many pet shops in Singapore some 3 years ago. In Singapore, proximity to the vet is much more important as car ownership is expensive. In Perth, one can buy a 5-year-old car for A$3,000 unlike over A$30,000 in Singapore. Very few dog owners from outside my neighbourhood of Toa Payoh will be my clients, one reason being proximity. There may be other reasons like the lack of a USP (unique selling proposition) and pricing. However I do get at least one hamster case a week when in previous years, I don't get one a month. This may be due to referrals as many vets in Singapore are said to be not too keen on hamster surgeries and I do them. See www.toapayohvets.com, goto "hamsters". Referrals are important in veterinary medicine as all vets are deemed to be equally competent by the average dog owner in Singapore and the convenience of proximity and pricing are more important.

ECTO-PARASITES IN DANIEL'S BICHON FRISE IN PERTH
The dog is exercised in a dog park and has no tick infestation for the past 3 years. "He had a flea infestation once when boarded with a friend," Daniel said. The dog lives in a house with a garden. "He is given Frontline Plus spot on," Daniel said. "But not all the time."

I strolled with Daniel and his Bichon n the dog exercise park one evening on April 2, 2010. Trees and branches were scattered everywhere. One or two trees were uprooted. "There was a freak storm two weeks ago," Daniel said. "A mudslide too at King's. Some houses had their windows smashed and hail stones dented many cars." I thought Perth was a safe place to live. Life is unpredictable. One could be killed in a freak storm.

As to why Gatsby the Bichon is free from ticks for the past 3 years, I can say that it is probable that all dog owners who bring their dogs for walks in the Canning Park studiously use spot-on insecticide like Frontline Plus and so, all dogs don't carry their ticks to the park. Daniel does use insecticide regularly as I spy one Frontline Plus box in his kitchen shelf. I saw at least 20 dogs being exercised in this park today. In Perth, from Spring to Autumn, the ticks may be prevalent but not in the cold of winter. In Singapore, it is summer all year and ticks are present every day. Many dog owners do not bother with tick prevention and so, ticks multiply fast. In Perth, the carpeted houses and apartments have been homes to fleas. But fleas are not a problem in dogs in Singapore as the floors are tiled.

Dogs are much loved in Perth as in Singapore but there are also pet owners who can't afford veterinary surgeries. Apparently there is a "Desperate Pet" Service provided by final year vet students for such owners. How the scheme works, I don't know. However, they raise funds for their operations. Singapore may be a developed country but there are no organisations for the average unfortunate owners who need vet services. There are one or two voluntary organisations who do finance them but they are not well publicised.

April 2 was a public holiday, being Good Friday. One hair dresser in Northbridge was open and Daniel had his haircut for A$20.00. I noted that the hairdresser gave him an attractive black name card with her name "Julianne" written on it. This is the same practice in Singapore too. I took the card from him but he reminded me to give it back to him and so I presumed he had great service. Shops that open on public holidays are rare in Perth. Even the biggest supermarket like Coles closes. So, I was surprised to see this hair salon open. "The owner must be an immigrant of the first generation," I said to Daniel. "No Australian citizen will open for business on a public holiday." Daniel said, "The hair dressers speak Korean." I said, "If the business is first generation, it works very hard by opening long hours. The second generation builds it up. So, it could also be 2nd generation migrants. However, the third generation will run it down by adopting the Australian life style." I hope to teach this young man some business acumen.

Perth's suburbs near Murdoch University look like paradise with no high rise apartments. Manicured lawns, low houses with pools. Laid back.

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