Tuesday, April 30, 2013

1399. A passionate tour guide is self-motivated

April 29, 2013 Suisse Majestic Grand Hotel. 6.01 am. Switzerland

I returned the phone call to Clara the groomer. She asked about her cousin's old Schnauzer which had peed blood and is warded at Toa Payoh Vets. It was 11.30 am in Singapore. "Most likely urinary stones if there is blood at this age," I said. "Phone Dr Daniel for more info as he is in charge." I had sms her but she did not respond and so I phoned.

Before arriving at Suisse Majestic, we went to Zermatt to view the famous Matterhorn mountain. Old folks do remember Matterhorn cigarettes and so it was significant for me. The mountain was covered by clouds and so I could saw an outline. "It is not even the highest mountain," Charles the coach driver told me. "But it has the supporting chalets and tourism facilities," I said. Support counts.

Glacier 3000 - end of ski season now. Lots of snow and strong winds. Now, no more skiing in summer in all mountains, Charles told me. To preserve the glacier as global warming melts glaciers.
Saw the Glacier Express which costs 300 Euros for 300 km with meals. Deep yellow fields are
rape plants, Charles told me after he took the trouble to find out. The seeds are for crushed for vegetable oil and for automobiles.

Charles is a Dutch national but has vast knowledge of Switzerland. He would like to live in Switzerland but all workers are given yearly employment passes.  He told me more about the Bern's brown bears as follows:

Brown bears from Finland. Crotia. They shoot them in Finland. Too many. Not many zoos interested. Too small unlike grizzly. Live up to 30 yrs. Eats vegetation. Old bear died old age.
"10 Euros donation enables one to have his name inscribed on the stone for the pavement or some places in the enclosure. So the fund was raised to build the new bear enclosure."

I was incredulous. In Singapore, the Zoo asked for rich donors. Not $10.00 but thousands. "There are numerous small stones, don't worry," Charles said to me.

So that was how the new bear enclosure was built. The old one is still around but solid concrete and a terrible pit which all animal lovers will never sanction. Bern is named after a brown bear shot. "Why not get a brown bear from Bern?" I asked. "Not many around. Finland has too many." Charles said. Charles is an unpaid tour guide. He is a coach driver too and drives very carefully. He told me he prefers driving up the mountain road.

"Too narrow," I said. "Too risky for cars. You may smash into one."
Once he stopped at the side and waved a long row of cars to pass him by switching on his right side lights.
"I can see far ahead from my coach," Charles meant that he could see any downhill cars from the winding road. The motorists in the cars trusted him and sped by. "You saw the sports car double blinking his back lights? He is thanking me." There is no loud horning as in other countries when the coach rounds the winding road corner. It is much more civilised in Switzerland.   

It is rare to know of a passionate Singapore tour guide who can explain the surrounding European countryside, culture and villages.

My guide can relate anecdotes of robberies (Chinese tour guide in hospital for 2 months after mugging in Paris), the fainting 19-year olds, numbering 20 in the group, who rushed around in Jungfrau's thin mountain air and having to spend one hour looking for a missing one. She was found fainted in the toilet.

After he related this incident and warned us to sleep early, one young lady (the one-year married couple) who is thin and does like to eat meat, fainted and vomited in the toilet. They managed to catch the same train but was in another coach. The high attitude sickness affected some more than others. For me, I had difficulty breathing after a short walk. For another man (married 5 years), he had headache and took Pannadol.

This Korean tour guide has a microphone as this is important to brief all 32 travellers in her group.
I can see her pro-activeness. As for me, I will make a poor tour guide as there is much effort to entertain and educate the group.


1398. Fell from escalator in Montreux, Switzerland

May 1, 2013  .
Suisse Majestic Grand Hotel, Montreux, Switzerland
5.38 am Switzerland, 11.38 am Singapore

Of the 28 Singaporeans on this packaged tour, the travellers over 40 years old predominate. There were one couple (married, one year), another one (married two years), 3rd couple (married 5 years).

Yesterday, we had to lug over heavy luggage up two flights of a narrow escalator to walk to the entrance of Suisse Majestic, an expensive hotel according to our guide. A woman in her late 40s fell backwards down the escalator and hurt her right hand and back. At the lobby, her friend palpated her head (no pain). "Wait and see if there is vomiting," another lady suggested, bringing forth a packet that I thought was the Chinese herbal patch. I asked the hotel receptionist. She said: "No hotel doctor. Take a taxi to the Emergency department of the nearby hospital." Travel can be dangerous when hotels are not easily accessible.

This morning at 4.30 am, I could not log in my iPhone 4 and consulted the receptionist. He finally figured out to log via Safari. I asked if it was OK to go out. "Very safe in Montreux," he said. I exited the revolving door. The air was slightly chilly. The street was deserted. The train station which has rumbling noisy trains now and then was across the road. "Should I risk being mugged?" I asked myself. I wanted to return. The revolving door did not open. I rang the  bell. No response. I looked for a place to flash my security card hoping to gain access but there was no such panel as in a condo with gated security. "What should I do?" The air was fresh. The sky was getting lighter. My solution came from the British as 4 well-dressed people in coats and good quality nice dresses were moving towards me after being lifted up by the same escalator that caused my travelling lady to fall backwards.

The group increased to more young couples and a senior citizen with a younger lady headed towards the hotel. The ladies were in their late 20s. One did not wear shoes, the other wore black stocking, carrying the shoes. British accent. "You are not going to knock on the glass door, Annabel," the brunette said to the fair lady with blond hair, bare feet and red dress. I studied in Britain 4 decades ago and understood a bit about the Caucasian culture after a few drinks and being happy and vocal. It was 4.30 am now.  Annabel rang the bell. No response. Anthony asked: "Did you ring the door bell? What time will you be leaving? 10.30 am? You may as well go to the train station to wait for the train!"

The trains were running. Another lady banged on the curved glass door.  "Knock, knock, anyone inside?" There was the kind gentleman in his 40s who had got the internet access for my iPhone. He came and opened the door.

So, this is Montreux for me. Is it really safe to walk at 4.30 am alone? The hotel door self-locks too at this time. So I guess I have been lucky as  I did not go out alone. Who knows? The drug addict may be around looking for victims.     

Sunday, April 28, 2013

1397. April 28, 2013 Sunday. Lucerne, Berne and Interlaken travel

Riverside hotel - the receptionist was kind enough to lend me the iPhone charger. As this hotel is much modern and internet connected, the charger was available for guest unlike the Frankfurt hotel. Ken, the tour manager said it is one year old. I asked the receptionist. She said it is 4 years old. Who is correct? I asked the coach, Dutchman Charles who is most knowlegeable about Switzerland, being a Dutch tour guide. He said one year with the 3 restaurants built,  but 4 years when it was first opened. All of us loved this hotel.   

All guides recommend Bucherer in Lucerne to shop for watches. Seem to be dominant seller. More Chinese-speaking service people now. Couldn't find a Tissot titanium wristband watch for lady there as they don't stock. Had one for men. Has a branch in Interlaken which opens till 10 pm on Sunday.

No such titanium watch in Bucherer Interlaken. There appeared to be a robust competitor called "Casino K.." advertising various brands on its shop front. Seem to be crowded even at 9 pm as compared to Buherer. Surprisingly, it has the Tissot lady's titanium wristand for a lady. Titanium is much lighter and the watch has the roman numerals much liked by the lady.  Give what the customer wants. This can be difficult. You need to spend time shopping around. Bought a dull chrome watch from this shop. Unknown brand name but exactly what we hope was wanted by a young man in Singapore.

Ken said the old brown bear I saw 2 years ago had died. A new female bear with 2 cubs arrived and so there are 3 bears. There is a 4th male bear. I asked Charles. He said the 4 bears came from Finland where they are shot as there are too many. The cubs came from Croatia. The public donated 10 Euros per stone with name inscribed to build the new enclosure. "No worry, many stones," he laughed when I said that 10 Euros was too cheap. In Singapore, donors of over $1,000 will have names inscribed. The masses with small bswill be a good idea. I did a few videos of the brown bears as they were out swimming. One mummy bear appeared to favour fighting, climbing over, chasing away one of the two cubs, now quite large.

Bebbies Restaurant near the train station. Went there 2 years ago during Christmas tour by same travel agency. Great fun as the boss had this song and dance routine, carrying Singapore flags and performing lion dance, singing local songs. This time, I thought this entertainer had lost weight. "The muscle man is my boss," he laughed out loud. He has the same temperament. A love to entertain the tour groups. Packed to the gills. The Taiwanese travellers screamed and took ipad images with him. So much joy and laughter with the group of young people. With 30 Singaporeans who are senior citizens, the laughter was much subdued. Or are Taiwanese more outgoing?

"Is the muscle man OK?" I asked.
"Yes," the general manager replied.
"How did you lose 15 kg in 2 years?" he had told me he was much trimmer.
"No carbo," he said. But he did go to the gym every 2 days.
"You want to take over muscle man? Is he retired?"
"He was here yesterday," he replied. "Soon"
This restaurant boomed as the Asian tour groups packed it. The tour managers can connect with the management. I heard from Ken that a Chinese restaurant is opened by the muscle man. All waiting staff I saw were Chinese or Korean.  This restaurant is unlikely to be bankrupt with the rise of Asian tourism and packaged tours.
"Koreans only visit Switzerland one day and then go to other countries," Ken said to me.
"Most likely they are on budget." I replied. "When I was a student in UK, I visited 10 countries in 14 days."
"You see nothing, just pass through," Charles replied.   

Feedback on Vet Science video at RI

Email dated April 4, 2013

Hi Dr Sing,

Sure, I really look forward to the internship, I will send you my particular / resume soon.

I guess the canine Caesarean section skin incision was a little overwhelming for some of us , maybe a warning slide can come before the video to better prepare ourselves :)

Thank you very much!
Thanks for feedback and great response from students. The idea of texting questions by sms to the lady during Q&A was great and the questions were so interesting and relevant. Video was produced to be for 15 minutes in case the young generation gets bored. Last-minute production of the video by my intern. I needed to write an engaging script and I hope it worked. 

There was a loud response when the audience saw a hisbiscus flower (Be Kind To Pets Educational Video). Is it because they appreciate the image of the flower? There were other vocal responses too, and I wonder if the canine Caesarean section skin incision with blood  was too much for you all.
I am in Switzerland now and will meet you at internship time. Just send resume will be OK. Study hard.
On Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 11:55 AM, XXX@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Dr Sing,

I will be available from 6 June to 21 June. How about 6 June to 16 June ? Do let me know if you need me to submit any personal details etc.

I thought the video was very engaging and eye opening, my friends and i were quite surprised with how the surgery was performed on the pet.  Perhaps we can have more photos on the common conditions observed at the clinic? Eye infections, skin problems, tumour etc.
Personally I thought the talk was quite interesting. Based on experience, we don't usually ask that many questions at a talk. Perhaps you could have more sharing on your personal experiences in your vet studies, Eg difficulties and how you overcome it eventually.
Thank you for this opportunity! you can also contactme via 9....


On Friday, 26 April 2013, Kong Yuen Sing <99pups@gmail.com> wrote:
1. I am Dr Sing Kong Yuen. You are welcome to do an internship. Pl give me the dates as I can accept at most 2 interns

2. Pl give me the feedback on what the audience felt about the video presentation and the talk as this is important for improvements.
On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 10:15 PM, XXX@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Judy,

I am XXX from Raffles Institution who has just attended the talk which Dr Sings have delievered this afternoon at RI. I aspire to become a vet and i am currently looking for an internship during my June holiday. I will be available for the entire June and I am looking at an internship with duration of about 10days.

I am a pretty efficient worker and Im also not scared for animals or bugs (I have personally removed ticks from my dogs while showering them ). I am also a weekly shelter helper at the SPCA. This opportunity means a lot to me as I really hope to learn more about how is everyday life being a vet like and discover more about myself too.

I have approached two vet clinics, one of which I usually take my dogs to visit. However, I was told that they are uncomfortable with taking Jc students and are only willing to accept vet school students. I believe I am able to fulfil the tasks assigned to me efficiently and be a good assistant at the clinic.

Thank you for taking time to read this email and hope you will consider my request.

Again thank you very much!
Sent from my iPhone

Sent from my iPad

Saturday, April 27, 2013

2nd day of European travel: Lake Titisee & Rhinefall Waterfall. A second opinion from a vet

Sunday, April 28, 2013, 5.17 am
riverside hotel in Switzerland, 25 km from Lake Titisee
drizzling and cold

15 year old male, not neutered Maltese

Not eating for 2 weeks. Hospitalised for 5 days by Vet 1. Given 0.9% NaCl drip IV and heart failure medication tablets (2 types). Very high BUN and creatinine taken 3 times in 5 days suggestive of kidney failure. The son wanted a second opinion and the father phoned me.

On examination, the dog, wrapped up in pampers to prevent urine spraying, was unable to stand, had vomited k/d diet fed, had a bad breath according to the mother. “Dog with kidney failure has a uraemic gastritis and therefore bad breath,” I could not detect any halitosis. “Slightly dehydrated,” I pulled up the neck skin which stood up. Vet 1’s diagnosis were kidney and heart failure.
“What tests were not performed by Vet 1?” the adult daughter in her late 20s was scribbling note. The adult son was busy and so only the parents and daughter came.

“Possibly X-rays of the bladder and kidney to check for stones,” I had palpated a rock hard globular mass likely to be a bladder stone or tumour which may include the prostrate. The dog was said to be able to control his urine. The Pampers pad wrapped round his lower body are to prevent him from urine marking which started only for the last year. He has no problems in bladder control, according to the owner. I got the Pampers taken out and checked. There was some light yellow coloured urine at the penile tip, no discoloured one. It is hard to say whether there was bladder stone or tumour as the dog had been on IV drip for 5 days.  No medical records were available as the owner did not ask for them. Judging from the receipts, no antibiotics were given. The blood tests done were for checking BUN and creatinine.”

“Urine test and a complete blood test may be useful as aids to diagnosis,” I gave my opinion. “Vet 1 tested for kidney disorders only and was spot on.”

“Each vet will handle a case differently,” I said. “Vet 1 is an old experienced vet. Maybe he just wanted to save you some money by not running the various tests since the dog is very old.”  Yet by not doing other tests, the owners were not fully satisfied.

The discussion was long, lasting over an hour. In view of the heart and kidney disease, the son decided to bring the dog home, accepting the oral electrolytes and no antibiotics. The rectal temperature was normal and probably was normal at Vet 1. The dog stopped eating because he had toxic by-products in his blood stream, the high BUN (Blood Urea Protein).  Was there a bladder stone which could have been removed earlier as now the dog was at a very high anaesthetic risk and not operable.
A second opinion could be frank. The owners did not want to hurt Vet 1’s feelings and so I did not pursue for the medical records. Vet 1 had treated this dog as a puppy and so was much respected. “Many old age problems like prostate enlargement or cancer, as is probable in this case, could be avoided if the dog had been neutered,” I said to the parents. But neutering was considered cruelty and so this situation of the male dog starting to urine mark at the 14th year arose. “Enclosing his penis with Pampers pad is not good for the male dog,” I remarked. “He would have to hold his urine and cause back pressure of urine onto the bladder, damaging the kidneys. Why didn’t you consult your vet when your old dog behaved abnormally?”

The testicles felt normal. As to the cause of this need to urinate at various places inside the apartment during senior years, this would possibly have been avoided had the dog been neutered young. However, it is not guaranteed. This dog was well cared for, had a good food and was thus not the usual emaciated ones I see at old age.

I hope my second opinion was satisfactory. In this case study, Vet 1 could have done all the other tests to give the owners closure as nowadays, the young internet generation can know the shortfalls of the vet on the road to diagnosis of a beloved old dog.

P.S The riverside hotel in ch-8192 zweldlen-glattfeiden, 44 rooms, is so beautifully constructed and new. It was a big factory with a chimmney.  Everything was well designed for the guest.
All the 30 Singaporean tourists were housed in the 4th level, unlike the previous hotel at Frankfurt where we faced the road at first floor. I could see greenery from my window frame, like a painting.  On looking out, a flowing stream and more trees. The bathroom, sited in the centre of the room has glass walls with a curtain to provide privacy, so making it appear bigger. Usually packaged tour agencies from Singapore provide poor quality hotels but this one hotel was exceptional. The trick for competitive tour packages is to cut down on dinner as we had to buy our own at Hotel riverside which has 3 restaurants and a bowling alley.

Will post some images later.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 1. Frankfurt

April 26, 2013. Sin to Frankfurt SIA.
Now 2.17 pm Singapore time, 8.20 am Frankfurt. NH Frankfurt Rhein-Main hotel

Yesterday, instead of sitting and watching movies which I don't do, I had an interesting chat with the friendly younger cabin crew, knowing more about their work and interest. Property prices for the young ones are too high. To sell all and wait for executive condo? Too young to marry? A Japanese Spitz bought for mum lived up to 15 years old when the seller said the life span is 7 years. A rabbit lived to 8 years old.

I asked a crew why he had to write something. A voyager's report needs to bewritten me of the need to keep proper record of incidents happened on the plane, in case of insurance claim.This reminds vets of having to record all history and signs, like writing meticulous case and surgery records in case of litigation and for info.

They worked really hard compared to other airlines I had travelled on as they served water every now and then. The fish and noodles were warm and good compared to the food of other airlines (Emirates and Cathay Pacific) which I had travelled. This page is dedicated to them and with thanks.

My iphone is useless. The "not approved" travel charger will not be accepted by iphone to charge it. I did not test it before I travel.
Drizzling dark morning.

Have to rush off now to meet at 8.45 am to go out.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

1393. Response to Video talk on Vet Science to RI JC students

Kong Yuen Sing <99pups gmail.com="">
7:03 AM (0 minutes ago)

to Suzanne, daniel
April 26, 2013


It was great to meet you and your committee members yesterday to present the Vet Science talk. I thought the audience would be bored if I simply read from my notes and showed a Power Point slide presentation as is the common practice. The audience is young and intelligent. And of a young generation that is easily bored by text. Visual may capture their eyeballs to stop them from texting or viewing their mobile phones during the talk!  

So I experimented and commissioned a 15-minute video produced. What a surprise I got on hearing the reaction of the young ladies on viewing certain segments of the video. I hope they are OK now. 

1. Pl email me to me the questions asked by the audience as they are important for me to improve my video production before the young lady on my left deleted them. After the first 3 students went to the mike to ask questions, there was silence. The mike appeared to be positioned awkwardly as the student had to stoop to speak to the mike. Dr Daniel suggested writing questions on paper and passing to the speaker. Your helper proposed questions by sms

Questions by sms are really an excellent idea and those were good questions that will help me to improve the video which was in a draft edition..

2. Also, please let me know if there are some reactions on seeing the bleeding at the beginning of the dog's Caesarean section incisions. I thought I heard laughter when the ferocious cat with chronic constipation growled.  What is your perspective on the audience reaction.

3.How many students attended? I estimated that Lecture Theatre 5 was 60% full. Were there 70 students? How many seats are there in this Theatre 5?

There was much laughter in the Q&A with Dr Daniel. It is a pity I did not record the Q&A as this was the first time I gave a video presentation..  

4. It is a pity that there is so much hassle taping this talk as it would have been a useful source for RI  "veterinary career" talk.

5. Fortunately I could download the video on a non-Mac laptop as it seemed that the hall had no Mac adaptor available and it is difficult to borrow from the department.

So many lessons learnt from this presentation. Nothing like a real video presentation in front of so many interested Year 5 and 6. You have done a good job as I had not seen so much joy and laughter in other talks. It is just not easy to elicit such happy reactions from the Asian audience.

Thank you once again for the invitation and being proactive in organising the talk. Pl give my thanks to your energetic helpers and I hope they enjoyed the talk.

Best wishes.  
Dr Sing Kong Yuen
Toa Payoh Vets

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

1392. Talk update 2 - Challenges & joys of Dr Sing's career


1. As a government vet with the AVA for 8 years, there was job security, a housing and car loan. Half day on Saturdays. No need to work on Sundays and public holidays. I was welcome by the pig and chicken farmers as I did extension advisory work. Once a month, male vets including myself had to be present at the Jurong Abattoir where pigs and chickens were slaughtered.

So I had the "work-life" balance. I could change cars every 3 years.
But there was little chance of getting promotions and the salary increment was $50 per year. In other fields like the Ministry of Defence, the civil servants were getting better pay. Soon, my wife, being in management and in Information Technology, was paid more than me. I had a rare opportunity to become a racehorse vet and so I left the AVA for better remuneration (housing and car provided, salary and private practice for individual horse owners).  

2. As a racehorse vet for 8 years, I had to work on most weekends which were for horse-racing. I had to be on 24-hour call. Some vets had been kicked and killed by horses during treatmenbt and so there was this risk of injury to life. There would be the rare financial offers from horse owners to give a special injection so that their horses would win races. Corrupt racehorse vets who place bets will not work long at the Singapore Turf Club as there will be unhappy complaints from affected trainers or owners.

The above-mentioned veterinary earnings would not be available nowadays as the Club does not provide housing and car as well as private practice when the Singapore Totalisator Board took over in 1988. I was offered a fixed pay of $5,000 per month. So I left to build up my neglected dog and cat practice, Toa Payoh Vets started up in 1982. Employee vets were employed but they would not stay long. 

The joy of giving back to the racehorse community. Horse racing was in decline when the government took over. I was part of Dr Goh Keng Swee's task force to "reverse the decline" in racing. I decided to help the jockeys and trainers who were not being paid by the owners. This was a unique situation as I wrote to various top turf clubs and asked for their annual reports. It took a lot of time to summarise the findings as I was not a management person. One day a new magazine editor asked me to write about racehorses and I gave him my report. It was published with the graphics. The new Totalisator Board management was not too happy as I did not seek permission from them. However, I believed this magazine article was very useful. See images of my scanned article.  

3. Since 1990, I had been operating and managing Toa Payoh Vets. There were around 5 vet practices when I first started. Now there is intense competition as there are over 50 vet practices dealing with dogs and cats. The challenge is to sustain the profitability of the practice and not to lose money and go bankrupt. Price undercutting is done if the vet wants a large caseload but the net profits are low and there are insufficient earnings to buy new equipment or upgrade the practice.

Increasing high rentals are the trend in Singapore as there are few commercial shops for rent. The government disallowed vet clinics to be next to eating places, inside shopping malls and so there was less choice to rent. Still more ndew vet clinics are being opened as the vets do have funding from the parents. HDB shophouses now sell from $1.5 - 2.5 million and it is very difficult to buy one unless there is funding from families or from some sources. I am still renting the Toa Payoh Vets premises.

Succession planning
is never easy for small businesses like Toa Payoh Vets. Employee vets take the clientele with them when they start their own by text messages and direct phone calls. Children may not be interested or capable in taking over. Presently, I am mentoring Dr Daniel who graduated over a year ago to learn the finer aspects of veterinary medicine and surgery (Video of Dr Daniel).

Video of cat with chronic constipation operated by Dr Daniel.

Animal activism and animal welfare.  Animal activism has expanded in Singapore as young people are more caring towards animals.  Debarking of dogs and declawing of cats are deemed cruel by animal welfare activists. Some vets are against it and advised training and anti-anxiety drugs to stop non-barking dogs. Less than 5 cases per year are done by me. It is only done when the owner has no choice. It is either death by lethal injection or the surgery. The owner is usually very distressed by government policies and risk being evicted from the HDB flat or fined heavily.

The joy of giving back to the pet owner community.
As the younger generation is visual, I decided to produce educational videos from 2013. My first good video was of the baby boomers dancing. I hope you appreciate it. It takes 50X longer to produce videos but I have some good interns to help me.

Around 1977 when the internet was first introduced, I decided to publish educational articles to educate the pet owners and the vet students. The web pages used to be grey and white. I read about html and digital imaging by borrowing books and magazines from the public libraries. I needed to discipline myself to write one article a day and to post it to www.toapayohvets.com and my blog. Many pet owners appreciated the information.  It takes at least 2 hours to produce a case study article with images. The cases are at www.bekindtopets.com

Use the present script


1391. Talk update

1969 - 1974  Glasgow University School of Veterinary Medicine. Colombo Plan Scholarship. 8-year-old bond with the AVA (Agri-food & Veterinary Authority).
1974 - 1976 Full-time National Service after graduation. SAF Provost Unit Officer. Guard and tracker dog vet, This service is included in the 8-year-old bond.
1977 - 1982 Pig and chicken government vet for the AVA.
1982 - 1990. Singapore Turf Club racehorse vet.
1982.  Started up Toa Payoh Vets at Blk 1002, Toa Payoh Lor 8, 01-1477
1991 - 2013 Dog &Cat vet at Toa Payoh Vets, www.toapayohvets.com.


Some more prevalent diseases are mentioned in this brief talk.

1.  In National Service, the military dogs suffered from heat stress, tick fever and hip lameness. Generally, they were retired when they reach 8 years of age.

2.  In the AVA, the main work was with chickens and pigs. Chickens and pigs were housed in large numbers to maximise production and profits. They suffered mainly from multiple viral diseases like Marek's Disease in chickens and Transmissible Gastroenteritis in piglets. Some of these diseases are prevented by vaccination approved by the AVA. Before vaccine approval, vaccine trials of Egg Drop Syndrome 76 virus were conducted by Dr Sing with Dr Ng Fook Kheong. These trials ensured that the vaccine imported would be effective.

3. In the Singapore Turf Club, racing injuries, fractures and tendon inflammation and bleeding from the nose were commonly encountered and treated in racehorses. Neutering of male horses were done.

4.  In Toa Payoh Vets, the top medical case was skin diseases in dogs (video). Causes are varied. Some can be cured e.g. generalised ringworm. (video). Certain breeds like the Shih Tzu are favourites of Singaporeans and eye injuries are most common (video). For 2 years, I did over 200 Caesarean sections for the professional dog breeders of Pasir Ris. Emergency Caesarean section in home breeders used to be popular in the 1990s but are occasionally encountered as Singaporeans could see puppies to meet a great demand. (video). 

Tumours in the older hamsters and swollen eyes in terrapins are commonly seen nowadays (video). Rabbits and guinea pigs have teeth or urinary tract problems.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

1390. Talk to the Raffles Society of Biological Students

Suzanne Ou
8:30 AM (21 hours ago)

to me, daniel
Dear Dr Sing,
I have checked with my teacher and you can come at 4.15pm to upload the video as the lecture theatre will be occupied at 3pm. As per arranged early, I can meet you at Manna Cafe beside the school visitor's carpark.
Would it also be possible for you to send us a short excerpt so that we can introduce you to the students? The students are also very eager to hear from a real vet and it would be good if you can share your experiences rather then have everything conveyed purely through the video.
Once again, we would really like to thank you for taking time off and agreeing to come down this Thursday, and look forward to it!
Suzanne O

Kong Yuen Sing <99pups gmail.com="">
6:19 AM (0 minutes ago)

to jasonxll, Suzanne, daniel
I missed this email till now, April 25, 2013. Will be present at 4.15pm. Pl phone me if there are changes.

Short excerpt and sharing of memories for the young ones of the Raffles Biological Society in RI Year 5-6 students April 25, 2013 talk.

APRIL 25, 2013
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS. 62 years old.
Founder of Toa Payoh Vets, Asia USA Realty (S) asiahomes.com, Be Kind To Pets, Design Travel Pte Ltd.

1962 - 1968. Raffles Institution from Sec 1 to Pre-U 2 (Year 1-6 nowadays?). I was in one of the two Pre-U Medicine classes. There were 14 classes for Secondary 1. Three boys from my Bukit Merah Primary School got places in RI.

The old RI probably attracted the top male students from all the Primary Schools in Singapore. The old RI did not have competitors like Hwa Chong Institution, if you don't count a rich man's school as competitor.

My father picked two other choices for me. They were Gan Eng Seng and Victoria Secondary Schools. I had never heard of RI when I was in Primary Six, showing how ignorant of the education system I was. How did I qualify for Sec 1 of RI?

My father had this motivation system for his 4 children. $5 if I top the class, $4 for 2nd position ... to increasing number of strokes of the cane for 40th position. I was not motivated by the money. I had good teachers whom I visited during Chinese New Year.

My motivation to study hard was the excitement of going up to receive a book prize for being the top 3 students annually in the primary school. I had a nemesis - a girl from Telok Ayer who would fight with me for being first in class. Competition is never absent.

The strive for academic excellence has been snuffed out by the government in 2013 as it does not want to "stress" the students and parents by publicising the top students and school performance. However, in real life, excellent academic results still open doors to choice jobs and top remuneration. So, do study hard. No free lunch.  .    

1969 - 1974  Glasgow University School of Veterinary Medicine. Colombo Plan Scholarship. 8-year-old bond with the AVA (Agri-food & Veterinary Authority).
1974 - 1976 Full-time National Service after graduation. SAF Provost Unit Officer & guard and tracker dog vet, This service is included in the 8-year-old bond.
1977 - 1982 Pig and chicken government vet for the AVA for nearly 8 years
1982 - 1990. Singapore Turf Club racehorse vet.
1982.  Started up Toa Payoh Vets at Blk 1002, Toa Payoh Lor 8, 01-1477
1991 - 2013 Dog & Cat vet at Toa Payoh Vets, www.toapayohvets.com.

Those who have benefited from the education system. It is important to give back to society. I started community education www.bekindtopets.com for vet students and pet owners in 1977 when the world wide web was introduced.

I have  started www.asiahomes.com and www.designtravelpl.com - respectively a licensed realty and travel agency focused on Myanmar travel and tours.  

Veterinary Science Talk To:
Members of The Raffles Society of Biological Sciences
Students Year 5-6, Raffles Institution (Junior College)
April 25, 2013   5.30pm  - 6.30pm, Lecture Theatre 5

I am Dr Sing Kong Yuen, veterinary surgeon, Toa Payoh Vets, www.toapayohvets.com. 
Thank you for your invitation.

When I was taking my Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) at Bukit Merah Primary School in 1966, I had never heard of Raffles Institution (RI). My father recommended RI as one of the 3 choices. RI was located where Raffles City is. There were 14 Secondary One classes.

All 640 male classmates from Year 1 to Year 6. The high walls of the Convent of the Infant Holy Jesus ensured that RI boys would not see any of the Convent girls and so RI boys studied hard without the distractions of puppy love and heart breaks, a situation I expect to exist in the Bishan campus.

In 2013, I had two female vet interns from RI Year 6. Both got straight As. For one of them, I asked her whether the tall young man meeting her for lunch in the restaurant behind my Surgery was her boyfriend. She did not sound committed to me. A tall, good-looking, intelligent and rich young man. Good looks and wealth. He may not win the girl of his heart. She has so many choices as she networks.  I feel that the odds are not in his favour as young love is a flitting butterfly. When I was in Year 6, I was trying to get a date via the "pen-pal" columns of student magazines as the whole of RI was a monastery.    

Back to the realities of the veterinary profession, your Chairman, Ms Ou Suzanne Xianran is well organised  as she wanted me to share my insights as a veterinary surgeon with reference to the five topics:

1. What lead you to choose veterinary medicine as my career?
2.  Challenges and joys of my career.
3.  Animals and conditions I come across commonly in my field, especially in Singapore.
4.  Relationship between veterinary medicine and veterinary medicine.
5.  Opportunities for aspiring vets in Singapore or overseas.

 1. What lead you to choose veterinary medicine as my career?My father was the sole breadwinner earning $600/month working for the Ministry of Culture. He would support his 4 children up to "A" levels. We could become teachers. I was in one of the two Pre-U Medicine classes in Year 6. All of us wanted to be doctors. Single-minded. No distractions from pretty young things.

At that time, doctors had to find jobs in Hong Kong and so no medical scholarships were offered. I applied for and received a Colombo Plan scholarship given by the British Government to study veterinary science in Glasgow University in 1969 at the age of 19 years old. My family in Redhill Close did not keep dogs but I used to share my bread with a nursing stray female dog making her den on the landing of the first floor of the Redhill flat. Now stray dogs are quite extinct in Singapore but they were being cornered and shot-gunned by the government in those days and I felt so sad for them.

2.  Challenges and joys of my career.
The challenges and joys of my career from 1974 - 2013, nearly 4 decades as a veterinarian are numerous and I will highlight 3 of each.


1. MORE PAY.  I had to serve an 8-year bond as an employee vet in the predecessor of the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) as a government vet. I had no choice as to where I wanted to work. I would like to work in the Animal Infirmary where the Kandang Kerbau Hospital is located, treating dogs and cats but there was no vacancies. The AVA's role was to regulate and provide veterinary services to the pig and chicken farmers at that time.  The annual increment was $50/month and promotions were few for the technical man.

Soon my wife earned more than me as she was in the Information Technology field at the Ministry of Defence. Most likely she is the corporate type. She was promoted into senior management responsible for 200 staff. I was just a technical guy and only in management can there be more pay. My wife told me frankly that I would never make it in the corporate world. Don't be a practising vet if you want to earn more but you must have what it takes to play office politics.

No family wealth. I started Toa Payoh Vets with my own money unlike many of the younger vets nowadays. Their parents provide financing for their studies and for starting up a practice.  

Most Singaporeans will visit a veterinary practice near their homes as they are time-pressed. When I started up, there were around 7 practices. Now there are over 50. So, the number of clientele must drop unless the practice is located where there are no nearby vets.

5. UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION (USP).  It will be hard for the average practice to have a USP.   


As a government vet, there was the half Saturday, Public Holidays, Sundays and two weeks' leave per year. This was great. DINK (dual income no kids). I would think of which model of car to buy every 3 years. A low-interest housing loan and prices of houses were much more affordable in the 1980s.

As the owner of a private practice, at Toa Payoh Vets, the hours must be long as clients work office hours and can only send their pets for treatment after office hours. The vet must be there or suffer loss of clients to the over 50 veterinary practices in Singapore.  Brand-name does attract the Singaporean pet owner who can pay the higher fees.

The Singapore Turf Club has a "Junior Veterinary Surgeon" vacancy in 1982. I got a job for 8 years and this was a unique situation.  Accommodation, car and private practice were part of the package. I could rent out my house and not have to maintain a car. In 1988, the Singapore Totalisator Board took over and I resigned as I was offered $5,000/month with no house and car. I went back to Toa Payoh Vets to build up the practice as I had neglected it since I was working in the Singapore Turf Club and had difficulty employing good vets. 






Murdoch University 6 years   S$27,000 (S$34,380) x 1;  A$46,000x5 = S$58,576 x5.

Univ of Glasgow School of Vet Medicine   5 years.   GBP 24,000 x5.   (S$45,503) x 5.

Make A Difference -
Giving Back to the Community - Be Kind To Pets
Helping the Disadvantaged - Myanmar vets

Animals encountered by me
Pigs, chickens  - viral diseases
Racehorses, polo club horses  - lameness
Small animals - diarrhoea, skin diseases, ear diseases, tumours in dogs. cat falls, bladder blocked.

Vet med and human med
Zoonosis - ringworm and rabies
Difficulty for young vets - need to perform surgeries in sick pets esp. hamsters . 

Management and drug sales support
Private practice >50 small animal practices
Myanmar, Cambodia,
UK, USA - anti-foreigner visas




1389. Anti-social behaviour - barking dogs


Hi Doc Judy ,

I'm Cynthia.  I adopted a 5 years only beagles recently he bark non stop even for hours when no one home. I got anxiety medication from vet even dog trainer to teach him but is not useful as long as no ones home he bark and crying banging at out glass door our neighbors not happy and start to complained.

We thinking of return him to SPCA but we really do love him now especially my 5 years old girl so I google I found your website. Would like to know are you willing to help us to do the surgery and the cost? As we already spend 1k plus over Bobbi for the pass few months and his medication is 100 plus a month but I don't seem any improvement.
Kong Yuen Sing <99pups gmail.com="">
4:56 AM (0 minutes ago)

to daniel, Cynthia
I am Dr Sing from Toa Payoh Vets.

Debarking by surgery is an alternative. The cost is around $500 for ventral approach surgery which is more effective than the oral approach. The dog needs to be hospitalised for 3 days post-op. I will be overseas from April 26 to May 7. Will do the surgery when I am back

Monday, April 22, 2013

1388. Health screening - How to communicate the advices of tests?

Schnauzer, Male, Not Neutered, 9 years old. The owner wanted a health screening in addition to dental work. Dr Daniel extracted 7 teeth. Blood and urine tests are mandatory for health screening in dogs and cats. He then phoned the owner to tell him the results.

From what I see, the significant results are in the urine test.
pH 7.0  SG 1.042.  Cystals Amorphous phosphate  Protein +, Bacteria 2+.  But RBC and WBC negative.

So what to advise?

Each vet does his own way.  For me, I emphasized to the owner to feed the S/D diet to dissolve all crystals for 3 months. Then proceed to feeding C/D or some commercial diet for struvite stones as S/D and C/D are from vets only. "It is important that you get the crystals dissolved as Miniature Schnauzers are prone to bladder stones. Surgery to remove such stones will be expensive!"

I write down the advices so that there will be no dispute. It will be best to be in writing but vets don't do it.

Talk at Raffles Institution for "A" level students - videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntHweZD49ec (FIV in cats).

The German Shepherd swallowed the maid's hairband - stomach surgery

Dermaphytosis (Ringworm) diagnosis - good intern research

eye ulcer in dogs - descemetocoele


Anal sac abscess in dogs

How much it costs to study vet science in UK, Australia and New Zealand

Your request for more information on Vet

5:48 PM (9 hours ago)

to me, Justin
Dear Dr Sing
We append below the Universities which offer Veterinary Science in Australia, New Zealand, England and Scotland. All require very high academic results to be eligible for entry.


New Zealand

 Of the Universities in Australia:
1.University of Melbourne  
2. University of Sydney are graduate entry
3. University of Adelaide
The other 5 are undergraduate entry all very competitive due to limited places being available for international students. The most popular Universities in the Singaporean purview are:
1. Murdoch  University – 6 years (one year Animal Science tuition fees A$27,000 and five years Vet @ A$46,000 per year)
2. University of Queensland – 5 years annual tuition fees A$50,000
The fees charged by the other Universities are:
1. James Cook University – 5 years annual tuition fee A$46,000
2. Charles Sturt University – 6 years annual tuition fees A$48,000
Of the Universities in UK
1. University of Cambridge Veterinary School
are the most difficult to get in and thus I will not touch on their fees.
3.University of Bristol School of Veterinary Science – 5 years, annual tuition fees: Pounds 17,250
4.University of Liverpool Faculty of Veterinary Science – 5 years, annual tuition fees: Pounds 22,419
5,University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science – 5 years annual tution fees: Pounds 23,300. A 6 years course is also available which includes a  preliminary year
7. University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine – 5 years annual tuition fees Pounds 24,000
New Zealand
Massey University Faculty of Veterinary Science – 5 years Fees for 1st year NZ$3,212.50 to NZ$6,562.50 and fees from 2nd to 5th
year  NZ$38,900 to NZ$52,500 per year depending on the units done.                                                                                                                                                                                            
Best regards
David Teo
Managing Director

CMS (Pte) Ltd
15 Enggor Street #07-01 Realty Centre
Singapore 079716
Telephone : (65) 6221-1666
Facsimile : (65) 6221-1106
Web : www.cmsedu.com

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Justin Ma
5:59 PM (9 hours ago)

to me, CMS
Hi Dr. Sing

Just an edit on the fees for Massey University in NZ:

New Zealand

Massey University Faculty of Veterinary Science – 5 years.

Fees for 1st year NZ$38,900 to NZ$52,500 depending on the units done and fees from 2nd to 5th year NZ$52,500 per year. 

Best Regards,
Justin Ma

CMS (Pte) Ltd
15 Enggor Street #07-01 Realty Centre
Singapore 079716
Telephone : (65) 6221-1666
Facsimile : (65) 6221-1106
Web : www.cmsedu.com



1, Murdoch University - 6 years
lst year  A$27,000 = S$34,380
5 years  A$46,000/year = S$58,576/year. Total = S$292,880
Total tuition fees for 6 years = S$327,260

2.  Glasgow University School of Vet Medicine
5 years GBP24,000/year = S$45,503/year
Total tuition fees for 5 years = S$227,515