Elle: Liver Flukes In Cats

Five years ago, a stray cat strolled into Hasnah’s house and decided it is a good place to stay. He never left. Everyone thought he was a girl and named him Elle.

On 22 October, Elle was rushed to our After Hours Emergency Clinic. He was lethargic, vomited once and had been eating very little for four days.


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“I got what?” You’ve got liver flukes, Elle. Good to see you feeling much better already!

what is liver fluke?

The cat liver fluke is a parasitic worm that infects the liver and pancreas of cats. Outdoor cats who hunt are most at risk of liver fluke infection.

Flukes spread when infected cats pass their eggs in faeces. The eggs are consumed by snails which may then be consumed by secondary hosts such as toads or lizards. If your cat eats an infected lizard, he becomes infected with the parasite.

Some cats do not display any symptoms until they become heavily infected
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Distended abdomen
  • Enlarged liver
  • Jaundice or icterus (yellowing of eyes or skin) which occurs when bilirubin accumulates in the blood
Diagnosis
  • Thorough physical examination
  • Blood tests to evaluate liver function
  • X-rays to evaluate liver health and check for other symptoms
  • Check stool sample for liver fluke eggs
  • Collect fluid and tissue samples from liver for laboratory analysis
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The cat liver fluke is a hepatic fluke – it affects the bile duct, small intestines, pancreatic duct & liver.

Treatment

Severely ill cats like Elle need to be hospitalised and hydrated intravenously. A feeding tube was surgically placed to ensure Elle receives proper nutrition and medication to clear his body of the liver fluke parasite.

Medication that kill parasitic worms, such as praziquantel, can be given to eliminate the parasites from your cat’s body. Additional medications may be prescribed to lessen inflammation and prevent infections. In severe infections where the bile ducts are blocked, surgery may be required.

When appropriate treatment is given before severe damage has occurred in the liver or gallbladder, your cat can recover. Some cats may progressively develop liver cirrhosis and liver failure.

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The sight of your cat or dog with a feeding tube might be unpleasant. However, feeding tubes are very useful for animals who are ill & have lost their appetite, or are keen to eat but have difficulties swallowing or keeping food down.

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If your cat does not eat for as little as forty-eight hours, she can develop a potentially life-threatening form of liver malfunction known as hepatic lipidosis. Read more about the importance of feeding tubes.

Preventing Liver Fluke Infection in Your Cat

Keep your cat indoors to reduce the risk of infection. Discourage your cat from hunting and eating lizards. If your cat does go outside and is a hunter by nature, watch out for signs such as appetite loss and weight loss.

A dirty house attracts small insects or bugs, which in turn attract lizards. Clear food waste properly and keep your house clean, bright and airy. Try home remedies (like egg shells or garlic) to keep lizards out of your house.

Many animals do not display pain or signs of diseases until it has progressed to later stages. Consider sending your cat for regular health screens and blood tests. Early detection and treatment can prolong the quality of your beloved pet’s life!

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Hasnah jokes: “Elle is back from ‘reservist’ at Mount Pleasant Central! He is eating well & getting active again.” At the rate Elle is going, any weight loss will be put back in no time!

Thank You Ai Lin & Dionne!

“We protect only what we love. And we love only what we understand.” To love any person or animal, to create great art of any kind, you first have to be vulnerable. Today we say THANK YOU to Ai Lin and Dionne, two strong and seriously artistic ladies from Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Mandai) who aren’t afraid to open their hearts and use their gifts. For all to see!


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“Animals really capture my heart because they are very pure & true. They always show how they feel & never try to hide any emotions from you.” ~ Ai Lin

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“When I was young, I was fascinated with stray cats. But other than the occasional cats I encountered, I did not have much experience with animals. I then forgot about animals & started studying design & animation.”

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“When I started working at the Night Safari & was spending more time with animals again, I realise I want to spend the rest of my life around animals. On April Fool’s Day 2013, I joined Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Mandai), when it was still named AMK Veterinary Surgery.”

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“The most rewarding part of my job is when our patients leave our clinic healthy & happy. When stray & lost animals are rehabilitated & find themselves good homes.” With Pickles the 13-year-old Sheltie given up by his family & Faye the resident meow. Pickles has moved to a potential adopter’s home.

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With Titbit, a rescued community kitten.

It can be difficult to convince owners that sometimes, euthanasia is the better solution. Many people do not understand and reject the idea immediately, convinced it is a cruel and evil thing to do. They do not understand the pain the animal is going through and how we feel when we see the animals suffering. Every minute and everyday.

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“Urbanisation & rapid development have caused a lot of problems for wildlife & stray animals. I think it is only right that, now, we help them as much as we can. If I can do anything in the world, I would work in a wildlife rehab centre. To help wildlife get better & eventually return them to where they belong.”

I am inspired by the quote “We protect only what we love. And we love only what we understand”. A lot of the people I know have gone on to do amazing work helping wildlife and strays in any way they can. Seeing their work inspires me every time.

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“I do some crafts on my free time & sell them at DIY markets. The money from my crafts goes to my cats & wildlife shelters.” Ai Lin is gifted at crafts & graphic design. When you visit us at Mount Pleasant (Mandai), you will see this lovely piece designed by Ai Lin at the waiting area. Plus all the awesome handcrafted cat houses for our residents & patients!


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“As a little girl, I wanted to be a vet when I grow up. Due to my family’s financial constraints, I moved on to a career in customer service but this dream was always at the back of my mind, bugging me. So one day, some 8 years ago with the passing of my first dog, I decided on a complete career switch & haven’t looked back since.” ~ Dionne with Earl Grey, a rescued community cat who now has a great home.

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“One reason was to follow my heart & my childhood dream. The other is – I felt I could’ve been a better owner to my dog, so I was driven to learn more about proper animal care before I have another dog. I wanted to educate owners & help them be better caregivers, reduce negligence & increase the pets’ well-being.” Meepie, one of Dionne’s dogs.

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Gino, Dionne’s second dog.

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“I joined Mount Pleasant (Mandai) in April 2015. The most rewarding part of my job is definitely when our patients make significant recovery. Especially those  we thought wouldn’t make it & they suddenly perked up & started eating. That’s what drives me. Spending so much time with animals has taught me a lot about gratitude, resilience & the power a little TLC – to transform a petrified inappetent animal cowering in a corner into one who is trusting, flourishing & super affectionate.”

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“The most frustrating part of my job would probably be witnessing abandonment & severe neglect on the owner’s part (e.g. ingrown nails, severely matted fur, massive maggot wounds left untreated).”

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“These, in turn, contribute to the emotional & mental strain we have to endure. After many years as a vet tech, the physical strain can take its toll as well.”

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“If I can do anything in the world, I would still choose to fulfil my childhood passions to be a Veterinary Technician & a watercolor artist, painting pets & wildlife! Both bring so much fulfilment & meaning to my life.”

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We have some seriously gifted colleagues amongst us! Half Pint, Dr Gloria Lee’s cat, comes to life under the expressive brush strokes of Dionne.

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You cannot create such beauty without love! Appreciate more artwork at Paintings By Dionne Ho.

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“I never ever want to stop learning & improving myself. I’ve always believed that nothing is impossible & I could be whatever I wanted to be. If there was something I set my heart on, I would dive straight into it, especially if I see value in how it would enhance my life, well-being & sense of purpose.” At her first painting class.

I read a ton of books when I was young. Apart from my massive Enid Blyton collection, the rest were non-fiction and most were related to Psychology. This year, I decided to pursue my other childhood interest by taking up Diplomas in Positive Psychology, traditional Psychology and Psychotherapy. I’m working towards the Professional Diploma to become a certfied psychotherapist as my way of giving back to society. I had a pretty rough time growing up, so my main field of focus will be on adolescent girls, and both men and women who are struggling with body image issues and eating disorders.

My best friend sent me this quote because it reminded her of me: She believed she could, so she did. ~ R.S. Grey


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Part of our Mount Pleasant (Mandai) family!

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Formerly AMK Veterinary Surgery, now renamed Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Mandai), this is one of our prettiest clinics which we share with a family of chickens & peacocks. Dr Gloria Lee & team at Mount Pleasant (Mandai) believe in helping community animals & the caregivers who are protecting them.  The clinic also provides medical treatment for exotics & rescued wildlife, especially birds.

Tiger: Maggot Wound Reconstructive Surgery

* Note : Images may be unpleasant for some readers. 

Community cat Tiger disappeared for 2 weeks before returning with a horrific gaping maggot wound on his head. His caregivers have not been able to catch him for sterilisation as he is wary of humans.  When Tiger was finally spotted at the void deck on Sunday night, he was hungry and very weak. Hasan and caregivers were able to move him into a carrier and rushed him to our After Hours Emergency Clinic.

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After missing for 2 weeks, Hasan finally spotted Tiger on 24 July at the void deck. He was rushed to Mount Pleasant After Hours Emergency Clinic to treat the horrific maggot wound.

More than 100 maggots were removed

A surgery is required to close up such a big wound. Before that, the area has to be debrided (remove dead, damaged, infected tissue) aseptically & thoroughly flushed daily until a healthy granulation bed has formed.

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Being FIV/FeLV positive & estimated to be 12 years old, Tiger might not do well under general anaesthesia & wound healing may be delayed. No matter what, Tiger’s caregivers Hasan, Tipah, Rokiah, Tina & Richard, have made up their mind to do everything to save his life. Besides Tiger, they are caring for many other community cats in their neighbourhood.

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Verg & Mabel prepare Tiger for surgery.

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Dr Lesley Teo @ Mount Pleasant Central Vet Clinic (Whitley) performed the reconstructive surgery

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There is a considerable amount of loose skin over a cat’s neck that can be mobilised for wound closure. A single pedicle advancement flap is elevated from Tiger’s head & neck skin to stretch over the wound.

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All skin flaps require a clean, healthy recipient bed (free of debris, infection & necrotic tissue) for survival.

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The flap is sutured into position.

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Without caregivers like Hasan & friends, Tiger would not have survived. Tiger will be hospitalised for a few days before going to his new home.


Special Appeal For Tiger
To support caregivers like Hasan, we offer a discount for the medical care of community animals. Tiger has also been sterilised at no cost. Tiger’s caregivers are appealing for funds to help with the medical expenses so they can continue to care for sick or injured community cats. You may visit Tiger at Mount Pleasant Central Vet Clinic @ 232 Whitley Road (Tel: 6250 8333) during visiting hours and speak with our receptionists about helping Tiger. You may also email Hasan at hasan747hsn.nh@gmail.com. Thank you!


UPDATES ON TIGER

Back to remove stitches. Looking grumpy but still a good boy & healing very well.

From “crown of thorns” to crowning glory!

Such a magnificent sight after putting on 2kg & growing out a glorious full coat. Thank you everyone for helping Tiger!

Kenny: Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA)

Despite chronic ear infection and a foreleg crushed by a forklift, Kenny is such a dear boy. Today, his entire diseased ear canal is removed by Dr Simon Quek @ Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Clementi) in a procedure called TECALBO. A very rewarding surgery that offers Kenny a pain-free and better quality of life! Thank you Noah’s Ark CARES for watching over him.

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Chronic ear diseases can be very painful and extremely challenging to manage. When the condition is recurring or has become difficult for topical medication to be administered, surgery is recommended to remove the ear canal entirely.

What is a Total Ear Canal Ablation?

Total Ear Canal Ablation or TECA involves the removal of an infected ear canal when other treatment methods have failed. The full name for the procedure is Total Ear Canal Ablation with Lateral Bulla Osteotomy (TECA + LBO). 

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The moist and warm environment within the ear canal provides an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to grow. Cocker Spaniels, with their long pendulous ear flaps, are very prone to ear infections. Image ref: willows.uk.net

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF EAR INFECTION?
  • Ear scratching
  • Shaking of head
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Thickened ear canals
  • Foul odour from ear
  • Discharge from ear canal
  • Head in tilted position

If you notice these signs, have your vet examine your pet’s ears before the disease becomes chronic and irreversible.

WHEN DOES MY DOG REQUIRE TECA?

  • Severe or recurrent infection/inflammation of the ear canal (otitis externa) or  middle ear (otitis media) which is non-responsive to medical treatment
  • Narrowing of ear canals due to chronic ear disease (certain breeds like the Shar Pei and Bulldog tend to have narrow ear canals, predisposing them to ear infections)
  • Difficulty in administering ear medication (due to dog’s behaviour or owner’s time constraint)
  • Tumours in the ear canal
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As infection and inflammation progress, the walls of Kenny’s ear canal thicken, ossify (turn into bone) and become irreversibly narrowed. Topical medications can no longer reach the diseased portions. His middle ear chamber is filled with infected material.

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Contact or food allergens, parasites and foreign objects can cause inflammation of the external ear canal (otitis externa) which may lead to secondary infection of the middle ear cavity (otitis media). Image ref: willows.uk.net

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Robert and Cheryl prepare Kenny for TECA procedure

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Dr Simon Quek carefully dissects the soft tissues close to the ear canal, avoiding trauma to important structures such as the facial nerve. The entire diseased ear canal is then surgically removed.

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After removal of the ear canal, the tympanic bulla (middle ear chamber) is exposed by removing part of the bony wall. Any remnants of infected tissue attached to the bulla is removed. After surgery is completed, there will be no opening into the ear canal.

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The incision is flushed with sterile saline before closure and the area protected with a light bandage. Kenny will be hospitalised for a few days with antibiotics and pain relief medication.

can my dog still hear after the procedure?

Most dogs undergoing TECA already have reduced hearing due to severe changes in the ear canal so owners do not notice a significant difference in the dog’s hearing after surgery.

What we often do notice is a positive change in the dog’s behaviour and energy level after the infected ear canal is removed. No longer living with chronic pain, your dog will have a more active and  better quality of life.

** Kenny currently stays at an industrial area. Please contact noahsarkcares@gmail.com if you can give this sweet and undemanding boy a foster or forever home. Read Kenny’s rescue story

Mount Pleasant Gives Back 2015

We believe in giving back to community.

Under our new initiative Mount Pleasant Community Outreach – Animal Welfare, we are delighted to give back to the people who are helping our community animals.

Beginning from Christmas month till January 2016, our clinics provided free medical treatment and sterilisation to over 45 animals from independent rescuers and animal welfare groups like Cat Welfare Society, Animal Lovers League, Noah’ s Ark CARES, House Rabbit Society and Purely Adoptions.

 

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Living with 700 rescued dogs and cats at a no-kill shelter running purely on donations, sometimes you have to wait your turn to see the vet. 15-year-old Kiki from Animal Lovers League – ALL Authorised Page had chronic ear infection with an ulcerated mass which has become impossible for the workers to control. Dr Dennis Choi and team at Mount Pleasant (Gelenggang) were prepared to perform a total ear canal ablation so that Kiki can enjoy her golden years in comfort. Unfortunately, X-rays revealed multiple tumours in her lungs. With her old age, body condition and the fact that multiple lung tumours are usually metastatic, we decided together not to put Kiki through surgery. She might not make it through. ALL had been keeping Kiki happy and comfortable, till she crossed the the rainbow bridge in April.

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Mdm Chua has been helping community animals for 50 years. She and her daughter Suan Eng give a large part of their heart and soul to homeless cats and dogs. Kindness beams from their eyes. ❤️ Female cats come into their first heat at around 6 months. Being polyestrus, they continue the heat cycle every 2 to 3 weeks unless they become pregnant. 1 female cat can produce more than 10 kittens in a year so responsible feeding and active sterilisation is very important. Funds are not easy to come by especially when you work silently behind the scenes. Dr Pauline Fong and team at Mount Pleasant (Changi) sterilised Mdm Chua’s rescued cats under #mountpleasantgivesback. Together, we can reduce stray over-population and improve the lives of animals, pet or rescue!

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Cat Welfare Society has been helping community cats since 1999. Strong in their belief that population control is best done through education and ultimately sterilisation – not destruction. “At Cat Welfare Society, we believe every cat should live a life free from fear and suffering. This is why we exist, to help those who can’t help themselves.” Dr Cheryl Ho and her team at Mount Pleasant Central Vet Clinic (Whitley) supported CWS’ mission by providing free sterilisation for community cats. We hope our efforts brought some relief to Thenuga and her CWS team.

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Over 2 months, Dr Cheryl Ho and team at Mount Pleasant (Whitley) sterilised 20 community cats for Cat Welfare Society under Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage (TNRM). It has been such a blessing to give back! Thank you for trusting us to take care of your best friends.

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Noah’s Ark CARES and Noah’s Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary have been helping animals in Singapore and Malaysia since 1995. Under Project Industrial Dogs (PID), they help control our stray population through sterilisation. Catching strays for sterilisation can be an emotional affair. Especially when the dogs are fearful like Little Brown and don’t understand your intentions. But the work must go on if we hope to prevent unwanted births and unnecessary deaths through culling. Dr Simon Quek and team from Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Clementi) supported Noah’s Ark by sterilising 5 rescued strays.

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“She is from a scrap metal factory. Previous litter of 6 all died. Many boys were fighting over her. Thank goodness we caught her this time.” Noah’s Ark CARES and Dr Simon Quek’s team at Mount Pleasant (Clementi) rejoice over the news that mommy dog was finally caught and sterilised! No more puppies. Dead or alive. No more injuries from dog fights. One less worry for rescuers. Mommy dog, we wish you a safe and healthy life.

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Since 2002, House Rabbit Society Singapore (HRSS) has been improving rabbits’ lives through education, adoption and sterilisation. Many bunnies are rescued from a life in tiny cages, along corridors, exposed to the elements. Others taken in from the streets, parks, void decks where they were abandoned. In the joy of giving, Dr Heng Yee Ling and team at Mount Pleasant (Farrer) supported HRSS by sterilising 10 bunnies who are ready for rehoming. It takes a community to help community animals. Rescuers, educators, fosterers, vets, nurses and sometimes Flash the resident cat who watches over the bunnies after surgery.

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Button, ex-breeding farm dog. Dirty, smelly, bad teeth, long nails, dangling teats from having several litters, pus dripping from vagina. She is one of the forgotten ones, rescued from a dreary life, a puppy-making machine. And sadly, she is considered “not so bad” compared to other rescues. Dr Chan Munling and her team at Mount Pleasant (Bedok) supported the selfless work of the rescuer by spaying and treating Button for free. 11 teeth were extracted. Blood tests were done to ensure Button is healthy and ready to be rehomed.

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Last year, Winnie’s adopted dog Happy went through surgery to remove a thyroid mass. Before that, she had surgeries for cataracts and pyometra. Despite the finances committed to Happy, Winnie still cares for community cats. Especially when an elderly strayfeeder passed on. As part of #mountpleasantgivesback, Dr Sandhya Nair and team at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North) sterilised Mao Mao, a new cat in Winnie’s community. Spaying helps to control our pet population, prevents diseases of the reproductive tract and reduces the chances of mammary cancer. We appreciate responsible caregivers like Winnie. Thank you for helping Mao Mao and friends!

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Unneutered male cats tend to roam, spray foul-smelling urine and get into fights over females and territories. That’s exactly what happened with Ah Boy. Siew Kheng has rescued and rehomed several community cats. She noticed this new cat with an injured eye and brought him to Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North) for treatment. Ah Boy is sterilised under #mountpleasantgivesback and stayed indoors until he was fit to be released to the community. Neutered cats are less likely to develop prostate cancer, perineal hernia or hormone-induced cancers. Thanks to responsible caregivers like Siew Kheng, Ah Boy will live a longer, happier and healthier life!

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When 10-year-old Snow the Cocker Spaniel was given up by her family in December, she had urinary tract infection, bad skin, ears and eyes. With TLC from Purely Adoptions and her fosterer, Snow was already looking much better. Dr Gloria Lee, Dr Kitty Huang and team at Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Mandai) performed a cystotomy to remove 2 large stones in Snow’s bladder. “Snow is our rescue case now and we will look for a good home for her. We do our best for every dog.” The new year is the best time for second chances. We are delighted to give back to rescuers like Purely Adoptions and be part of Snow’s new chapter in life. She’s one of the sweetest girls ever.

Baffy Says “Thank You Dr Dennis Choi”

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We adopted Baffy from Causes for Animals. No one knew his history. He was found in a forested area with a string around his neck, all skin and bones. This boy has never shown any aggression to human being or dog. All he does is love unconditionally.

With Dr Dennis Choi’s clear explanation of Baffy’s condition – oral tumour – we understand surgery will save his life, even if it means removing part of his jaw. Otherwise we might have been paranoid and perhaps too late to help him.

Baffy is now back home enjoying meat balls and soft foods. We cannot be more thankful. Never give up on your pets, especially when they are ill. They need us even more then.

Thank you Dr Dennis Choi and all the wonderful staff at Mount Pleasant (Gelenggang). Baffy‘s new lease of life is a gift from all of you. We are forever grateful! ❤️❤️❤️

Gwen, Fuwang and Baffy

Earl Grey Says “Thank You Dr Kitty Huang”

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Earl Grey says big THANK YOU to Dr Kitty Huang and team.

When Faith Tan spotted Earl Grey, he was already injured. She was rushing off to work and managed to get Elaine Yap to send him to AMK Veterinary Surgery (now known as Mount Pleasant Vet Centre, Mandai) where Dr Kitty Huang diagnosed a diaphragmatic hernia. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the abdomen & the chest. A fall from a high place or car accident can cause it to rupture.

Elaine says, “We started helping community cats simply because of our love for animals and seeing those in need. I’m glad Earl Grey is recovering from surgery. Dr Kitty has been very supportive.”

Best news? Handsome boy has found himself an amazing new home!

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Snowball & Brown Say “Thank You Dr Anthony Goh”

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Hello from Ms Brown - Thanks to convey the message. Pls ask him also not to retire early.

Hello from Ms Brown. Please ask Dr Goh not to retire early!

“I would like to specially thank Dr Anthony Goh from Mount Pleasant (Gelenggang) on his consult and advice to both my Snowball and Brown Brown.

Snowball is 14 years old, a handicapped dog, and Brown is 12.5 years old. They are both mongrels. They are both getting old and there were some complications, but with the expertise of Dr Goh, they are still able to live their lives to the max.

I really hope to see more dedicated vets like Dr Goh in Singapore. I really admire his spirit and his dedication. Thumbs up Dr Goh. You are the best.”

Samantha Renee, Snowball and Ms Brown

And Doggy Makes Two, Three or More!

By Kang Nee, Cheerful Dogs
PhD, CPDT-KA, Low Stress Handling Certified Silver, Pet First Aid Certified, Puppy Start Right Instructor
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It’s the holiday season, and your brain is working overtime to think of a special gift. Ah-ha! How about adopting a puppy or dog from a shelter?  To save a dog, as a present for Mum, or keep dear Rover company when he’s home alone…..

STOP! Your intentions are certainly good, but they can go awry when the recipient of your well-meaning gift is unprepared. Giving a dog a home, especially one that has never been in one, is a kind act. But it would be kinder if Mum or Rover are just as enthusiastic about it as you, and are part of the decision-making process.

If everyone is on board – congratulations! How do you settle your new dog? How do you help Rover get along with the new dog and vice versa? And…..what do you do to make the upcoming holiday get-together enjoyable for your dog(s) and friends?

Here are some tips to get you started:

First Impressions

-> You don’t have a dog and have just adopted Sally.

TIP #1
Even before Sally comes home, dog-proof your house to prevent the honeymoon from turning sour.

Sally is a dog and will do doggy things like chew on your shoes, disembowel the floor mat, scavenge in rubbish bins, make confetti out of toilet rolls etc. Keep forbidden items out of reach, block access securely if you need to. Prevention is better than cure, so be pre-emptive rather than reactive.

Get ready good quality chew toys. Make them interesting by stuffing them with small pieces of delicious food. Play with Sally with these toys, encouraging her to chew on them. Everyone needs to be on board with this game. * Your hands are not chew toys.  Avoid using your hands to bat Sally away or grab her mouth.

TIP #2
Agree on house rules beforehand and implement them as soon as Sally comes home.

Dogs do better when their world is predictable. It doesn’t work if Dad doesn’t allow jumping and you like Sally to jump but not when her paws are muddy or when you’re wearing new clothes. Such inconsistency causes stress to Sally and stress can lead to other behaviour problems.

Decide beforehand rules such as:

  • who will feed Sally (when, where and what)
  • who will walk her (when and where)
  • who will be in charge of Sally’s potty training (how and where)
  • where will she sleep
  • what are considered toys and what are not (e.g. hands, feet)

TIP #3
Canine social etiquette is very different from ours.

A person would find it very odd if you avoid eye contact, shun a hand-shake and stand a good distance away while conversing with your body and head turned away.

To a dog, direct eye contact, approaching head-on to invade her personal space, petting on the head, hugging and reaching out, can be threatening.

So take your cue from your new canine family member. Let Sally approach when she’s ready, speak in a calm and cheerful (not too loud) voice. Whenever she responds positively to your voice, reward her with a small food treat. This is the start of building trust in your budding relationship.

TIP #4
Doing less is more.

Take it easy on family introductions. Sally will be tired, perhaps stressed from the journey home. Save the meetings with your extended family and excited friends for another time, and spread them out over several occasions. Follow Tip #3!

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FOR THE LONG HAUL

TIP #5
Give Sally an education. Every interaction you have with Sally is a training moment and it’s probably better that you train her, rather than she trains you.

While there are many training approaches, dogs do best when taught in a kind, humane manner, using force-free, reward-based training methods.

Focus on encouraging Sally’s good behaviours, rather than correcting her for unwanted behaviours. Leave that choke chain, prong collar, shock collar, pack leader mambo-jumbo where they belong – out of your home! These punitive training methods are outdated and have no place in modern dog training which is solidly based on the science of how dogs learn.

Join a puppy kindergarten or socialisation class, a dog socialisation, obedience or tricks class, conducted by good force-free dog trainers. Have fun! Then take what you’ve learnt on the road, but remember, what Sally finds easy to do at home (with little or no distractions) can be more difficult in a novel place (with more distractions) so don’t expect full marks from her straight-away.

Instead, work in a quieter place. Revise Sally’s skills with lots of praise and rewards. Then gradually increase the level of distraction. When you do this wherever you go, Sally learns to apply her life and social skills with you, her family.

Canine Buddies

-> You already have a resident dog, Rover, and would like to bring home a second dog, Buddy. How do you help the two dogs get along?

TIP #6
Not every dog is comfortable being with another dog.

Even a dog that’s sociable and has a circle of canine friends, may not enjoy being with another dog 24/7. Before you decide to bring Buddy home for Rover, assess if Rover and Buddy are suitable as potential house-mates.

Here are a few pointers to consider:

(a) Make sure your resident dog, Rover, is dog-friendly.
By dog-friendly, I mean that when he meets another dog, he’s neither too excited nor too intimidated by the other dog. He’s willing to engage in play or just chill out. Stress signals are minimal.

(b) Make sure your potential second dog is also dog-friendly, and compatible in terms of age, size and energy levels with Rover.

(c) Introduce Rover and Buddy in a large fenced area, at a neutral location.
Have Rover on a long leash at one end and have someone else bring Buddy in, also on a long leash. Watch their body language – if they’re barking, lunging and snapping at each other, stop the interaction and seek professional help. If they’re loose and waggy or slightly alert, you may proceed.

Once each dog notices the other, start feeding small pieces of delicious food treats in a continuous stream until both dogs relax and remain attentive to their handler. Then slow down on the feeding so that Rover and Buddy can glance at each other, then back at their handlers to get their well-deserved treat.

If both dogs are relaxed, drop the leashes, allow a brief greeting (like a 3-second sniff) and then move the dogs away for more treats. When Rover and Buddy are relaxed with brief greetings, you may remove their leashes but still interrupt their interactions now and then to refocus their attention on you.

(d) If all seems well, repeat the same introduction process at home – either in your garden, or a neutral location nearby, before introducing them indoors.

(e) The most important step after introduction is accomplished, is to train and manage for success as an on-going process.

Many dog guardians forget this, assuming that the dogs will be “fine”. Use baby gates to provide separate areas for Rover and Buddy, as each dog will still need their “alone” time with you, or down time by himself. If you’re unable to supervise them, keep them separate when they’re left alone. If you’re not sure whether they would guard food, toys or space from each other, feed them in separate areas. Make sure there are enough toys and space for both dogs.

Besides supervising Rover and Buddy and managing the environment, get started with a good force-free trainer so that both dogs learn good canine manners, both inside and outside their home.

(f) Having more than one dog can be wonderful for you, but it has to be wonderful for your dogs as well.

Noodles (the Maltipoo) is a shy dog & was initially afraid of my dog, Kiyo (the Golden Retriever).

Noodles (the Maltipoo) is a shy dog & was initially afraid of my dog, Kiyo (the Golden Retriever).

Through carefully staged introductions done over several sessions, Noodles is now comfortable enough to actively approach & interact with Kiyo. You would use a similar process to introduce a new dog to your resident dog. Photos of Noodles are used with kind permission of Dionne Sim, her guardian.

Through carefully staged introductions done over several sessions, Noodles is now comfortable enough to actively approach & interact with Kiyo. You would use a similar process to introduce a new dog to your resident dog. Photos of Noodles are used with kind permission of Dionne Sim, her guardian.

Socialise!

-> You’ve heard it again and again. You must socialise your dog! It’s the holiday season, and what better way to socialise Sally (or Rover, or Buddy) than to meet your friends and their kids at a party? 

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With appropriate planning, management and training, it can be a great success. Otherwise, it could be disaster!

(a) Train, train, train.
Sally relies on you for her education, to teach her what to do, e.g. sit instead of jump when your guests arrive; chew on a food-stuffed toy instead of counter-surfing; lie on a mat instead of leaping on the couch; chill out and relax in a safe room alone instead of barking for attention or in anxiety. So make sure you brush up these skills, before you even plan a party that can be challenging for Sally.

(b) Manage and set ground rules for Sally and guests.
Even the best-behaved dog can be overwhelmed by the many distractions that occur at a party, e.g. food scraps left on a plate, unfamiliar people who may actively encourage jumping, kids running around who look like fun toys to chase and nip.

Don’t force Sally on non-dog people, and don’t allow dog people to force themselves on her. Politely but firmly let your guests (even the ardent dog lovers) know what interactions are appropriate and what are not. Active adult supervision is a must when children are present. Watch out for signs that things may be getting too much for Sally to tolerate. Calmly bring her to her safe room and give her a stash of favourite toys, food puzzles, chew bones to work on. Turn on soft, soothing music and let her relax while the party continues.

(c) Remember, while a party may be one way for Sally to practise her social skills, the lesson is only as successful as you have set it up to be.

Simply exposing Sally repeatedly to lots of people (or dogs) is not socialisation, even if that’s what many people tell you to do.  Proper socialisation involves making each interaction short, sweet and enjoyable. That means you don’t overwhelm her, you watch for behavioural signs that she’s still enjoying herself, and you pair each interaction with something that Sally loves – a super yummy treat. Food helps Sally form a positive conditioned emotional response to something she may be unsure of. When used properly, it is a powerful training tool for fearful and reactive dogs.

Here’s how Don and Louise Mackay set Elliot and Korn up for success when they have visitors. Both dogs were adopted from SPCA Singapore.

Elliot (left) & Korn settle on their mat. It’s a useful behaviour to teach your dog! Photo courtesy of Louise Mackay.

Elliot (left) & Korn settle on their mat. It’s a useful behaviour to teach your dog! Photo courtesy of Louise Mackay.

When we have new visitors, we introduce them to Elliot and Korn outside, one dog at a time. Then we return together to the apartment. I explain the things that the dogs are unsure of with unfamiliar people, e.g. direct eye contact and petting on the head.

While the visitors are staying with us, we work with both dogs by practising games we normally do, like “go to mat”, where they settle down with their food-stuffed toys. Most importantly, we have frequent breaks for both visitors and dogs.”

Set Up For Success

-> No matter how many dogs you’ve had, every dog is different and comes with his/her individual needs that must be addressed to make for a happy integration into your family.

The various tips outlined in this article provide a starting point for nurturing a bond with your dog(s) that goes beyond just expecting and commanding obedience. Your dog isn’t “plug-and-play”, ready to fit into your lifestyle, so take the time to learn together using force-free training methods that set your dog up to succeed and have fun at the same time. Your dog will thank you for your choice!

If your dog is fearful or reactive, or you’re unsure about how to help your dog, seek professional help from a qualified and certified dog trainer, behaviour consultant or animal behaviourist.


Kang Nee is a behavioural ecologist and certified professional dog trainer. Even whilst busy training dogs, she writes articles on dog behaviour modification and training for local and international magazines. Contact Nee at kangnee999@yahoo.com 

Cody The Diabetic Puppy

Lynette Chia rescued Cody the Singapore Special when he was 2 months young. Rehomed but returned due to his health condition, Cody is now back in Lynette’s life.

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“I started volunteering with dog welfare group SOSD in 2012. Cody was initially adopted but at about 6 months, we found out he has diabetes. His adopters could not cope with the amount of care needed to control his illness. Cody was eventually returned to the shelter.” ~ Lynette

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“Cody was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus on his pre-anaesthetic blood tests at his regular vets, who started him on insulin therapy. He was referred to me at 1 year 3 months, when adequate control was not achieved & he developed ketoacidosis as a consequence. He was severely dehydrated & had profuse vomiting & diarrhea at the time of presentation.” ~ Dr Nathalee Prakash, Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Gelenggang)

diabetes mellitus

In the body, glucose levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin facilitates movement of glucose in the blood into respective cells to be stored or used.

In diabetes mellitus (DM), there can be either:

  • a deficiency in insulin production by the pancreas (type 1)
  • a resistance of the cells to the effects of insulin (type 2)
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“Cody is actually easy to care for if his diabetes is under control. However when he gets sick, a lot of time is needed to take him for vet reviews to make sure his condition does not worsen.” ~ Lynette

Juvenile diabetes typically arises from insufficient insulin production and can be accompanied by other pancreatic enzyme deficiencies.

The inability of glucose to enter and be used by cells results in dramatic weight loss. The glucose that remains in the blood stream gets filtered into urine and causes increased drinking and urination. The high glucose levels may result in liver disease, cataract formation and an immunocompromised state.

ketoacidosis

In situations where DM is poorly controlled, or complicated by other disease, the metabolic derangements further escalates, resulting in ketoacidosis, which can be life threatening.

Ketoacidosis: When the body is unable to burn glucose for energy, it starts to break down fat cells which produces fatty acids. These fatty acids are converted to ketones. High levels of ketones can lead to diabetic coma or death. Symptoms include weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal breath. 

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“Cody needed to a home environment to get better. We found a foster home but he again was returned because the fosterers could not cope. I felt Cody’s chance of finding a home is slim. So I decided to take him home & care for him.” ~ Lynette

Symptoms of diabetes
  • excessive thirst (polydipsia)
  • increased urination (polyuria)
  • increased food consumption (polyphagia) but maintains or loses weight
  • cloudy eyes (diabetic cataracts)
tests for diabetes
  • Blood test to detect increased blood glucose level
  • Urinalysis to measure presence of glucose and ketones (urine from healthy dogs does not contain any glucose)
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Cody’s ketoacidosis was corrected & he is currently being managed with insulin injections twice a day. When diabetes is not regulated, it is usually due to insulin not administered properly. Have your vet demonstrate & then observe you injecting the insulin to make sure you are doing it correctly.

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Cody improved in body condition from 11.6 kg at the time of presentation to a current 14.8 kg.

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“The current aims are to fine-tune Cody’s insulin dose, after which he would only require revisits 2 to 3 times a year. Ongoing monitoring for management of infections (e.g. urinary tract infections) has also been advised.” ~ Dr Nathalee Prakash

For patients living with diabetes, consistent, unchanging and constant are keywords to remember for lifestyle, diet and treatment.

Ideally, a diabetic dog should be fed the same type of food, same amount, at the same time each day. A regular schedule of 2 meals a day will help minimise fluctuations in blood glucose so that the amount of insulin needed remains the same. Once the diabetes is properly regulated, dogs like Cody can live relatively normal lives. 


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“Fostering Cody has been a joy despite the tiredness on some days. Caring for him teaches us to manage our time better & having to inject him makes us more gung-ho.” ~ Lynette

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“Cody has changed us all for the better. My family & housemate have been very supportive & helpful. We grew closer as a family & are ecstatic when Cody gets well!”

"Fostering Cody has been a joy despite the tiredness on some days. My family & house mate have been supportive & very helpful in this journey with Cody." ~ Lynette

Cody watching TV with Lynette’s other foster dog Bloch!

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“Volunteering is a commitment to the dogs. We need to make it a part of our lifestyle in order to sustain the long run. To me, the joy & love the dogs give us in return makes everything worth it.” ~ Lynette