Super Mommy Dr Clara Chua: Happy Mother’s Day!

To moms, the bell of happiness must sound like children laughing. And perhaps snoring (peace)! Today we celebrate Dr Clara Chua from Mount Pleasant (Changi) who beams with joy and pride of motherhood. Happy Mother’s Day Dr Clara. Cheers to caffeine! 

Why did u choose to be a vet?

I was given 6 chicks when I was 12. They were my first pets. Raising them, I felt empathy for animals. It was then that I decided I wanted a career working with animals. And became vegetarian too!

What is the greatest joy and challenge at work?

I’m most happy when sick pets who are brought in become better. Helping our patients improve and making their owners happy makes me happy. Conversely, when our patients don’t improve despite our best efforts to treat them and we start questioning whether they are suffering in spite of what we are doing – emotionally, it’s a hard situation to be in.

Team Changi winning the Best Clinic Deco for Christmas!

Dr Clara Chua’s furkids – Coco and Nikki

What is the toughest part of being a working mom? 

Coping with lack of sleep – just gotta up the caffeine! I’m fortunate to be able to work part-time so I get to spend more time with my daughter in her early years. I’m also fortunate to be able to leave her with my family on my work days. The rest of the time, my husband helps me out whenever he can.

what is your sweetest memories of motherhood?

Emma’s laughter is the sweetest thing! She’s not a ticklish baby so we really enjoy those rare moments when she finds something that is funny and laughs.

any advice for young married women?

Have children whilst you’re young. The fountain of youth will help cope with reduced hours of sleep and a strong healthy body helps with carrying (the equivalent of) a sack of rice for extended periods of time!

Have a beautiful Mother’s Day, Dr Clara!

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Thank You Marisa & Gillian!

As the end of the year draws near, some of us may be reminiscing moments lost and gone. Timely are these favourite quotes of Marisa and Gillian, reminding us about ‘following your heart’ and ‘seize the day’.  Today, we seize the moment to say THANK YOU to these ladies of Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Changi). Marisa has been with our big family for 20 years!


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“I studied nursing in university but was unable to attend the final exam due to an untimely bout of chicken pox. Refocusing my studies on laboratory work instead, I eventually graduated as a medical technologist and was introduced to Mount Pleasant (Whitley) by a friend. I have enjoyed working with clients, colleagues and animals for the past 20 years.” ~ Marisa of Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Changi)

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“My paternal grandfather motivated me to be strong and independent. Being a man of the older generation with traditional ideologies, he strongly believed that a woman’s place is at home as a daughter, wife or mother taking care of the family instead of receiving education or joining the workforce. Moreover, with 7 siblings, money was scarce. As one of the eldest, I was determined to break out of this tradition and give my younger siblings a better life.”

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“Cooking and gardening are my passion. Making delicious food for family and friends to enjoy from ingredients grown with love puts a smile on my face. Something few people know about me? I am a huge fan of Korean dramas! Doctor Stranger is my newest favorite; the plot is great and lead actor Lee Jong-Suk is very professional.”

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“If I have the resources, I would love to engage in charity work. Helping the poor, caring for the sick or providing education to those who need it are different ways to give back to society. In the mean time I strive to do at least one act of kindness everyday, no matter how small the gesture may be.” Marisa with colleagues from Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Gelenggang) at our Christmas celebration.

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“It is most rewarding when everyone from vets to technicians and nurses work seamlessly together as a team.” Marisa with Teri, Dr Pauline Fong, Dorothy and Dr Clara Chua.

I have a poster in my room that reads Seize the Day: Do not grieve over the past, for it is gone. Do not worry about the future, for it is yet to come. As long as it is called TODAY, live this day as if it was your last, and you will find each day worth living for!”. This is what I live by.

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ACS student attachment programme at Mount Pleasant (Changi). Dorothy, Dr Eric Yeoh, Michael, Marisa, Wella, Dr Tan Choon Yi.

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Part of our Mount Pleasant (Changi) family, past and present.


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“When I was a kid, I knew from the start I wanted to work with animals. I joined Mount Pleasant in November 2015.” ~ Gillian of Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Changi)

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“Back then, there wasn’t any particular reason other than the fact that I love animals and always dreamt of being around them. Working in this industry seems more than perfect for me. Now that I’m older, knowing that we are able to help these animals who aren’t entirely able to help themselves, makes my job more meaningful.”

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World’s cutest polar bear dog spotted at Mount Pleasant (Changi)! Baby Naga was the runt of a stray litter, rejected by mom barely a week after birth. She was crying in a pile of junk when Gillian found her, just hours before it poured. “First 2 weeks was tough. Naga had to be bottle-fed with puppy milk formula every 2 hours. After each feeding, I had to massage her genital area until she urinates and defecates. Now her eyes are opened, she can eliminate on her own. She drinks milk every 4 hours and prefers a human baby milk bottle!”

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“My mum has always been a hundred percent supportive of me pursuing my dream to work with animals. She knew it was what I’ve always wanted to do.”

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“She was the one who encouraged me to apply for the Veterinary Technology course in Temasek Polytechnic. That was beginning of my entire journey right up till today.”

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“One thing I would really love to do is to swim with sea otters! One thing few people know about me? ‘Keeping Up with The Kardashians’ is my guilty pleasure!”

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gill8 Gillian with her best friends Benji and Vapour. Benji is a Mount Pleasant Hero!

I love this quote from John Grogan, Marley and Me: “A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.”

ACS (Barker Road) Student Attachment Programme

We believe in educating our community in animal care and veterinary medicine, especially students who are considering the pathways to be a veterinarian.

In November, a group of Secondary 3 boys from ACS (Barker Road) came to “work” at our clinics. Some are so inspired and eager to learn, they came for extra days!


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“I love dogs. Job shadowing in a vet clinic is unique and interesting, not something I can do whenever I want.” ~ Joel Mathews with Mason at Mount Pleasant Central Vet Clinic (Whitley)

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“The most challenging part of being a vet, in my opinion, is having patience and perseverance.”

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“Having patience in handling pets, especially difficult animals. And having perseverance as the doctors need to take on night shifts and perform surgeries which may take a few hours.”

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“The best part of being a vet is the opportunity to work with animals. They bring joy to your working life!”

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“I’m an avid animal lover. Becoming a vet is a very natural choice for me, having been surrounded by animals since I was born. Through this job shadowing opportunity, I had a feel of what a vet’s life is like and learnt to be a better companion to my pets.” ~ Leon Saint Claire with Sophie at Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Mandai)

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“Sometimes, vets face problems which they have to resolve quickly. They have to think fast and not hesitate. Another challenge is the difficult decision of euthanasia – a life is on the line, for better or for worse. Hence, I feel that vets cannot crack under pressure. They must make the right decisions for the well being of the animal, and also the owner.”

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“Job shadowing strengthened my conviction to be a vet. Seeing an animal’s flame rekindled gives you a sense of satisfaction. You feel joyous for helping the family and improving the life of an animal – be it a bird, cat, hamster or dog. Furthermore, a growing stray population may give rise to more animal abuse. By becoming a vet, I may be able to make a positive difference to this predicament. That’s the beauty of being a vet – it is more than just a job.”

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“I chose to job shadow at a vet clinic as I have a strong interest in animals and have dogs since I was born. We had a Maltese. After he passed, we welcomed Bambi and Belle into our family. They are Labradoodles which we personally chose from England after meeting their parents to check for any hereditary issues.” ~ Brandon Au Yong with Guan Wei at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East)

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“I love animals and want to help them get better. I have plans to pursue a veterinary degree in Australia. During job shadowing, I learnt how to take better care of my dogs and how to observe their behaviour for signs that they are unwell. I also learnt how various blood test machines work.”

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“The hardest part was to witness blood from certain surgeries or teeth extractions as I associate blood with pain. The vets do their best to relieve pain and perform procedures as quickly as possible. The best part of this whole experience – I was able to interact with animals and help care for them as well as interact with vets and technicians to learn about the industry and their work.”

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“When I was young, we stayed with my extended family and 10 dogs. I love our dogs and my interest lasted through the years till now when only 2 dogs remained.” ~ Michael Boey at Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Changi)

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“Our dogs are old and have had their fair share of visits to the vet. I’m always interested to learn what goes on in a consultation and when animals are hospitalised. Being a vet is one of my dream jobs.”

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“For an animal lover, the contact with animals is possibly one of the best parts of being a vet. I cannot bear seeing any animal sick. I would want to find out what is affecting them and how we can nurse them back to health.”

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David with Sophie at Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Bedok)

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Daniel at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North)


Under Mount Pleasant Community Outreach – Education, our programmes include talks at schools and organisations, project collaboration, work experience, student attachments and clinic visits. Email comms@mountpleasant.com.sg to be part of our outreach! 

Zara The Rabbit: Bladder Stones

Zara, a 4-year-old Lionhead cross, has been lethargic and eating lesser than usual.  After physical examination and X-rays by Dr Pauline Fong at Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi), Zara was diagnosed with bladder stones.

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Bladder stones (urinary calculi) can develop in rabbits of all ages & breeds. It is a painful & potentially life-threatening condition.

Some factors that lead to stone formation

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Insufficient water intake: If you are using a water bottle for your rabbit, make sure the bottle is not defective and your rabbit knows how to drink from it.
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It is more natural for rabbits to drink from a bowl. Use a heavy ceramic water bowl that is not easily overturned.

  • Infrequent urination: This could be due to lack of activity (overweight, arthritic or caged up rabbit) or lack of appropriate/clean toilet area
  • Kidney disease
  • Bladder disease
  • Inappropriate diet: Excess calcium in the diet is excreted through the urinary tract where it may be deposited and form calculi in the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra.
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Rabbits with bladder stones are often in pain & may be unwilling to move or eat. It is important to weigh your pet regularly to monitor weight gain or loss.

signs of bladder stones 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Unwilling to move
  • Painful abdomen
  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Wetness around genital area
  • Skin irritation around genital area due to urine scalding
  • Blood in urine
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Uroliths (stones) are dense & readily visible on radiographs.

diagnosis of bladder stones
  • Physical examination: larger stones can sometimes be palpated in the bladder
  • Urinalysis: to detect any bacterial infections that need to be treated
  • Radiography: the stones are typically composed of calcium salts and show up clearly on X-rays
  • Ultrasonography: to detect the presence of very small stones which may not show up on X-rays
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Zara managed to pass out a stone in blood-tinged urine during the physical examination.

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Uroliths (stones) come in all shapes & sizes. Small stones may be passed out when your rabbit urinates. Larger stones may lodge in the urethra, causing life-threatening bladder obstruction.

treatment and prevention
  • If your rabbit has bladder stones (especially large ones), surgery is necessary to remove them. There is no known diet to dissolve these stones which may increase in size over time, causing further irritation or damage to the bladder wall.
  • Increase water intake by providing plenty of fresh water and leafy vegetables to keep the urine dilute.
  • Provide ample out-of-cage time for exercise to encourage frequent urination and prevent weight gain.
  • Schedule regular veterinary check ups.
  • Speak to your vet about the optimal diet for your rabbit to prevent formation of bladder stones.

Urinary Obstruction: Perineal Urethrostomy

Male cats are more prone to urinary blockage because their urethra gets very narrow as it passes through the penis.

Obstructions may be caused by mucous plugs of inflammatory material or small crystals or stones passing from the bladder through the urethra.

Ref: vetsurgerycentral.com

Ref: vetsurgerycentral.com

signs of urinary obstruction
  • straining to urinate
  • frequent urination
  • blood in urine
  • firm, distended bladder (palpable through abdominal wall)
  • crying in pain
  • constant licking of genitalia
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • depression (as toxins build up)
This is the third time stones developed in Isabelle's bladder. Smaller stones are more likely to exit the bladder & get lodged in the bladder neck or urethra. If this obstruction is not relieved, urine builds up & the bladder may rupture. It can also lead to irreversible kidney damage & eventual death.

For urinary obstruction, the vet may place a catheter into the urethra to flush out the plug or sediment. For stones in the bladder or lodged in the bladder neck or urethra, cystotomy is performed. If the obstruction is not relieved, urine builds up & the bladder may rupture. It can also lead to irreversible kidney damage & eventual death.

Cats that experience recurring or severe episodes of urethral obstruction may require a surgical procedure called Perineal Urethrostomy (PU).

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Preparing the patient for surgery. The distal part of the penis will be removed & the urethra widened to prevent recurrent urinary obstruction.

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The vet dissects surrounding tissue to expose the urethra.

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The penis is carefully freed of its attachments & dissected from the surrounding tissue.

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The edges of the urethra is sutured to the surrounding skin to create a wider urethral opening.

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An Elizabethan collar prevents the cat from licking the surgical site until the sutures are removed.

Perineal urethrostomy does not prevent urinary tract inflammation or stone formation. However, the wider urethral opening (like the female anatomy) provides a wider passageway for plugs, crystals or small stones to be passed out. The likelihood of future obstruction will be decreased.

Bladder Stones In Cats

Dogs and cats, like humans, can develop bladder and kidney stones.

Bladder stones are rock-like collections of minerals that form in the urinary bladder. These stones can obstruct the outflow of urine when they block the neck of the bladder or get lodged in the narrow urethra.

Ref: peteducation.com

Ref: peteducation.com

types of BLADDER STONES

Bladder stones may be in the form of a single large stone or multiple small stones. They can rub and damage the lining of the bladder or urethra , causing painful inflammation and bleeding. Cats with bladder stones often strain to urinate and pass out blood in urine.

The 2 most common types of bladder stones are:

1. STRUVITE STONES

  • more likely to develop in alkaline urine
  • made up of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate
  • can be dissolved by prescription diet
  • prescription diet low in magnesium to produce a more acidic (low pH) urine to dissolve the crystals or stones

2. OXALATE STONES

  • more likely to develop in acidic urine
  • could be caused by excessive intake of calcium, protein, sodium or Vitamin D
  • cannot be dissolved by diet
  • prescription diet to minimise calcium oxalates in urine and produce a more alkaline (high pH) urine
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Obstruction of the bladder is a painful condition. Your cat may cry in pain when she strains to urinate or if the abdomen is pressed. Ruella & Fatin, Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi), prepares 16-year-old Isabelle for surgery to remove her bladder stones.

How do bladder stones form?

Certain diets or diseases in the bladder may cause an increased level of stone-forming minerals in the urine. When the concentration of such minerals becomes very high, the undissolved particles unite and form tiny crystals. As more crystals join together, they gradually enlarge into stones.

How are bladder stones diagnosed?
  • Palpation: Some bladder stones can be palpated (felt) through the abdominal wall.
  • Urinalysis: To check urine pH and detect presence of blood, bacteria and crystals.
  • X-Ray: Most bladder stones are visible on X-Ray. 
  • Ultrasound:  Stones that are radiolucent (not visible on X-Ray) can be detected by ultrasound.
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Dogs develop bladder stones too. Dr Ng Yilin, assisted by Andy, Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East), performs an ultrasound which can detect sediments that may not show up on X-Rays.

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Bladder stones come in different shapes & sizes. A year ago, Isabelle developed a single large stone in her bladder which was surgically removed via a surgery called cystotomy.

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6 months after her first surgery, new stones developed in Isabelle’s bladder. They were again removed by cystotomy.

This is the third time stones developed in Isabelle's bladder. Smaller stones are more likely to exit the bladder & get lodged in the bladder neck or urethra. If this obstruction is not relieved, urine builds up & the bladder may rupture. It can also lead to irreversible kidney damage & eventual death.

This is the third time stones developed in Isabelle’s bladder. Smaller stones are more likely to exit the bladder & get lodged in the bladder neck or urethra. If this obstruction is not relieved, urine builds up & the bladder may rupture. It can also lead to irreversible kidney damage & eventual death.

How are bladder stones treated?

1. PRESCRIPTION DIET

  • Usually prescribed to dissolve struvite stones (not effective for other types of stones)
  • Slow to work and not the best option if your pet is already in pain or there is life-threatening obstruction
  • Must be fed exclusively for it to be effective but not all pets will eat the prescription diet
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Simba Sean was having difficulty urinating. Struvite crystals were detected in the urine culture. Fortunately, his condition was not severe & he is doing well on prescription diet which helps dissolve struvite stones.

This boy is so loveable, Dr Sarah Wong can't bear to let him to go home!

This boy is so loveable, Dr Sarah Wong can’t bear to let him to go home!

2. UROHYDROPROPULSION

Very small stones can be flushed out of the bladder via a non-surgical procedure called voiding urohydropropulsion – using a liquid to expel something from the urinary tract. 

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  • A sterile urinary catheter is placed via the urethra.
  • Saline solution is instilled into the bladder. * Avoid over distending or rupturing the bladder.
  • The bladder is manually expressed to flush out the stones.
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A small amount of numbing agent (lidocaine) may help to ease the passage of the urinary catheter through the urethral opening. Blood-tinged urine is often a sign of bladder stones, urinary tract infection, urethral plug or cancer, collectively known as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

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The size of stones that can be flushed out depends on the size of the patient’s urethra. Male cats’ urethras are often too narrow for urohydropropulsion to be successful. Sediments or crystals collected should be analysed so that appropriate medication or diet can be prescribed.

3. SURGERY

Larger stones need to be removed surgically through an operation called a cystotomy.

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In cystotomy, the animal is put under general anaesthesia. Dr Girisha Lakhiani, Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi), prepares to make an incision through Isabelle’s abdominal wall.

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During the surgery, tiny stones trapped in Isabelle’s bladder neck are flushed into the bladder (retrograde) & removed. As this is her third cystotomy, Isabelle’s bladder wall is not smooth but thickened by scar tissues.

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All the stones are successfully removed & Isabelle’s bladder is closed up with absorbable sutures.

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Some of the stones removed from Isabelle’s bladder. Most of them measure 2 to 5mm.

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All the stones are successfully removed after surgery & a combination of retrograde & normograde flushing to loosen the stones wedged in the bladder neck.

The bladder stones should be sent to the laboratory for analysis to determine if prescription diet will be helpful in lowering the chance of recurrence. Regular urine tests and ultrasound are useful. There are also medications to control urine pH and bacterial infections. However, it is not uncommon for bladder stones to recur. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to developing stones.

How can we help prevent bladder stones in our cats?
  • Provide plenty of fresh water at all times to keep your cat well hydrated so that the urine is dilute.
  • Keep litter trays in a quiet and safe area in the house.
  • Keep litter trays clean.
  • If you have more than one cat, provide more litter trays to encourage them to urinate frequently and freely without fear of “invading” another cat’s territory.

ABOUT BLADDER STONES IN RABBITS 
ABOUT BLADDER STONES IN CHINCHILLAS

50kg Mastiff Gets Surgery For Ruptured Cruciate Ligament

Dr Tan Choon Yi, Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi)

Dandelion is a 3-year-old English Mastiff. In September 2014, she became lame on her right hind limb and was treated with a course of anti-inflammatories. After 2 courses with no improvement, Dandelion was scheduled to have her knee examined by Dr Dennis Choi (Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre, Gelenggang) under general anaesthesia.

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General anaesthesia allows the patient to be adequately relaxed for a proper examination of the knee, which can be difficult in a conscious large dog like 50kg Dandie!

Upon examination, there was an instability of her knee reflected by a positive cranial drawer test. This confirmed a cranial cruciate ligament rupture.

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In a drawer test, the vet holds the femur stable and moves the tibia. If the tibia is able to move forward (like pulling out a drawer), it is considered a positive drawer test which indicates a cranial cruciate ligament rupture. (ref: morningtonvetclinic.com.au)

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The cranial cruciate ligament is the primary stabiliser of the knee. Once it ruptures, the dog will become acutely lame due to severe inflammation that occurs within the joint. (ref: michiganveterinarysurgeons.com)

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Radiographs of Dandie’s knee showed an increased radio-opacity in the infrapatellar fat pad, which can occur in cruciate disease.

Dandie’s surgery, performed by Dr Choi, is called a cranial tibial wedge osteotomy. A triangular wedge of bone is cut from the tibia to change the angle of the weight bearing surface of the knee. This prevents abnormal sliding motion of the joint which occurs after the cruciate ligament has ruptured.

Lateral view of stifle

AP view of stifle

2 bone plates with pins and wires were placed to close up the wedge made in the tibia.

By the first week, Dandie was able to place weight on her right hind leg but still visibly lame. 2 weeks after surgery, she was feeling better and to my dismay, trying to run and jump. Activity had to be restricted for a full 12 weeks until bone healing was complete. Premature, uncontrolled activity can risk breakdown of the surgical implant.

Dandie post surgery

Dandie before surgery

A seroma (sterile accumulation of fluid), almost the size of a fist, had also developed at her surgical site. No specific treatment was required for the seroma and it was resorbed by her body in about three weeks.

Dandelion has since made a full recovery from surgery and is back to her mischievous self – jumping onto sofas, stealing random items from the garden and chasing birds every morning!

Baking at the printers! Find out more about our vets & their pets in our next issue of Pleasant Pet News. Pick up your copy at all our clinics this month!

Baking at the printers! Find out more about our vets & their pets in the next issue of Pleasant Pet News. Pick up your copy at all our clinics this month!

Fatin Azman: Every Life Matters

When you visit Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi), you might be surprised to see two Muslim girls handling your dogs.

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Atika & Fatin, Vet Nurses at Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi) with Google, everyone’s best friend!

how did you become part of the mount pleasant family?

I joined Mount Pleasant in May 2014. I always wanted to be a vet. To have the knowledge and ability to take care of animals. My parents granted me the freedom to explore and learn about wild animals. They were not upset when my sister and I picked up green-crested lizards or fostered birds.

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“I am a thrill seeker – I love the danger of being close to wild animals, that indescribable feeling when they imprint on you. My dream is to work in an animal sanctuary with raptors & wolves.”

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The rest of the family at Mount Pleasant Changi (clockwise from bottom R): Dr Girisha (Dr G), Marisa, Dr Tan Choon Yi, Dr Pauline Fong, Rouella.

YOU ARE A MUSLIM. HOW IS IT ALRIGHT FOR YOU TO TOUCH DOGS? 

Muslims are discouraged from touching dogs but without good reason. All animals are God’s creation. In fact, we are encouraged to protect and help all animals.

It is not haram (forbidden) to touch a dog. We can touch a dry dog. If the dog is wet or if we touch their nose or mouth (saliva), we need to do a special cleansing with soil and water. We also clean our clothing if it has been touched by a dog’s wet nose or mouth. This cleansing ritual is called sertu. Nowadays we have special soaps for such cleansing which I use every day.

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“I think many Malays choose not to interact with dogs, not because they hate dogs, but due to fear. Like how some people are fearful of cats. My lack of fear stems from my love for animals & my wish to help them. I am grateful to my parents for bringing me up to be courageous.”

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR CATS 

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Mithral Caprice Maria is a Seal Point Himalayan from Australia. My parents got her for us in 2000. Maria was queen – it was her house and we were her subjects. She loved leather. And that meant scratching and sharpening her claws on my mom’s leather couch. She also loved to share my parent’s bed. By sleeping right in the middle! Despite all that, we  love her dearly.

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“Maria loved the camera. She would smile & pose for photos, looking so pretty. I love it when she blinked slowly & gave me one of those cat smiles. It always made my day.”

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Shaun Aiden was a stray. My sister Intan and I found him at White Sands Shopping Mall, meowing for his mom near a recycling bin. He was only about 4 weeks young. Shaun is 8 now. He greets my dad and I when we get home and gladly naps with anyone who sleeps till noon! He will put his whole weight on our back or share our pillow.

IMG_4242Mika is my sister Nurul’s son. We found him last year. He is a handful – jumping onto the kitchen counter, stealing food, chomping on my hand as if it is a rat! We think he is quite smart but acts stupid. Sometimes he pretends not to hear us when we call.

how were YOUr last days with maria?

We did not notice Maria was ill because she was still eating and looking well. Then she acted strangely – walking continuously, aimlessly. She was tearing so much, it looked like she was crying. One day, she jumped off my parent’s bed and fell smack on her face. My sister Nurul rushed her to Dr Pauline Fong.

Medicine and subcutaneous fluid would have helped Maria but she would have none of that. We did as much as she allowed us to keep her comfortable – pain relief for her kidneys, medicine and acupuncture to improve her blood count and appetite.

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“Thinking back, regular health check is important. The first sign of sickness is often weight loss. Maria never liked to be carried so we did not notice she was losing weight. During her last days, Maria allowed us to cuddle her. She got tired easily & would sleep on our lap.”

My parents gave me the responsibility to do what was best for Maria. It was heartbreaking. I wanted her to stay. But I did not want her to suffer.

Euthanasia was a choice. But I believe we do not have the right to determine the death of another. Unless we are completely unable to care for our furry loved ones to the end of their days, or they are obviously suffering from immense pain, I would not put my pet to sleep.

Maria passed away last Saturday around 5pm. Like many animals, she chose to depart silently, on her own. She was 15 years old.

BESIDES ANIMALS, what stirs your heart?

I am an outdoorsy girl with big goals and big dreams, especially for wild animals and our environment. My dad introduced me to this community of Permaculture – permanent agriculture. We are encouraged to design our lives around growing and rearing food in the most sustainable way.

We went to Queensland, Australia to take a design course in a Permaculture Research Institute. Last March, we continued our education in Earthworks in Tasmania. 

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Everyday is a journey of learning. I want to learn everything I need to do good for our world And our animals. Every life matters. 

After chatting with Fatin, you would agree no matter what religion you are, we won’t go wrong if we choose to honour our earth. And respect all its life forms.

Remembering Lico

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A pitiful sight. But Lico was still loving and sweet as usual.

Cryptococcosis is an infectious disease caused by the fungus Cryptococcosis neoformans. The disease is contracted by inhaling infectious particles (e.g. from bird droppings, soil, decaying vegetation).

In animals with a suppressed immune system, the organisms can spread from the nasal passages or lungs to other organs, and progress to develop severe diseases. 

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Lico was an old cat and also living with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) which made her highly vulnerable to Cryptococcosis. The disease is not transmittable to humans or other animals.

Symptoms of Cryptococcosis include:

  • weight loss
  • lethargy
  • sneezing
  • nasal discharge
  • nasal mass
  • skin lesions on head
  • eye disease (e.g. haemorrhage in the retina,  inflammation of the eye)
  • central nervous system abnormalities (e.g. head tilt, incoordination, circling and seizures)
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The fungus may cause Meningitis, an infection and inflammation of the meninges (membranes that cover the brain). Left untreated, Meningitis can be fatal.

Diagnosis of Cryptococcosis is obtained by fine needle aspiration and cytology or tissue biopsy. A blood test called the latex agglutination test identities the actual fungal antigen.

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A fine needle aspirate of the mass was taken for microscopic examination.

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The fungal cells are rounded yeasts with a thick mucoid capsule.

As cryptococcus is a fungus, treatment requires the use of anti-fungal medications which include fluconazole, ketoconazole and itraconazole. 

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Lico’s final visit to Dr Girisha at Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi).

The prognosis for cats with Cryptococcosis is relatively good. However, Lico was old and weakened from FIV. She was also losing weight for the past 6 months although blood tests were normal. The original swelling above her eye was very mild but ballooned rapidly within 2 weeks. All the while, her appetite was good.

Lico did not recover. She crossed the rainbow bridge at 15 years old. A good age for a rescued community cat.

Well-loved. Fondly remembered. And always beautiful in our eyes.