Dogs And Cats – Normal Vital Signs

To know what is abnormal in our pets, we have to first know what is normal. Three important vital signs to check: temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate. Vital signs in our dogs and cats are affected by their state of anxiety , life stage and activity as well as external factors such as room temperature. These reference numbers are to serve as a general guide.

Heart rate per minute 80 – 120
Respiratory rate per minute 15 – 30
Temperature 38 – 39.2 °C
Heart rate per minute 100 – 140
Respiratory rate per minute 20 – 30
Temperature 38 – 39.2 °C
How to CHECK Temperature

The most accurate way to take our dog’s or cat’s temperature is with a digital thermometer inserted rectally. Lubricate the thermometer with a water-based lubricant like KY jelly. Insert the thermometer gently into the rectum, located just below the base of the tail, and leave it in place until it beeps.

Gradually condition your dog or cat to allow this. Do it slowly & gently. Someone to hold onto your pet is helpful too. Reward your dog or cat with their favourite treats after the procedure.

How to MEASURE Heart Rate

The average heart rate of dogs and cats may vary according to breed and size, so it is important to know what is normal for your dog and cat when they are relaxed and at rest. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply by 4 to get the heart rate in beats per minute (bpm).

Small dogs generally have faster heart rates while large dogs and those in good physical condition have slower rates. Dr Iin, Mount Pleasant (East), with Batman the Chihuahua.

Heart rates may also be higher when your pets are in the clinics or at events, due to anxiety & excitement. Dr Hazel Tan, Mount Pleasant (Mandai), with Cinnamon a shelter dog.

Feel your dog’s heartbeat with one hand over the left side, just behind the front leg.

You can also check the heart rate by locating the femoral artery near the top of the inner thigh.

How to MEASURE Respiratory Rate

The chest rises with inspiration and falls with expiration. One cycle of inspiration and expiration equals one breath. When your dogs or cats are at rest, check their respiratory rate by counting the number of breaths for 1 minute. 

Practise these steps at home until you are familiar with your pets’ normal vital signs and know when they seem “off” and require vet attention.


Always seek veterinary advice when your pets display signs of pain or discomfort. The earlier the problem is identified and treated, the better the outcome. Your pet needs emergency medical attention if you observe the following symptoms:

  • struggling to breathe, gagging or trying to vomit
  • seizures or fits
  • signs of extreme pain (e.g. whining, trembling)
  • heatstroke (e.g. panting, weakness, high temperature)
  • vomiting or having diarrheao for more than 24 hours
  • straining or unable to urinate or defecate
  • bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth
  • ingestion of toxic substances (e.g. rat poison, insecticide, medication, household cleaners)
  • sudden loss of vision or bumping in things
  • difficulty in giving birth
  • swollen abdomen (could be life-threatening condition called bloat or gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV) – “stomach twisting”)


We welcome medical stories of your animal friends to educate and inspire others. Email us at and be part of Mount Pleasant community over at our Website and Facebook.

What You Need To Know About Heartworm Disease

Chili Pepper came to Singapore with her family in 2012. During a health check with Dr Sarah Wong, Mount Pleasant (East), we discovered through a blood test that she was infected with heartworms. With strict exercise restriction and treatment, Chili Pepper recovered. She is 10 this year.


“Chili Pepper is a present for our wedding in 2006. I went to London to pick her up when she was 3 months young & we lived in Roma, Italy till 2012. She is adorable. Loves toys & food.” ~ Tatiana


“I like the name Chili. My husband likes Pepper. So here we have Chili Pepper. Chili Pepper loves water and can swim all day long – she’s a dog fish!”

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious, progressive and potentially fatal disease. It is caused by a parasite Dirofilaria immitis which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Heartworm disease occurs mostly in dogs and less commonly in cats. Early detection is essential for successful treatment.

How is Heartworm disease transmitted?


When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it picks up microscopic baby worms called microfilariae in the blood, which then develop into “infective stage” larvae. When this infected mosquito bites a dog, the larvae are deposited under the dog’s skin. It takes about 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms which lodge in the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels where they reproduce.

which DOGS are MORE at risk?

All dogs who are not on heartworm prevention are at risk of heartworm infection. Dogs living in landed properties and those who regularly walk in mosquito-prone areas are at higher risk.

How does heartworm disease affect my dog’s health?

Heartworms live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels where they mature and reproduce. In the early stage, your dog may not show any symptoms. As the number of worms increases, signs of heart failure develop. E.g. weakness, exercise intolerance, coughing, decreased appetite, weight loss. 


An adult heartworm can grow up to 30cm long.

what happens when heartworm disease is not treated?
  • Some dogs may harbour several hundred worms which cause lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries.
  • In severe cases, the abdomen and legs will swell from fluid accumulation.
  • The disease can lead to liver or kidney failure causing jaundice, anaemia and accumulation of toxins.
  • Severely affected dogs can develop a sudden blockage of blood flow within the heart leading to a life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse called caval syndrome.

Ascites (fluid accumulation in abdominal cavity) giving your dog a pot-bellied appearance.

How is heartworm disease treated?

Most dogs with heartworm disease can be successfully treated, especially in the early stages. The goal is to kill the microfilariae as well as adult worms through a series of injections while minimising the side effects of treatment. Dogs with advanced heartworm disease may require antibiotics, pain relief medications, diuretics to remove fluid accumulation and drugs to improve heart function.

The adulticide drug is given by deep intramuscular injection into the lumbar (lower back) muscles of the dog. Junior is an ex-breeding farm dog we are helping under Mount Pleasant Gives Back. With good care by her adopter Liz and family, her health has improved and she is ready for heartworm treatment at Mount Pleasant (Bedok). Her new name is Maz.


“It was a nightmare when we discovered Chili Pepper had heartworms. Dr Sarah Wong helped me understand the disease & gave me the support needed. An amazing person & vet. Chili Pepper went through treatment & we restricted her activity strictly. She put up a good fight & won!”

complete rest is essential during treatment

During treatment, it is very important to restrict exercise to decrease the chance of complications, especially pulmonary thromboembolism (clots in the vessels) as the worms die off. Signs of embolism include coughing, low grade fever and sudden breathing difficulty. 

  • No running, playing, jumping.  
  • Slow and short walks on leash.
  • Active, playful dogs need to be strictly confined to rest.
  • Some dogs need to be hospitalised for a few days.

A heartworm test will be done 6 months after treatment to confirm that all heartworms have been eliminated. Some dogs may require lifetime medication for heart failure.


“Chili Pepper is 10 years old now. We love her like one of our kids. We understand that even when all the worms are eliminated, the heart may already be damaged. Since the treatment, Dr Sarah has been monitoring Chili Pepper’s heart. “

How can we prevent heartworm disease in our dogs?

Preventive Medication: Consult your vet on the appropriate heartworm preventives for your dog, e.g. pill, spot-on topical medication or injection to eliminate immature heartworm parasites.

Blood Tests: All dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection as part of preventive care. If your dogs are older than 6 months and not on heartworm preventive, a simple blood test is done to ensure they are not already infected by the parasite before starting preventive medication.

Because no preventive medicine is 100% effective, annual testing is necessary to ensure the preventive medicine is working and to detect any infection in the early stage. 

Mosquito Control: Remove any containers that may collect water. Clean out rain gutters regularly. Keep the grass short and rake up fallen leaves (which can hold water) to reduce breeding sites.


“Chili Pepper is currently on heartworm preventives & heart medications. She is responding well. Happy & playful at home. We hope it will be like this for a long long time.”

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!


“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)


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


“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.”


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


“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)


“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.”


“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.”


“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)


“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.”


“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.”


“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)


“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.”


“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.”


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


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 to be part of our outreach! 

Thank You Andy & Guan Wei!

“I always remind juniors we are not just ordinary colleagues. We are family.” Today we say THANK YOU to Andy and Guan Wei from Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East)! Whether you live your life one day at a time or actively change things for the future, these two young men have one thing in common – they follow their heart, set out to help animals and are doing a great job at that!



“Growing up, I helped my dad on his pig farm in Philippines. After completing my veterinary studies, I went to Dubai to work for a year before joining Mount Pleasant in 2008.” ~ Andy


“Working in a vet clinic can be difficult sometimes. I’m a jolly person & won’t let bad things affect my personality.”


“I don’t mind being the clown at work to neutralise any stressful situations.”


“It is rewarding to see animals recover from critical diseases & seeing the family’s happy faces. But we do encounter frustrating cases where animals suffer from irresponsible owners or when clients insist on consulting Dr Google. If I’m not a vet tech, I would like to teach in a veterinary school.”


“I always remind juniors we are not just ordinary colleagues. We are family. Whatever they feel or think affects members of the family. I encourage them to enjoy what they are doing & they will not feel that they are working.” Andy sharing about compassion fatigue with his colleagues.


“What makes me happy? Meeting my wife Nelli at Mount Pleasant!”


“Everyday struggles in life inspire me to do better for the future. My inspiration is always my family – Nelli, AJ & our second child on the way!”


“A quote that inspires me? Love the life that you lead & lead the life that you love.”


“When I was young, I read a storybook about animals & knew that I wanted to help animals. I joined Mount Pleasant in July 2011.” ~ Guan Wei


“I like dogs but my parents do not want any pets at home. So I decided to be a vet tech & work with animals.”


“It is rewarding when very sick animals get better & can be discharged. Also when clients appreciate what we are doing to help their pets.”


Appreciation also comes from our patients! Ruffy is here for her regular electro-acupuncture sessions with Dr Audrey Loi & all she wants is affection & belly rubs from Guan Wei.


“I live my life one day at a time. I enjoy going for a swim, reading manga or watching anime in my free time. If I can be anything in the world, I want to be an archaeologist. To travel around the world, go for archaeology digs & learn about what happened in the past.”




Some of the furries at the East: Marc, Xena, Marley, Macie, Bucho, Ellie, Toby, Maya!


Well, at the end of the day, guess we know who’s actually the boss! 😉

Alfie & Bentlie: Guinea Pig Overgrown Teeth

A guinea pig has 20 open-rooted teeth which never stop growing. Maloccluded (overgrown and misaligned) teeth can cause serious problems. Bring your guinea pig to the vet if you notice signs of malocclusion:

  • decreased appetite
  • preference of soft foods over hard foods
  • weight loss
  • excessive drooling
  • tooth grinding
  • facial abscesses

Alfie & Bentlie, both 5 years old with maloccluded teeth, are here for dental treatment with Dr Sarah Wong, Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East).

Another little patient Xiao Bai having a general health check by Dr Ng Yilin before his dental

Teeth overgrow due to various reasons like illness, improper diet or genetics.


Unlike dogs & cats, guinea pigs do not vomit. There is no need to withhold food or water before general anaesthesia.


Before filing: When front incisors are not evenly lined up (chipped or overgrown), it is difficult for your guinea pig to pick up & gnaw food. Overgrown teeth can also cause painful injuries to the mouth.


After filing: Overgrown teeth are filed with specialised equipment. They should not be filed too short (just enough to avoid contact with lower gums or roof of mouth), otherwise your guinea pig will have problems picking up food.


It is very difficult for owners to examine their guinea pig’s back teeth because of buccal pads (cheek pads) which block the view. Using buccal pad separators & a lighted scope, Dr Sarah Wong is able to see that Alfie’s lower molars are growing towards the centre, creating a bridge over the tongue. If the tongue is eventually trapped by overgrown molars, it will be difficult or impossible for Alfie to swallow.

A close-up view of Xiao Bai’s overgrown back teeth (cheek teeth)


While lower molars tend to overgrow inwards, upper molars tend to overgrow outwards towards the cheeks. The sharp spurs can cause painful sores inside the mouth if they are not filed down. Alfie & Bentlie’s malocclusion is believed to be genetic. They may require dental treatment every few months.

some tips to prevent malocclusion:
  • WEEKLY: Weigh your guinea pigs. Weight loss is an early indicator of health problems, including malocclusion.
  • WEEKLY: Examine the incisors (front teeth). Make sure they are not overgrown or chipped.
  • WEEKLY: Feel along the jaw lines . Check for sensitive areas which might indicate the presence of spurs.
  • DAILY: Feed lots of hay! Guinea pigs need to constantly chew tough fibrous foods like grass hay to wear down their constantly growing teeth. Provide fresh, high quality grass hay (e.g. Timothy hay) throughout the day.


Xiao Bai The Chinchilla: Bladder Stones

Chinchillas can live up to 10 years or more, which is a long lifespan for a rodent. Some of the common ailments include dental, gastrointestinal and urinary problems.  With their dense fur, chinchillas are also prone to heat stroke.

Xiao Bai, 2-year-old male Chinchilla.

Xiao Bai, 2-year-old male Chinchilla, was eating lesser, lethargic & having difficulty urinating.

X-rays done at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East) revealed stones in Xiao Bai’s bladder and urethra. The signs and causes of bladder stones in chinchillas are similar to that in rabbits -> “Zara The Rabbit: Bladder Stones”.

xiao bai bladder stones

For some chinchillas like Xiao Bai, excess minerals such as calcium that are not flushed out with urine accumulate in their bladder to form stones. Some stones may exit the bladder & get lodged in the urethra.


Dr Sarah Wong, Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East), made an incision in Xiao Bai’s abdomen to access his bladder & remove the stones.


Xiao Bai was unable to pass out urine due to obstruction caused by the stones. Build-up of urine may cause the bladder to rupture, resulting in a painful death.


The full bladder was expressed & you can see the outline of the largest stone.


Stones removed from Xiao Bai’s bladder. Some stones may form due to excess calcium in diet. Timothy hay is recommended for adult chinchillas as it has lower calcium content than alfalfa hay.


Size of stones compared with a 10 cent coin.


One of the stones was lodged in Xiao Bai’s urethra. Sterile saline solution was instilled through a catheter into the bladder, in an attempt to flush the stone out of the urethra. It was unsuccessful as the stone was too large to pass through the narrow urethra.


A catheter was then inserted via Xiao Bai’s urethral orifice to flush the stone back into his bladder so that it could be removed. This process, called retrograde voiding urohydropropulsion, was also unsuccessful.

Perineal urethrostomy (removing the penis to create a wider urethral opening) can successfully treat urinary blockage in male dogs and cats, but is complicated in small animals like chinchillas. Scar tissue could possibly cause another obstruction in the urethra and there is also a high chance of stones recurring after surgery.

The most humane choice was to euthanise Xiao Bai while he was still under general anaesthesia. Our heartfelt condolences to Xiao Bai’s family. He will be missed.

Snag The 3-Legged Singapore Special

Look for the good in people and you will surely find it.

Snag was rescued by the folks of Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East). He was limping along a street, dragging a snare caught tightly around his leg.

Snag may have lost a limb. But gained a big family at Mount Pleasant East!


When Snag was brought back to Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East), he was very thin, forlorn & didn’t want any human interaction. But he would allow the team to treat his wound. Just a gentle ol’ soul, lost & scared in his new environment.


Snag managed to get away only because he gnawed off the other end of the snare. The authorities have been informed.


The wire had cut right through the flesh & muscle in Snag’s leg.


The team tried to save Snag’s leg by managing the wound but it was already badly infected. Gangrene had set in. Snag also has heartworms & is currently on medication for a “slow kill” treatment.


Snag’s badly infected leg had to be amputated. Amputation may also be recommended for dogs with cancer (e.g. osteosarcoma), severe trauma (e.g. multiple fractures) or birth defects.

“We amputated Snag’s leg at the proximal humerus (just below the shoulder joint). If he goes to an animal sanctuary or somewhere outdoors, there is the scapula bone to protect his chest from trauma.” ~ Dr Audrey Loi

As in humans, dogs can be fitted with a prosthetic leg following an amputation. An adequate stump is needed to fit the prosthesis. However, this procedure is not suitable for all pets. It also requires diligent care to ensure the remaining stump is not traumatised during daily activities or subjected to pressure sores.


A few weeks later, Snag (with Maya) is looking happier & healthier!

Dogs bear more than 50% of body weight on their front legs. Snag may need more time to adjust, balance & move around, as compared to rear limb amputees. Keeping him trim will put less stress on the joints of his remaining three limbs. We will follow up on Snag’s progress and update on his future plans!

We took the opportunity to speak with Lillian Wang from Three Legs Good about her experience with disabled dogs. Three Legs Good is an animal welfare group that focuses on raising awareness, education, fund-raising for medical needs and finding homes for injured and disabled dogs. 

“From my experience, dogs who have gone through an amputation are up on their feet remarkably quickly. Of course, it would be easier for younger and healthy dogs. Usually it is the humans who have a problem accepting the amputation. The dogs are happy they are no longer in pain and can get on with their lives!” ~ Lillian


Snag with Toby. Toby & Maya were rescued as puppies 2 years ago. Maya has seizures which makes it tough for her to find a home. Both of them are happy residents at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East)!


Snag with Marc the Dachshund who was given up by a breeder because he was oversized & not ideal for sale. When you are ready for a pet, do consider adoption.

Poppy is another Singapore Special tripawd who lost her forelimb to osteosarcoma (bone cancer).

Poppy is another Singapore Special tripawd who lost her forelimb to osteosarcoma (bone cancer).


Haloumi, Dr Cheryl Ho’s (Mount Pleasant Central Veterinary Clinic, Whitley) adopted Greyhound, lost her hind limb to osteosarcoma.

Meet some of the lovely rescued dogs from Three Legs Good: Mochi, Dinah, Grady & Zora! Contact Three Legs Good to adopt or support their work!

Some of the tripawds & disabled dogs from Three Legs Good: Mochi, Dinah, Grady & Zora! Contact Three Legs Good to adopt or support their work! (Photo credits: Mochi – Nicholas Koh, Dinah – Furry Photos)

“The best thing we can do for a dog who has had an amputation is not to feel sorry for it! Treat the dog perfectly normally. A 3-legged dog is really no less able than a 4-legged one. Dogs adapt amazingly well. They don’t worry about having 3 legs. They don’t look back!” ~ Lillian

meet the big family at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East)!

The team at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East): Moe, Gladys, Jonna, Nelli (Gelenggang), Andy, Dr Sarah Wong, Dr Ng Yi Lin & Andy Jr!


Clara, Yimin, Syahidah, Dr Ng Yilin & Zen’s rescuers.

Andy, Dr Sarah Wong, Moe, Dr Iin with Tilala!

Andy, Dr Sarah Wong, Moe, Dr Iin with Kilala!


Dr Audrey Loi (top L) with her team at work.


The fur kids of MP East’s staff: Club Jr the Singapore Special who is going to his new home soon, Ellie the Poodle, Momo the Chihuahua, Marley & Xena the Miniature Schnauzers!

Ruby The Hamster: Lumpectomy

We don’t often operate on patients who weigh just 30g.

Today, our brave little patient is an adorable hamster named Ruby. Her family noticed a lump growing along the right side of her body and scheduled a surgery with Dr Sarah Wong at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East).

Little Ruby is well loved by Simone & family. When they brought her home more than a year ago, no one knew Ruby was already pregnant. She gave birth to twins.

Little Ruby is well loved by Simone & family. When they brought her home more than a year ago, no one knew Ruby was already pregnant. She gave birth to twins.


Dr Sarah Wong will perform a lumpectomy to remove the lump. Unlike dogs and cats, regurgitation is seldom a concern for rodents so it is not necessary to withhold food or water prior to surgery.

In rodents, the ratio of their body surface area to body mass is greater than larger species like dogs or cats. They lose  body heat rapidly. It is critical to keep Ruby warm during and after surgery to prevent hypothermia and ensure she recovers well from anaesthesia.


Rodent anaesthesia is challenging because of the animal’s size, metabolic rate & risk of hypothermia. Anaesthetics for rodents can be administered as an inhalant or injected. The most common inhalant anaesthetic used for rodents is isoflurane. A toe pinch will verify if the animal is deeply anaesthetised before proceeding with surgery.


Surgical preparation includes anaesthesia induction, clipping of hair & scrubbing.


To prevent hypothermia, we avoid wetting too large an area during the surgical scrub. Ruby is also placed on a heating pad to keep her warm throughout the procedure.


Dr Sarah Wong of Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East) has a special interest in exotic pets, particularly rabbits & rodents.


Rodent surgery is a delicate procedure. The surgeon has to be very gentle & careful to avoid unnecessary trauma to the tissues.


After the lump is removed, the incision site is closed with non-absorbable sutures which will be removed when the wound is healed, usually within 7 to 10 days.


The lump, measuring about 1cm long, will be sent to the laboratory for histological diagnosis. Lumps on the chest & abdomen in females are commonly mammary tumours which can be benign or malignant.


Dr Wong administers post-operative analgesics (painkillers) & antibiotics to reduce pain & discomfort from the surgery.

If your hamster just had surgery, watch out for signs of pain:
  • Refuse to eat, drink or groom
  • Unwilling to move, hunched up posture
  • Redness and swelling at incision site
  • Excessive licking or scratching, self-mutilation
  •  Squealing, teeth grinding, twitching, tremors, weakness
  • Laboured breathing

Shortly after Ruby is awake, she started to groom herself. Ruby is kept warm in her cage lined with soft paper bedding to prevent irritation to the surgical site. 


Because Ruby is a feisty little gal & started meddling with the stitches, Dr Audrey Loi made a little fibreglass body cast to keep her surgical site clean!


The fibreglass body cast is kept in place with elastoplast.

Ruby’s family will monitor her closely for the next few days to make sure she is alert, active and eating. We will see Ruby in a week’s time for review. But before that, Ruby will like you to meet one of her beautiful twins, Rebecca. And her lovely guardians who show us that animals, great or small, all deserve to be loved!


Hannah & Logan with Ruby’s daughter Rebecca!

March 2017: snowy’s lumpectomy

21-gram Snowy the Roborovski hamster had a lump on her right elbow. Dr Sarah Wong performed a successful lumpectomy. Click here to watch Snowy racing on her favourite flying saucer just days after the surgery.

Lump on Snowy’s right elbow

After a successful lumpectomy, Snowy was monitored closely to make sure she recovered from anaesthesia, with no problems, before going home.

Keep your hamsters warm & quiet after surgery. Usually they are back to their normal selves by the next day.

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.




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:


  • 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


  • 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

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. 16-year-old Isabelle being prepared 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.

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.


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.


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?


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

Dr Sarah Wong with Simba Sean at Mount Pleasant (East). Simba was having difficulty urinating. Struvite crystals were detected in the urine culture. Fortunately, Simba’s condition was not severe & he is doing well on prescription diet which helps dissolve struvite stones.


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. 


  • 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.

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).


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.


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


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.


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


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


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

Bladder stones may be in the form of multiple small stones or in Roxy’s case, a palm-sized ‘rock’. Dogs with bladder stones often strain to urinate and may pass out blood. Everyone is relieved to see this 5cm ‘rock’ surgically removed by Dr Ng Yilin.

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.