Caring For Our Arthritic Dogs

Is your dog moving around more slowly? Is he having difficulty lying down and getting up? Is she reluctant to climb stairs or hop into cars? Your dog may be suffering from osteoarthritis – a painful degenerative joint disease.  Osteoarthritis is more common in older, larger and working dogs due to wear and tear. It can also arise from obesity, trauma or birth defects such as abnormally formed hips. 


Chronic pain due to age-related disorders like osteoarthritis usually develops slowly. It can be hard to detect because some animals learn to tolerate and live with the pain.

Chronic pain can create a “stress response” associated with elevations of cortisol. This may reduce the patient’s immune response, leading to infection & slower healing.

Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease occurs with age when the cartilage between bones wears down over time.


Watch our pets closely to detect signs of arthritic pain:

  • reluctance to walk or play
  • stiffness and lameness
  • difficulty lying down or getting up
  • difficulty climbing stairs
  • unusually quiet or withdrawn
  • biting or snapping when touched
  • appetite loss

Have your vet perform a physical examination & take X-rays to check for degenerative joint changes.

  • Medications (anti-inflammatories and pain relief)
  • Cartrophen injections (a disease modifying drug to reduce adverse effects of osteoarthritis)
  • Supplements (e.g. glucosamine, chondroitin, omega oils)
  • Physical therapy (e.g. hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, massage)
  • Acupuncture

“Acupuncture has been used in animals for at least 3000 years. It is commonly used to manage conditions such as degenerative joint disease (arthritis) and intervertebral disc disease. A typical session, including a physical checkup, lasts up to 30 minutes.”

Acupuncture is available at Mount Pleasant (East) with Dr Audrey Loi, Mount Pleasant (Changi) with Dr Pauline Fong and Mount Pleasant (North) with Dr Jimson Chan. Read more about veterinary acupuncture

Hydrotherapy with trained hydrotherapists can help your arthritic dogs lose weight (if they are overweight) & strengthen leg muscles. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on joints & relieves pain & stiffness.


  • Extra weight increases stress on the joints. Keep your dogs trim with a healthy diet and low impact exercises.
  • Provide gently-sloped ramps to access gardens or get in and out of cars.
  • Raise food and water bowls to a comfortable level to reduce neck or back strain.
  • Lay non-slip mats around the house to help your dog get up and walk more easily .
  • Provide comfortable and supportive beds.

There are ready-made elevated bowls & stands or you can place the bowls on non-slip stools.

A note on EXERCISe – too little or too much
  • Regardless of age or extent of arthritis, it is important to keep our dogs fit and mobile. Engage your dogs in regular low impact exercises to reduce stiffness and improve flexibility. Massage their muscles daily to relieve any tightness.
  • Follow your dog’s pace.. Take it slow and easy. It is better to do a few short sessions of exercise (e.g. three 10-minute sessions a day) rather than one long session.

Do not over-exert our dogs no matter how enthusiastic they appear. Excessive running, jumping or swimming can cause injuries to joints & bones.

Check & trim your dog’s nails regularly. Overgrown nails can cause pain, change the way your dog walks & place abnormal stress on the joints. Take your dog to the vet or groomer if you are inexperienced in nail trimming.

5-month-young Capers went through a surgery called Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis

Some puppies, unfortunately, are genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia. Capers’ hind legs were stiff and he was bunny hopping more frequently. X-rays confirmed he had mild hip dysplasia which can lead to painful arthritic hip degeneration in later years. Treated early, dogs like Capers can lead a full life. Get behind the scenes here.

(Left): Dog with normal hips versus (Right): Dog with osteoarthritis

“Prevention is better than cure” is especially true for senior pets as age predisposes them to certain diseases. At Mount Pleasant, we emphasise total wellness & preventive healthcare so that our pets live longer, healthier lives. Speak with our vets about annual health screens for our cats & dogs.

Palliative Or End Of Life Care For Our Pets

Every season serves a purpose. Even or especially the last one we walk with our best friends. A season of profound lessons. Of accepting “there is nothing we can do” about the disease. But knowing “there is always something we can do” to make our best friends feel more comfortable. And pain-free.

what is palliative care?

As our animal friends approach their golden years (some in their younger days), they may develop terminal illnesses like kidney failure, heart disease or cancer.  When we understand that the condition is not treatable or the decision is made not to treat it – yet our pet still has “that light in her eyes” – then we talk about palliative care.


Some animals are not good candidates for surgery or chemotherapy. Palliative care provides an alternative to premature euthanasia.

The primary aim of palliative care is to provide comfort to the terminally ill. Relieve pain for the dying. Maximise quality of life in the final days. Until death occurs naturally or humane euthanasia becomes necessary.

It is about a moral duty to offer compassionate comfort care but not prolong the suffering of animals who are in pain or experiencing poor quality of life.

It is about learning to provide home care, manage chronic wounds, administer oral and injectable medications, supplements, fluids and special diets (if necessary).

It is about knowing when to start and realising it is time to stop.

managing pain

Pain is debilitating. Chronic pain can create a “stress response” associated with elevations of cortisol, reducing your pet’s immune response, leading to infections and slower healing.

In palliative care, we manage pain with various drugs (e.g. steroids, opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and holistic therapies (e.g. acupuncture, massage, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy).


Consider acupuncture to relieve pain from old-age conditions like osteoarthritis. Acupuncture may also relieve nausea which may then improve your pet’s appetite.

How do i know if my pet is in pain?

Firstly, animals tend to hide their pain – an instinctive survival advantage. Secondly, they cannot verbally communicate their pain. We have to watch our pets closely to detect any changes in behaviour. They may be in pain if they are:

  • unusually quiet or withdrawn
  • restless, pacing around or trembling
  • hiding and avoiding human interaction
  • whining or whimpering
  • biting or snapping when touched
  • licking or biting a body part excessively
  • limping or exhibiting stiff body movements
  • having difficulty lying down or sleeping
  • refusing food

** Read more about MANAGING PAIN.


A “preemptive” approach to pain – using analgesics before the onset of pain – is most effective. Animals who receive post-surgery pain control heal faster & eat sooner than those who don’t.

my pet is not eating, what can i do?

We tend to get upset when our pets will not eat. And the immediate urge is to force feed them so they do not go hungry or lose weight. But this might make them even more averse to eating.

Most of the time, our pets are feeling pain or nausea which makes them withdraw from food. It takes a combination of appetite stimulants, medications to relieve pain and nausea, and novel ideas to tempt them to eat.

  • If you are feeding dry kibbles, start by soaking kibbles in water or broth to soften it or mixing in canned food to make it more appealing and easier to eat (especially for senior pets with dental problems)
  • Warm up the food to make it smell tastier
  • Feed small amounts throughout the day instead of one big meal
  • Offer strong-smelling foods like cheese or tuna or even small amounts of burgers and bacon if your main aim is to have your pet eat something (always consult your vet about appropriate diet for your pet’s condition)

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. For chronically ill animals, discuss with your vet if force-feeding or tube-feeding will actually improve quality of life.

my pet is not drinking enough water

Dehydrated animals will lose elasticity in their skin. Their gums become pale and dry, the saliva is thick and sticky. They are listless and their eyes may appear sunken. If not corrected quickly, the condition becomes life-threatening.

  • Flavouring the water with some broth may tempt your pets to drink more
  • Syringe-feed fluids at regular intervals throughout the day
  • Hydrate your pet subcutaneously, especially for animals who are losing water from frequent urination, diarrhea or vomiting. 

Some cats & dogs prefer to drink from automatic water fountains


Your vet can teach you how to administer subcutaneous fluids at home & depending on the medical condition, advise if fluid administration will make your pet feel better or worse.

stay as active as possible

When our pets are ill, they tend to rest a lot more. However, light regular activity is important to keep them mobile, increase circulation and prevent pressure/bed sores.

Engaging in day to day activities also keeps them mentally alert. So continue short play sessions and go on leisurely walks if your pets are up to it. Drive them to the parks and beaches or simply enjoy the car rides. Pick up yummy treats along the way!

Some basic lifestyle changes can offer relief for pets suffering from chronic pain which affects mobility:

  • Control weight and incorporate light exercises (e.g. hydrotherapy) to decrease joint stress and improve muscular support of the joints.
  • Provide easy access to litter boxes or garden for elimination (e.g. gently-sloped ramp)
  • Raise food and water bowls to a comfortable level (e.g. place bowls on non-slip stools)
  • Provide non-slip floor surfaces to help your arthritic pets get up and walk more easily (e.g. yoga mats)
  • Provide comfortable but firm beds for your arthritic pets
  • Use body harnesses, slings, wheel chairs or carts for animals who have trouble getting around

keep clean and comfortable 

Maintain your pets’ grooming routine to keep them clean and happy. Use pee pads or diapers if they are incontinent. Brush their fur and clean their face and body daily with a warm damp cloth, especially for cats who have stopped grooming themselves regularly.


Prepare comfortable sleeping spots in quiet areas & keep them clean & dry (especially if your pets are incontinent). Surround your pets with their favourite blankets & toys.

prevention is really better than cure

Very often, we only take our pets to the vet when signs of illness become obvious. Sometimes, that can be a little too late. As our pets enter their senior years, frequent health screenings can help us detect age-related diseases at an early stage.


when to let go – choosing Euthanasia

There is a period of time between the first thought of euthanasia and actually choosing it. When we are unsure if it is the right thing to do (for moral or religious reasons). When we wonder if we should wait awhile longer because he looks brighter today. When we simply need time for closure with our beloved pets who have shared our life for the past 15 years.


We all know one day death will come. But perhaps, we are not prepared for how dying looks like.

We may say that based on medical tests and reports, your vet knows best when is the right time to euthanise. We may also say that based on years of living so closely with your animal friends, who knows better than you?

Because we are so emotionally bonded with our pets and fearful of the flood of grief that follows, it helps to have a daily record of their activities so we can be objective in deciding when it is time to end life.

When our animal friend is no longer responsive to his surroundings nor recognise us. When she refuses to drink or eat, even her most favourite food. When they are constantly crying in pain. When breathing becomes laboured. When they seem anxious and confused. When the bad days outnumber the good.

You see, living longer does not always mean living better. As much as we want our best friends to have a good life, it is just as important for them to have a good death. Love them enough to give them that.

Twinkle: Feline Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Sclerosing Fibroplasia (FEGSF)

Growing weaker, losing weight and unable to eat normally, Twinkle was a far cry from her chubby cheery self. At her lightest, she was 2.92kg. Twinkle’s family fought alongside her, through sickness and surgery, until she was fit to go home.  

“One night, 11 years ago, we were driving when a kitten dashed across the street. My husband got out immediately & found the kitten huddling in a drain. We are not cat people but we just had to take her home. It was difficult caring for her initially but we learned along the way & got used to it. We named her Twinkle.

A year later, Heidi joined our family. She gets along very well with Twinkle. Like children playing together, no one tells them they are different. Same for Twinkle and Heidi. Ebony and ivory living together in perfect harmony!” ~ Julie


Few months ago, Twinkle started vomiting frequently (vomiting is the primary sign seen with a variety of diseases affecting the GI tract). She was losing appetite & losing weight. Early September, Twinkle was hospitalised for a few days before being discharged with a naso-esophageal feeding tube.


A naso-esophageal feeding tube is passed through the nose into the esophagus. Only very liquefied food, water & some medications can be given through the narrow tube. An Elizabethan collar is necessary to prevent Twinkle from interfering with the tube.

feeding tubes are useful for animals who are ill & have lost their appetite

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 and have lost their appetite, or are keen to eat but have difficulties swallowing or keeping food down. 

13 september 2016 – consult with dr nathalee prakash

Twinkle was referred to Dr Nathalee Prakash, veterinary specialist in canine medicine, at Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Gelenggang). Cat physiology is very different compared to dogs or people. The consequences of not eating are much more significant. 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.


“Twinkle has always been healthy. When she started losing weight, we have to find out what was wrong & do whatever we can to help her get better.”


Twinkle’s body condition score was 3/9. Upon abdominal palpation, there was a mass in the mid-abdominal region. Exploratory laparotomy was advised, with a possibility that surgical intervention could help Twinkle.

15 september 2016 – surgery by dr patrick maguire

Dr Patrick Maguire, veterinary specialist in small animal surgery, performed exploratory laparotomy to examine Twinkle’s abdominal organs. A mid-jejunal mass was identified, measuring 1 to 2cm in diameter, which appears to be causing partial obstruction.

A jejunal resection and anastamosis was performed – fully excising the diseased section of the intestine and suturing the remaining sections together. The mass was sent for histopathology examination, together with the mesenteric lymph node and a section of the liver. 

Note: The small intestine is the major digestion and absorption site. It is divided into three sections – duodenum, jejunum and ileum. The jejunum is the longest section of the small intestine.

“Surgery is risky but there is a chance it would heal Twinkle so we go ahead. We will do whatever we can to give her a fighting chance.”


To provide nutritional support, an esophagostomy feeding tube is inserted when Twinkle was still under GA. This tube is slightly larger than a naso-esophageal tube & enters the esophagus through a small incision in the neck.


Back home with her full-time best friend & part-time bodyguard!


The larger diameter of the esophagostomy feeding tube allows thicker food to be fed, in lesser time & with fewer clogs.

proper nutrition is critical for successful recovery from any disease

If your cat refuse food for more than two days, consult your veterinarian immediately. Force-feeding is unpleasant for cats. There is an increased risk of your cat inhaling food into the trachea or windpipe and developing aspiration pneumonia.

how to encourage your cat to eat
  • Slightly warm the food prior to feeding.
  • Offer frequent, small meals of odorous, highly palatable food.
  • Hand feed or gently place small morsels of food on your cat’s tongue.
  • Feed in a quiet and comfortable area.
26 september 2016 – back for review

Twinkle is eating about 20g of kibbles on her own daily, supplemented with tube feeding.


Dr Patrick Maguire examined the incision site at her abdomen which has healed nicely. The sutures were removed.


The area where the tube enters the skin should be checked every day to make sure it is not clogged Any sign of infection (e.g. pus-like discharge or foul smell) requires veterinary attention.


“So what did you say I have…?”

Histopathology revealed feline eosinophilic gastrointestinal sclerosing fibroplasia (FEGSF), an uncommon inflammatory disease affecting the stomach or intestines. This condition is treated with steroids and antibiotics to control inflammation and prevent recurrence.


Twinkle listens patiently as Dr Nathalee Prakash explains her condition


“Twinkle is family. When we choose to welcome an animal friend into our lives, we have to commit to the animal for the rest of his or her life.” ~ Mr Chia & Julie


Rest & recover, Twinkle!


One of her favourite spots


Still thin but we will get there!

18 October 2016 – recovering well

Twinkle now weighs 4kg (up from 2.92kg). She is eating about 80g of dry food on her own in addition to 4-hourly liquid food and medication through tube feeding.



“Twinkle has started to venture out of our study room/recovery room to the living room & various favourite spots.”

24 october 2016 – off with the feeding tube!

Twinkle returned for review and ultrasound. The feeding tube is removed as her appetite is good. She is eating well on her own!



Well done Twinkle. Keep getting stronger!

“Twinkle is family. When we choose to welcome an animal friend into our lives, we have to commit to the animal for the rest of his or her life.” ~ Mr Chia & Julie

In the earlier days….


Ebony & ivory


Twinkle’s 1001 positions!


“It fits I sits”


“Let me out. I smell dinnerrrr!”


“Let meow help you…”


No one tells them they are different. So they live together in perfect harmony – Twinkle & Heidi. Ebony & Ivory!

Baffy: Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Baffy on Friday morning, the day of his surgery. “We wish to thank each & everyone of you who have come forward to help Baffy during his difficult time. Despite a horrible past, we hope he can feel all the love now.” (Photo: Gwen)

“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. He must have been tied to a tree and while struggling to get free, hurt his neck badly. Although he was skin and bones, this boy has never shown any aggression to human being or dog. All he does is love unconditionally.

We are sharing Baffy’s story to highlight the plight of pets being abandoned. There is no good reason to give up a pet. You can fail in all the progress of technology and comfort of living, but you cannot fail in being a good human. One with compassion and loyalty. Pets are part of family and they deserve love, respect and most importantly health care from their care giver. The abandoned dogs often suffer in silence and most of them cannot survive in the wild. 

Not all dogs are lucky like Baffy to  get a second chance at life. Baffy now has a family who loves him and his future couldn’t be brighter with so many people rooting for his recovery. If there is anything our dogs teach us, it is to Leave No Man Behind. Whatever life throws at you.” ~ Gwen

Squamous cell carcinomas are malignant cancers originating from the lining cells of the mouth

They are locally invasive and occur mostly in the gums or tonsils. In Baffy’s case, a tumour located in the rostral oral cavity (towards the oral or nasal region) has a lower metastatic rate (lower chance of spreading to other parts of the body).

"About 6 weeks ago, we noticed a lump in Baffy's mouth. It was small and we thought it was an ulcer. When it did not subside, we took him  to the vet for a biopsy. He still seemed healthy but was losing weight." 

“About 6 weeks ago, we noticed a lump in Baffy’s mouth. It was small & we thought it was an ulcer. When it did not subside, we took him to the vet for a biopsy. He still seemed healthy but was steadily losing weight.”

Clinical signs include
  • difficulty eating (especially with tumours in the back of the throat)
  • drooling
  • bleeding from mouth
  • weight loss despite normal appetite
  • displacement or loss of teeth
  • facial swelling
  • swelling under the jaw

A thorough physical examination, complete blood count and biochemical profile were done and chest X-rays taken to determine if the oral tumour has spread. These tumours may provoke an inflammatory reaction that causes pain, and while controlling inflammation may help reduce superficial swelling and pain, it does not cure the cancer. Surgical removal of the tumour is the treatment of choice. 


Computed tomography (CT) is helpful to define the extent of the tumour before surgery.


If the tumour has not spread to other locations, surgery is the treatment of choice. Dr Dennis Choi, Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Gelenggang) prepares to perform rostral mandibulectomy to surgically remove the tumour, including the extensions into underlying tissue & part of the jawbone, together with the incisors & canines.


Surgery is considered successful if the tumour is completely removed. If the tumour has not spread, surgery is curative & can extend the animal’s life.


Dogs adapt quite well to partial jaws. They may need to be hand-fed for a period of time before they learn to eat on their own again. Most importantly, they are no longer in pain or discomfort.


Day after surgery. “Visited our Big Baby Baffy. The nurses said that he has good appetite, vitals are all good but not ready to come home yet. He is happy to see us & made a whole lot of noise when we left. We are very glad he is still his usual naughty self.” (Photo: Gwen)

“With Dr Dennis’ clear explanation of Baffy’s condition, we understand that surgery will save his life, even if it means removing part of his jaw. Otherwise we might have been more paranoid and perhaps too late to help Baffy. It is Dr Dennis’ confidence that helped us make the right decision for Baffy.

Baffy is now back home enjoying meat balls and soft foods, knocking everything down with his cone! Almost back to his usual self. We cannot be more thankful. Never give up on your pets, especially when they are ill. They need us even more then.” ~ Gwen

4 july 2016
You know what they say when you have been so near death that when u have been given a chance to live again, you just keep counting your blessings and live day by day to the fullest? It's all true. Baffy is as of today 45 days cancer free, and he is living his every moment to the fullest by being the naughtiest he could be. But we will take all the naughtiness at any moment. We want to Thank you for loving him!

“You know what they say about being so near death that when you are given a chance to live again, you just keep counting your blessings & live day by day to the fullest? It’s all true.
Baffy is 45 days cancer free & he is living every moment to the fullest by being the naughtiest he can be.”


“But we will take all the naughtiness at any moment. We want to thank you for loving him!”

4 NOVEMBER 2016 

Like time and tide, cancers wait for no man. In May, Baffy went through rostral mandibulectomy to remove an oral tumour. He lost part of his lower jaw but is no longer in pain, and happier and more energetic than ever. His family’s prompt decision has added many good days to this big baby’s life!

"After Baffy's surgery, we were advised to watch out for any strange lumps. On Sunday, we felt a growth on his chest. A large amount of pus was discharged & today the growth is much smaller. It's good to have Baffy checked by Dr Dennis Choi so we have peace of mind. We're thankful he is alright. He's very happy everyday & has put on 3kg!" ~ Gwen

“After Baffy’s surgery, we were advised to watch out for any strange lumps. On Sunday, we felt a growth on his chest. A large amount of pus drained out & today the growth is much smaller. It’s good to have Baffy checked by Dr Dennis Choi so we have peace of mind. So thankful he is alright. He has put on 3kg!” ~ Gwen

Note: An abscess forms when bacteria enters a wound, even a tiny break in the skin. Abscess “pockets” are filled with pus. Depending on the extent of infection, the wound can be properly cleansed, drained and flushed by a vet, and a course of antibiotics prescribed.

Pain is common in pets with cancer, with some tumours causing more pain than others. Our pets may also experience pain associated with cancer treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy. Untreated pain decreases our pet’s quality of life. Read about “Managing Pain In Our Pets”.

Managing Pain In Our Pets

Our pets  may feel pain when they are sick or injured. However, recognising pain can be challenging as animals instinctively hide their pain and exhibit symptoms differently from us. It is important to understand species differences and observe our pets’ behaviour to know if they are hurting.


Pain can be caused by physical trauma, e.g. being hit by a car, resulting in painful fractures & injuries. Brownie, rescued & rehomed by Causes For Animals.

Pain can be caused by:
  • physical trauma, e.g. falling from a height or being hit by car
  • disease or illness of internal organs, e.g. pancreatitis and blocked urethra
  • surgical procedures, e.g. sterilisation or bone surgery
  • spinal problem, e.g. intervertebral disc disease
  • degenerative changes, e.g. osteoarthritis

Proptosed eye (displacement of eye ball out of the socket) due to dog fight injury. Although the dog was still active & bright when presented, pain relief was administered immediately to provide some comfort.

Our pets cannot tell us in words when they are in pain

It is important for us to watch our pets closely to detect any changes in behaviour. Your pets may be in pain if they are:

  • unusually quiet or withdrawn
  • very restless or trembling
  • hiding and avoiding human interaction
  • whining or whimpering
  • biting or snapping when touched
  • licking or biting a body part excessively
  • refusing food
  • limping
  • having  difficulty lying down or sleeping

Increase in heart rate & breathing rate, higher body temperature & blood pressure, or dilated pupils may also be signs of pain.

Sometimes signs of pain are subtle and difficult to diagnose

Chronic pain due to age-related disorders like arthritis or cancer usually develops slowly and is hard to detect because some animals learn to tolerate and live with the pain. Chronic pain can create a “stress response” associated with elevations of cortisol. This may reduce the patient’s immune response, leading to infection and slower healing. 

Animals suspected of experiencing pain (e.g. limping due to strained muscle/ligament) are treated with adequate pain relief and symptoms are monitored for improvement. If undesirable side effects develop, treatment should be stopped or altered accordingly.

Pain management is crucial in managing a patient as it alleviates discomfort and helps the animal recover faster

Pain relief medication is usually administered before, during and after surgery. This helps reduce stress and pain associated with surgery, allowing the animal to rest better and recovery faster. It is always better to start on pre-emptive analgesia than to control pain once it has started.


For older animals suffering from chronic pain (e.g. osteoarthritis) or patients with terminal illnesses (e.g. cancer), long term pain relief is administered to provide a better quality of life. 11-year-old Babe, gone over the Rainbow Bridge after a short battle with hemangiosarcoma.

If your pet suffers from chronic pain (e.g. osteoarthritis), some basic lifestyle changes can offer relief.
  • Control weight and incorporate light exercises (e.g. hydrotherapy) to decrease joint stress and improve muscular support of the joints.
  • Provide easy access to litter boxes or garden for elimination (e.g. gently-sloped ramp)
  • Raise food and water bowls to a comfortable level 
  • Provide non-slip floor surfaces to help your arthritic pet get up and walk more easily
  • Provide comfortable but firm beds to help your arthritic pet get up more easily
there are many different pain management protocols and there is no “best” one.

We will assess your pets to determine a good pain management plan, taking into account factors such as their history, current condition and physical examination.

Pain relief medications are available in pill/liquid/gel form or skin patches. Do not  medicate your pet yourself. Some painkillers for humans can be toxic to animals even in very small doses.


This patient underwent a surgical procedure called enucleation (removal of the eye). A fentanyl patch is applied on the left side of her body. The fentanyl patch is a transdermal pain relief drug that provides relief for about 3 days.

The importance of prevention

We can take steps to reduce the risk of painful conditions in our pets. Regular dental checkups can help prevent the development of painful oral diseases. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the incidence and severity of osteoarthritis. Schedule yearly health checks to detect any health issues early and give your beloved pet the best chance at a long, healthy and pain-free life.

Contributed by Dr Teo Jia Wen, Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Farrer) with inputs from editor

Dental Care For Our Pets

It is estimated that 85% of all pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old. Even with regular brushing, we should be visiting our dentist every 6 months. Same for our beloved pets.

Periodontal disease

Bacteria combines with food particles to form plaque on the teeth. Minerals in the saliva bond with plaque to form tartar. The bacteria works its way under the gums, causing gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and destroys the supporting tissue around the tooth, leading to tooth loss. The bacteria can also travel in the bloodstream to infect the heart, kidneys and lungs.


A professional veterinary dental cleaning is the best way to remove plaque & tartar from your pet’s teeth, below the gum line & check the overall dental health.


11 teeth extracted from an 8-year-old Maltese.

How Do I Know if My Pet Needs Dental Cleaning?

Our pets are very good at hiding pain. You may not know if your dog or cat is suffering from a painful dental disease. Regular inspection of your pet’s mouth is important to catch dental disease in early stages. Signs of dental disease include:

  • bad breath
  • red and swollen gums
  • tartar buildup
  • bleeding along gumline
  • excessive drooling
  • pawing at mouth
  • difficulty picking up food and eating

Cats with dental disease may exhibit excessive drooling & bleeding from gums. They may be reluctant to eat, play with toys or groom.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Cleaning?

A professional dental cleaning, performed under general anaesthesia, removes plaque and tartar on teeth surfaces and bacteria under the gums. This prevents infection to the mouth and other organs, and protects your pet from pain and tooth loss.

can my pet’s dental be done without anaesthesia?

Even when we brush our teeth twice daily and our teeth look healthy, our dentist still needs to remove plaque and tartar from below our gum line during our 6-monthly dental. Without general anaesthesia, it is not possible to ensure that tartar is completely and safely removed from below our pet’s gum line and from their back teeth.

Pet dental should only be performed by trained veterinary professionals to prevent injury, infection and tooth fractures in your pets.

is general anaesthesia safe for my pet?

Modern veterinary anaesthesia is considered very safe. The risk of losing an animal under anaesthesia while going through routine procedures, such as dental and sterilisation, is very low. Read more about general anaesthesia if you are concerned.

how can i Keep My Pet’s Teeth Clean?

Left untreated, gingivitis and plaque will worsen over time. Your pet will eventually develop cavities, gingival recession, bacterial contamination, loose teeth and root exposure. This can be painful for your pets and also more difficult and expensive to treat. Regular at-home dental care and a 6-monthly dental check by your vet is the best way to maintain your pet’s dental health!

  • Get your dog or cat used to brushing from a very young age.
  • Use pet-appropriate toothpaste and toothbrush.
  • Feed good quality pet food.
  • Provide safe and good quality chew toys.
  • Oral rinses may help decrease plaque. Speak to your vet about safe dental products.

Anaesthetic drugs are processed & removed by the liver & kidney. Pre-anaesthetic blood testing is important before any dental or surgical procedures, especially in senior pets, to rule out underlying health issues & determine the safest dose & type of anaesthetic drug to use.

Add More SMILES to Your Pets Lives!

Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North) is providing FREE dental consults with vet techs. Available on weekdays 9.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 4.30pm. Call 6287 1190 to make your appointment. 



Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Gelenggang)
2 Jalan Gelenggang Singapore 578187
Tel: 6251 7666

Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi)
969A Upper Changi Road North Singapore 507667
Tel: 6546 0166

Mount Pleasant Central Veterinary Clinic (Whitley)
232 Whitley Road Singapore 297824
Tel: 6250 8333

Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Clementi)
Blk 105 Clementi Street 12 #01-18/20 Singapore 120105
Tel: 6776 8858

Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Farrer)
Blk 3 Queens Road #02-141 Singapore 260003
Tel: 6271 1132

Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Bedok)
Blk 158 Bedok South Avenue 3 #01-577 Singapore 460158
Tel: 6444 3561

Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East)
152 East Coast Road Singapore 428855
Tel: 6348 6110

Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North)
Blk 151 Serangoon North Avenue 2
#01-59 Singapore 550151
Tel: 6287 1190

Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Mandai)
5 Mandai Road Singapore 779391
Tel: 6451 5242

Bambalina Says “Thank You Dr Anthony Goh”

Ravi & Bambalina

Ravi & Bambalina

“Thank you my friends from far and near for your kind words of condolences. Our sincere heartfelt appreciation and thanks to Dr Anthony Goh and his fabulous team from Mount Pleasant (Gelenggang) for taking care of our girl.

Bambalina crossed the Rainbow Bridge to Heaven on Friday night (18 March). She gave us 10 years of Heaven on Earth.

We shall always cherish her love and memories and she will remain in our hearts and minds forever .”

Skorpio Boy (Pack Leader), Nancy Neo (Pug Leader) and Ravi Velu (Pug Man)

Snowball & Brown Say “Thank You Dr Anthony Goh”



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

Oliver: Little Guy With A Big Story

We met a brave little guy at Mount Pleasant Central Vet Clinic (Whitley). His name is Oliver.

Oliver. Little guy with a big story.

Oliver turns 13 this April. He is a fabulous mix of Beagle x JRT x Dachshund.


Oliver was adopted as a teeny weeny pup. (He’s still tiny now!) He grew up in the United States with BFF Hannah & humans Rich & Kristen Gridley. 2 years ago, he packed his doggy bags for sunny Singapore.


Wait. Not leaving his birth place without some glamour shots!


“Cos I am cool like that.” ~ the one & only Oliver Gridley

24 December 2015, Christmas Eve

“We notice a small bump between his eyes. It was the size of an insect bite. We got him some antibiotics from the clinic.”

February 2016

The little bump did not go away. It grew bigger and Oliver started sneezing more. Oliver’s family decided to run more tests and send some soft tissue samples for biopsy.


“On our way to get the biopsy done. Oliver looks mad because he didn’t have brekkie or water that morning so he wasn’t happy with me.” (We love this little guy’s attitude!)

When the report came back, Oliver was diagnosed with nasal carcinoma. By the time nasal carcinoma is detected, the disease is already highly infiltrative. CT Scan at Mount Pleasant (Gelenggang) confirmed the nasal mass has extended intracranially. Surgery is not an option.

2 March 2016

Oliver came for his first chemotherapy session with Dr Cheryl Ho. It appears that dogs and cats tolerate chemotherapy better than humans and side effects are minimal. Common side effects of chemotherapy are vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and loss of energy.

Doses of drugs and treatment schedules are calculated to minimise discomfort to Oliver. The goal is to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells, while producing minimal negative effects on normal cells.

“We were of course hesitant about chemotherapy but once the veterinary oncology specialist recommended it, we decided to see how Oliver would respond. We are taking it one treatment at a time. If he starts to decline or if the chemotherapy starts making him feel bad, we will stop. Simple as that. Again, his quality of life is priority.

9 March 2016

“There are good days and there are a few bad days. On a bad day, Oliver would be tired and did not follow me all around the house. But mostly he is doing fine. His appetite has changed slightly. He wants to eat smaller and more frequent meals instead of two bigger meals. So we adjust. He’s still eating the same amount of calories every day.”


Dr Cheryl Ho measures the mass. It remains the same size at 5.5cm x 5.5cm; it did not grow bigger.


Oliver loves people, loves attention & of cos, loves treats!


Mabel draws some blood for testing. Chemotherapy drugs can affect the bone marrow & reduce the body’s ability to produce new blood cells, including white blood cells that fight infections. If Oliver’s white blood cell count is low, he will be more susceptible to developing an infection. Thankfully, Oliver’s blood test results are normal.


More treats? What’s not to like about vet visits!


“Oliver still has the energy, still wants to go for walks, sniff things. But we will never keep him alive just for us. When there are more bad days than good days, we will have to make that tough decision.” ~ Kristen

15 march 2016

All cancer patients need regular blood testing to monitor the effects of chemotherapy. Oliver came back for his blood tests. The mass between his eyes has reduced in size and measured 4.5cm x 3.5cm.

22 march 2016

Oliver’s 2nd session of chemotherapy with Dr Cheryl Ho. The mass is yet again smaller at 3.5cm x 3.5cm.

12 april 2016

Oliver’s 3rd session of chemotherapy with Dr Cheryl Ho. This boy is just so happy to see his vet! When Dr Cheryl stepped away for a few minutes, he stared at the door, waiting for her to come back.


“Oliver loves attention. He wants everyone to crowd around him.”

Oliver's blood test is clear

A blood sample is drawn to check the white blood cell, red blood cell & platelet count to make sure it is safe to proceed with his 3rd session of chemotherapy. The mass was smaller until 2 days ago when it started getting bigger. “The tumour getting smaller initially then growing a bit seems to be the norm. It happened before treatment too.” ~ Kristen


Cancer patients need to eat to stay strong to handle chemotherapy & the effects of cancer. “Oliver’s appetite isn’t good for about 5 days after chemotherapy. But we always manage to get him to eat with some yummy wet food mixed into his regular food. He’s spoilt rotten but the way I see it, cancer gets him lots more free passes!”

“Again, we are focusing on Oliver’s happiness, energy level & quality of life. The rest is out of our hands. So we are just enjoying him while we still have him & spoiling him rotten!” ~ Kristen

Here’s a short clip on our favourite little guy till we see him again in 3 weeks’ time.

… to be continued…

To Vaccinate Or Not To Vaccinate?

Most pet owners would agree that routine administration of vaccines has been an excellent control for infectious diseases. What may be debatable is (i) the duration of immunity and (ii) how frequent vaccines should be given.

As much as we worry about over-vaccination, under-vaccination is also a real concern.

For dogs in Singapore,  vaccines for Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper and Canine Adenovirus (Hepatitis) are considered core vaccines.

Canine VacciCheck Antibody Test is now available to measure the amount of antibodies present for these 3 diseases. The test results would help determine if your dog requires additional vaccination.


Canine VacciCheck Antibody Test Kit includes an ImmunoComb & a developing plate which can hold up to 12 samples.


Luna & Pong, Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North), collect blood from 13-year-old Miko the Cocker Spaniel.

12-year-old Sunshine getting a physical examination by Dr Kasey Tan before her VacciCheck.

12-year-old Sunshine getting a physical examination by Dr Kasey Tan, Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North), with lots of treats, before VacciCheck test. For senior pets like Sunshine, we recommend a health screen every 6 months to detect age-related conditions of the eyes, teeth, heart, kidneys, liver & joints.


Janice prepares the blood sample for testing.


Remove the protective aluminium cover of a new well in row A. Deposit a sample into the well.


Insert the comb into the open well in row A, mix with reagents completely & incubate for 5 minutes. Repeat procedure in the wells of rows B, C, D, E, F for the respective incubation period. Upon completion of colour development, remove the comb & let it dry before interpretation of results.


Interpreting Canine VacciCheck Test: Compare the colour development of each dot on the comb & grade the value according to the Comb Scale.


Miko’s VacciCheck results: The 1st dot is the positive reference control. The other 3 dots represent antibody levels present for Canine Adenovirus Type 2, Canine Parvovirus & Canine Distemper. The darker the dot, the higher the level of antibodies present.

1st Dot: Positive Reference Control

2nd Dot: Canine Adenovirus Type 2
-> High level of antibodies present
-> Miko is protected against Canine Adenovirus

3rd Dot: Canine Parvovirus
-> Sufficient level of antibodies present
-> Miko is protected against Canine Parvovirus

4th Dot: Canine Distemper
-> Low level of antibodies present
-> Miko may not be protected against Canine Distemper


Sunshine’s VacciCheck results: High levels of antibodies present for Canine Adenovirus Type 2, Canine Parvovirus & Canine Distemper. She does not require re-vaccination.

Upon receiving the titer test results, you and your vet can decide if your dog needs additional vaccination. The decision may depend on:

  • your dog’s age
  • your dog’s current state of health
  • your dog’s lifestyle (e.g. whether she is mostly an indoor dog, socialises with other dogs regularly or is boarding at a shelter)

13-year-old Miko is mostly an indoor dog. She has heart murmur and is recovering from ear infection. Her owner decided not to re-vaccinate her.

Canine VacciCheck Antibody Test is available at all our 9 clinics. Make an appointment with our vets to find out more. And remember to schedule a health screen for your oldie!

* Feline VacciCheck Antibody Test is not available at the moment.