Help ‘Em Up Harness

The Help ‘Em Up® Harness was created by Blue Dog Designs in 2005 and is the first full-body lifting device for dogs with impaired mobility and strength.  When dogs have difficulty moving because of muscle weakness, neurological disorders, orthopedic conditions, injuries, or surgical repairs, the Help ‘Em Up Harness provides them with the extra help up they need to live active and healthy lives.

Two things make the Help ‘Em Up Harness truly unique:  its patented Hip-lift and complete comfort design.  The Help ‘Em Up puts a handle over the hips and one over the shoulders to let you safely and gently lift from under the chest and hips — no wrapping around joints or tendons like many other harnesses, so you’re helping, not hindering.

It’s safe and comfortable so you can leave it on for extended periods of time! This makes it quick and easy for you to grab the handles on the harness and help your canine patients get up and out to rehabilitate, along with overcoming the daily obstacles of aging and getting around.helpemumharnessp2

Veterinarians, nurses, and rehab therapists that use the Help ‘Em Up in their practices have found that they can lift and move their patients quickly and comfortably with this unique harness.  And just as important, many report they like it because it minimizes their own injuries, especially their lower backs from the stress of moving and lifting patients.  This is an added benefit for your practice.

Read the reviews and watch demo videos on the website at  They offer industry discounted pricing for practices who want to carry the harness and/or can provide you with brochures if you simply want to refer your patients for a Help ‘Em Up Harness.

Embracing Dentistry… Meet Dr Christine Hawke

Do you hate dentistry? Do you hide when a dental comes through the front door at your clinic? Read on to learn how you can transform yourself into a vet with a passion for dentistry!

Many children have dreams of becoming a vet when they grow up; not many of them have the same childhood view of veterinary science once they are qualified vets! Except for Dr Christine Hawke- a love of animals (of course), a love of mysteries, and a love of helping animals seemed to make veterinary science the perfect career choice for Christine. She still holds the same simplistic childhood view of veterinary science and loves that she can instantly help her patients feel better using her veterinary dental skills. She never intended to become a dental vet (she is not a specialist but has limited her practice to this for over a decade now) – she originally wanted to be a feline medicine specialist but got sidetracked along the way and fell into dentistry. Christine is a great teacher, and her fun approachable attitude makes learning new veterinary dental skills seem like child’s play.

VetPrac looks forward to sharing some of Dr Christine Hawke’s problem-solving prowess at the Practical Skills Bootcamp Workshop on November 8-10, 2018.

I recently interviewed Christine to find out a little more about her life outside of veterinary dental practice, as well as get a few tips on getting started in dentistry.

What would you have done if you hadn’t become a veterinarian?

I never seriously considered anything else, but loved creative writing as a child, and always figured I’d write books on the side. I recently started writing fiction again so who knows?

Cats or dogs – which are your favourite to treat?

That’s like asking me which of my kids is my favourite!!! I love treating any animal that isn’t trying to bite me at the time.

What’s your advice for vets who don’t feel confident assessing the dental health status of dogs and cats and aren’t comfortable performing basic dental procedures? What’s the best way of improving their veterinary dental skill set?

If you don’t feel confident in your dental skills, that’s okay – I was the same! When I went through uni, we really didn’t get any training in dentistry. For the first half of my career, I hated dentistry with a passion, simply because I didn’t know what I was doing. I was also not a natural surgeon, so there’s hope for everyone.

Given dental and periodontal issues are the most common welfare problem we face in small animal practice, if you work with cats and dogs you are not going to be able to escape dentistry (I used to try and avoid it, by literally hiding when dentals were booked in!). The best thing you can do for both yourself and your patients is to embrace dentistry, take the plunge, and learn about it. The basic skills can be learnt relatively quickly, and you have so many opportunities to practice (like every single day of your life, the cases never dry up!!). There is no substitute for hands-on learning, so if you can get to a wet lab, get the basics, practice every day, and then, you never know – you might end up addicted like me.

Do you have any tips for convincing pet owners of the importance of regular dental checkups and home care routines?

I think the message is getting out there more over the past decade or so – more owners seem open to the idea of caring for their pets’ teeth.

I often remind them that we brush and floss every day, and still need to see our dentists every year or so (or even more frequently if you are dentally-obsessed like me and read dental text books and know what can go wrong!). Pets are living longer now than ever before, so, although in the wild they only needed to keep their teeth for a handful of years, if we want them to have healthy teeth into their teens we need to actively care for them, as we do our own.

Once a pet has had oral disease, getting owners to maintain a healthy mouth after treatment is generally easier, as they want to avoid further extractions. It’s not just about the money, or the end result (loss of teeth), but the slow process of infection and inflammation over months and years that leads to the damage. They have infection and discomfort every hour of every day of every week for months, or years. Once owners realise this, they become motivated to avoid this by becoming more actively involved in their pets’ oral care.

Are you currently working on any research projects?

I’m helping on a project looking at caliciviral infection in cats with gingivostomatitis. My role is just sample collection; there are much smarter people doing the rest. Excited to see what comes out of it, as this disease is so debilitating for our feline patients.

How do you spend your days off?

Hanging out with my family and friends. Reading really good fiction. Writing when I get the chance. Planning our next travel adventure. Throwing the ball to my ball-obsessed dog (really, it takes up a lot of the day!).

To learn more about dentistry from Christine in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, register for the VetPrac Practical Skills Bootcamp Workshop. For more information, check out the brochure here.

Contact information: Dr Christine Hawke, Sydney Pet Dentistry
Email address:
Phone:  1300 838 336 or 0408 782 611


Written by Alison Caiafa

Emergency Veterinarian and Practice Manager.. Meet Dr Adrian Simon

He’s been in the veterinary industry since he was 15 years old, and loves treating 100% sick animals- meet Dr Adrian Simon, practice manager and emergency veterinarian at Eastside Veterinary Emergency.

What would you have done if you didn’t become a veterinarian?

“Who knows! I have been in the veterinary industry since I was 15 years old! I have almost done nothing but this. I do sometimes wonder about architecture…”

What is it about emergency and critical care that you enjoy the most?

“I love seeing 100% sick animals. That sounds odd perhaps, but I got into veterinary medicine to treat sick animals, and every one that walks (or is carried!) through our doors are sick. Often critically so. I love being about to think and problem solve on my feet and, with luck, work out what is going on and then give my patients the best chance (even when their chances are not very good). I also have learnt to enjoy helping owners through this process and making it a little less scary and more understandable for them.”

Any advice for new grads?  What about general practitioners that wish to pursue further education in emergency and critical care?

“Advice for new grads. Don’t settle. Find a good workplace with supportive colleagues and a great mentor. There seems to be a lot of truth to the adage that your first job makes you or breaks you. If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t and you are far better moving on to find a workplace that fits you.

For GPs wanting to pursue further education in ECC, take a CE course, but do it in combination with doing work experience. There is no substitute for experience. Find a job or just spend time doing work placement in a supportive ECC practice”.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

“Everywhere! It is one of my goals! I am 35 countries down so only have about 160 to go! I love seeing different cultures and the natural beauty the world has to offer”.

Do you have any pets?

“Yes! I have a cat called Ayam. He is a white domestic shorthair that shows his love by biting my nose when I am sleeping. At least that is what I tell myself”.

How do you spend your days off?

“What are days off!? If I can get a few days in a row I like to get out of town and head away to somewhere quiet and out of the city and enjoy some solitude”.

Come and share Adrian’s passion for all things emergency at the Practical Veterinary Skills Bootcamp workshop at Wagga Wagga on November 8-10, 2018. Register TODAY – only 9 places left!

Contact information:
Dr Adrian Simon

Written by Alison Caiafa

Planes, Trains and Automobiles… Or is it….

No, not the movie and I promise John Candy won’t be sharing his stories today. This is simply a helping hand from VetPrac to make your travels a little less stressful.Planes, trains and automobiles

A few weeks ago, as I was traveling on other business, I had the opportunity to test out the travel routes to our upcoming Navigating Difficult Clinical Encounters Conference. Having never been a city girl, coming to Sydney for the first time since I was 16, I honestly felt a little nervous. No one wants to get on the wrong bus or miss a stop and end up who knows where. So, it is understandable to feel uneasy about travel.

journey in sydneyThankfully, these days with the maps and apps on our phones it is much easier. I was always told to plan for the worst and hope for the best, so with my comfy shoes on I set off… At the airport it was fairly simple, there are heaps of signs around and staff to help if you are unsure how to get to the airport train.  In Sydney they use a pre-paid card system (like most other states) called OPAL. You can order your very own OPAL (card, sorry not the gem) online or by calling 136725 and it will be delivered anywhere around Australia free within five to seven working days. Otherwise, there is a booth at the train station where you can obtain your own card or a single trip ticket (which is only for the train and ferries, so you will need a proper card for the Bus).

The trains in Sydney are much bigger than ours in Brissy, so it was interesting to see the double-decker carriage set up. It took about 10min to get to Town Hall Station, then it was up a flight of stairs to street level. Having about 10min before the bus arrives, it is not a far walk and you can take a minute to soak up the history and beautiful architecture that is Town Hall.  A block and a half down Park Street you’ll need to wait at Stand G for the 324 or 325 bus. Tapping your card as you enter, the drivers are really nice and you can ask them if they can stop at New South Head Rd at Wunulla Rd, Point Piper or track it on the Moovit App. But everyone needs a backup, so if you reach the water view, hit that stop call button quick and get off here…….

Heading back to Wunulla Rd, after approximately an 8 minute walk, the Royal Motor Yacht Club can be found on your right. This beautiful pristine setting will be where we will be spending three days (depending on your registration).

Perhaps you share the same view as Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, and you don’t want the put your bus pants back on at the end of the day. So, hopping onto a ferry might suit you better. It is a lovely 25min walk along the Harbour to the Rose Bay terminal. The F4 crosses the Harbour every 30min and takes you right into North Quay. Perfect location for catching the afternoon and reflecting on the day.

We hope to see your beautiful face there! Check out the details of the conference HERE. If you’d like to register click HERE, places are filling quickly.

Written by Janine Irwin

Dr Tania Banks at Wagga Wagga CSU

Last time we featured Dr Tania Banks in our VetPrac blog she was about to relocate from UQ in Gatton to CSU in Wagga Wagga, rural NSW. Let’s hear from Tania about how life and work have changed since the move.

You were looking forward to living close to the gym and being able to ride your bike to work. What other aspects of life in Wagga Wagga are you enjoying?

I haven’t ridden my bike to work yet! BUT I do ride it on weekends sometimes and it’s really nice having the local mountain Pomingalarna to ride around. It’s very nice not having to look for a car park, and I haven’t had to pay to park my car anywhere since moving to Wagga which is a nice change. I also love walking my dog and take her to the botanic gardens a lot. They are beautiful gardens and she loves going there.

Is the demographic of the veterinary students at CSU different compared with UQ?

Yes, there are more male students which I think is a good thing. The students are very practically capable rural types.

Is there a significantly different surgical case mix at CSU compared with UQ Gatton?

Yes, we see lots of grass seed foreign body cases which can be very interesting and challenging. Also, a lot of working dog injuries- kicked by a cow, fell off a ute, that sort of thing.

Please share with us an interesting feline surgical case you’ve had recently at CSU.

We had a primary peritonitis in a cat that grew Actinomyces spp. and is going well post-op. No source for the peritonitis was found, and treatment was abdominal lavage, biopsies, and closure. Interesting case. Also, they see heaps of snake bite cats here, and they generally do really well.

Are you working on any research projects at the moment?

No, I am on full-time clinics at the moment.

If you’d like to experience the beautiful gardens and the laid back atmosphere of Wagga Wagga, as well as learn more about abdominal surgery from the very talented and approachable educator and surgeon Dr Tania Banks, why not register for the Practical Skills Workshop p at CSU on November 8-10th, 2018. For more information check out the brochure here.

Written by Alison Caiafa

VetPrac is 10 years old!

Dear Colleagues,

This is a blog post of gratitude and love. It could go on a bit, so I want to prepare you.

The September 9th marks two important events in my personal history. Firstly, it is the 10th anniversary of the first VetPrac Workshop. Secondly, it is the beginning of the Jewish New Year which marks this date as the birth of the universe. I cannot begin to describe how auspicious the overlap of these two events feels for me.

When VetPrac started over 10 years ago, it was a dream to solve a problem and give hope to me and my friends in practice. Disillusioned by the repetitive nature of general practice when your skills plateau, we wanted a way to keep reaching, keep growing. VetPrac was born out of necessity and grew into what you see today because you wanted it. A special mention to Dr Stephen Fearnside of SASH for being our very first education leader in this endeavor. You were a beacon of hope for what followed.

Since VetPrac’s humble beginnings, and with your support we have run over 130 workshops around Australia and educated more than a thousand vets who are still in practice today. We have witnessed the opening of 2 new Veterinary Schools and changed the way our community values and chooses continuing education for their professional growth.

We have had the joy of reading your emails and talking to you about the triumphs in practice when you use the skills you got at a VetPrac Workshop in your surgery or consult room. I have been spurred on by your own enthusiasm for learning to find more ways and the best people and equipment to facilitate your confidence and capacity to do better every day.

And I have loved every minute of it. So, thank you.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard. Some years were more difficult than others. When you lay the foundations of change, there is bound to be some strain. It’s been interesting to see competitors and colleagues in the education market develop their programs in response to the strong support we received, and I really like the diversity of options veterinarians have in Australia and the Australasian Veterinary community now. Having worked with educators from all over the world, I have it on good authority that Australia is the best. VetPrac has had an impact on that status. But more importantly, YOU have had an impact on that.

It is your desire for achievement and development and your drive to be better vets so your patients can be healthier and happier that has driven this market forward. We just facilitate what you want to achieve.

Thank you so much for letting us do this!

With a couple of great practical skills workshops coming up before the end of the year you can still register and make a difference in your clinic for your patients even more than you already are. View workshops on our website and make your job easier, and more fun while there’s still time!

To celebrate our 10th anniversary we would like to invite you to leave VetPrac a google review telling us about how your participation at a VetPrac workshop has impacted your veterinary career. Send us through an email to with your details and a link to the review before September 16th, because we’d love to say thanks and give you a present!

With the new year upon us, and in commemoration of great achievements, may you all have a sweet and happy spring and year ahead.

Warmest Regards,