Three Tips to Achieving Success

Tip 1: The veterinary world is driven by relationships. And relationships are driven by emotions. Veterinarians who understand the emotional aspects of practice are superior performers. They have great bed-side manners and are more likely to be able to sustain their passions into the long term. Being able to track and label our emotions and to recognise the triggers for particular emotions is an important first step to achieving success in building self-awareness and enhancing our ability to manage the emotions we experience. And greater emotional regulation improves our focus and our social skills, increasing our tolerance for stress and reducing anxiety and depression. Such a little thing as tracking your mood – yield big results.

Tip 2: Engagement is being committed and invested in the activity that we are involved in. Who would not want to be highly engaged at work? We want to love it, to be motivated to do it and to do it well. When it comes to engagement, there are simple things that we can do to grow our personal and job resources and bolster our engagement with work. Spoiler alert – we also need to be able to disengage and go home to our friends, family and hobbies and engage in these. Ways to do this can be learned.

Tip 3: When we struggle to get on with other people, it is often because we believe in and care about different things. We may label it a personality clash, but really what it is, is a values clash. I might believe in equality and you might believe in power, or I might believe in tradition and responsibility whilst independence and adventure are important to you. Our values create a set of internal rules which guide our behaviour and actions. Living in alignment with our values feels peaceful and authentic. On the flip side, seeing those internal rules and then feeling that you need to act in a different way creates conflict and disharmony. Considering and articulating our values assists us to find meaning in our lives.

Would you like to learn more? At the High Achievers 6-week online workshop Dr Cathy Warburton will utilize her training in coaching to explore coping strategies which can be utilised to manage stress, build resilience and allow us to grow from adversity. Register TODAY for the May 24th for the High Achievers workshop and start your journey.

Meet Dr Michelle Dalli

Meet Dr Michelle Dalli, who has worked alongside Dr David Vella at Sydney Exotics and Rabbit Vets since 2010. VetPrac is excited to have Michelle as an educator at the upcoming VetPrac Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry workshop on April 27-29. Let’s get to learn what excites Michelle about working with rabbits.

What inspired you to become a veterinarian and then go onto specialise in exotics and wildlife?
From as early as I can remember I loved animals and always wanted to work with animals as an adult. I had lots of different pets including exotics and wildlife as a child and adult which reinforced this desire. Then through my Veterinary degree I continued to develop my desire to work with wildlife and exotics and so when I graduated I started working with them as I had an interest, and developed skills and knowledge by self-learning and with the help of awesome colleagues like David Vella.

What is it about rabbit surgery and dentistry that you enjoy the most?
I love the satisfaction we get when we do surgery on rabbits that have quite severe disease processes and then respond well to treatment. It’s so exciting when you see a rabbit start eating after surgery!

What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook? What practical advice would you offer fellow vets?
There is so much I have learned from both experience and advice from colleagues it’s hard to put it all down! I have learned that even though they are different from the usual cats and dogs most veterinarians see the knowledge we have can be applied so easily once the basics are understood. The practical advice I would give would be to get competent at anaesthesia and aftercare of exotic species and train your nurses to be competent as well. Learn the common diseases that exotic species get and different therapies, and be honest to clients about your experience; I find that they really appreciate honesty.

Any advice for new grads who lack confidence in performing surgery or dentistry on rabbits? What about general practitioners that wish to pursue further education in rabbit surgery and dentistry?
The only way to get better is to do it. For new grads everything is new and so asking for advice and giving things a try is sometimes the only way to gain experience. If a new grad is keen to do exotics and becomes experienced in a clinic it usually doesn’t take long for them to be doing all of them. The VetPrac courses are an ideal way to gain skills and practise them with guidance from experienced vets as well as conferences for vets who want further education, or spending time with an experienced exotics vet.

What do you like to do to wind down? What do you like to do for fun?
Gardening, building things around my home, bushwalking, camping with my family, cycling, listening to music and more gardening.

Thanks Michelle for sharing your passion for exotics. We look forward to having 3 days of fun with you at the VetPrac workshop.

Register TODAY for the VetPrac Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry Workshop, and you’ll not only get to share more of Michelle’s experience, but also that of Dr David Vella and Dr Narelle Walter.
Contact information:
Michelle Dalli
Sydney Exotics and Rabbit Vets
64 Atchison St, St Leonards NSW 2065
02 94364884

Written by Alison Caiafa

Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry Quiz!

Would you be able to provide the best care possible for your happy hopping patients? Click here to take the quiz to see how your Rabbit Dentistry and Surgery knowledge fairs!

Or better yet, register for the Rabbit Dentistry and Surgery Workshop today. The workshop is already half full and places are selling fast so get in quick before you miss out on this great opportunity! This rabbit focused workshop will look at all that you need to know for treating your patients back in clinic. From nutrition and handling, to surgery and dentistry.

Book NOW for to secure your place in this popular workshop, or click to read the brochure.

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Passionate about bunnies.. Meet Dr Narelle Walter

Like most Australian vets that develop an interest in treating rabbits, Narelle’s passion for bunnies began in the UK, where rabbits have been popular as house pets for many years. Now settled back in Australia, Narelle concentrates exclusively on rabbits and the occasional guinea pig as both a primary and secondary opinion veterinarian. She offers routine rabbit services including desexings and routine vaccinations, as well as surgical and medical care at her hospital Melbourne Rabbit Clinic.

In your own words, what is it about rabbit surgery and dentistry that you find interesting and that you believe general practitioners would benefit from learning from and performing better?  Rabbits are fascinating pets and owners are catching on fast!  No house is complete without a bunny.  The medicine and surgery we are now investigating for this species is ground breaking and we are rapidly catching up to dogs and cats.  Although with some surgeries there are correlations to other more well-known species rabbit dentistry is on its own.  Particular and specific skills are required, even to just know there is a problem.  It is exciting and interesting especially when we vets think we have seen it all!

Do you have a favourite surgery or procedure that you like to perform on rabbits? My favourite surgery is a rhinotomy- removing grass seeds, teeth and clearing sinuses.  It is amazing to think we can undertake this simple procedure in rabbits, once thought to be so fragile.

What procedure, technology, or medication have you used and realised that there was a better alternative? The clear rabbit dental skull from IM3, not a fancy toy or medication, but is an indispensable part of every rabbit consultation.  Clients are often amazed as they often don’t know what goes on in a rabbit’s head.

What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook? What practical advice would you offer fellow vets?  The textbooks for rabbits are now only just emerging, which helps reduce the hours researching articles and conversing with international colleagues. But as we are often in a ground-breaking area many misnomers and assumptions are still around – even in some of those textbooks.  It is worth always being open to new ideas and scientific reasoning that is emerging.

What advice would you give new graduates?  Always be interested in rabbits but perfect your skills on cats and dogs!

What do you like to do for fun? How do you spend your days off?  I spend my days off reading articles on rabbits!  No really, I have many hobbies gardening, hiking with my family, playing the banjo and competitive powerlifting.  I also have my grandma habits of chutney and jam making and crocheting.  I have to retire to fit them all in!

Thanks Narelle, for sharing your story with us. We look forward to working with you at the Rabbit Surgery And Dentistry Workshop in April 27th – 29th 2018.

Contact information:

Written by Alison Caiafa

It Was A Calling… Backed by Scientific Evidence

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Autumn Equinox, Easter, Passover, Buddhas Festival of Teachings, Assyrian New Year, Hanuman and the Pagan festival of Spring. A time to celebrate!

But what are we celebrating? For many of these festivals we are honouring people who have made a difference in the way we live today. And it serves us well to look at our own lives and ask – are we making a difference? Interestingly, the stories of our past, are not told by them. They are told by the generations that were changed as a result.

It is so easy to have a difficult clinical encounter and feel like our whole world is collapsing. It is easy to get lost in thought while elbow deep in excrement wondering what are we doing with our lives. It is easy to drive out to a call at 2am, and be given cold water to wash with and feel undervalued… But for those who are remembered – those tales are usually left out. Perhaps, although we remember them and they plague us, we shouldn’t let them stop us from becoming who we want to be. We can’t stop the bad times, but we can hold them loosely and at a distance, so they don’t burn us. Maybe we don’t need to self-criticize or let others criticism scald us- after all, how does it help? As scientists with a degree that includes animal behaviour, do we honestly think that punishment (even if it comes from within) will help us?

I often wonder about how our clients, speak of us? What do they tell their friends and families of our sacrifices and successes, or the commitment and passion we project. What do they think of our intellect and skills? People will never understand what it’s like to be a vet. They can only dream of it. And in their dreams – they see themselves in your shoes. They see you as being the person they want to be. Or they recognise humbly, they don’t have what it takes to be you.  Their children remember us and the care we gave their best friends. The farmers whose businesses we consult on, are more grateful than we can appreciate. I doubt some of the dodgier animal owners care much for us… but if everyone always loved us, we’d be boring.

The purpose of the veterinary profession is to protect the health and well-being of animals and people. That’s a big friggin’ job!

Being a vet is a challenge. The challenge as I see it is ‘How do you protect the quality of lives of animals, and improve economies without harming animals or people? And if you have to take lives or charge money or cause pain or to do it, how do you do it with integrity?’ We have a real opportunity to make the world a better place. And, we have the capacity to actually achieve this, in every person and animal we encounter. How lucky is that?!

Quite often I run into clients who don’t seem to want to protect the health or well being of their animals, or possibly even themselves. And I always go back to telling them what my job and purpose is. And I ask them, what they want to achieve in our time together. Sometimes, I don’t get the answers I like, and I try to achieve my purpose around their limitations. Sometimes, they do a complete flip and enable me to achieve my purpose with vigour. I do love it when that happens.

It is said, that the more you repeat a goal and work on it, the more likely it is to come into fruition. Whenever I tell people why I’m a vet and why I offer skills training to vets, I glow. Apparently there’s some good evidence backing that up too. The Goal Setting theory of Locke from the 60’s has evolved… This theory found a direct linear relationship between goal difficulty, level of performance, and effort involved. The relationship will stay positive, as long as the person is committed to the goal, has the requisite ability to attain it, and doesn’t have conflicting goals. So basically, if you set a difficult goal for yourself that is specific you are more likely to succeed at achieving it.

If you are a vet or vet nurse who wants to fulfill their purpose and you are committed to it, then I want you to know that VetPrac is committed to providing you with the resources you need to build on your abilities to attain it. Doing workshops with us will inspire you and help you on your path to helping others. They may not write stories about us, our struggles or successes in years to come, but we didn’t get into the job for the fame did we? We had a calling. 

Happy Holidays friends!

Dr Ilana Mendels

VetTips: Hip and Hind Limb Surgery

Tip 1:
86% of all fractures of long bones of animals less than 5 years of age occur in the femur.

The femur was the first bone in which fracture fixation was attempted and despite most femoral fractures being closed, due to the thigh musculature conservative management is consistently ineffective and should be abolished in favour of internal fixations. Preoperative splinting or bandaging creates a fulcrum and often leads to greater displacement and soft tissue damage at the fracture site.

Tip 2:

The femoral head and neck is composed of a complex trabecular network which helps it to withstand the bending forces on it during daily activity. The angles of inclination and anteversion between the femoral head and diaphysis are important to understand as it influences fracture configuration, method of stabilisation and prognosis.

Tip 3:

The surgical approach for common ilial fractures is the “gluteal roll-up”. The gluteal muscles are elevated from lateral and ventral aspect of the ilium and retracted dorsally. Fracture reduction for pelvic fractures requires considerable physical effort and specific strategies that contribute to success.

Eager to investigate and learn develop practical skills in Hip and Hind Limb Surgery? Join Dr Brian Beale and VetPrac June 26th – 27th and register TODAY. For more information please take a look at the brochure.


VetTips: Feline Surgery and Dentistry

Tip 1:

In an Australian study, feline tooth resorption lesions was a common finding in all breeds of domestic cats. The overall prevalence was 52%, with 74% of cats over the age of six years having at least one lesion.

Tip 2:

Diagnostic confusion between lymphocytic plasmacytic gingivostomatitis and other inflammatory oral conditions such as periodontal disease, tooth resorption, oral neoplasia and eosinophilic granuloma complex is common. Differentiating between these disorders can help provide specific direction for treatment, increasing the chances of a positive outcome for the patient.

Tip 3: 

Thyroidectomy can range from a straightforward procedure to one that is fairly complex. Benign, well-encapsulated tumors, such as those found in most cats, are easily resectable with minimal complications. Malignant, invasive tumors require extensive, careful dissection around many important and vital structures such as the trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins, and recurrent laryngeal nerves.

Tip 4:

Nasal planum resection is a procedure that is most commonly performed on cats with squamous cell carcinomas of the nasal planum. All or a portion of the nasal planum is excised. The procedure may need to be combined with a rostral maxillectomy if the tumour invades or originates from the oral cavity. Quite often in this case the patient will need a full thickness labial flap and reconstruction of the lip.

Tip 5:

The surgical removal of Inflammatory polyps can be done in a number of ways. However, the best results are seen when a ventral bulla osteotomy is performed. With this procedure the recurrence rate is less than 2%.

If you’d like to learn more so you can DO more, join us 7-9th of February, 2019 in Wagga Wagga for a three day cat extravaganza at the Feline Surgery and Dentistry Workshop. Book NOW for to secure your place in this unique workshop, or click to read the brochure. Be quick!



Want to optimise Surgical Recovery Time? Meet Elena Saltis

Your patients can heal faster!
Your patients can heal better!
Post-operative rehabilitation is an under-utilised tool in animal health care in Australia. Until NOW!

Don’t get left behind, meet Elena…

At the VetPrac Ossability Stifle System Dry Lab and Rehabilitation workshop in Melbourne on April 5-6, 2018, Elena Saltis, a canine physiotherapist specializing in orthopaedics and neurology, will teach participants practical manual therapy techniques and therapeutic exercises using real patients. You will leave the day with the skills to start using cruciate rehabilitation as a new service in your clinic.

Let’s get to know Elena, and why she, like the majority of vets, prefers to treat animals than humans!

What do you like to do for fun? Walk my dogs, yoga, mountain biking, skiing, reading

What first sparked your interest in veterinary physiotherapy?  I had a Doberman with Wobblers and I knew I could do so much more for her and I was also up for a new challenge after getting all my human clinics up and running well.

Do you prefer treating humans or animals? Are you still working in the human field as well?  I prefer animals of course!!  I am still a NZ registered human physiotherapist and work with humans in a select capacity.

What are some of the challenges you face performing physiotherapy in animals that you don’t encounter in humans?  Not many really – the humans were far more challenging, but I guess the main challenge would be developing a relationship with the animal where my patient feels safe and comfortable can be a challenge initially with some dogs that are frightened and hurt.

Do you find compliance with treatment is better with pet owners or human patients?  Yes, most definitely.  Pet owners tend to be much more compliant with treatment and home programs. I think the pet owners feel a responsibility to their pet so are more willing to put the time into them, also the home programs are much more fun with animals, so this might have an influence on compliance.

Please share some of your tips to improve compliance with physiotherapy amongst pet owners.  First, if a patient does not like an exercise or activity then don’t do it, find something everyone likes. Having the owner video the therapist performing the home exercise is great and also reassuring the owner that if they are struggling with something just stop and we will work with them to get it right.

What is the most memorable veterinary case you’ve been involved with, that resulted in dramatic improvement to the animal’s quality of life?  This is difficult as there have been so many!  Probably a wee Pug that was a tetraplegic with Immune mediated myositis.  The recommendation from the Vets and Specialists was euthanasia but with intense physiotherapy he returned to full function and a very happy life.  There were many challenges along the way such as a sudden quadriceps contracture which we had to treat (and did successfully).  He had an amazing attitude and very devoted owners and he was just incredible.

Why not register  for the workshop here and help your patients achieve their best possible outcome after cruciate surgery! If you’d like more information please feel free to check out the brochure.

Contact information:

Written by Alison Caiafa

All We Want For Easter Is The Rabbit Surgery And Dentistry Workshop With Dr David Vella

Are you ready for the Easter Bunny???

Chances are you’re already enjoying the chocolate variety we see in the shops soon after Xmas. But do you have the skills required to treat the furry variety that are presenting to your practice with increasing frequency?

Why not register for the VetPrac Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry Workshop to ensure you’re able to capitalise on the burgeoning rabbit population in your practice. Dr David Vella, who was the first Australian vet to become a Diplomate of American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in Exotic Companion Mammal Practice, will be leading the workshop on April 27-29th 2018.

We recently asked David to share a few insights into successfully managing the rabbits that are hopping into your veterinary practice.

What factors do you think have contributed to the growing numbers of rabbits kept as domestic pets in Australia over recent years?

I believe that the increasing popularity of rabbits as pets extends from a few factors. One of these is their attributes that make them suitable pets (social gregariousness, quiet nature, companionable, clean and fun to interact with). Another is the ability for them to adapt readily to an indoor environment. With an increasing proportion of the population living in apartment style homes, rabbits are well suited to this form of living.

In your own words, what is it about rabbit surgery and dentistry (link) that you find interesting and that you believe general practitioners would benefit from learning from and performing better?

I enjoy the unique challenges of rabbit procedures, from their anaesthesia requirements to their anatomical and physiological peculiarities. Confidence is treating rabbits is improved with a sound knowledge of these disciplines.

Do you have a favourite surgery or procedure that you like to perform on rabbits?

I enjoy all facets of surgery and particularly dental surgery. Rabbits often present with relatively advanced levels of dental disease. They never cease to amaze me in their ability to cope with these ailments.

What procedure, technology, or medication have you used and realised that there was a better alternative?

So many advances in medicine have allowed better alternatives to be utilised. In rabbit medicine, digital & dental radiography, endoscopy and advanced imaging (especially CT imaging) to name a few, have made diagnostics and treatments more precise and less invasive.

Are you working on any projects at the moment?

We are collating information on cases to allow for analysis into retrospective studies, likely involving a few different conditions and diseases.

What do you like to do for fun? How do you spend your days off?

I love music, gardening and cooking and spending time with my family. I also spend a lot of fun time with my wife creating and running our ‘escape room’ (The Cipher Room) in Newtown Sydney.

Join Dr Vella for the Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry Workshop April 27th-29th 2018 in Wagga Wagga. To register click HERE, and for more information check out the brochure.

Contact information:
Phone: 0294364884

Written by Dr Alison Caiafa

VetTips: Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry

How much do you know about Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry? We’ve put together three fun facts that you may not already know!

Tip 1:

Rabbit’s vary in their number of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. From  12T/7L in 44%, 13T/6L in 33%, and 13T/7L in 23% of rabbits. Their very well developed and powerful hind limbs are a testament to their muscle mass, which is 50%  of their total body weight. In fact, the force of their kicking can lead to spinal fracture (usually L6/L7) if they are not held appropriately.

Tip 2:

Rabbits are hindgut fermenters adapted to a diet rich in high fibre foods. The caecal fermentative end products are comprised of soft faeces (‘caecotrophs’ or ‘night’ faeces) that are normally re-ingested by the rabbit directly from the anus. The by-products of microbial fermentation (the volatile fatty acids – acetic, butyric, formic and propionic acids) are actively absorbed by the caecum and colon. These volatile fatty acids (VFAs) serve as an energy source for the rabbit.  Some VFAs are passed with the caecotrophs and hence may be absorbed in the small intestine upon being re-ingestated.

This is an important phenomenon to consider with rabbits. Any process which disrupts this delicate cycle (eg; antibiotics) can lead to an unfavourable caecal environment. This can potentially lead to a die-off of beneficial caecal microflora, and/or enhance the environment for overgrowth of potentially harmful opportunistic microbes such as Clostridia sp. and E.coli. This can lead to diarrhoea and enterotoxaemia. In rabbits, an overgrowth ofClostridium perfringens for example, may lead to the production and release of iota toxin thus creating local and systemic damage. Clinically this intestinal upset can produce a moribund patient with diarrhoea, inappaetance, hypothermia, dehydration and eventual death.

Tip 3: 

Cheek teeth clinical crown reshaping and spur removal is not an uncommon dental procedure in pet rabbits. To access this area, the rabbit patient must be suitably anaesthetised. To enhance visualisation of the oral cavity, cheek dilators and mouth gags can be utilised.  Cheek teeth clinical crown adjustment can then be carried out utilising high or low speed abrasive burrs on a straight nose cone. Soft tissue protection is important. Severe soft tissue damage and even fatal haemorrhage can occur with damage to the tongue or pharynx.

If you’d like to learn more, join us 27-29th of April in Wagga Wagga for the Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry Workshop. Specialists Dr David Vella, Dr Narelle Walter, and Dr Michelle Bingley, will show you techniques in nutrition, handling, dentistry and surgeryBook NOW for to secure your place in this popular workshop, or click to read the brochure. Be quick! The workshop is already half full!