Vet Services Hawkes Bay Ltd

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Working Dogs Articles

When to bring your working dog in to see us…in less than 24 hrs please…

Over this busy time of year, it can be easy to overlook the working dog with the limp, or the dog that hadn’t eaten last night’s dinner. What can save you a lot of trouble, both in cost and lack of a worker, is knowing when your dog can wait to see us and when it needs to be seen as soon as possible.

It is the owner of the dog who is responsible for the dog’s welfare, and in the animal welfare code it is law and a MINIMUM standard that any dog observed to be in pain or distress, any serious injury or signs of rapidly deteriorating health, must seek IMMEDIATE attention from a vet.

The difficulty sometimes is identifying when a dog is painful and what constitutes a serious injury.

These guys are TOUGH, tougher than any of us, and that I can almost guarantee! They won’t whimper or stop working. If they have a painful leg, most will continue with the job on 3 legs – but that doesn’t mean that they should. After all, they may be tough, but their brains aren’t as big as ours (….almost a guarantee…) especially in regards to judging what is sensible and best for them.

If your dog is good as gold, then suddenly not weight bearing, the dog should be immediately stopped from working, and brought in as soon as you can. If the leg is obviously broken and floppy, then it’s easy to know it needs to be brought in as soon as possible, but if no obvious breaks can be seen and if the dog is still not weight bearing after being stopped from working for a few hours, then it is highly possible there is severe ligament or bone damage that may not be obvious without veterinary examination. These guys should be brought in the same day of injury.

We often see dogs that have been run over or hit by a vehicle or cattle beast a few days earlier, only to find out when they come to the vets that they actually have a fractured pelvis or dislocated hip. Obviously it is dependent on the severity of the trauma, but if your dog is not weight bearing evenly on all four limbs and not without weakness or wobbliness within 5 minutes of the injury, it should be brought in immediately. Because of the surrounding muscle of the pelvis, hip and spine, it is nearly impossible to exclude a fracture, and being as tough as they are, dogs will continue to try get from A to B so don’t perceive this as “just bruising”. They should be brought into the clinic as soon as you can – the sooner we can see them, the less chance of pelvic fractures moving causing further damage to nerves, also dislocated hips have a much higher risk of popping back out again if they are not replaced within the same day.

There are other injuries that may result from this sort of “impact” trauma to internal structures there may be internal bleeding and organ damage and lung contusions (bruising). If your dog is laboured in its breathing, has forced and obvious chest movements or becomes depressed and quiet after a traumatic incident, then these guys should be brought in as soon as possible.

If you get to the end of the day and the dog has had some trauma, but might just seem a bit subdued, check it is walking ok, is it a bit tucked up in the abdomen? Also check it eats its dinner. If it doesn’t eat its dinner, bring them in that night. This is a real danger red flag.

The other classic reason to bring these working dogs in as soon as possible are “GDV’s”. This stands for a gastric dilation and volvulus – meaning the stomach blows up with gas and twists so they can’t burp or fart the gas out. The stomach blows up like a balloon and if left the dog will die within 12 hours.

These dogs will try to vomit and retch but only bring up maybe some froth or saliva. They get quite distressed initially, then depressed and reluctant to move. You may see their stomach blow up just under and behind the rib cage, looking like a bloated cow, and they often have drool from the mouth.

You should stop what you are doing and bring these guys in right away. Any delay will significantly compromise their chance of survival. Surgery is the necessary procedure and the sooner these guys are seen to, the better.

There are a few other scenarios which should be seen sooner rather than later, in order for us to prevent more severe and harder to treat complications, for example;

-          Any wound over a joint.

-          A weepy or squinty eye should be left for no longer than 24hrs.

-          A swollen toe or joint.

The above scenarios are not all encompassing, more just the common things we see.

Remember ring us if you have any doubts or questions as to whether to bring an animal in or not. Just give us a call. Yes… we are likely to say bring it in… but it may be the difference between us recommending to do so NOW, versus something that might be ok to wait until you have time.


Keeping your working dog working

Read more >Thursday 28th of March 2019: Working dogs are the hardest working and cheapest labour unit on your farm. Here are a few points to consider to ensure they are in optimal health and are able to give you their best.


Read more >Thursday 28th of March 2019: Mis-mating is always a hot topic. If this does occurs and you donât want to breed from that bitch in the future, we recommend having her speyed. Speying is a permanent solution and will not affect her working ability, saves you having to worry about her when she is on heat, and in most instances saves you money as you can reduce the amount of food you feed by about a third. If you donât want her speyed, the only other option is to abort the pregnancy. This uses a very expensive drug and is often more expensive than having her speyed. If you do want to breed from her in the future we recommend having her scanned 25 days after mating. At this point we can still give her the abortion drug. The abortion drug works best given < 21 days (99% effective) but if we scan her and she is not pregnant this will save you a lot of money. The injection given at 21-45 days is 95% effective. Give us a ring to discuss further if you have any questions.

ARTHRITIS- The biggest issue limiting working dogs performance

Read more >Thursday 28th of March 2019: This grading system is helpful to use as guide to get the most out of your working dog team. The following will be a brief description of the four grades along with their corresponding treatment options:

Stitch Up – What can you do to help?

Read more >Thursday 28th of March 2019: Unlike a surgical incision with smooth edges, a laceration is often jagged and irregular and as a result, there can be variable degrees of damage to the underlying tissue and structures depending on the depth and force of the trauma that caused the laceration.


Read more >Thursday 30th of August 2018: Ticks live in areas of long grass and dense shrubs. They wait for animals to come along, and then grab onto their fur. Once on the animal, they find areas of thin skin and attach with cement-like saliva to feed on blood.

Toe Nail Injuries

Read more >Thursday 30th of August 2018: A break in the toe nail or dewclaw causes a cracked nail with an exposed nail bed. This can be extremely painful. If left untreated, nail infections can spread up to the joint of the toe and can lead to irreparable damage such that the toe itself has to be amputated.

Heat Stroke

Read more >Thursday 30th of August 2018: Heat stroke can be an extremely deadly emergency.

We see it mainly in summer but it can occur at any time.

During hot summer days, start work early if you can. Try to avoid the main hottest parts of the day. If you have large work days, alternate your team, so dogs get a good chance to rest.

Constipation Issues

Read more >Thursday 30th of August 2018: Constipation is an obstruction of the colon with difficulty to pass faeces or the inability to defaecate at all. Clinical signs are:

- Straining to defaecate
- Defaecating small amounts of dry hard firm stool
- Straining with small amounts of liquid stool
- Occasional vomiting
- Not wanting to eat
- Depression / Lethargy


Read more >Thursday 30th of August 2018: When a flea bites, its saliva causes the dog to itch. The adult fleas you see on your dog only represent 5% of the whole flea population. Flea problems can appear to come and go. This is because the immature stages of the flea (eggs, pupae) wait in the environment for the right conditions (Warmth, humidity and stimulation) When this happens they tend to hatch all at once onto the unsuspecting animal.

Arthritis, not just an old dog problem

Read more >Thursday 29th of March 2018: Arthritis will be in almost all our working dogs by the age of 5. The severity depends on breeding and size of the breed, previous injuries, nutrition and how well they have been looked after.

Rat Bait

Read more >Thursday 29th of March 2018: Rat bait (rodenticide) poisoning is the most common poisoning we see in the clinic. It generally affects dogs as they are more readily ruled by their stomachs! Rat baits work by preventing the production of clotting factors (anticoagulants). This lack of clotting factors causes prolonged and uncontrolled bleeding which is often fatal if untreated.

Medical Management of Arthritis

Read more >Thursday 29th of March 2018: To get the most out of your team, ensure you take measures to keep them comfortable.

Feeding Athletes

Read more >Thursday 29th of March 2018:

Be Aware of Algal Blooms this Summer

Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: At this time of year care needs to be taken with dogs around streams, rivers and lakes due to the possibility of algal blooms.

Heat stroke in dogs

Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: It's this time of year that we are concerned about our furry companions overheating. Any dog is at risk of heat stroke but particularly brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds and dogs with a long or thick hair coat.

Kennel Cough

Read more >Tuesday 11th of July 2017: Kennel Cough (also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Dogs commonly contract kennel cough at places where large amounts of dogs accumulate, such as boarding and daycare facilities and dog parks.

Is your pet visiting our clinic soon for a procedure?

Read more >Friday 23rd of June 2017: It is important to Vet Services that you understand what happens to your pet when they come to us for surgery. We appreciate that you may feel anxious leaving your pet and we hope the following will help ease any concern you may have.

Rat Bait Poisoning

Read more >Tuesday 7th of June 2016: Rat bait (rodenticide) poisoning is the most common poisoning we see in the clinic. It generally affects dogs as they are more readily ruled by their stomachs!

Reproduction Cycle

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Dogs have an interesting reproductive cycle, rather different to most domestic animals that cycle either seasonally or throughout the year. In the domestic canine, females cycle more or less every six months, with larger breeds tending to cycle less frequently - sometimes only once a year.

Feeding Working Dogs

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Eukanuba Adult Large Breed Premium Performance Formula. Recommended for large and giant breed adult dogs weighing 25kg or more.


Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: There have been some statements regarding vaccination in dogs (and Dobermans in particular) floating around the internet for some time now which in my opinion are a cause for concern. Vaccination of dogs is done for one reason only - to protect the health of the animal by providing it with immunity against certain very serious diseases.

Sheep Measles

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Sheep measles (Taenia Ovis) unlike true hydatids (Echinococcus granulosus) has no human health risks, but its importance lies in the fact that it leads to cysts through the carcass of the animal which are unsightly and lets face it, who wants to eat meat with visible oozing cysts.

Poisons in Dogs

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Dogs and cats can be poisoned by products that are readily available around the house as well as those that are being used to reduce the possum, rat/mice and slug population. Remember dogs are natural scavengers and even during a hard days work can usually find time to snack on a tasty morsel that they come across.

Gastric Torsion in Dogs

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: We have in the past few weeks seen a number of dogs suffering from acute bloat caused by torsion (twisting) of the stomach. This is one condition which constitutes a true emergency as these animals need surgery very early in the course of the bloat if they are to be saved.