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36 degrees today & tomorrow – Keep your Pets Cool

dog and ice
Tips to avoid heat stress/stroke:
  • Provide a cool  shaded area
  • Provide plenty of clean fresh water and extra water sources in case of spillage.
  • Bring animals indoors on hot, with the air-conditioning or fan on.
  • Do not exercise animals in hot weather conditions. Walk your dog very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon and avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • Do not leave your dog in a vehicle – even when the windows are down dogs can still overheat and die.


If you think your pet is suffering from heat stroke, please call Animal Accident & Emergency or contact your local vet without delay.


Essendon Fields: (03) 9379 0700

Point Cook: (03) 8368 7400

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Is your Pet a DRUG USER?


Toxicities are one of the more common presenting problems we see in the emergency room at Animal Accident and Emergency (AAE). Although it can be embarrassing for owners to admit, this includes accidental ingestion of illicit drugs.

There are some common symptoms that can be associated with different drug exposures; however, it is always reassuring to have a quantitative answer. There are many time where owners have no idea that their pet has found something they shouldn’t have.
Earlier this week, our emergency team were presented with a pet who was mentally altered and starting to have fits or seizures. There was no long term medical problems and the signs had developed rapidly. Given the type of signs, we asked the clients regarding access to some recreational drugs. While they were sure that their pet could not have been exposed, we ran a DIPSCAN test to be sure. The DIPSCAN was positive for a number of drugs. One being Diazepam which was given by the emergency team during stabilisation of the seizures. In this case, exposure was linked to a party held a week before hand.

Other times where the test has helped us out is when pets scavenge stuff from parks or laneways around houses. Again, owners are often unaware of what their pet has ingested. Identification is important as it can change the way we treat your pet in an emergency. Knowing what drugs your pet has ingested, can be save its life.

DIPSCAN is an in-house, diagnostic tool commonly utilised at AAE when there has been a suspected exposure to illicit drugs. By processing a urine sample we are able to identify trace amounts of illicit drugs such as: marijuana, opioids (e.g. heroin, morphine), cocaine, amphetamines, methyl-amphetamines and benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam). Attached is a photo of a DIPSCAN test. To read the test, you look to see the windows where there is only one line.
This test can be extremely valuable when trying to structure treatment plans, anticipate future treatment requirements and reinforce prognosis.
Knowing that there is always a Vet Open in Melbourne when your pet is ill is important. Our team of Vets and Nurses really CARE for your pet. We try and make a difference with each patient. Our Centres are open each day. We are 24 hour pet emergency centres. Our two locations means that we can service most Melbourne suburbs including Vet Open Sunday.

Find us at:

ESSENDON (03) 9379 0700
POINT COOK (03) 8368 7400
A Melbourne Animal Hospital providing Advanced Vetcare for pets. No Appointment required. We are a centre for referral and emergency.

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Diaphragmatic Hernias

 Diaphragmatic hernias Vet Emergency

Our 24 Hr Pet Emergency Centres often see cases of trauma.  As a Melbourne Animal Hospital that is Always Open, we understand what is required in such a pet emergency.  If your pet is injured from a significant trauma, ensure you speak to veterinarian to ensure that X-Rays / Radiographs of the chest (Thorax) were taken.  Even if your pet looks well after a trauma, you should have them checked.

Dr Jason Arlaud one of our team of emergency vets has summarised the following article for you from “Small Animal Critical Care” by Silverstein and Hopper.

Diaphragmatic hernias occur when there is a “hole” in the diaphragm.  The diaphragm is a sheet of tissue that separates the thorax, where the lungs and heart reside from the abdomen where the: bladder, intestine, kidneys, liver, stomach and spleen reside.

Dogs and cats may be born with a diaphragmatic hernia (congenital) which is rare or develop one from an unknown cause (iatrogenic) or as a consequence of trauma.

Blunt trauma due to vehicular accidents, high-rise syndrome (falling from apartments) or dog fights are the most likely causes.  Trauma accounts for eighty five percent of diaphragmatic hernias in dogs and cats.  In traumatic diaphragmatic hernias usually one or more of the abdominal organs (stomach, liver, intestine etc.) has as a consequence of force, been pushed through the diaphragm into the chest, causing a tear in the diaphragm.  Once one or more abdominal organs are in the chest there is the potential to affect the heart and lung’s normal function.  This leads to difficulty getting enough oxygen into the body and the animal breathing at a faster rate. Complications may be fatal.

Animals that present to veterinary clinics and are subsequently diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernias may vary in their breathing pattern from normal to struggling to breath (dyspnoeic).  Their breathing may worsen hours after they were injured in some cases. Dyspnoeic animals will have a fast breathing rate, they may have their mouth open and neck stretched to try and get as much oxygen into their lungs as possible.

Organs most likely to be pushed through the diaphragm are: stomach, liver, intestine, omentum and spleen. The liver is the organ most likely to herniate.  Most insults occur on the right side of the diaphragm possibly due to the stomach sitting on the left side and being gas filled it may cushion some of the force.

Diaphragmatic hernias are suspected when certain findings are observed on examination including: borborygmus (stomach sounds) over the chest, abnormal heart and lung sounds, displacement of heart,  lungs or trachea by abdominal organs, pleural effusion or an incomplete diaphragm on radiograph and signs or history consistent with trauma.

Other associated injuries may include:  pleural effusion, pulmonary contusions (bruising), pneumothorax (air in the chest cavity) chest wall disease (broken ribs).

What often kills a pet with such trauma is the damage that occurs to the lungs and lung tissue.  Usually if a trauma was severe enough to rupture the diaphragm, it will have caused bruising to the lungs.  If the lungs are severely damaged then pets can die, despite all treatment.

Treatment involves stabilisation from shock and eventual surgery.  This type of injury is very painful and we do use a significant amount of pain medication.  Our main concern in our Melbourne Animal Hospital is ensuring your pet is in the best possible condition for surgery to occur.  Our 24Hr Pet Emergency Centres provide some of the most advanced monitoring equipment available.  Our Blood Gas unit helps identify problems with their lungs.  The tests are run as needed and we have the results available within 1 minute of collection.  In the most severe cases we use a ventilator to help improve breathing and lung function.  Ventilators are not common at most veterinary clinics and for diaphragmatic hernias they may make the difference between your pet surviving.

If your pet is involved in an accident then we urge you to have them checked by a Vet Now Open.  We have two convenient locations for our Melbourne Pet Emergency Centres.


We are Always Open, We always CARE

Essendon Airport – Essendon Fields 9379 0700

Point Cook – 8368 7400

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Pain Medication – What Pet Owners Need to Know

Pain medication

 Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are often prescribed by veterinarians for the treatment of pain, fever and inflammation. They are incremental in improving the quality of pet care for cats and dogs, as they allow for pet owners to treat their animals with pain relief at home, which was not possible to do safely until recently. For cats and dogs that are recovering from a serious injury or dealing with ongoing highly painful conditions/diseases such as arthritis, NSAIDs are essential to ensure they stay as healthy and happy as possible.

While NSAIDs are safe and highly effective, they are still prone to side effects like all medications. When animals are prescribed with NSAIDs, it is important that pet owners understand the correct doses that should be administered and what complications may arise.

Common side effects of NSAIDs are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Dark-coloured faeces
  • Increased/decreased water consumption and urination
  • Lethargy
  • Itchiness
  • Seizures

These side effects are more common when medications are given in large doses or long term, but they can also occur even within the first few days of treatment. If pet owners ever notice any of the above side effects when treating their pet’s with NSAIDs, they should cease administering any further doses and contact a 24 hour veterinary clinic immediately, as it could be an animal emergency.

When pets are given NSAIDs it is important for pet owners to note the following:

  • Never increase the dosage or frequency of doses, unless instructed to by your vet
  • Never dose your pet in combination with over-the-counter medications (such as herbal supplements), unless you have consulted with your veterinarian that it is safe to do so
  • Never administer other animals with the NSAIDs without first consulting with your vet, even if you believe they have the same condition

Animal Accident & Emergency have two 24 hour pet emergency centres in Melbourne, which are ideally located in Essendon and Point Cook – both with easy freeway access and ample parking. Our animal hospitals are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (including public holidays), and offer all the latest equipment and state of the art technology, as well as a 24 hour intensive care unit. Our dedicated team of emergency vets and nurses provide the highest standards of emergency vet care, critical care medicine and surgery, and are experienced in treating every vet emergency from right across Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat. So when you bring your pet to Animal Accident & Emergency you can rest assured that they will receive the best and most advanced vet care available.

If you believe your pet may be having an adverse reaction to pain medications, or for any veterinarian emergency, please phone one of our 24 hour animal emergency centres:

Essendon Fields (03) 9379 0700

Point Cook (03) 8368 7400

Always Open, We Always Care


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Knowing When Your Pet Needs a Caesarean

Animal Hospital Animal Accident Emergency Puppies

A caesarean section is a major surgical procedure used to deliver babies when normal birth isn’t possible. This is done by surgically entering the abdomen to remove the babies directly from the uterus. While caesareans are sometimes needed for cats, they are a lot more common with dogs, especially particular breeds such as bull dogs. However, birth complications are life threatening to all mothers and their offspring when delivery isn’t progressing normally, regardless of species or breed. Therefore, pets experiencing birth complications may be in need of a caesarean and must be taken to a 24 hour vet clinic immediately for emergency surgery.

In most cases, pet owners won’t be aware that their pet is in need of a caesarean until they begin giving birth. When your pet is pregnant and close to giving birth, it is important to keep a close eye on them, especially during the delivery, and be at the ready to take them to a 24hr animal hospital in an emergency.

When your pet is in labour, the most obvious signs that they may be in need of a caesarean are:
• Your pet has been having contractions for more than 2 hours without delivering a puppy/kitten (even after the first delivery)
• Your pet appears too tired to push out the puppy/kitten
• There is a puppy/kitten stuck in the birth canal
• If your pet hasn’t delivered all puppies/kittens (providing you have had x-rays taken to determine the litter size)
• If there is a green discharge from the vulva and no puppies/kittens are produced

A caesarean section will normally take between 1-1.5 hours by an experienced emergency veterinarian and then a further 1-3 hours for recovery in a pet hospital. During the surgery and post-operative care, your pet will be closely monitored and administered anaesthetic, pain relief, IV fluids and antibiotics. Puppies/kittens will also be closely monitored to ensure they are suckling well and kept clean, dry and warm.

Generally within a few hours after surgery, your pet and her new puppies/kittens will be discharged to return home. It is important to allow your pets to have some time alone together to feed and bond, while still keeping an eye on them. Pet owners should also remember to bring their pet in for a veterinary check-up 1-2 days after surgery, and stitches will need to be removed in 10-14 days following surgery. Your vet will be able to instruct you on any additional pet care required and schedule an appropriate time to begin vaccinations and worming treatment (usually between 3-6 weeks after birth).

It is important to closely monitor your pet and her new puppies/kittens and contact a 24 hour veterinary clinic if you have any concerns at all. If you notice any of the following then it may be an animal emergency (such as mastitis, eclampsia or unwell puppies/kittens), which needs to be seen by a 24hr emergency vet urgently:

  • The puppies/kittens aren’t feeding regularly or at all (roughly every 3 hours is normal)
  • The puppies/kittens are crying excessively (they should be sleeping or feeding 90% of the time)
  •  The puppies/kittens are cold (their environment should be kept at roughly 30°c)
  •  The caesarean wound is discharging, red or inflamed
  •  Mammary glands are swollen, inflamed, hard or painful
  •  Mother reluctant to nurse or appears impatient with the puppies/kittens
  •  Any signs of fever/high temperature, shaking, tremors, seizures or high heart rate

Animal Accident & Emergency have two 24 hour Animal Hospitals in Melbourne, which are ideally located in Essendon and Point Cook and both with easy freeway access and amble parking. Our emergency vet clinics operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (including public holidays), and offer all the latest equipment and state of the art technology, as well as a 24 hour intensive care unit. Our dedicated team of emergency vets and nurses provide the highest standards of emergency vet care, critical care medicine and surgery, and are experienced in treating all emergencies from right across Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat. So when you bring your pet to Animal Accident & Emergency you can rest assured that your pet will receive the best and most advanced vet care available.

If you believe your pet may be in need of a caesarean section or for any other veterinarian emergency, please contact one of our 24-hour animal emergency centres:

Essendon Fields (03) 9379 0700
Point Cook (03) 8368 7400


Always Open. We Always CARE




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Marijuana Toxicity in Pets: The Green Stuff, the Dream Stuff

AAE Mara

The CARE your pet requires

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used recreational drugs worldwide and is also known by a variety of other names such as ‘weed’ and ‘pot’. Marijuana comes from the plant Cannabis sativa and the term ‘marijuana’ refers to the various parts of the plant such as the stems, leaves, seeds and flowers.

Apart from its use as a recreational drug, there is active ongoing research into the potential medicinal uses of marijuana for the management of conditions in humans such as chronic pain and multiple sclerosis. In fact, marijuana has already been approved for medical use in some places around the world. Unsurprisingly, the increased use of marijuana in humans has also resulted in an increasing number of animals being presented to veterinary clinics suffering from marijuana toxicity after accidental exposure to marijuana products.

This article will describe the common methods of intoxication and clinical signs seen in patients. We hope that readers will be able to better recognise early signs of intoxication and seek early medical intervention for their pets in the event of intoxication. If you believe your pet has ingested a drug, you need to contact our 24 hour vet Melbourne.

Commonly Encountered Forms of Marijuana

  • Unprocessed plant parts (leaves, stems, flowers, seeds)
  • Marijuana or hash cookies, brownies, candy
  • Marijuana (THC) in butter
  • Marijuana in cigarettes or ‘joints’
  • Marijuana in modified pipes or ‘bongs’

Why is marijuana toxic?

The major active component in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and can be found in varying levels throughout the different parts of the plant. Intoxication may occur via various means such as ingestion of a marijuana product (most common) and inhalation of toxic smoke. Once absorbed, THC is rapidly distributed around the body and exerts its toxic effects by binding to specific receptors within the brain and the rest of the body. While the effects of THC are yet to be fully determined, studies have found that clinical signs are related to the amount of marijuana ingested, and intoxicated animals often present with signs such as altered mentation or gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting.

  • Depression, tremors, coma
  • Ataxia (unstable gait/walk)
  • Disorientation/Hyperexcitability
  • Hypersalivation


Cardiovascular Signs

  • Bradycardia (Slow heart rate)
  • Tachycardia (Rapid heart rate)


Metabolic Changes

  • Hyperthermia (High body temperature)
  • Hypothermia (Low body temperature)


Gastrointestinal Signs

  • Vomiting


Making a diagnosis

A diagnosis can usually be made based on history provided by owners, known or witnessed ingestion of marijuana and suggestive clinical signs. However, in the event where there is no known exposure, a presumptive diagnosis can still be made based on clinical signs and resolution of clinical signs after treatment. However, a definitive diagnosis can be obtained from analysis of stomach content or urine of affected animal if required. Our pet hospitals stock urine identification tests that aid in the diagnosis.


There is currently no specific antidote for THC toxicity. Treatment consists of supportive care and symptomatic therapy. Most pets will need to be admitted to our veterinary hospital.

In cases that present acutely after ingestion, decontamination via the induction of emesis (vomiting) may be attempted if patients are still conscious and alert. In severe cases however, patients may present comatose and as such would require more aggressive measures such as gastric lavage (emptying) and enemas (manual emptying of rectal contents) to achieve rapid removal of marijuana from the body.

In addition, other supportive measures such as activated charcoal, muscle relaxants, ventilatory support (via the provision of oxygen), intravenous lipid administration and constant monitoring of the patient’s body temperature may also be required. Our Emergency Centres are open 24 hours / 7 days a week. Our intensive CARE units always have emergency vets on shift.


The prognosis for affected patients is generally optimistic. The majority of cases tend to recover within 5 days with no long-term adverse effects.

In severe cases however, recovery may be prolonged and complications such as death has been reported in cases of marijuana butter ingestion.

My pet has eaten marijuana! What should I do?

  • Stay calm and seek immediate veterinary attention for your pet
  • Give an honest history to your veterinarian, all details provided to us are kept strictly confidential
  • Do not attempt to induce vomiting or treatment at home
  • Making an unconscious animal vomit may cause it to aspirate the vomit and result in secondary aspiration pneumonia
  • Intoxicated animals can have an altered mentation and turn violent or aggressive without warning and cause serious injury to both itself and you
  • Attempting home treatment wastes valuable treatment time and prolongs the duration of your pet’s exposure to THC and increases the risk of potential complications



If you have any questions, please phone our emergency centres: Essendon 03 9379 0700 or Point Cook 8368 7400.

Our Centres are for Animal Referral and Emergency.

We are Always Open, We Always Care



  1. Meola SD, Tearney CC, Hass SA et al. Evaluation of trends in marijuana toxicosis in dogs living in a state with legalized medical marijuana: 125 dogs (2005-2010). JVECC 2012;22(6): 690-696.
  2. Fitzgerald KT, Bronstein AC, Newquist KL. Marijuana poisoning. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine 2013: 8-12.
  3. Osweiler GD, Hovda LR, Brulag AG et al. Marijuana. In: Osweiler GD, Hovda LR, Brutlag AG et al (eds). Blackwell’s Five-Minute veterinary Consult – Clinical Companion: Small Animal Toxicology. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Iowa, 2011: 224-229.
  4. Volmer PA. Recreational Drugs. In: Peterson ME, Talcott PA (eds). Small Animal Toxicology. 2nd Edn. Elsevier Saunders, Missouri, 2006: 293-295.
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Snake Bites – Prevention and Treatment


Summer is now officially over, but while the warm weather lingers so will snakes. The majority of pet snake bite cases occur on days that are over 20°C and most commonly between August to April, as snakes are more active during the warmer months and days. Snake bites occurring in August and September are often the most severe due to their venom being extra potent after waking from hibernation. However, it is wise to be cautious of snakes all year round, even during winter, as snakes will only fall into, and remain in, hibernation if the weather is cool enough… and they are extra grumpy when woken early.

While snakes aren’t naturally aggressive, snake bites in animals are more prevalent than in humans largely due to the different instinctual reactions when a snake is found. Dogs are very inquisitive and playful, so they will often stick their snout into dangerous areas and give chase to a fleeing snake, making the most common bite locations on their face and legs. Dogs are also extra vulnerable to snake bites as they are often bitten multiple times due to their playful nature. Whereas cats have a hunter instinct and will likely want to pounce on anything that moves, especially with the movement of a snake being reminiscent of common cat toys.

The best way to avoid your pets being bitten by snakes is to be extra careful and mindful of your pets in areas where snakes are commonly found, such as: parks, long grass, under rocks and fallen logs, anywhere near water bodies (including garden ponds), under your house, in the garden shed, and anywhere dark, secluded and warm. Also, you should always ensure that your dog is on a leash when going for a walk so that you will be able to restrain them if a snake crosses your path.

In Victoria, the most common snake bites are caused by Tiger Snakes, Brown Snakes and Red-Bellied Black Snakes. While it is good to know what type of snake has bitten your pet, it is not essential, as a snake venom detection kit can be used to determine the venom type. So never take any risks trying to catch the snake, but if the snake is already dead then it is good to take it with you to the vet. If you do come across a snake at home, it’s best to leave the snake where you found it and close any doors or gates if possible to block it in and then call a professional snake catcher or wildlife carer to remove it.

If you ever suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake then the best thing to do is keep yourself and your pet calm and act quickly, as time is of the essence and there is a higher chance of recovery if treated early. It’s also best to carry your pet if possible, as walking will increase venom circulation. Early signs that can appear within minutes after a snake bite are acute vomiting, diarrhoea and becoming weak and wobbly on their feet and potentially collapsing. These early signs are often followed by an apparent quick recovery, but it is still essential to seek medical care as quickly as possible as they can deteriorate rapidly after this stage. Other signs are red urine, bleeding from gums and mouth, salivating, dilated pupils and paralysis. Note that animals that have been bitten by snakes do not suffer from a lack of appetite or any swelling or necrosis like they may with spider bites, so do not expect these signs.

Animal Accident & Emergency have two 24 hour emergency centres in Essendon and Point Cook that are fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology to treat all emergencies right across Melbourne. Antivenom is always kept on the premises and our experienced team of emergency vets and nurses are always at the ready to care for your pets.

In case of a snake bite or any emergency, please phone Animal Accident & Emergency:

Essendon Fields (03) 9379 0700
Point Cook (03) 8368 7400

We’re always open, We always CARE

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