Kennel Cough

Recently Max came to our Blue Cross Veterinary Centre after having coughing fits at home. He had a dry, hacking cough and was also intermittently retching which his owner found very distressing. Despite his cough, Max was still eating and drinking normally. Max was diagnosed as having Kennel Cough, one of many recent cases. A thorough veterinary examination found Max had a normal temperature and clear lungs and he was sent home with his owner for close monitoring and recovery.

  • Kennel cough is a highly contagious, viral disease

  • It is usually cleared by the immune system within 2-3 weeks

  • Treatment is mostly supportive, however if a secondary bacterial infection occurs it can lead to more serious issues

  • Following diagnosis if you notice nasal discharge, a wet cough, lethargy, fever or loss of appetite seek further veterinary advice.

Two weeks later Max’s owner reports that the coughing has ceased and he is back to his normal self!

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Car Sick Pups

As the weather warms up the car trips to holiday destinations begin. Here are some tips for travelling with puppies….

It is thought that the immature ear structures of puppies contribute to motion sickness; there is also a learned effect of nausea associated with the car.


  • Sit in the parked car and play with your puppy while the door is open.

  • Once your puppy is happy sitting in the car then turn the engine on briefly. Build car exposure gradually. Never drive further than they are comfortable with.

  • Start with very short trips to fun places like the park and then come home again.

The day of the trip:

  • Ensure your puppy is comfortable.

  • Make sure the pup is secure - crates or harnesses are the safest option.

  • Keep the air in the car cool.

  • Ensure the dog faces forwards while travelling.

  • Never feed a puppy just before a car trip.

  • If your pup is already sick or fearful then take a break from the car.

There are drug therapies that can be prescribed by your vet for pups that are very badly affected. Our team of friendly staff are happy to discuss how to best help your pup avoid car sickness this holiday season.

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How our Hospital Cares for your Pets

Adequate care and attention of convalescing animals is essential to ensure recovery with minimum stress.

Our Facilities

We have a large modern secure hospital area, equipped with 24 hours controlled ventilation, animal shower, underfloor heating (and even a stereo system with soft background music!). Attached to the hospital is an external run, and we also have a grass exercise enclosure. When building our new Veterinary Centres over the recent years we have endeavoured to lead the charge in quality animal hospitals and offer many (if not all) of these facilities at our branch clinics.

Our Routine

All hospitalised animals are given their medication, cleaned, fed, watered and toileted twice a day, seven days a week - the menu is varied according to the patient’s taste. Debilitated animals are tended to much more frequently.

The hospital patients are checked hourly, groomed (and talked to!). All animals recovering from operations are supervised continuously until they are conscious and sitting up. After hours animals are checked by our vets, but you will often see our nurses “sneaking in" checking on their special cases.

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Max's Noisy Breathing

Max is an 11 year old Labrador who suffers from a condition called laryngeal paralysis.  This is a devastating disease that is most commonly seen in older Labradors and other large breed dogs.

The larynx has two folds that should open when breathing, and close when eating or drinking so food and liquid doesn't go down the wrong pipe.  In pets with laryngeal paralysis, none of this happens and either one or both folds of the larynx are paralyzed.  It makes taking a good, deep breath difficult to impossible.

Max's owners had noticed his noisy breathing 6 months earlier, but as the disease progressed, he began to suffer terrifying episodes of collapse and being unable to breathe.  Such episodes are brought on by stress, in the form of excitement, fear, anxiety, or overheating.

In Max's case a surgical procedure to "tie back" one side of his paralysed larynx was recommended.  Max underwent surgery with Dr Sarah Boys, and this was a great success.  While Max must now be careful when eating and is no longer allowed to go swimming, he is breathing normally again and acting like he is 2-3 years younger. 

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Dacryocystitis in Rabbits

Dacryocystitis in rabbits is where the nasolacrimal duct becomes infected.

The duct is long and windy and can become easily blocked resulting in a very mucky eye and surrounding fur.  It is really important to always check affected rabbits for any concurrent dental disease as the roots of the diseased upper molars can put pressure on the duct causing occlusion and infection.

Affected rabbits require frequent duct flushing and medication (sometimes for weeks) until the infection is under control and the duct has become patent again.  Most of the time rabbits are really cooperative with this and it can be performed under local anaesthetic to the eye.

Other common rabbit and guinea pig ocular problems include scratches to the eye, or foreign bodies especially seeds/straw behind the eyelids which require prompt removal/treatment to preserve the eyes and vision.

If you have any concerns about your small furries eyes contact any of our Blue Cross Veterinary centres today.

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Coffee Pods and Pepper don't mix

Meet Pepper.  He is a boisterous nine month old German Shorthair Pointer that mistook eight Nespresso coffee pods for play toys.  He came into our Blue Cross Clinic seizuring on the 25th of March.

Coffee pods are expresso concentrated coffee and are extremely toxic to cats and dogs.  The active ingredient is methylxanthine and dogs are much more sensitive to the effects of methylxanthine than humans.  Methylxanthine (present in chocolate and caffeine) can cause anxiousness, tremors, vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, increase heart rates and affect heart rhythm.  If not seen immediately then ingestion can be fatal.  A dose of up to 60mg/kg of caffeine can cause seizuring and Pepper ingested 3 times that amount.  So make sure to store your coffee pods (and chocolate) in a safe place so your dogs and cats can't get into them.  If you have noticed your animal has ingested coffee, chocolate or the contents from a coffee pod ring your Blue Cross Veterinary Centre as it can be an emergency.

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Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs

Going sugar-free seems like a good idea for you and your dog.  Unfortunately, a sugar free additive known as Xylitol is very toxic to dogs.  Xylitol is a sugar free sweetener that is used as a sugar substitute in human food and can be found in many products around the home including gum, lollies, toothpaste, and baked goods to name a few!  The increased use of Xylitol has led to an increase in cases of toxicity in dogs.

While Xylitol is safe for people, it is very toxic in dogs even in very small doses.  When ingested by dogs it causes a large insulin release causing low blood sugar and potentially liver failure.  Signs of Xylitol toxicity include lethargy, diarrhoea, vomiting, sudden collapse, trembling, loss of coordination and potentially death.

If your furry friend gets into some human food remember to check the ingredients list for xylitol (other artificial sweeteners e.g. sorbitol and mannitol are not toxic to dogs) and if concerned bring them into the vets, so they can get treatment as soon as possible.

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Chino the Survivor

Chino has been a regular at the Veterinary Centre over the last few weeks and his outgoing personality have made him a firm favourite with the vets and nurses.  Chino came to our Blue Cross Vets in a critical condition after being hit by a car.

He had sustained multiple rib fractures, a badly fractured jaw and an abdominal hernia (tear in his abdominal muscles).  Despite these life-threatening injuries, Chino's owners knew he was a fighter.  Our professional team performed multiple surgeries to repair his abdomen and jaw.  This was followed by several weeks of intensive care which included a chest drain and a feeding tube.

Throughout it all he never lost his purr and we are happy to report he is now home and looking as happy as ever.

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Smoke and Her Tumour

Smoke the Huntaway, presented to the Veterinary Centre Oamaru after having a seizure.  Her Blue Cross vet, Bridget, found that Smoke's blood sugar levels were extremely low.  After further tests Smoke was diagnosed with a rare tumour on her pancreas called an Insulinoma.  These tumours produce a massive amount of insulin (the hormone normally used to treat diabetics).  This over supply of insulin was the cause of Smoke's low blood sugar levels and seizure.  A technical surgery was performed to remove Smoke's tumour.  During surgery a bright blue dye was administered into her vein, to 'light up' the tumour on her pancreas so her veterinary surgeon could find it.  Smoke's surgery was a success.  The following day Smoke's sugar levels had returned to normal and she was looking a lot happier.  The surgery means Smoke has more time to continue to do her favourite thing - barking at sheep!

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Heat Stroke

Heat stroke can be life threatening!

Now that summer has arrived, it is important to make sure your dogs, cats, rabbits and other furry friends have access to plenty of drinking water and shade to escape the heat if they are getting too hot.

NEVER leave your animal in the car on a hot day.  An outside temperature of 24 degrees can jump to 50 degrees in just half an hour.

Signs of heat stroke include restlessness, agitation, whining, panting, foaming at the mouth or drooling, elevated heart rate, muscle tremors and red gums.

If your pet is showing signs of heat stroke - first hose them down with water, give them a drink, pop them in the shade and call us immediately at the Blue Cross Veterinary Centre for further assistance.