This week we are delighted to have with us Dr Lukasz Kuberka, a respected and trusted senior veterinary surgeon at Medicor Veterinary Practice, and Dr Laura Contreras Amunnarriz, who joined the clinic recently and supports the team with her knowledge of internal medicine and infectious diseases.

Both Doctors are here to give us a few top tips and advice on keeping our four-legged friends happy and in good health.

First of all, Dr Kuberka, we’d like to wish you and the staff at Medicor a very Happy New Year, and ask you what have been some of your most memorable moments as a veterinarian in 2021?

Lukasz: Well, 2021 was a year of change for veterinarians in the UK. Covid and Brexit have had an impact in numerous areas, with the pandemic affecting both our work and lifestyle. Regardless of last year’s challenges, we found Laura and so we are happy that our team of vets is growing!

We particularly noticed a huge increase in the number of puppies that we encountered in our practice – we’re happy to see so many families welcome these bundles of joy into their homes to be part of their families.

Additionally, we had more and more orthopaedic cases (my personal favourites). They are notable as very often the animals that come to me have serious issues, but we are able to help them to get back on their feet and able to enjoy their lives again.

Do you have any advice to give to someone considering buying a new puppy? Or any tips on training when he/she first comes home?

Laura: Probably the best advice would be to think hard and long beforehand about adopting or buying a new pup. For example, how will owning a puppy affect your daily routine? Do you have time to exercise and train your new pet and do you have enough living space in your home? Will you be considering doggy daycare or will your four-legged friend be staying at home for long periods? What will happen if you go overseas on holiday?

It’s also important to research the different breeds so that you choose one that is appropriate for your lifestyle and circumstances. Owning a Yorkshire Terrier is quite different to keeping a German Shepard. Dogs are for life, so you must also take into account the cost of owning an animal; food, daily care and, of course, veterinary services and insurance.

Lukasz: Start taking your pup for short daily walks on a lead after their first round of vaccinations. Regardless of the weather, try to create a daily leisurely routine as plenty of mental stimulation will encourage confidence and learning.

Puppies are like small kids; they have the same needs – love, attention, training and also the opportunity to socialise. If your puppy is comfortable in a wider variety of situations, it is likely to be relaxed and grow into a better-behaved dog.

In general, how often should a dog have a complete physical check-up? What kind of things do you check for?

Laura: Well, every patient is different, but in general I would say that a dog should have a physical check-up at least once a year when they come for their vaccine booster. We check our patients from head to tail, taking a look at their body condition, and their skin, examining their mouths, ears and eyes, performing chest auscultation, and we do an abdominal examination. We listen to the pet owner’s concerns as they usually provide very useful information about their pet’s behaviour or if they have noticed something unusual.

Lukasz: Certain breeds must be seen more regularly by a vet because they are susceptible to certain breed-related diseases. Short-nosed dogs such as Frenchies, Pugs and Shar Peis, for example, suffer from brachycephalic problems (obstructive airway syndrome) which make it more difficult for them to breathe during exercise or if they are stressed. They may also have issues with ‘skin fold dermatitis’ that develops in the space between the folds if not kept dry and free of dirt. The owners of these breeds visit us more frequently to discuss their care.

Senior dogs should see a vet once a year but if your pooch is suffering from ongoing issues or is deemed geriatric, more frequent visits are recommended.

Owning a dog can be very comforting. In your view, what are some of the other benefits of having a dog as a companion? And what is your personal favourite breed?

Lukasz: You have a true, devoted friend. That’s for sure! Nothing can compare to a “hello hula dance” when you greet your dog after a long hard day at work! They force you to exercise and you just can’t skip the walk, especially when they insist!

At home, I have a Basset Hound and a Labrador, both have been adopted. I was not looking for any particular breed – when you meet your mutt, you know it’s the right one.

Laura: They are good company, our best friends, they are always there for us. I just couldn’t imagine my life without my dogs! I find it almost impossible to choose, I love them all but, if I had to, I would say a miniature Schnauzer. We have always had them in my family and I find them amazing.

Do you have any advice regarding behavioural issues such as barking, whining or chewing on furniture?

Laura: It’s difficult to give general advice that works for all the problems and all the situations but, in general, I would say to ensure that the dog has the amount of exercise it needs and allow it to socialise with other dogs if it enjoys that. Also, try to deal with any changes in a gradual way. I suggest that you don’t leave your puppy alone for eight hours the first day he is on his own or he probably won’t be happy and you’ll suffer the consequences.

Additionally, always try to educate and train your four-legged friend in a positive way. It will be more effective to give a treat when you see good behaviour than trying to punish your dog if one day you arrive home and there is a mess.

Lukasz: Sometimes you may need to turn to a specialist – a dog behaviourist or a dog trainer will help you. If something is beyond your control, do not hesitate to seek advice and ask questions.

What do you feel is most rewarding about being a veterinarian?

Lukasz: It is absolutely amazing when, after a difficult treatment, when there is little hope, the patient comes for a check-up fully recovered, with their tail wagging!

Laura: We have great days and days that are not so great. What definitely makes my day is when we have those not-so-typical cases that make us think and research a little bit more, then we finally reach a diagnosis and start to see a patient improving … that’s the best! Dogs are so expressive and I can really see when they are feeling better.

Finally, what should someone do in case of a pet medical emergency on the Isle of Man?

Call your vet. An emergency might be quite stressful for a pet owner, so I’d suggest keeping your regular vet’s telephone number at hand where it’s easy to find it in case of necessity.

Thank you both for your time and for sharing your advice and experiences.

Hound and Howl would also like to present two of their products:

‘Bug off’ – A natural blend of Aqueous extracts of bog myrtle, quassia bark, neem leaf, lavender and lemongrass to help repel bugs.

https://www.houndandhowl.com/supplements-/134-111-calm-.html#/41-weight-100_ml

‘Worm Count Kit’ – Faecal Egg Count (FEC) is a method of determining how many internal parasite Eggs are present in a particular dung sample. It is an extremely valuable tool to monitor parasite levels for individuals and groups of animals.

For more information:

https://www.houndandhowl.com/shop/72-143-worm-count-kit.html#/30-pack_size-1

Medicor Veterinary Practice (specialists in pet medical care):

https://medicorvet.com/