Lort Smith Animal Hospital is the largest animal hospital in Australia. With eight consultation rooms we have the capacity to see over 130 general consults on any given weekday. We understand pets are an important member of the family and the need keep them healthy and free from illness. If your pet is due for a general health check and vaccination or if you have concerns about its health, we have a team of qualified veterinarians on duty each day with whom you can book a consultation.
During the consultation they will provide a clinical examination and professional advice on the health and wellbeing of your pet. Additionally, we can help if you have noticed abnormal symptoms with your pet such as gastroenteritis (vomiting or diarrhoea), weight loss, excess thirst/drinking, stiffness when walking, limping, abnormal lumps and bumps, eye problems, lack of appetite, coughing or sneezing.
The vet will discuss with you any tests that may be required to help diagnose the problem and outline an appropriate treatment and follow up plan.
Our general practice is available by appointment only from 8:30 am until 7:30pm on Monday to Friday and 8:30am until 5:00pm on weekends. Please call 03 9328 3021 or make an appointment online.
It is important that you arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow for parking and checking in at reception so that you do not miss your appointment.
Sometimes our pets have non-emergency illnesses or conditions that are more complicated and require more time to examine and investigate in order to provide the best advice and treatment for you. For these general conditions we provide an extended consultation appointment. These appointments cost more than a standard consultation because of the longer duration the vet is required to spend with you and your pet.
Examples of when an extended appointment may be required include new or ongoing skin issues, ear infections, pets that require regular bandage changes, pets that may require blood testing and blood pressure monitoring, a referral from another clinic, or cases with multiple problems.
Our customer service team will determine whether an extended appointment is required when you ring to book for an appointment. It is important that you explain to our customer service team the reasons you are making an appointment so that they can book the appropriate length of consultation.
Extended consultations are available by appointment only from 8:30 am until 7:30pm on Monday to Friday and 8:30am until 5:00pm on weekends. Please call 03 9328 3021 or make an appointment online.
Lort Smith Animal Hospital is open every day of the year from 8:30am until midnight for emergency cases - these do not require an appointment. We have a dedicated team of emergency vets and nurses throughout the day who specifically treat emergency cases.
Conditions that may be classified as an emergency include when pets have collapsed, or are fitting; are experiencing breathing difficulties; suspected to have been hit by a car, dog attacks, poisonings, open wound from trauma, inability to walk or stand, inability or straining to urinate, or abnormal bleeding.
If it is possible and safe to do so, please try to ring ahead on (03) 9328 3021 to let us know you are on your way, or if you are not 100% sure whether it is an emergency.
Our emergency veterinary team will perform a triage once you arrive. This is an initial assessment performed by a veterinary nurse to determine the level of urgency of your pet’s condition. He or she will ask you some questions about your pet’s symptoms and perform vital checks such as gum colour, respiratory rates, body temperature and level of alertness.
As with any emergency department both for animals and humans, once a triage is completed, your pet will be placed on a waiting list determined by priority and urgency. Please be aware that there may be pets arriving after you that will be considered more urgent and therefore will be seen ahead of your pet.
Over busy periods when many other veterinary clinics are closed, such as weekends or on public holidays, the waiting time can be as long as 1-2 hours or sometimes even longer.
In some cases the emergency team may advise that it is a false alarm and all that is needed is a general consultation which can be booked on the same day if available, or an alternate date.
Please understand that the emergency team is not able to treat general, non-urgent consultations as they must prioritise their time to treat emergency cases.
Vaccinations are one of the basic requirements for your pet. They help prevent many infectious and potentially life threatening diseases of cats and dogs, and therefore it is important that the vaccinations are kept up to date and current.
Vaccinations must be given at regular intervals to ensure your pet’s immune system is well equipped to be able to fight off any of the infectious diseases for which it has been vaccinated. Puppies can have their first vaccination at 6 weeks of age, and kittens can be vaccinated from 8 weeks of age.
For dogs we recommend vaccinating against distemper virus, canine infectious hepatitis and canine parvovirus, which are referred to as the core diseases. Additionally, dogs are often vaccinated against canine cough/kennel cough. This combination is known as a C5 vaccine.
For cats we recommend vaccinating against feline enteritis and cat flu. For cats that have access to outdoors or are potentially at risk of getting into cat fights, owners should consider vaccinating their cats against FIV (Feline immunodeficiency virus) which causes a similar condition in cats as HIV does in humans (FIV is not transferrable to humans).
Lort Smith Animal Hospital understands there is a general trend to move away from ongoing yearly vaccinations and our vaccination program reflects this provided there is a suitable vaccine available. For example, we use a triennial vaccine for adult dogs which protects against the core canine diseases for three years. This means that adult dogs having their annual check up will not always require the full C5 vaccine at each visit. They will, however, still require a yearly vaccination for canine cough.
We cannot stress enough the importance of your pet having an up-to-date vaccination status, even for a pet that may spend the majority of time indoors. A current vaccination status means that if your pet is suddenly in a situation where they are close to other dogs or cats, they are protected against the most common infectious diseases. These situations often arise unexpectedly, for example if they are sick and need to visit a vet clinic, they need to go to a boarding cattery or kennel, or they have an unexpected encounter with other animals outside. Dogs that visit off-lead parks definitely need to be vaccinated.
If your pet is out of date with its vaccinations, please let the veterinary team know, and if possible bring any vaccination records you have. Generally, for the dog vaccinations, a single booster is enough to provide another year’s protection. For cats, due to the nature of the vaccine, two vaccinations will be required a month apart before they are given sufficient protection.
As much as we want to hold on to our pets for as long as we can, there are situations when the most humane and most difficult decision we can ever make, is the euthanasia of our beloved pet.
Our veterinary staff will ease you through this process and try to keep it as low impact as possible for you and your family. If the chaplain is on duty, you may consider having her with you during the procedure or have some time set aside for speaking to her before or after.
Our staff can help you discuss the options of what you may wish to do with your pet’s remains once it is euthanised.
Lort Smith also offer many services for those bereaving the loss of a pet which you can read about here.
The adult heartworm, as the name suggests, lives within the chambers of a dog’s heart and in the large blood vessels within the lungs. If there is a sufficiently large worm burden, this can cause heart disease-like symptoms such as coughing, exercise intolerance, and in severe cases can actually lead to congestive heart failure and potentially, death.
Adult worms produce microscopic larvae which circulate within the dog’s blood. Infection occurs when a mosquito bites an infected dog, draws up the larvae during feeding and bites another dog, thereby transferring the larvae across. They then develop into adult worms over the course of six months.
Fortunately, due to our climate and environment within the Melbourne area, mosquito numbers are low and therefore the incidence of heartworm in dogs is also low. Generally the prevalence increases the further north you move.
For those dogs that are taken to higher risk areas, prevention is recommended. For dogs over six months of age that have not been on protection against heartworm, a simple blood test is recommend to ensure they are clear of the infection prior to commencing the preventative program.
There is a variety of preventative medications available ranging from liquid applications, to oral tablets, to yearly injections. Intestinal-only worming medications will not prevent heartworm infections but there are combination treatments that do prevent both intestinal worms and heartworm infections. Our veterinary team will be able to advise which would be the most suitable for your dog.
Heartworm is generally a condition that affects dogs. While cats are also potentially at risk, the larvae do not usually develop fully.
Along with vaccinations and flea control, intestinal worm prevention is one of the basic preventative health treatments every pet should be given on a regular basis.
Pets with a worm burden, especially puppies and kittens, typically show signs of poor growth, have a pot-bellied appearance and may develop vomiting or diarrhoea. You won’t necessarily see worms in your pet’s faeces when they have a worm infection.
Pets that are infected with intestinal worms can also potentially cause zoonotic infections. A zoonotic infection is one which can be passed from animals to humans so it is important to ensure your pet is healthy and worm-free.
There is a variety of worming preparations available for cats and dogs. Monthly liquid applications which can be applied on the skin are available, as well as tablets that can be given orally. There are also many combination treatments that will treat other parasites such as heartworm and fleas. Our veterinary staff will be able to advise you on what products are the most suitable for your pet.
Flea control is vital to ensure the proper health and wellbeing of your pet. Fleas are blood feeders and a heavy burden can result in severe anaemia, especially in smaller dogs or cats. Additionally, they are the intermediate hosts (carriers) of certain species of tapeworm and saliva from their bites can result in severe skin allergies. Although humans are not their preferred hosts, they can still develop sores and rashes from the flea bites.
A female flea can lay dozens of eggs per day that potentially develop into adult fleas. Flea eggs develop in warm, humid environments and hatch to form larvae. Depending on the conditions, the larvae can form a cocoon within a few days and a new flea can emerge from the cocoon in as short a time as 10 days, ready to infest a dog or cat. The number of fleas you can see on your pet represents a small percentage of the total number of the larvae and eggs that are in your home environment.
While most people think that fleas are a summer problem, for many of our pets that spend a lot of time indoors over the colder months, the warm heated environment inside is sufficient to keep the flea cycle going all year round.
It is therefore very important that owners diligently and regularly use flea treatment for their pets. There are many types of flea treatment available on the market and many have combined treatments for worming control as well. Our pharmacy staff or veterinary staff will be happy to advise you on the most appropriate treatment for your pet.
Lort Smith Animal Hospital highly recommends that all pets, especially cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs, be microchipped. A microchip is a way of providing proof of ownership in the event the pet is lost, and provides the best possible chances of being able to be reunited with your beloved member of the family.
A microchip is a small, safe, inert implant which is approximately the size and shape of a grain of rice. It is inserted under the skin between shoulder blades of the dog or cat, much like any injection although with a larger needle. When scanned with the appropriate device it provides a read-out of a unique 15 digit number. This number provides the essential link between you and your pet.
Regulation requires that every animal that is microchipped in Victoria has the chip number and your details registered with one of five animal registries in Australia. Vet clinics, shelters and pounds have the means to scan an animal for a microchip. From the number of the chip, these facilities can then contact a registry with the number in order to trace the animal back to its rightful owner.
After your pet is microchipped, you will be sent a certificate of identification once your details are registered with a registry. It is important to keep this certificate safe and remember to contact the registry should any of your details change including your contact address and phone numbers. If these details are not up-to-date, it makes tracing your lost pet back to you much more difficult, even if your pet has a microchip implanted.
Maintaining healthy teeth and gums are important for the health and wellbeing of your pet. Preventative measures are recommended from an early age to ensure that your pet’s teeth stay clean and healthy for all of its life. Poor dental health resulting in infected gums, tartar build up or rotten teeth can lead to more widespread problems because bacteria can enter the blood stream and infect vital organs such as the heart or kidneys.
Some of the preventative and maintenance measures which can be undertaken by pet owners include:
Tooth brushing - This is the most effective means of controlling plaque and tartar. Not all pets will tolerate this, however if started early it can be rewarding for owners who have time and patience. Specifically designed toothbrushes and toothpastes should be used. Do not use human toothpaste.
Dental Food - There are very specific dental diets which are clinically proven to help reduce plaque, tartar and stains. The food is designed to actually clean the teeth as the animal crunches down onto the food, acting like a toothbrush to scrub the surface of the teeth. It is important to be aware that it is a myth that any type of dry food will clean your pet’s teeth. The food must be uniquely formulated in order to provide the teeth cleaning function.
Chewing - There are many chew treats available which may help with the mechanical cleaning of the teeth by scraping off plaque and tartar as you pet chews. Pet owners should ensure that these chew treats do not splinter or create a risk of choking due to their size. Greedy dogs can be especially at risk of choking as they tend to gulp or swallow their food with little chewing.
Bones - Even though raw bones are often recommended as a method of maintaining dental health, they should be used in moderation and with caution. The risks associated with giving raw bones to your pets include fractured teeth, constipation, splintering of bones into shards which can damage internal organs or perforate the stomach or bowel, blockages of the oesophagus or gut, and choking. Furthermore, the bone marrow is very fatty and can cause intestinal upsets or even a condition called pancreatitis if the pet is particularly sensitive to excessive fats. Cooked bones should never be given under any circumstance as they easily splinter, resulting in higher risks of the problems described above.
Signs of dental problems - One of the first signs an owner notices when their pet has dental or gum problems is halitosis, or bad breath. Other signs as the problems advance could be reluctance to eat hard foods or lack of interest in chewing their treats or toys. In some cases, they may also notice bleeding from the mouth. Some animals chew on one side more than the other and may have perfect teeth and gums on one side, but nearly all rotten teeth on the opposite site.
We recommend a heath check if you have any concerns about your pet’s oral health. If the conservative at-home methods described above are not successful, we may have to book your pet in to have a dental procedure under anaesthetic.
Dental Procedures - The duration and complexity of a dental procedure will vary according to the severity of your pet's dental problems. Dental procedures involve removal of any plaque or tartar from the teeth, followed by teeth polishing. This may be all that is required in early cases.
More advanced problems involve extraction and removal of any teeth that are decayed, loose or fractured. All remaining teeth which are still healthy are then given a clean and polish. Where major extractions are needed, sometimes the gums are stitched closed to protect the tooth socket and prevent any foodstuffs from impacting it.
We suggest avoiding any hard foods or any particularly soft or mushy foods for your pet for the first couple of weeks after it has had a dental procedure.
Like humans, blood tests in animals are conducted for a variety of reasons including:
- A general health check, particularly for older animals
- A pre-anaesthetic screen for those about to undergo an anaesthetic
- A means to help diagnose an underlying problem in sick and unwell patients
- Monitoring animals that have a chronic or ongoing medical conditions such as diabetes, Cushings disease, epilepsy or hyperthyroidism
- Screening for a particular disease or condition
For blood tests relating to a particular condition, fasting of the pet for of 8-12 hours is usually recommended.
For animals having their medication monitored such as those on phenobarbitone (epilepsy medication) it is important we take a sample of blood just prior to the next dose of medication.
One notable exception is for animals receiving treatment (trilostane/ vetoryl®) for Cushings disease. The appointment should be made for between 4-6 hours after the last dose. For most dogs this would be around lunchtime following the morning dose of medication.
At Lort Smith Animal Hospital, we use a variety of blood test methods to help diagnose and monitor our patients. Some tests, including heartworm tests, parvovirus tests or feline AIDS (FIV) tests, can be run in-house and generally take 5-20 minutes.
We also run in-house biochemistry and haematology tests to rule out any underlying conditions before a pet undergoes an anaesthetic or if we need urgent results.
Other blood tests are sent to the veterinary pathology laboratory which has a turn-around of between 12-24 hours, or longer if it is an unusual test.
The veterinarian looking after your pet will advise on what the expected turnaround time will be. We endeavour to report back to you as soon as the results of any blood tests are ready, however, please keep in mind that we may have dozens of results to report and this may take some time.
Older pets have special needs and this is when owners should consider increasing the frequency of health checks to every six months so that any potential problems can be picked up early and addressed to ensure good quality of life for your pet.
Blood tests and urine tests can pick up low level conditions which may not be obvious on a general examination, and we can help address senior problems such as arthritis before they become too advanced and debilitating for our senior patients.
Lumps and bumps are more likely to develop in older pets and it is important that these are monitored and/or investigated in case they develop into malignant cancers.
Many owners often have their first introduction to their pets as a puppy or a kitten. This is the time to remember that you are undertaking a very big responsibility in the health and well being of an animal for the next 15-16 years.
There are many important factors which are mandatory to take into account, including:
Vaccinations - These provide important protection against significant and potentially life threatening infectious diseases to which a cat or dog may be exposed. Whilst the mother may provide some immunity to these diseases, the puppy or kitten itself should have vaccinations to really give their immune system a boost and make certain that this protection is long-lasting. Kittens can have their first vaccinations at eight weeks and puppies can have their first vaccinations at six weeks.
Remember that until a puppy or kitten has had its full primary course of vaccinations, it will not be fully protected against the infectious diseases for which we are vaccinating. It is important to avoid exposing them to high-risk areas such as dog parks or common dog walking trails/routes.
Worming - Puppies and kittens can contract infections through the placenta, via milk, from direct contact with their mother or from the environment. Animals with a large worm burden do poorly with poor growth, poor body condition, and a pot-bellied appearance. They may also pass worms in their feces but this isn’t always the case.
There are many preparations of wormers available and our veterinary staff will be able to advise what is suitable for a kitten or puppy. Remember to worm at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer, and according to body weight.
Fleas - These are common parasites of domestic pets but there are many preparations which are easily applied and effective for a month at a time. Fleas are blood feeders so if left untreated, a large burden could easily cause anaemia in a small kitten or puppy making it very unwell indeed. Fleas are also intermediate hosts of some species of tapeworm resulting in a double-barrelled risk for an untreated kitten or pup.
Nutrition - Proper nutrition is vital to ensure a healthy and happy puppy or kitten and to provide the balanced proportion of nutrients to ensure strong bone growth and muscle and tissue development. There are many excellent high quality commercial puppy and kitten foods available and we recommend feeding according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Avoid home cooked foods and adult varieties as they may not have the correct balance of nutrients. For example, an insufficient amount of calcium in a growing puppy will result in weak and soft bones.
Socialisation - Puppy play andsocialisation at an early age will often determine the future of the puppy as it sets the groundwork for its future interactions with its environment, people and other dogs. This should be done early even before it has completed its primary vaccination course but care must be taken to avoid unnecessary exposure to high-risk areas (off-lead dog parks) thus compromising the health of your pet. For example, socialisation can be done at home with animals that you know are up-to-date with their vaccinations or at puppy schools where a minimum vaccination requirement has been set.
We believe that every pet owner has the responsibility in ensuring their pet maintains a healthy weigh. Pets are entirely reliant on the owner to provide all of its nutritional requirements and to make sure it remains healthy. We understand that for one reason or another, his can be sometimes difficult to manage and maintain.
A reduction in exercise and activity due to health conditions or arthritis of either the owner or the pet can play as role in weight gain, as can excess feeding of tidbits and treats, or having multiple family members feeding the pet.
If you believe your pet is overweight, the first thing to consider is the cutting back of treats and tidbits, followed by a reduction in the amount of food given in relation to the pet’s level of activity. Are you feeding three times a day for a cat that sleeps most of the day indoors? If some of the simplest methods do not seem to work then we recommend booking a consultation with one of our vets
Our veterinary team can provide a health check, assess the body condition of your pet, weigh your pet, set realistic target weights and provide dietary recommendations to help control and maintain a healthy weight for your pet.
Our dispensary stocks a wide range of over-the-counter products that require no prescription to help maintain the overall health and wellbeing of your pets.
These products include flea treatments, heartworm treatments, intestinal wormers, shampoos and conditioners, sunscreens suitable for animals, fly repellents and supplements for arthritic dogs and cats. Parasite control medication is available that treats one specific type, fleas only for example, or a combination of parasite types. Our dispensary staff can recommend the best treatment for your pet.
In accordance with the guidelines laid out by the Veterinary Practitioners’ Registration Board, we can only dispense prescription medication to animals that have been treated at Lort Smith Animal Hospital and remain under our care.
We are not able to provide owners with repeat prescription medication if we have not previously treated the pet at Lort Smith Animal Hospital, or if we are no longer managing or treating the pet for a particular condition - ie the local vet has taken over the management of the pet.
For animals being treated at other clinics, we can dispense the medication as long as the pet has a consultation and clinical examination at Lort Smith Animal Hospital and the local vet has provided evidence or medical records to indicate the pet has been prescribed a certain medication.
For animals that are treated at Lort Smith and require ongoing medication, regular check-ups are required before further repeats can be provided. The interval of the re-checks will vary according to the condition itself and whether it is a stable condition or a newly diagnosed one. The attending veterinarian will advise you on the frequency of the revisits.