Pyometra – an avoidable risk for your female dog

by Dr Olivia Down A pyometra is a bacterial infection in the uterus of a female dog. The condition occurs when there is bacterial invasion of the endometrium of the uterus. This usually occurs a few weeks after the dog has been ‘on heat’, but the time frame is variable relative to the heat cycle. When the uterus is exposed to high concentrations of hormones (estrogens and progesterone) without pregnancy, it can lead to a cystic lining of the uterus which provides an excellent environment for bacteria to colonise. The infection usually results from ascending bacteria through a partially open cervix during the ‘heat’ part of the dog’s cycle. Pyometra most commonly occurs in females >6 years of age, however we have also seen the condition in younger dogs, and occasionally in very young female dogs. It is most commonly diagnosed 1-12 weeks following the dog being ‘on heat’. 1 in 4 undesexed female dogs will develop a pyometra during their lifespan. Signs of a pyometra are generally that of a very unwell dog, such as lethargy, inappetance, vomiting, depression, and sometimes a visibly enlarged abdomen can be seen. A pyometra can be ‘open’ or ‘closed’. In an open pyometra the pus discharges out of the vagina – as seen by a yellow, green or red/brown copious discharge from the vulva of the dog. The diagnosis of an open pyometra is therefore easier if there is a visible discharge. A closed pyometra is when the cervix is closed and there is no discharge. This can result in a severely distended uterus which is at risk of rupturing. Sometimes we...

Polite Pets – Training tips for your dog

Ten top tips for training dogs Courtesy of the Australian Veterinary Association, with support from Royal Canin & Ceva Animal Health It’s much better to prevent behaviour problems than to have to deal with them later on – so starting out on the right foot with your puppy is essential. The best way to train your dog, is to reward them when they do what you want. This technique is known as reward-based training and it is the most humane and effective way to train your dog. It also makes training fun and helps strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Using training techniques that a dog doesn’t like can be dangerous for both owners and dogs. Punishment techniques can cause fear, anxiety and aggression in dogs, and they can also damage the connection you have with your pet. Ten training tips Puppies benefit enormously from socialisation. They need regular, friendly, social contact with humans and other dogs, particularly in the first 16 weeks of life. Friendly socialisation has been shown to decrease fear of other dogs and people, and improve a dog’s ability to cope with new situations. Research has shown that dogs that have not been socialised are more likely to develop antisocial behaviours. Puppies should attend a puppy socialisation class taught by experienced, qualified trainers. Puppies attending these classes should be healthy and have received their first vaccination. All dogs should progress to transition classes and adult training classes so that socialisation and education continue for life. Always use reward-based training with your dog. Rewards may be in the form of a food treat or...

Correct Weight Case Study

Damian & Candida Johnson 2016-17 By Phil Keegan Dairy Farming is a complex business. Many factors have either a positive or negative effect on profit, and many of these factors are beyond the control of the operator like price received for milk sold among others. Pasture production, herd health management, machinery maintenance and heifer management are just a few areas that an operator can influence to achieve positive results. Warrnambool Veterinary has partnered with a number of farms to achieve improved results with our Correct Weight heifer management programs. Correct Weight is a program which monitors the growth and health of heifers, providing periodic reports and nutritional advice. This is complimented by developing and administering a strategic drench and vaccination program to best suit that operator’s situation with a long term goal to have improved outcomes for the heifer development and longevity in the milking herd when they calve. Damian & Candida Johnson of Minhamite signed up to the Correct Weight Premium program for their 73 heifers born in 2016. They are a seasonal calving 1st of April herd of about 220 cows aiming to improve fertility by introducing more heifers to the herd. Their previous year’s heifers were well below target weights at joining and this had been a significant influence on their decision to join Correct Weight in 2016. In our initial discussion we recognised they had been carrying over heifers each year that failed to grow out so the first goal was to ensure no carry over heifers for this group. At their first weigh day in late September 2016, our target average weight was 152kg,...

When Quality Matters

What does colostrum quality mean? “New-born calves should be actively fed good quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth to reduce the risk of failure of passive transfer (FPT).” In this context, colostrum quality is referring to the concentration of antibodies (also referred to as “IgG”) per litre of colostrum. The higher the concentration of antibodies in a litre, the better the quality of colostrum. Good quality colostrum is defined as containing at least 50 grams of IgG per litre of colostrum. Poor quality colostrum is defined as being less than 50 grams IgG per litre of colostrum. What affects the quality of colostrum produced? The quality of colostrum produced is one of the hardest factors to influence in a colostrum management program. Colostrum quality can be affected by many different factors including breed, parity, dry period length, volume of colostrum produced and time to first milking. Jersey breed cows tend to have the highest concentration of IgG per litre of colostrum, whilst Holstein-Friesians tend to have the lowest concentrations of IgG per litre. This is associated with the high volumes of colostrum that these breeds often produce, resulting in dilution of IgG present in the udder. Previously, parity has been shown to affect the IgG concentration in colostrum, with older cows having higher quality colostrum compared to younger cows. However, further research suggests there is no difference in IgG concentration with age. Some heifers produce excellent quality colostrum and the practice of discarding colostrum produced by heifers is now discouraged. The production of colostrum in the udder commences approximately 4–6 weeks prior to calving. Therefore, the length...

How clean is your colostrum?

Good quality colostrum helps protect calves against disease in the first 4–6 weeks of life by the provision of antibodies. Research has shown that the provision of an adequate volume of clean, good quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth has long-term benefits. These include reduced veterinary costs and increased milk production in the first and second lactations. However, colostrum can become heavily contaminated during the collection, handling and storage processes. Contaminated colostrum can not only be the source of some major infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, Bovine Johne’s Disease and Mycoplasma, but the presence of these pathogens in colostrum can also inhibit the absorption of antibodies by the small intestine of the calf. Therefore, calves fed contaminated colostrum are at a higher risk of disease and failure of passive transfer of immunity. Possible sources of contamination include the teat skin, milking cup liners, hoses or the bucket itself. Sub-optimal cleaning of collection buckets and feeding equipment such as teat or tube feeders will exacerbate this problem. If allowed to accumulate, colostrum residues can be difficult to remove allowing bacterial overgrowth in hard-to-reach areas. It is ideal to thoroughly wash all feeding equipment after each use, including the sanitisation of tube feeders between calves. A simple protocol for the cleaning of feeding equipment is outlined below. For ALL feeding pails and tube feeders at the end of every feeding 1. RINSE Rinse all equipment with lukewarm water, to remove milk residue, manure and dirt. Do not use hot water at this stage as it causes the milk proteins to coagulate and stick to the surfaces. 2. WASH Use...

Preg Testing Beef Cows

In any beef cattle enterprise, irrespective of the size of the herd, the identification and possible culling of unproductive stock is essential to maximise herd productivity. Pregnancy testing is one of the most important tools to achieve this. Timing of pregnancy testing Generally, the most convenient time for handling the cows is at weaning and pregnancy testing can be organized easily to coincide with this management procedure. Non-pregnant or ‘empty’ cows can be identified by ‘banging’ tails or by recording identification numbers. These cows can then be segregated and prepared for sale after weaning. If you want accurate information on the stage of pregnancy, you will need to pregnancy test earlier, however. Between 6 and 12 weeks of pregnancy aging the stage of pregnancy is very accurate, as pregnancy progresses, the precision of aging is reduced and age will be given to the month rather than the week. Towards term a 7-week error can be expected, especially as there can be up to 3 weeks in variation in gestation length between individual cows. Heifers should be pregnancy tested 7-8 weeks after bulls are taken out. Sufficient numbers of heifers should be retained for a short joining period and those that do not become pregnant should be culled at the time of pregnancy diagnosis. Economic performance Pregnancy testing enhances the economic performance of the beef herd in a number of ways. Earlier calves make more money and for every day the average calving date is shortened in a 100-cow herd, $200 is generated if 1kg live weight is worth $2. A mature cow will consume 8kg of dry matter per...