Meet Dr Andrew – Wellness Veterinary Hospital Vet

Meet Dr Andrew – Wellness Veterinary Hospital Vet

June 17, 2024

Dr. Andrew is a small animal veterinarian from Melbourne, Australia. After graduating from the University of Melbourne in 2008, he began his career at a veterinary clinic on the other side of the world in the US. His career path has found him leading veterinary teams as Medical Director in both Miami, FL, and Chicago, IL, and completing a surgical internship at one of the leading specialist clinics in Melbourne.

Moving to Hong Kong from the United States, Dr. Andrew joined and has been with Wellness Veterinary Hospital since 2021 and has since been using his medical, surgical, and leadership skills acquired through years of experience to help grow and expand the hospital which is now operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Dr. Andrew’s particular interests include advanced dentistry, soft tissue reconstructive procedure, pet orthopedics, pet geriatric and palliative veterinary medicines. Over the last year, Dr. Andrew has been adapting to a new Hong Kong lifestyle that is fast-paced, busy, and inspires him to learn Cantonese.

1.What made you want to become veterinarian?

There isn’t a cute story of me growing up surrounded by a menagerie of animals and I actually used to be scared of them. Once when I was 6 years old, a German Shephard had entered the school grounds and I remember crying and frantically running away. This fear stayed with me until my family got our first dog, Tyler, for Christmas six years later.

He was a bright and highly intelligent Golden Labrador and I trained him every day, one trick at a time. I had no idea what I was doing and knew nothing about animals at this point, but by the time he was 4 months old I’d taught him to roll over, stay, beg, bark, and crawl o­n command. We spent every summer break together, exploring my neighborhood in suburban Australia. He was the reason I became a veterinarian.

2. What was your biggest influence in becoming a veterinarian?

Like many others, I never really knew what I wanted to do growing up. Like many others, my parents wanted me to become a doctor but human medicine didn’t interest me. After Tyler got sick, the idea of becoming a vet crossed my mind as I cared for my pet. His illness and death were what gave me the biggest push to pursue the industry and commit to helping animals.

3. How would you describe what you do as a veterinarian?

I examine, diagnose and treat animals with the ultimate goal of keeping them comfortable and healthy for as long as possible. My goal is for my patients to live their healthiest, best lives.

When I’m not seeing pets, I’m using my experience to train staff members and keep the hospital up to date with current medical standards and protocols, especially in preparation for the upcoming expansion. Having worked in both Australia and the US, I’m able to merge the best practices and systems I’ve learned with the best of Hong Kong here at Wellness Veterinary Hospital.

4. What is a typical day for Dr Andrew as a veterinarian?

A typical day for a Yuen Long vet at Wellness Veterinary Hospital always starts with the hospitalized pets, our patients. I check in to see how all the pets did overnight, how they’re eating, drinking, and feeling, and review the overnight lab work.

Afterwards I see appointments, but I might begin with a few hours of surgery (such as soft tissue surgery, hip dysplasia, some neuters, spays, dental cleaning, or even more complicated procedures like torn cruciate or luxating knee caps).

The cases vary at Wellness Veterinary Hospital Diagnostic & Imaging Center, from chronic skin allergies or gastroenteritis, to the poor cat who spent the night in and out of the litter box. The day ends with following up with lab results, callbacks, and making sure the hospitalized pets are set with their treatments for the night.

5. What is the most enjoyable aspect of being a veterinarian?

It’s the detective work and the problem-solving that keeps me engaged. Bringing a pet from its death bed to recovery, while knowing you and your team are responsible, is one of the most rewarding feelings in the profession. A lot of the work is about giving pets the best quality of life with dedicated veterinary care.

You have to be a jack of all trades, investigating illnesses or treating injuries. Pets can’t tell you where it hurts, or why they’re feeling terrible, so you have to utilize your experience, your lab work, and diagnostic imaging to solve the puzzle. Diagnostic imaging for pets involves a variety of methods and tools we use, ranging from x-ray, CT scans, ultrasound imaging, and other tools.

6. What is most challenging about veterinary work, pet surgery or pet medicine?

One of the most challenging parts is handling the emotional burden when cases do not go as planned. It can weigh heavily on my mind and it’s important to take time to digest emotions.

One of the most challenging parts of the work is pet euthanasia. The emotional toll can carry its weight. But euthanizing a pet patient is often a necessity when other options to reduce pain and distress are no longer effective.

What helps me to move on is remembering that we are genuinely doing good in this world. There are not many professions out there where you can frequently walk away from a day and say you saved a life or two.

7. What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

My advice is to talk with experienced professionals and get as much day-to-day insight into the industry as you can. The profession involves long hours, challenging and emotional cases, and requires a fair amount of endurance. Before jumping in, it’s a good idea to have a clear picture of how you’d be spending your time.

We support our community here at Wellness Veterinary Hospital Diagnostics & Imaging Centre by providing externships to CityU Veterinary Medical School students. With over 20 years of experience in the animal field, I think it’s extremely important to pass on whatever experience you have, ensuring the next generation of veterinarians is well prepared for the profession.

8. What is a common misconception people have about being a vet?

When people think of the veterinary profession, most people think of endless puppies and kittens. I actually believed that too at one point, but that’s maybe 1% of the job. Veterinary work is tough, mentally and physically exhausting, and to stay on schedule with appointments it’s not uncommon to postpone meals or bathroom breaks. ­­­

Dr Andrew microscope Wellness veterinary hospital blood examination Dr Andrew 顯微鏡 康誠動物醫院 Dr Andrew team leading teaching Wellness veterinary hospital small animals 康誠動物醫院 醫生團隊 小動物

9. What is the most common case you encountered as a vet in Yuen Long?

We see everything here at Wellness Veterinary Hospital being a busy Yuen Long veterinary practice, but the most common pet conditions I encounter are dog and cat obesity, cats urinary disease, and dog dental disease.

Dr Andrew examining cat patient - Wellness Veterinary Hospital cat consultation Dr Andrew 康誠動物醫院 貓 診症

10. What is the most preventable pet condition or diseases you see as a vet?

The most preventable pet cases I see as a vet are dental disease. Over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have signs of dental disease by age 3. You can read more useful pet care advice for pet owners at Wellness Veterinary Hospital pet care advice blog.

What pet owners often don’t realize is that dental disease is preventable. Quite often, pet owners wait until they see signs which are extreme such as drooling, abscesses, bad breath, pawing at the mouth, or until the pet has stopped eating entirely.

Usually, at this point, the only option is to remove the diseased teeth. This can be prevented with regular visits and a discussion with your veterinarian. The veterinary team can guide you on how to brush your pet’s teeth, what foods are helpful, and why dental scaling and polishing is a key part of helping your pet age gracefully.

11. What practical advice would you offer pet owners?

Find a vet that you click with, have good communication with, and develop a relationship. With time you’ll develop trust with the vet as you see the level of care and dedication being invested in your loved pet. In time, the vet will start to know your pet and will help identify any health issues early.

Your vet will recommend yearly wellness examinations and testing. The focus is the maintenance of optimal health, pet longevity and quality of life. Pets age at a faster rate than people and it’s a popular misconception that one calendar year equates to seven years in a pet’s life. In fact, one calendar year for a cat or dog may be the equivalent of four to fifteen years in a human’s life.

Pet owners must remember that pets cannot tell us how they feel. And to complicate things further, both dogs and cats naturally hide diseases in their early and middle stages as part of their natural survival instincts. If a disease or condition can be detected before your pet shows obvious signs of illness, steps can often be taken to manage the problem before irreversible damage occurs and the prognosis for successful outcome improves. So, find that vet that you can trust, so that they can help you keep your pet living a fuller, healthier, happy life.

Final thoughts: what exciting news can you share about Wellness Veterinary Hospital?

I am beyond excited about the new Wellness Veterinary Hospital Diagnostics and Imaging Center. All new equipment, brand new CT scanner, new endoscopy equipment, a dedicated orthopedic surgical suite, dental radiology, and hydrotherapy… are just a few new imaging services that are worth mentioning on top of comprehensive surgery services and other diagnostic and imaging services.

I genuinely believe that as a clinician your standard of care is only as good as what you’ve got to work with. And this will bring our Yuen Long animal hospital to another level offering much more than 24/7 services.

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