Case File

Practising as a Vet in Australia - a Case Story

by Hannah Darbey - BVSc MRCVS Veterinary Surgeon

September last year I embarked on a three-month journey to Australia to experience living and working as a vet over there. Having never visited before, and only ever learning about the tropical diseases they have, the whole experience was eye-opening but thoroughly enjoyable! Despite my initial fears of snakes and spiders being at every turn, being a vet in Australia was fairly similar to here in the UK. With the exception of a few tropical diseases that I hope never manage to make their way back here!

Tick Paralysis

A certain tick in Australia can be fatal to cats and dogs. Shortly after attaching it causes a paralysis of the back legs and, if not treated, starts to cause them difficulties in breathing and ultimately can lead to killing them. Thankfully, all owners are very aware of this possible risk and most pets are on good tick prevention but for those that unfortunately slip through, there is anti-venom that will reverse the signs and save the pet.

Snake Bites

Although I didn’t have to treat any snakes, I did have to deal with the bites they gave to dogs. These are definite emergency cases where time is of the essence. Over 5 weeks of working, I thankfully only saw one snake bite case and the owner did manage to get the dog to us in time and the correct anti-venom was given for this.


Much as we have lungworm in this country, Australians have heartworm. I didn’t see any cases of this and possibly because the prevention of this disease is very good. Owners can prevent against heartworm by monthly worming treatment that also protects against fleas, ticks and intestinal worms or there is a vaccination they can have along with their normal booster to give yearlong cover.



Australians are as much animal lovers as we are in the UK and we spent a lot of time rehabilitating wild species that the public have handed in. Their birds were exceptionally beautiful!