Dr. Lisa Chimes gets to combine her love of animals and her passion for television with her role as a vet with ‘smarts’ on on the popular Channel Ten program Bondi Vet. Her role on the much loved family program sees her in the trenches of Sydney’s Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH). Lisa works in their 24 hour emergency and critical care unit called VetICU, even when the cameras stop rolling, helping save the lives of our fury family members. Bondi Vet will continue to follow the very gracious yet ballsy Lisa and the SASH team on their life saving missions for a seventh season to air in 2015.
After graduating from Sydney University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science with first class honours, Lisa completed her internship in veterinary emergency and critical care in Melbourne. It was during these years that Lisa discovered her passion for providing specialist and compassionate care for dogs and cats (all breeds and sizes!) so in 2008, Lisa moved back to her home suburb of Bondi and commenced work at SASH. In 2010, Lisa obtained post-graduate qualifications by becoming a member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Small Animal Medicine.
Lisa is an ambassador for Purina Petcare, The Animal Welfare League and has worked on various awareness campaigns to help promote pet health and safety. Lisa is a favourite on the pet expo circuit, sharing her knowledge and animal know how with public in her spare time.
Lisa now resides near Bondi in Sydney with husband Brad, young son Hudson and their other babies, dogs Nelson and Lucas.
PICTURE BY TARSHA HOSKING
Q&A With The Dr.
We wanted to know about Dr Lisa Chimes’ animal loving history and why she’s devoted her life to them.
- Why did you become a vet?
- I've always loved animals and had a passion for medicine, so becoming a vet seemed like the perfect combination of my interests. I can proudly say that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made, because I truly love my profession.
- Tell us about Nelson and Lucas?
- They are our beautiful Cavalier cross Poodles – Nelson is 9 and Lucas is 5. Nelson is eternally loyal and will be by my side no matter what. Lucas is a bit of a flirt – he is a social butterfly and will happily sit on the lap of whoever gives him the most attention. They are both wonderful companions to our human son, who absolutely adores them – they are always so gentle and patient with him.
- What are great pets to have that may not be as mainstream as dogs and cats?
- Rabbits make wonderful pets! You can train them to use a litter tray and they can come to you when called. I used to have a rabbit called Simon, he behaved like one of my dogs. Just like any pet, they need a lot of exercise and attention to keep them mentally and physically healthy.
- What’s your favourite pet story?
- This is a tough question to answer! There are so many pets and families that have touched my heart and I really don't have a favourite. I love any situation where I get to reunite a pet with their family after recovering from an illness – seeing the joy on their faces is honestly the best part of my job.
Everyone knows how happy their pets are when they're with them, just look into their eyes. But when you're not there you know they're not happy. It's best to have someone that can give them the attention they deserve when you're away.
- Why is a pet sitter a good idea?
- Having your pet looked after by a loving person in their home or yours is an awesome idea. It also means that your pet can stay in their local area, which may help reduce stress levels for your pet and you.
- Why choose pet sitters over kennels?
- When an owner travels and leaves their pet behind, it can be quite stressful for an animal. I think that leaving a pet in their own environment or a similar loving home will help alleviate some of their anxiety. Kennels can be quite overwhelming for an animal due to confined spaces they may be left in, as well as the noise and scents of other animals.
- Why did you want to become an ambassador with Mad Paws?
- I love the concept of having loving people in your community sign up to look after your pet. It means that you know the person who’s looking after them and you can personally select the perfect sitter for your friend in your local area.
- How much space should I be looking for so my pet has enough room when I’m away?
- If you are unable to arrange for a pet sitter to move into your home, you should try find one that lives in a place with a similar amount of space to yours, or even more. This way, your pet won't feel confined, unless you know that space won’t matter to them and love is all they need.
- I’m worried my pet won’t be looked after as well as I would! What should I be looking for in a pet sitter?
- Arrange a Meet & Greet and come prepared. Write out a list of questions you have for the sitters you are looking at. This may include how many hours they’re at home, what kind of job they have and if they may get held back, whether they have had pets before, etc. Ideally you want to choose someone who will be able to spend as much time with your pet as possible. When meeting them see if you get along well. It’s kind of like a first date – you never know, it might be love at first sight.
- Write out a checklist for your pet (especially if there are dietary and medical requirements) and see if they are okay with this
- You can also write a list of likes and dislikes your pet has so their experience can be just like home.
- Allow your pet to go for quick walk or hang out with your potential pet sitter and see if they get along well
- Observe what your pet is like after being with them. Are they happy, scared, relaxed or angry? Read their body language
- Maybe the sitter will have other people who are around. Try to meet them as well, especially with your pet.
- In the end go with your gut feeling!
- Why can’t I find my own sitter somewhere else?
- You can but:
- They are not verified
- They may not have any reviews from previous sitters which adds to the risk
- There isn’t any insurance to cover issues or accidents that can occur
- It’s always a great option to ask family and friends, but it’s not covered by insurance.
- I’ve never used a pet sitter before! What should I pack for my pet?
- Imagine that your pet is moving house and needs to grab its favourite things. My opinion is that it’s always a good idea to take your pets bed, favourite toys, food, medication, collar / body harness, lead and also some of their most valued treats. The bed gives them a comfortable spot to relax and reminds them of home. Their favourite toys and treats can be used to create an instant bond between your furry friend and their minder. The rest are essentials… like taking a toiletries bag with you!
Pet Care Questions
Your furry friend is devoted to you and caring for them is the best way to love them back and prevent future problems. So I've answered some common questions pet owners ask me all the time that can help them to have the best life possible.
- How do I keep my pet entertained whilst I’m at work?
- If you can't take your pet to work, I personally think a pet babysitter or day care for dogs or cats is the best option. Whilst you’re at work or you’ve got a busy day taking the kids to school and running errands, you won’t be worried about your friend being lonely and bored. Also, I think using toys that can hold food are great ideas if you’re out for a bit. Consider getting another pet as a companion – make sure you speak to your local vet to find out which pet may be suitable
- My dog eats so quickly, how can I stop this?
- Ensure you are feeding your dog for their ideal body weight. Divide this amount into portions and give several smaller meals over the day. You can try hiding their food in a pet treat ball, where they have to spend time working out how to get the food out – this is a great boredom buster too!
- Dental care for cats and dogs?
- Dental disease is one of the most common health problems amongst our pets. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a build up of tartar, resulting in gum disease, infections, pain and potentially tooth loss.
- I recommend to start dental care whilst they are young so they acknowledge it as a routine. It's best to do it when they are calm and relaxed, like after a walk at the end of day.
- Firstly start by lifting the lips and looking at the teeth – allow them to get used to you touching their mouth. Reward them with a small treat when they behave correctly. Once your pet tolerates this, you can start to use a rubber finger-brush that fits on your finger. Gently rub their teeth and gums, working along both surfaces of the upper and lower teeth. Continue to reward them for doing the right thing.
- Another option is to use a soft toothbrush moistened with water. There are pet-specific toothpastes available, but these are not usually necessary as it is the brushing action that cleans the teeth.
- It is ideal to brush your dog's teeth at least 4 times a week.
- Remember to always train positively, so have treats or toys ready for after brushing.
- If you start when your pet is young, they are much more likely to tolerate tooth brushing. Keep in mind that pets that refuse brushing and those with a large build up of tartar will most likely need to have their teeth professionally cleaned by a vet.
- There are treats and toys available that may help clean your pet's teeth, but these are not as good as brushing.
- But remember to always get you vet to check your dogs teeth for tartar and periodontal disease which you may not be able to pick up on
- Do you recommend bones for dogs?
- As an emergency vet, I see so many problems associated with bones. They can become stuck in your pet's digestive system, leading to life-threatening obstructions. In severe cases, the bones can perforate their digestive tract, which can be rapidly fatal. Bones can also cause constipation, as well as infections like gastroenteritis. It's better to be safe and stay away from the bones.
- Flea and tick control
- Paralysis ticks are mostly present along the east coast of Australia, while fleas can be found anywhere! Both are more prevalent during the warmer months, but in some areas can cause a problem all year round. There are many effective tick and flea medications available – it's best to speak to your vet to find out which is suitable for your pet. No tick treatment is 100% effective, so as well as using a medication, you need to check your pet every day. Keeping their hair cut short can help. Remember never to use dog flea / tick products on cats as this can be fatal.
- If you do find a tick on your pet the best thing to do is take them to the vet straight away. They can help you safely remove the tick and will examine your pet to see if they require life-saving tick treatment.
- I’d love a pet but I’m not sure what is suitable for me? What are the best pets for an apartment?
- Dogs – I advise that if you’re thinking of getting a dog look at the breed characteristics before purchasing or even getting one from a shelter. Most dogs can cope well in an apartment as long as they are taken out several times a day and are given at least 30-40 minutes of daily exercise that is suitable to their age and breed.
- Cats – Cats are great apartment or household pets as they don’t need heaps of space and can live inside happily. I believe cat's should only be taken outside with constant supervision – they should not be allowed to roam freely as they can get into fights, be injured by cars or other dangers and have the potential to hunt our wildlife.
- Other Domestic Pets – like birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and rodents can all make wonderful pets. None of these animals should be confined to a small cage. They should all have large enough enclosures that allow them to exercise. Ideally they should be let out of the enclosures several times a day to have free-range supervised exercise in your house or garden. Your vet will be able to help you with the specific requirements of each animal.
- Do you suggest a collar or body harness for dogs and cats?
- Dogs and cats should wear a collar with an up-to-date ID tag. The best way to walk them is with a harness as it does not put too much pressure on their heads and necks. There are many harnesses available to suit different sizes and temperaments, some come with a car restraint, which is important too.
- How do I pick the right lead?
- The best way to choose is to take your pet for a test walk in the pet store – find a lead that is the right length, material and thickness for you and your pet. Long leads are great for training in open spaces, whereas shorter leads are more appropriate when walking around the streets.