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DR SCOTT’S PET TIPS
Always meet the parents \ There is genetic passing on, not only of every health and physical condition, but also personality.
Take into account all the pet’s needs first \ Everything from grooming, food and vet bills to exercise levels. If you are a couch potato, choose a dog that’s also a couch potato. Don’t choose a husky just because they’re handsome.
In summer, use sunscreen \ For light-coloured pets with bald noses.
Seasonal allergies \ Occur in pets as well as people. There are medications but often wiping them down with a wet towel after a walk is enough.
Check dogs for grass seeds \ In summer and spring. Look between toes, in ears, under the tail after every walk. It takes two seconds but can save pain and cost.
Never leave a dog in a car on a hot day \ This one explains itself!
From his early television cameo with a chicken called Marjory, to treating Jerry Hall’s cat, there are many places you could start a story about Australian celebrity vet Dr Scott Miller. But it’s hard to go past the chipmunk.
The moment, equal parts horrifying and hilarious, occurred during the filming of the latest (second) series of Vet on the Hill, which follows Scott through the highs and lows of his south-west London veterinary practice.
“This lady brought in some chipmunks and this particular animal decided it was going to have a heart attack after I clipped its nails,” says the charismatic animal advocate.
“I put it back in front of its owner and it went kerplunk. I went into autopilot and all the training, plus my days as a lifeguard during university, kicked in – and I picked it up and sort of blew it like a flute.
“I’m laughing now but at the time it was unbelievably fraught. Thank god it lived.”
Australian viewers will have to wait for the priceless chipmunk resuscitation scene, but there are heart-warming moments aplenty in the first series of Vet on the Hill as Scott’s talent and charm – known to British audiences for almost 15 years – is brought home by Channel Nine.
How does a boy from Brisbane wind up with three veterinary practices in some of the nicest parts of London, and a hit TV show? It definitely helps that, though he was born here, Scott’s parents migrated to Australia from Britain in 1967 and he has a British passport.
“I travelled across pretty much because my mum said, ‘Oh, you will never go’,” he says. “I booked my flight the next week. I went over, travelled around and then got a job in East London.”
Scott had been working at the practice for about a year when he took a phone call that would land him a walk-on role in an Orwellian experiment. “The caller was very secretive on the phone about these sick chickens and it transpired it was in the first UK Big Brother house,” Scott says.
Many media credits followed, including a regular gig on the top-rating ITV show This Morning, appearances on the evergreen children’s program Blue Peter, several acclaimed documentaries and his first book, Puppy Parenting.
“I never would have thought my break would come by being the Big Brother chicken vet,” the 42-year-old says, laughing.
Scott was the natural choice when Melbourne-based production company The WTFN Group – makers of Bondi Vet and The Living Room – was looking to extend into the British market with a new vet series.
Its gamble paid off, with Channel Four commissioning a second series of Vet on the Hill after the first pushed up average ratings for its timeslot by more than 30 per cent. This has created a bit of a paradox for its star.
“I always think of myself as a very proud Australian,” Scott says. “I love where I am from and I love the environment, particularly. It is almost as if I have painted myself into a corner because I have a TV show that highlights the fact I am an Australian living in London.”
Scott’s wife, British TV presenter Zo Christien, their children Summer, Quinn and Jackson, their three guinea pigs, a cat called Rickets, senior border collie Betty and new puppy Skully are all very much part of Vet on the Hill.
One of the most harrowing episodes of the first series followed Betty’s spinal surgery after she was paralysed by a back injury. Just what is it about pets and vets that makes such compelling television?
“I think it is because when people talk about animals, they drop whatever front they have,” Scott says. “You can really strike a chord with people through animals.”
- Vet on the Hill airs on Channel Nine, Fridays at 7.30pm.