Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Referral Practice (Part2)

When the locum job was confirmed I was scared stiff. Being nervous when going into a new placement is common but this is not common practice. The practice is a cardiac referral practice, the best in Europe, ok let’s not beat about the bush, the best in the world.

This practice does not follow some ones else’s animal cardiac textbook, they wrote it, literally. Small animal cardio/ respiratory work done elsewhere in the world was pioneered and perfected here. They still write major scientific papers that change the course of thinking and treatment of small animal cardiology, world-wide.

As it turns out l need not have worried. I felt at ease from the start. One thing that did it was the relaxed atmosphere, the other is that much of the work is standard veterinary nursing work.
Looking after inpatients, reception, phone calls, anaesthesia, x rays (although machines do vary they are fairly easy to get to grips with) topping up, checking what to order, general cleaning.
With equipment l haven’t used, or procedures l haven’t done, or not sure on everyone is great at explaining how to do/use whatever. I just wish l could learn faster, l guess it is me getting old.

A lot of ultrasound scanning is done. Before now an ultrasound tended to be a shifting mass of grainy images to me. Now lm getting good at spotting things. I can recognise a heart valve when l look at it, don’t know which one it is in the heart, but hey, it is a start.
Both vets are great at explaining what is showing on the screen, how it works/isn’t working and why it may be like that (so often genetic), and what may need to be done, if anything is possible to correct the problem.

We had one very sweet little bitch having her scan done and she was hooked up with 3clips to her legs to check her basic ECG. Initially her tail kept doing gentle intermittent little wags, but she was totally still otherwise.
“Ahhh said the vet, l think l know what’s going on” He undid the clips and taped them to her feet.
The waggy tail stopped and she did not move till we turned her round to scan the other side of her heart, when she immediately lay down and totally still.
The clips had been a bit to much for her but she was such a sweet little lady she did not wriggle, howl, cry or use any other rude way to explain the problem. Just a gentle intermittent wag of the tail, Her polite way to say “excuse me please they hurt”

Unlike the young nutty hooligan dog who did not want to lie down when there was so many exciting things going on.
He felt that it was the height of insult to have jelly stuff on him that he was not allowed to eat. He only had the humans word for it that ultra sound gel is not tasty he wanted proof.
Then there was all the new stuff that he wanted to sniff, and given the chance pee on, to prove he had been there!
I have what looks like another fine set scars forming from his nails on my arm to remind me of him.
When animals are like that then they are sedated lightly to settle them. Mind you that behaviour and effect is normal in all practices not nasty just overexcited.

It is safe to say that several operations here have “blown my little mind” as the well known saying goes. I am used to major operations in animals but these are major delicate operations. Using equipment that you just do not see in general or even general referral practice.
The effects so far are also very different. Instead of often intense nursing and several days recovery these patients scoffed a good meal that night and were home the next day.

Operations here are often done guided by fluoroscopy. These are x-ray pictures that allow you to see internal organs or procedures live and in real time. The fluoroscopy has quite a few uses.

We used it on a dog that was drinking liquid barium and eating barium mixed with dog food. This was to observe the swallowing action to try and determine where the problem was, and what caused/contributed to the patients cough.
The other diagnostic aids had not been very clear and were of limited use in diagnosing this patients problem.
Amazing to see what you have learnt happens via a textbook about the body’s mechanisms when something is swallowed, actually happening live.
I know l have seen it in documentaries but that is remote, this was not.

Operations wise, for the following 2 especially, there are both of us veterinary nurses. I do what l know for anaesthetics and leave the complex assist parts and equipment to the head nurse. With her in throat clearing distance if l needed anything.
People could learn a hell of a lot from her, she is calm, cheerful, knowledgeable and helpful. In this profession more are needed like that behind the scenes.

Fluoroscopy was used in 2 different types of heart operations this time the patients were under general anaesthetic.

The first, a large dog about 35kgs in weight, had a PDA or “hole in the heart” repaired.
**Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a when a vessel connecting the two major cardiac vessels (the aorta and the pulmonary artery) fails to close at birth as it should. Uncorrected, a PDA leads to progressive heart enlargement and heart failure. If left untreated, approximately 50% of dogs with a PDA die in the first year of life.

The closure involved passing catheters via the artery in the hind leg (‘keyhole’ surgery) and ‘plugging’ the vessel with devices to stop or minimise flow through it. This was also assisted with angiographic studies*

Visually post operation there was a small wound where the incision and that was it. There is minimal pain compared to traditional surgery (which involves cutting open the chest between the ribs).

That evening l was walking the dog and trying to stop her bouncing about and jumping up for kisses with me, not easy she could see no reason to keep calm. She went home the next day.

**In some cases where traditional “open chest” is needed here, patients are hospitalised for 3 - 5 days to provide pain relief and to monitor for complications that can arise following open chest surgery. After discharge dogs must be rested for 3 or 4 weeks so as not to pull any of the sutures, especially those between the ribs. After that, exercise can be gradually introduced over a period of a couple of weeks.
A huge contrast to the method l witnessed.

The second operation was a Balloon Valvuloplasty on a small cross breed about 10kgs in weight.
She had Pulmonic Stenosis. **This congenital heart condition restricts blood flow through to the pulmonary artery, which takes blood to the lungs for oxygenation. As a consequence of this narrowing, blood flows through the valve at an increased velocity. This results in a ‘squirt’ of blood flow with each heart beat, which creates a sound called a murmur. The obstruction caused by the narrowed valve leads to an increased pressure in the right heart, and potentially heart failure

The operation to repair it “Balloon valvuloplasty” involved passing a specially designed balloon-tipped catheter via the vein in the neck (‘keyhole’ surgery) into the heart and through the narrowed valve.
This is catheter is visually guided by fluoroscopy and then after *angiographic studies. A sausage-shaped balloon was momentarily inflated to stretch the defective valve, allowing it to open more normally.

Again post op all she had to show for this major operation was a small wound on her neck and a clipped area of her coat.
That night the she out for a walk. She was not to happy, it was dark, windy and wet, who want’s to walk in that? Again she went home the day after her operation.

They also carry out pacemaker operations here as well, although l have not seen any, yet.


*An angiogram is a radiographic technique used to visualise blood vessels (the fluoroscopy can not show these). A dye is injected into the heart arteries with a special catheter. This dye enables the fluoroscopy to contrast the arteries with the surrounding body tissue. The cardiologist can then see the artery even the smallest blood vessels. (The angiogram was another first for me)

**Explanations of PDA and Pulmonic Stenosis were 'borrowed' from the practice website. My words are mixed in with them.

The Referral Practice (Part1)

I am at a small referral practice, have been for the past 2.5 weeks and staying until the end of November.
They only see referrals here, no first opinion work. In other words it is not your average “go to vet” with a pet that is ill or needs vaccinations or general work done. It is a world leader in it’s field.

The practice is in a lovely part of the country and set in a 3 storey Victorian house. I would say that is the main killer. My bedroom is in the heavens and I have to carry Wibble up to bed and down in the morning. She took one look at the 3rd set of stairs to the bedroom and went on strike. Originally during the day she snoozed in a kennel, assuming she wasn’t having a quick sulk and howl.
We needed her kennel the other day and since then she sleeps in her bed just outside the office so that she can keep an eye on life. If she gets restless l get a shout that she may need the loo.

Off duty there is no TV but l have my radio for good old BBC Radio4, and l can get online in the evening. A hot bath if l want one, and a microwave for me to perfect my culinary skills in, well follow the instructions on the food box.
I have decided (thanks to 3rd floor jog) l need to get fit. My cooking all week has been a salmon fillet and vegetables m’wave meal. I decided to stop eating the mayonnaise l usually spoon onto my food. Tonight l bought a bottle of ‘presquosed’ garlic. Thing is l may have overdone it, l used about 3 spoonfuls still l can not smell with my cold so l am ok.

I use my phone radio (radio4 or classic) plugged into my ear when l am cleaning, or using the computer in the evening. I discovered today, I can turn the speaker on and listen without the ear piece. This means the radio doesn’t loose the signal as l move around, and l don’t get a sore ear from the ear piece rubbing. I never use both earpieces.

People wise, it is only a small practice and what a fantastic group. You know things are good when you go to bed and able to have a good belly laugh at things that have been said during the day, or be able to blush for putting your foot in it yet again. All to often you can go to bed depressed at work life, not here.

As this is proving to be rather a long blog l will say more about the work that is done here in tomorrows blog. Why “my little mind is blown” and what makes this practice so unique in the veterinary world.

The photo is an ariel view up in the practice reception.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Superglue and Spiders

Today we had a hailstorm, it was then proceeded by about 1 inch or so of snow, which, as l write this at 19:30 is still lying in thick blankets around the place. I was so happy to see the snow, not. And to top things off l have a rotten cold.
Thank goodness l am living in, l do not have to drive home. Just climb upstairs and fall into bed. Wibble had to be carried out to go to the loo. She refused to go out and kept doing U turns as soon as her nose ventured out of the door, she also hates cold weather.


What a varied life veterinary nursing is. I remember one case l took a phone call from a worried owner. He had a tarantula whose leg had been pulled off somehow and wanted to know what could be done as there was some blood dripping out.
I had a look in the vet directory and rang the big zoo vets practice in Yorkshire to ask for advice.
“Throw the pulled off leg away. Put a drop of glue onto the damaged part to seal it, make sure that the other 7 legs do not come into contact with the glue till it is dry. If it has lost to much blood, it need only be drops bearing in mind the size of the animal then it won’t live.”

I rang back and passed on the advice, and asked for a call back to update me how things went, as it was so unusual a case. Unfortunately the guy never let me know how the spider did.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Snakes and Racks

Had a pigeon in on Saturday. Usually they are put down unless they are ringed racing pigeons or for sure unharmed wild ones. This one had been in overnight and seemed ok. I went to take it outside and release it, to see if it would fly.
My grip was a bit loose and l was also trying to check it as l walked. It took off and nearly smacked a couple of staff in their heads as it raced down the corridor and then met the wall. Luckily he just slid down that. I grabbed him and held tight till l threw him into the air and he flew off as fast as he could, outside.

I mentioned a small crossbreed a few blogs ago in "From Floppy Dogs to a Rant" whose owner had a mental breakdown. Well no family could be traced but the little dog has been found a new home.
If the owner recovers enough to look after him then he will go back, if not there he has a home for life, always nice to have good news.

Speaking of which, it was with great joy that l consigned the shower rack where l am staying to the dustbin today. It was on one of those expending poles like a shower curtain and went between the side of the bath and the ceiling.
I would give it a pull it would be solid. Climb into the bath and soak, reading and 5minutes later…it was still solid. Then without warning it would leap off the side and smack down on my head.
The first 2 times it also threw all the shampoos, deodorants etc on me. I removed those for subsequent baths. It was not practicable to remove the rack as it was held together with tie wraps and l did not want to break it.
It turned out a nurse that used to live in bought it. I was told l was welcome to throw it away. The horrible item was in the bin by the time the permission to dispose had been fully voiced.


When l was in Tenerife l spent 8 months or so as head keeper at Tenerife Sur zoo. Fancy title but there were only about 500 animals and 3 of us keepers.

A small reptilarium was situated in the zoo grounds owned by a couple of Italians. I had nothing to do with it just used to have coffee and a chat, usually with Marco who spoke better English than Claudio did.
The pair went on a collecting trip to Africa and had a young English lad in to look after their animals. He was experienced in reptiles and had been through Gerald Durrell’s Training Programme at Jersey Trust. The problem was he had only dealt with non-venomous snakes and there was a mixed bag at the reptile house.

One day he came round the corner white faced holding his hand. “Are Cape Cobras venomous he asked clenching his thumb”

“Yes all Cobras are, why”? looking at his face l knew what was coming.

“Cause the Cape Cobra just bit me, he ate a live mouse yesterday so l think he used his poison then. He only managed to get one fang in my thumb, l pulled it out so fast l don’t think he had anything left for me”

I tried to keep things light hearted. “Well you are screwed then” l told him “cause the lads do not carry antivenom. It has to short a shelf life, is to expensive and they have to many nasty snakes in the exhibit to cover them all, those who have any produced that is”

He turned paler, l helped him sit down. “Look you can do a couple of things. The most sensible is to be on the safe side and get you to hospital now. If you feel ok, and he fed yesterday, and he only just got you with one fang and you want to you can wait. If you feel funny in any way you can go then.”

He chose to wait, l knew he would, macho man. I watched him closer than a starving hawk on a mouse. Luckily he was fine, just shaken. He also learnt a lesson about snakes, when you have got blasé after dealing with non-lethal reptiles, then you are in trouble.

Naja Nivea - Cape Cobra, Geelkapel, Koperkapel.

The colour varies from black through to buttermilk with an almost infinite number of variation in-between. It can be speckled or uniform in colour. Juveniles have a broad black band on the throat, which fades with age.

Cape Cobra’s have a neuro toxic venom. It is as potent as a Black Mamba's - but it injects less of it. Be prepared to support breathing. You should have at least an hour before dangerous symptoms begin to manifest them selves.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Mini Update

I am busy sorting and digitizing photos for an online photo album of animals l have been involved with over the years. This will cover many animals including, Horses, Greyhounds, Zoo Animals, K9 Animal Rescue and Veterinary Nursing cases.

As l am working away on weekdays and only back late Friday night, and generally working on either a Saturday or Sunday (or overnight) and leave to go back to work at 4am Monday morning it will take a bit of time but l am moving on as fast as l can with it.


For those forgetful moments l have now decided l do not have "Senior Moments" but CRAFT Moments (Can't Remember A F*****g Thing)

2 More Police Calls

The call came in, in the early hours from the police about a pony wandering along the busy ‘A’ road.
The driver was not to sure if it would go in the back of the van, but we had been assured it was only a tiny animal.
He was also worried about being kicked. I gave him a big sheet and told him to cover the pony’s eyes and all would be fine, and finally a couple of tied together dog leads to go around animal’s neck.

He trundled off and came back about an hour later with the pony in the back. We lifted it out in a reverse of the procedure to get it on-board.
We covered pony's eyes over (if we did not the driver was not helping me) and finally hurt our backs lifting him out.
We only had isolation free that was practical for use. I raided all the bunny hay l could find and found and bucket for water.
He was claimed later in the day, he had gone walkabout from a gypsy encampment.

I am not surprised that police go nuts at the paperwork. Apparently the copper was writing down that the pony was facing in a north easterly direction along the side of the eastbound carriageway on rough ground. Along with a lot more erroneous information. I mean for gods sake doe’s it matter?

Pony in 'iso'


l worked at another practice when the police rang ahead that they were bringing in a dangerous dog. It had almost attacked the officers that grabbed him and they were bringing him in at great personal risk.
I grabbed dog grab and gloves and awaited the great coming.

About 10minutes later a big van turned up with 2 very scared police officers in.
“Be careful” they shouted as l creaked open the side door slightly to get a look. It did seem very quiet for a killer dog, then l saw it.

A small Jack Russell Terrier was scratching his ear, and making grunty noises at the itchy feeling.
“Psst, whatya doing scaring those poor lads”? l said to him
The dog waddled over and licked my hand. I picked him up and carried him in past 2 very deflated police.

I don’t know what excuse they came up with to other officers that asked about the “dangerous dog” but l am sure they managed to think up some excuse.
To be fair JRT can sometimes be nasty. l knew one that no one could get near, he was deaf, kept in a stable and never handled.
This one was sweet, l think it just was the lads were genuinely scared of it.

Saturday, 25 October 2008


I see pedigree chum have dumped crufts the worlds most famous dog show. Of course it is nothing to do with the publicity that has been going on thanks to BBC expose about just some of the problems with dog breeding.
BBC, RSPCA and Dogs Trust dumped crufts when the truth came out. Oh the hypocrites, all of them have known for years about what is being produced by the great British breeders with the full authority of the kennel club.
Oh sorry kennel club are ploughing money in to sorting the problems in breeds. Well guess what kennel aint doing a good job.
They have started to revamp breed standards. Sorry kennel club to little to late.
Those breeds that have the major problems are those breeds that everyone wants, they carry the "breeding money" in them and the animals pay the price.

I went to visit crufts once a few years back. I actually went to drop a ships radio off to a vet friend who was there for the day. We lived opposite ends of the country and it seemed ideal centre point as a meeting spot.
Also if l dislike something l feel l should see if that was the correct instinct, for me, it was l hated it. The pimping and preening of the dogs, the snobbery from breeders and handlers l took one look at them and got instant teeth grind, the sheer falsity of it all.

I was going from the car park to the exhibition and this woman got on with 2 shar peis ohhh wonderful, how pretty everyone was cooing.
I edged far away thinking "Go on someone touch them and when you remove your hands from the teeth say that". I felt let down when no one tried to pat the dogs.
Not that this wonderful breed with, eye, skin, skeletal problems, that some insurance companies won’t touch is nasty as well, perish the thought.

My introduction to the breed was when l was at “A Oranges” vet practice.
I caught and held the shar pei on the dog grab, the nearest anyone could get to the dog in question unless it’s muzzle was on. Unfortunately the owner took it off and home when he put the dog in the kennel for us.
I pinned it in the corner so a nurse could sedate. Then l sat, holding the dog grab and gazing into space, till the deep sedative took effect on the patient.

It came awake so fast post x-rays and lunged for me in one movement, l had not managed to remove the ET tube. The dog, in one bite, bit through a very thick size 12 endotracheal tube. I grabbed the swinging end still connected by a thin rubber strip and pulled, nearly lost my fingers.

I know l have said dogs get stressed at the vets but some breeds do not need that excuse.

Rotties can often be nice till you want to treat them, hence using muzzles and not trusting them 100% for whatever treatment they are about to have, dressings change, nail clip, teeth check, staples/sutures removal, needle jab etc.

Shar peis for most veterinary staff fall into the "do not trust any time" category.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


The rottie (rotweiler) was being admitted as being generally off colour. I went to collect her from the consult room.
She was making some strange noises, not a growl and not a whimper. I asked if she was friendly, number1 question with certain breeds especially in view of the sounds she was making.
“Oh that’s her normal noise, she is always speaking, and she is the sweetest natured dog” said her owner.

Well my instinct was get a muzzle, with the noise she was making, however she seemed very quiet. I took her through to the prep. room.
We lifted her onto the table, she was quiet so easy to handle at a height. We were not going to put a drip on her unless needed just handy to have iv access and certain drugs could go that route.
There was an iv catheter ready to go, the vet clipped the rotties leg and l raised the vein.
The vet just touched the leg with the iv catheter and the “bitch” swung round taking one bite at my face. One top canine tooth slid under my glasses and cut just under my eye, the other canine tooth hit the glass part of my glasses and deflected.
She swung back and gazed at the wall as if nothing had happened. She was laying the ground rules. No fear biting, no attack mode just a short and simple message “back off or next time l won’t stop”

The vet and l were both shaken, “before you wash your face get those owners in here to hold her while we muzzle her, l want them to see what their sweet dog has done” she said, although not so politely.
Fine by me, l caught them at the desk and they were making all kinds of horrified noises about her, and my face . They went back to help with a muzzle while l washed my face. I could not believe how lucky l was that l was wearing my glasses, and that she had only bitten once. Many dogs wont just bite once but do a follow through of bites several times.

Come morning, and a few more growls from the “bitch” l stressed to the change over nurse to be careful and that the owners should come down to collect the “bitch”. With my bruised face as evidence that was a good enough warning. Apparently she had a few growls though the morning as well.

The owners came to collect her and were asked to go down the back and collect her and hold her while the catheter was taken out.
Now comes the part that makes me very angry. Up to now l can accept that l should have muzzled her. I did allow my instincts to be over ruled by the “sweet nature” comments. The owners turned round and said.
“Oh you do not need to worry she has never bitten anyone she is so sweet brilliant with everyone”.
It was pointed out that she had bitten the nurse in the face the night before and they at this point tried to deny that this had ever happened.
It did not work they were made to collect and hold her for the iv catheter removal. They went off with a dog that was by now bouncing and happy, to be going home. The dogs file was marked up as a **Watch Bites** Obviously the owners are unreliable.

A lot of dogs and cats do transform from nice to nasty in a surgery. We may cuss a ton but at the end of the day it is stressful for them, they are just reacting.
The point that makes vet staff’s blood boil is when you ask what an animal is like temperament wise and you get assured it is “so sweet butter would not melt in the mouth”.
At collection, the owner on being told that it tried to eat someone says "oh yes she/he does that"
Far better to be honest and say “Well normally he/she is sweet but….” just adding that but, can save someone a lot of damage.

It is nothing to be ashamed of, vet practices are a high stress situation and the owners know their dog. No one is saying that the dog should be put down for being dangerous. They want it made well, all that veterinary staff ask for is a little honesty to help keep them safe while treating the patient.
Even when standing there it is attempting to eat you some owners will still deny the dog has an unfriendly side.

Since the incident l routinely muzzle all rotties that need work done on them unless l know they are 100% safe, and l only know about 4 like that. It makes life easier and safer.
Actually a lot of breeds are routinely muzzled at vet’s. Anyone who objects to their little darling being muzzled has not been on the receiving end of a pair of flashing fangs.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Bonfire Fears

Bonfire night is fast approaching in the UK. Thankfully this year we have not had the 4 week lead up with rockets and bangs every night, there is still intermittent fireworks but not as intense it was. This is a big help for those of us with pets that are terrified of fireworks. Although it still leaves several nights over the bonfire period when the pets are going through hell.

Before my other 2 dogs died l had 2 that were bomb proof and one that turned into a dribbling mess at the bangs. Then Wibble decided that she preferred to follow Santa’s lead and also turned into a gibbering wreck. Poca always ignored fireworks. Now Wib’s has gone nearly deaf it takes a lot for her to start her “gibbering wreck routine” but it is not as bad as it was when she could hear.

When l was VN training at “agent oranges” place (The American chemical defoliant) I remember a lady coming in with her badly burnt young cat. This was the cats first experience of fireworks. He had shot up the chimney, unfortunately the fire had been lit. He suffered burnt feet, tail and had singed elsewhere.

The second year we couldn’t believe it, she was back, the cat had been hit by a car. The lady had kept the fire out and blocked the chimney, taken every precaution she could think of and was about to leave the house one afternoon. As she opened the door a bang exploded and the cat got through the door and hit by a car.
1 fractured pelvis and an operation later she decided that in future when ever bangs were expected she would take him to a cattery in the country that was pretty much nowhere near bangs. A bit extreme but with his history a wise precaution.

Now is to late for intensive “Bang” therapy, but not to late for general therapy. You can also start, once the fire works are over, thinking of New Year fireworks.
There is still some steps you can take. Ideally, some like DAP and Sound Therapy should have been started over a month ago, however it does not mean that they are not effective.

For medical help have a word with your vet and the ones who are switched on will arrange a diazepam type of sedative. This tablet will help calm, but may not stop your pet getting scared. It allows your pet to go where they feel safest.
What it does is wipe the animals memory of the fireworks. This means that instead of the fear being reinforced year after year, they start from a clean slate. The fear is not gone but it is not building up like a skyscraper.
Just because your pet may still be afraid do not go back to the awful yellow tablets.

The yellow ACP that some vets still use should be avoided. It seems like your pet is asleep but the reality is different. They are held immobile and scared as hell and unable to react. They remember every bit of the night and their terror is reinforced by their inability to do anything about it. The skyscraper is built sky high every year and keeps climbing unlike the effect when using the other tablet.

I know one vet, a friend of mine, that uses the 2 together. But as Sarah Heath (one of the worlds best animal behaviourists) did not recommend it l have no comment on the mix. (unusual for me not to comment!)

Some vets also recommend a herbal medication again discuss amounts and type with your vet.

NEVER give ANY medication that has not been arranged by your vet. It MAY and CAN KILL your pet.

Turn your radio or TV up very loud, turn on the lights and close the curtains/blinds to help block out the flashes.
Allow your pet to go where they feel safe, although they may not be sure and tend to try several places in quick succession. Do not lock them in where you feel they should be, or where they are out of your way.
Cuddling them every time they dive on you, or crawling under the chair or bed to cuddle them is not actually a help. You are better treating the bangs and flashes as though they are an everyday occurrence. Rewarding the fear reinforces it.

Alongside any medication you should use DAP or Feliway both of these are available without prescription and are smell based and 100% animal safe.

The DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) is based on a pheromone produced by bitches who are lactating. It is partly responsible for bonding between the mother and her pups, and it also makes them less anxious and more receptive to new things. When they get the smell of the pheromone it acts as a calming aid to dogs.

For cats there is Feliway it is a pheromone that cats leave on furniture and objects in their home environment. In the wild this chemical is used to mark an area as safe and calming for the cat.

Both have been replicated but only dogs can smell the DAP and only cats the Feliway.
The 2 come as either diffusers or sprays the dog one has just come out as a collar as well.
The one thing to bear in mind if you are using DAP or Feliway don’t use household air fresheners, these will overpower the DAP and FW and render them useless.

The same company that produces DAP and FW also produce a cd called Sounds Scary. This is to help desensitise dogs and is designed to be used in conjunction with the DAP. Most dogs with a phobia are afraid of more than one noise, so this pack contains sounds of gunshots, thunder and fireworks as well as rain, hail and the shrill and whooshing noises that fireworks make as they take off.
They produce CD’s for other pet related therapy. If you are about to have a new baby in the family, teaches you and the dog/s how to cope. If you are getting a new puppy to help him settle. The CD’s are well worth looking at.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Strange Facts

I like those strange facts and figures that some people come out with. I decided to paste the latest ones, some are depressing. The figures are all UK based. My comments are in (brackets)

Some interesting statistics from insurers Petplan. It turns out that almost a third of 3000 UK pet owners surveyed by the company Petplan admitted accidentally injuring their pet, resulting in an average vet bill of £170.

Nearly 6 out of 10 owners admitted stepping on their pet, while 21% confessed to dropping them.

The survey found that dogs are most likely to be stepped on, whilst guinea pigs are most likely to be dropped by their overly affectionate owners.

The next biggest threat posed to pets by their owners was accidental poisoning.

The survey also found that 1/3rd of pets hurt themselves jumping off furniture, and one in five have been injured running in front of a car.
(A separate survey Petplan did earlier in the year also came up with the fact a cat is hit by a car on average every 2min. in the UK)

More than a third of pets injure themselves eating something they shouldn't, including the dog that swallowed a pair of knickers, which ended up costing £1,200 to retrieve. (This dog is a non starter, the experienced ones have swallowed everything from bread knives to multiples of golf balls)

Vets have been reporting a rise in diseases that are related to obesity in companion animals for some time and with the Petplan Pet Census panel of almost two hundred 198 UK veterinary practices reporting that more than one third 36% of all dogs and one quarter 29% of cats they treat are obese, the future for many pets looks bleak. More than half 53% of vets say that cases of cat and dog diabetes are on the increase. Obesity is actually bucking the trend of more historically significant diseases, including kennel cough and feline leukaemia, which are either remaining static or decreasing.

The number of pets with behavioural problems is also on the rise, with more than half of vets 55% reporting an increase and most 95% practices offering support for these animals. Effective treatment is not a quick-fix solution and requires changes to the owner's lifestyle and lengthy work with experts in the field.(For other than basic help get a APBC or COAPE behaviourist)

51% of vets have put down a pet cat or dog in the past five years because the owners couldn't afford to treat them (Only 51% l thought it was pretty much 100% so 51% is less depressing than l thought)

80% of vets have had an uninsured dog or cat owner decline a course of treatment because they couldn't afford it.

1.6 million people have had to put down at least one pet dog or cat over the past five years because they can't afford treatment. In total, the research shows that 927,000 dogs and 822,000 cats were put down for this reason between 2003 and 2008.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A Ticking Off

l was asked to take over the kennels that K9 (in Tenerife) had been given from the council. On the phone Elsie (chairman of K9 also trouble shooter and fluent Spanish speaker) described the place in her usual understated way style, “Well dear, it is a bit rough, but you will soon get it sorted”
I did take note of the you and not the us, that was a big clue. Although to be fair Elsie was a lady who arranged things. Not a messy sod like me that piles into something without worrying about the consequences or cleanliness.

She had under described the kennels. There was 10 of them and 2 small alcoves. After a week or so I scrounged some wire,wood and a door and made an alcove into an 11th kennel.
The kennels themselves were ok. Breeze block, with proper weld mesh doors, and back sloping asbestos roofs. There was a hose pipe and running water. A centre drain that ran down the middle of the open air kennel passage, went underground to just under the compound wall and into the open air too an area l ended up calling “The Swamp”.
The problem was the filth. The kennel floors were about 5 to 8” deep in dry compacted dog poop and fleas and ticks ruled the place.

2 dogs in when we took over. One of the dogs was a German Pointer type that l called Danny the other a scruffy little mutt. Mutely went straight up to a foster home post bath and l did not have anything to do with him, he went to Germany for a fast re-home.

When we met the dogs looked like they had growths on, getting closer l realised it was bunches of tick’s that looked grey grapes hanging off them. I decided that while in theory you shouldn’t pull ticks off this was a no choice situation.
I bought the best tick killer l could find and soaked the dogs in it. After their wash l started to pull off handfuls of ticks and drowned them in left over tick killer.
It took about 3 hours to bath them and make sure that all the ticks were off them. The dogs were bleeding quite a bit by the end, a course of antibiotics was defiantly called for.
This was the opening skirmish in a war between the ticks and myself.

Danny had to stay in for some time, as we had no foster space or flights to Germany for him. His kennel was the first one cleaned, I left him tied up outside, he enjoyed sunning himself.

The next big shock came on the Friday, we had had the kennels for a couple of days and were still awaiting keys for the compound. The council informed us no one was allowed in on the weekend. l spent several hours outside the walls looking for a way in. No luck though l could not get in. It was surrounded by high walls, locked gates and rough ground. I have to say that was one of the worst weekends l had.

Elsie did manage to get a key by the following weekend thankfully. For the first weekend though, we had nowhere to put Danny, so we had to do what the council used to do. I put in several buckets of water in case one got knocked over and scattered lots of small bowls of dry dog food around. Danny got through the weekend ok.

I asked what happened on bank holidays and told oh same as weekends. As it turned out, on fiesta days, one of the council workmen that l got to know who that loved animals would come in and do a check, in his own time, to see the animals were ok.
He said If the kennels were full then every so often the vet would put everything down and it would start again. He felt, and l agreed that the dogs were better on the street, taking their chances.
In the kennels no one had cared if they fought or were hurt. At the end of the day they were only going to be put down. My friend used to let a lot of animals go but had to be careful he was not caught.

I had a heck of time trying to de-poop the kennels. The compaction was so dry that water ran off the top off it. I ended up with a sharp knife, digging it into it, and taking out bits to allow the water to seep under and help lift the mess. I gave up on gloves they kept tearing. It took me about a week of digging and scrubbing to clean the floors.
A few people did come along to help. They never stayed though once they saw what was needed.
Ticks were a constant problem. Every few minutes of digging l had to do a quick check to see what l need to pull off myself. Fleas l gave up on, they were to small and fast to bother about.

Cleaning the Kennel walls was in theory easy, no compacted dog poop. In practice all out war developed between the ticks and l. They lived deep in the cracks.
I used the strongest tick killer and disinfectant l could get my hands on. I would soak the walls, scrub them and flush them. The walls looked spotless.
l would put Danny in with bags on his feet. This was protection so he would not get poisoned by any disinfectant l had not managed to wash away. I would stand back from the kennel quietly talking to him. Within minutes whole battalions of ticks would swarm down the walls towards him, l have never seen the like.
I would haul him, out rampage into the kennel and slaughter ticks as fast as l could. They in turn would do a fast about turn and head for the cracks.
I tried to do it with myself as bait, not Danny, but l would not see so much as a head of a tick. I could only suppose it was body heat, or vibrations.
It took almost a month for me to kill all the ticks in about 4 of the kennels that were worst affected but l won eventually.

As a kennel became scrubbed and cleaned it was placed in use, by the end of the month K9 kennels were open and full with about 22 dogs.


While l am waiting for my dinner to cook along with my next inspiration about life in the VN world just a quick Happy 83rd Birthday Mum.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Anti Freeze

Yayyyy a day off, I have not had a day off for 2 weeks. I can chill, sleep in and be lazy, catch up on emails and do all those jobs l have not had a chance to do. Well l can think about doing them, does not mean l will them.
Back working tomorrow and then off down the middle of the country to the referral centre about 4am Monday morning. This is so l can avoid the M6 traffic snarl up and be bright eyed and bushy tailed as the old saying goes to start the days work.


It was a Sunday night and l was at home getting ready for work on the 22:00 – 8am shift when reception rang, they were busy and asked me to buy some pots of yogurt on the way in for a patient, then they rang off.
I could not think of any animals that needed such a food. l stopped at the corner shop and bought several strawberry and cherry flavours, as no one had mentioned flavours or amount.

At work l found out the lucky or unlucky drinker of this buyout. Max a young Alsatian pup, about 4 months old. He had been in the garden and found he could nose the garage side door open. In there he had discovered the yummy sugar taste of anti freeze (ethylene glycol). His owner noticed the door open to the garage an hour or so later, saw the patch of anti freeze gone from where he dripped it when he had been adding it to the car, and rushed him straight in.

Anti freeze has an ingredient called ethylene glycol which is one of those evil poisons that need not be. With modern chemicals it is not needed. Those that do use it in anti freeze could add a nasty tasting and smelling chemical of some kind, to mask the sweet sugar flavour. The manufactures won’t do this though for some reason.
Anti Freeze poisoning causes many thousands of animals to die a nasty, needless death. The kidneys fail then the central nervous system. Once symptoms show it is too late.

If you are in time, time being the main word in all toxicity cases, very often you do not realise poison has been taken till to late, and then it can be a guessing game.
There are couple of antidotes to anti freeze/ethylene glycol poisoning. One is not usually on the shelf.
The second antidote is easy to get, alcohol. In Max’s case a bottle of vodka had been bought in.
The alcohol mixes with the ethylene glycol and helps remove it from the body.
You do need other medications but they are usually in stock at the average vets.

Max was on a drip and wearing a buster collar. The infamous “head bucket” to stop him getting to the iv and pulling out again.
A set amount of vodka/kg had to be fed to him every hour but he did not like the taste. Someone had tried some yogurt mixed into the vodka and he loved it.

The 10hours of my shift was marked for hourly Max medication breaks, giving him his vodka/yogurt cocktail. He rather liked the cherry yogurt, was not so keen on the strawberry flavour, but it all went down. Being a puppy he was not to fussy if it tasted almost nice then that would do.
He had been on the mix about 5 hours before l got in and had to be on it for 24hrs +.

About 6am l tried to take him out his kennel, give him a quick walk and a new bed. He sort of fell out of the kennel, the buster collar pinned to the floor making him look like he was playing ostriches and hiding his head in the ground, and he staggered in a circle, the collar keeping him almost upright.
Poor lad was paralytic l took off the buster collar no chance he would see straight enough to remove his iv, the walk was also cancelled.
One of the symptoms of anti freeze poisoning is staggering as if drunk, but the vet was happy enough in Max’s case it was alcohol not ethylene related.

Max was in for some time. He had a lot of blood tests to check his liver and kidney etc functions on a twice daily then daily, weekly and finally a monthly basis, although by now he was home.
He recovered, he was lucky, he survived anti freeze toxicity, most dogs and cats don’t.

His owner reported he had developed a love of yogurt, they were warned not to give any alcohol to him. They only use yogurt for a small treat for special occasions, apparently it has proved to be a useful bribe.

If you suspect that your pet might have had something toxic. Contact the vet and let them know. Have all details to hand when you ring if there is any paperwork, containers read out the ingredients, inform them of the species, breed, age and when it may have had the poison.
If need be the vet practice can ring Poisons Information Unit for advice. Very often calls must be made to PIU to find out how to treat the problem.

Ringing up first allows the vet to decide if you need to come in, was an item toxic or not and if you have to go in, to get things set up for when you arrive.
Take all paper work, containers in to the vet's as well, they can double check that nothing else was in the ingredients you may have missed when you were worrying.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Throwaway Society

Sadly the world is a throw away society and it is shown in the care of their animals. All to many are dumped in favour of a younger, newer, fitter model.

The great news the other day was that Los Angeles is getting hard on owners. Last year LA animal shelters took in 50,000 cats and dogs and destroyed approximately 15,000 at a cost of $2 million. Now any dog or cat over 4 months old has to be neutered.

The ordinance does exempt some animals, including those that have competed in shows or sporting competitions, guide dogs, animals used by police agencies and those belonging to professional breeders.
The average pet owner, however, must have their dog or cat spayed or neutered by the time it reaches 4 months of age (as late as 6 months with a letter from a vet).

First-time offenders will receive information on subsidised neutering services and be given an additional 60 days. If they still fail to comply they could be fined $100 and ordered to serve eight hours of community service. A subsequent offence could result in a $500 fine or 40 hours of community service.

I wonder if apart from guide dogs that owners of unneutered animals have to pay a whopping great yearly licence fee. I understand this is the case in Germany, but there is no news on that being part of the LA ordinance.

Recent reports state in UK say that over 100,000 strays were collected in 2007. These had to be cared for by local councils or charitable organisations, and a huge number were destroyed.
The best present would be to hear that the LA law was being enacted in UK as well, and a big yearly fee for unneutered animals paid, l can but hope.

In UK vets do not like to neuter under 6 months the excuse is that animals bodies have not had time to form correctly and bitches risk getting bitch spay incontinence.
I find Tony Boardman MRCVS comments on lack of confidence in their own skills by vet’s to be more realistic. Finding immature sexual organs can be difficult but with practice it is not that hard.

USA have been spaying dogs and cats from 2months (females) 10 weeks (males) for years. You can bet that if there was a risk, being USA and with their litigation culture they would not do it.
Males are slightly older when castrated usually over 10 weeks when their testis have descended.
One UK vet l spoke to that is happy to neuter young animals said that a study he read was that there can be at most 1mm difference in mature growth size height.

My Wibble was spayed at about 10weeks old, is now 15 and never had a problem. Santa (now deceased) was about 2years old (a stray) and ended up with bitch spay incontinence from about 10years old.
l had any stray pups done in the K9 rescue kennels from about 2 months old or as soon as Tony arrived on a working trip. When we caught any feral kittens, the same rules applied they were spayed or castrated. All of them the younger they were the faster they recovered.

Quite frankly unsubstantiated (to my mind) comments on problems from neutering early are immaterial to the reality of the present out of control animal situation.
Those who think it is wrong to neuter young should be the ones that pump pentobarb into animals veins that are fit, young and healthy. Not one animal, thousands of them, just because there is no where for them to go.
Some people say animals should not be "just put down". Well keeping an animal for months, even years in a cage, that grew up in a family is a cruel sentence and many animals mad.
Death is a better option than life, Life would have been better not formed in the first place.

Included with spay/castrate to stop the stray problem is to have all dogs and cats microchipped.
Next to an animal having no chip, the worst is an animal having one that has no contact details. Either the owners had the pet id chipped but never sent the paperwork in or they have changed address or phone and not updated the chip company.

Dog wardens usually do id chipping at a greatly reduced rate. And if you are having an operation done on your pet (say neutering) then often id chipping is done at a reduced rate by the vet.
Even if you have a cat that never goes out, it can still escape, and the only real hope of rejoining you is an idchip.
Id chips are put into every animal including parrots, tortoises, fish (Koi), zoo animals etc. Even expensive plants are often idchipped.

Have your pet spayed or castrated, have them microchipped and have them insured. And do not forget.

******* An Animal is For Life, Not Just For The Present*******


No blogging tomorrow. I've spent the week working halfway down the country at an amazing referral practice and drive home after work tomorrow night.

“Normal services should be resumed Saturday night”

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Midnight Snake Hunt

It was just after midnight when the call came in from the police. A young couple reported a snake of about 10ft length in their garden. The ambulance/collection driver took one look at the message and said something along the lines of good for them nothing to do with me!.

Possibly because l grew up in Africa, or more likely just cause l am a bit weird l like snakes. I told him if the vet was willing for me to go out with him would that be ok. The vet agreed, not that he had a choice under the circumstances, someone had to catch it.

I collected an old duvet cover and pillowcase as holding bags, and we set off. The house was in a maze of back streets and took a bit of finding. The night was cold, wet and windy. Not the sort of night to squelch about after snakes.
“Any torches” l asked as l got out the van, the snort of laughter from the driver reminded me not to ask such daft questions. Any torches that may have been about were long since dead of batteries, or broken.

I rang the doorbell and a young lass in her early 20s came to the door.
“Your snake?” l enquired.
“Ahh yes through here” she said leading us to the kitchen the driver staying firmly at the rear.
A lad of similar age was just tucking into his evening meal, a bit late l felt, but then l like an early evening meal, each to their own.
He stood up to take over. “I put a dust bin upside down over the top of it to keep it secure” he informed us.

We went out to the back. About 10 feet from the back door, down a short flight of steps, was the bin, placed as said.
l looked out at the pitch black yard and then up at the light. “Any chance of you putting that on?”
No, it doesn’t work, but l have this” he nipped to the table, came back, and handing me a tiny keyring light that made an anaemic firefly look like a searchlight. If l took my finger off the button it went out.
Then he and the driver huddled on the top step, ready to show their metal as the male of the species… and run like hell the moment they saw the snake.

Oh great l walked over to the dustbin. Tipped it slightly and shone my light under it, nothing. I tried to angle the beam up in case this 10ft snake was up there, no.
Behind me the young lad screeched “there there”
I glanced back to see where he was pointing as it had obviously escaped. “Where?”
“There by your foot he yelled back”
I bent down and glared at the mark on the floor. From about 1 foot away l could just make out a drowned worm. “Do you mean this dead 3inch worm?” l asked hanging the little body over my finger.
“Yes yes that’s it….…errr worm?” he asked looking at me.
“Yup l don’t think we can do a lot for him l will just sling him back into your garden if that’s ok by you.” I did not wait for a reply just flipped it into a flowerbed,

We walked back into the house and he sat down trying not to look embarrassed. I was impressed the driver and l managed to keep a totally straight face out of the house and into the van. Then we collapsed hysterically.

To round off the night we decided to ring the practice. The vet answered. I told him it was a highly venomous cobra, I caught it but it had bitten me.
We were heading fast as possible for the hospital, the driver would then drop the snake off back at work for them to sort.
There was a stunned silence, then OMG and a cuss, more voices as he told the others what had happened and more OMG’s could be heard and stronger words.
Unfortunately the driver and l had another fit of giggles and gave the game away. For some reason none of them back at work were amused, no sense of humour some people.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Rugby Tackle

It was 2am in the early hours when sensible people were asleep. I was checking inpatients and giving medications. The vet and 2nd (and only other duty nurse) were carrying out an operation on a German Shepherd for a ruptured spleen. Something that the breed is well known for once they reach about 8years old.

The doorbell rang and the auxiliary appeared down the back with a Weinerama that had sliced its leg open and was bleeding through his home made dressing. In fact the passage was a path of bloody footprints.

The dog had the wary eye that behoved us to be careful, the pearly white teeth that showed under the slowly raising lip also gave a strong clue.
I tied him up and asked her to print a quick consent form. I grabbed all we needed for a pressure dressing, had a quick dig through the muzzle bin till l found one that looked like it would fit, and got a drugs regime from the vet.

The auxiliary came back and we got the muzzle on (l shall call him Fang), and managed to lay Fang on his side on the floor, this gave us slightly better control over him. Anyway he was to big to get onto the table fighting against us. Fang may have lost a lot of blood but his temper had not run out with the blood.

The aux. had her hands full holding Fang down and as still as possible. l wrapped a quick tornique and took the owners dressing off. We ducked and avoided the spurt that shot up. It only added a bit more to the mess already on the floor and us, I got my dressing started.

By now we all looked we had bathed in red paint. I had almost done the first layer when fang decided he had had enough. Up came the 2 front legs, grabbed his muzzle and with a wrench it was off.
He sprang at the pair of us, l tripped over the bandages and went flying, his dressing came off and my tornique unclipped as the artery forceps twanged apart.
Teeth bared he headed for me on the floor but thankfully the aux. pulled off a tackle a rugby player would have been proud of. She flung herself onto him and he slid on the blood and fell over. I recovered and slammed the muzzle back, and made it even tighter.

Finally the leg was dressed with several firmly applied layers and he was given his drugs, and placed in a walk in kennel still muzzled.
The vet and other nurse appeared about 5 minutes later and made the smug comment that we made more mess with our simple cut leg, than they did removing a spleen.

I wish l removed the muzzle in revenge and made them get Fang out for his op to suture the wound.

The ungrateful beast went home the next day, after kennel guarding and doing his best to eat us. I was so glad that l was not going to be doing his op check and leg redressing.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Sticks and Stones

It was a warm day and the Lab’s owners took him for a walk. He was 18months old, about 35kg and a happy, bouncy dog.

The ball had been left at home so they found a stick, a nice bit of wood and ripped the rough bits off it. The husband teased the dog with the stick a couple of times to get him excited then threw it.
Off went the dog and a minute later was back, stick dropped and barking for more. The owner threw it again and it caught in a small bush, scarcely more than a twig.

That twig was enough to hold the stick slightly upright. When the dog bounded over he slammed into the stick mid bark. He would never bark or bound again. The stick rammed into the roof of his mouth and down his throat with his full weight behind it.

The owners were 5 minutes away in a local park and they pushed the dog straight into their van and to the vet’s. By the time he got there nothing could be done, he had almost bled out in the van.
The vet attempted to place a tracheotomy tube but the dog was to far gone and the damage to great.
His oesophagus (where food goes down) and trachea (tube to lungs) had been turned into an almost single channel. Even if he had not bled out, with his throat as it was he was past saving.

This happened, I never found out the dogs name, l placed the iv catheter and when that proved to be past use, l helped place him into a body bag.


Sunday, 12 October 2008

A Squirrel in the Hand.......

What a day yesterday, l barely had time to dump my junk, bag, dog bed and accompanying dog when l was tapped on the shoulder by a receptionist and asked to go help the lady with the squirrel loose in the car. I tried to think of something clever to say but it was to thin air, the receptionist had gone.

I fetched a towel and tried to look like catching squirrels loose in cars was an everyday occurrence. It turned out that the couple had seen the car in front hit the squirrel, it was knocked unconscious. They stopped and put the squirrel in a box, but it escaped when it recovered.

The car was a small Peugeot type 2 door. I struggle to tell the difference between a lorry and a mini so that’s the best l can id it. The important thing was lack of internal move area. I politely booted the husband out the car so l had room to move and tried to grab the squirrel without getting bitten.

I played move the seats several times while contorting into amazing shapes trying to reach the creature. Somersaults are possible in a tiny space.
The car owner l pushed out the car decided to help at one point. He opened the door, knelt and leant in. I did not realise and happened to whizz the seat forward for a different angle of grab as the squirrel had again moved, and walloped the car owner in the head. He backed out rubbing his head with a sheepish look when l muttered about escapes and slammed the door.

Then the squirrel played dirty and headed for the air conditioning duct and dashboard. I froze, what no one needed happening was it becoming an integral piece of the car, an injured cat had done that to me before.
The squirrel wriggled to go upwards and l grabbed. Got the body slid to the tail and held about 2 inches of de-gloved tail in my fingers, a matching length of naked spine pointed out of the end of the squirrels tail.
Thankfully back under the seats went the squirrel, l again grabbed clear air. Then l got lucky, he did a U turn and headed into my towel, and was trapped.

We had been one of those catch 22 situations. It had obviously recovered and I could have told them to go back to where they found it open the doors and chase it out before l tried to catch it. It is illegal to release a grey squirrel when caught but it was not caught, it was still loose. But if it had headed under the drivers feet mid drive and they had crashed, then it could have turned a bit sticky.
Now l had it we could put it to sleep or treat it but it could not be released, ever. If we chose this course we needed to find a rescue group willing to re-home it.

The decision was If someone was found that would re-home it, the vet would remove the half of the tail. A home was found and the young couple were willing to transport it over. Assuming there was no lasting damage from the car crash, chase and anaesthetic.

The fun l had trying to grab it in the kennel in the morning, confirmed it had recovered, and l waved it a thankful goodbye.

Saturday, 11 October 2008


I had had one of those Saturday nights that is passed in a blur it was so busy. I finished at 3:30am and was driving home in that "thank god" daze one has when finishing work at that time.

The black cat was lying in the middle of the road on the white lines. It had not been there long but was obviously dead. I drove on but within 2 yards was worrying in case it was not dead. I mean it still looked relatively whole.

So l went up about 1/4 a mile to the cut between the 2 carriageways and double backed to the roundabout and back up to the cat.
I saw head lights behind me catching up so decided to stop by the cat, haul it in and then go to a lay-by up the road to sort it.
If it was as bad as it looked then it was either dead or to sore to cause me a problem. For sure the pelvis was in bits, goodness knows what else as it was very still.

All went to plan, l opened the door, looked down... yup that black jersey was defiantly dead and not going any place not even a washing machine would clean it.
I sighed deeply, muttered about people dropping items of clothing out of their car windows that looked like animals, and drove home.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Hip Scoring & Breeding.

I was discussing hip scores with a client as she wanted to know if it was worth breeding (NO). Would her Labrador need a hip score if breeding (Yes).
Hip scoring is an x-ray taken of the patients hips to check for hip dysplasia. HD is abnormal formation of the hip socket, is very painful, and may require an artificial hip, or other surgery to correct it, or them if both sides are affected.
The bitch was too young at that point as she was only 10months old, a hip score is only done over a year old. Once scored the hips can not be re-scored, “you gets what you gets!.

Doing a hip score x-ray is one of those painful episodes in a vn’s life. In many practices x-rays are the vet nurses domain. Vets may pop in and check you have the view they want, and they always diagnose, but the setting up of patient and machine is for the vn.

The patient has to be lying on their back, usually supported in a plastic trough.
Wedges placed around so they do not roll over. Some dogs are thin, and roll like a boat on a stormy sea, no matter how you try and wedge them, using foam wedges and sandbags.
Each leg has to be the same height from the table top and pulled out straight (along the tail line) and together, at the correct angle.
This is an unnatural position and the legs do not like this. A foam wedge is placed so the legs do not loose the straight line and form a sort of hip to toe triangle.
Tape is often wrapped around or across the legs to hold the position and more wedges to support placed under the lower leg (away from the xray)
The pelvis must be flat and perfectly straight across the xray cassette.

Five x-rays (depending how good a day it is or isn’t) and slight readjustments to position or machine settings finally the decision is that the picture is as perfect as can be taken.
A few weeks later you get a rejection slip saying not good enough. This means back comes the dog, another anaesthetic and more muttering noises from the nurse!.
Usually things are ok on the second set but they look identical to the first set. The outcome to the nurse is the same. A frazzled bad hair day, that requires a large coffee or tea and a bit of chocolate to de-stress.

The score system is based on 9 areas per side with an overall score from 0 (best) to 106 (worst)/side.
Each breed has a mean score, indicating the breed’s predisposition towards hip dysplasia. 16 in UK for Labradors.
I know a boasting Lab breeder that told me she bred from a bitch who had a score on one side of 42. Most of the litter was destroyed, mum as well. It was ok though as she made money on the others. I did manage to be almost polite to her.

The particular client l had been discussing hip scores and breeding with decided against breeding. I threw the whole gamut of what was needed and could go wrong at her.
The £600 for a caesarean (which generally insurance won't cover), possible hand raising and 2 hour feeds of puppies.
And if the above did not happen you still have the cost of doing it properly. The food, the mess around the house (unless it is in an outside kennel), worming at the correct intervals of mum and puppies, arranging first vaccines, arranging insurance (free first 6 weeks), advertising. Looking for the correct sire and those fees and checking his health.

Many breeds are part of the hip have Hip Score scheme and other scoring schemes for hereditary problems. If you must have a pedigree for all pre health checks of the parents that the breed has available to it.
A Labrador should have had hip and elbow score and eye checks for Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
Many breeders do not do the above, do part, or do none. The sensible ones do everything and more but they do not usually make any money.


I am driving home tomorrow back across the country after work. I do not think l will get to writing, instead l shall put finger to keyboard before work on Saturday.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Angela Biffen

I heard tonight of the passing someone who l grew up with Angela Biffen. She had a lot of hard times, condolences to all her family.
In memory of our riding and growing up.....

African Pace

Far from the cities
And far from the streets
Far from the people
Is where my heart beats
It beats in slow time
In the vast open space
It beats out the rhyme
Of an African pace

With the sun baking down
And the buzz of blue flies
With chirping cicadas
And gentle breeze sighs
There’s no need to rush
No deadlines to chase
Just the slow steady pulse
Of an African pace

The cool of the morning
The heat of high noon
The balm of the sunset
The silk of the moon
The stars’ steady march
The rivers’ etched face
The life loving rhythm
Of an African pace

Wayne Visser
Copyright 2007

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Bowel Movements

I decided to slightly change the name of the blog to allow for other anecdotes and stories from other times in my life. Like in working at the SPCA in Bulawayo, or Tenerife with the animal rescue or Tenerife Zoo and other jobs that l have thrown myself into.
My initial thought for a title was something like, "The Barefoot Veterinary Nurse", as l am, whenever chance presents it's self, barefoot. The trouble is that type of title has been taken. So l contented myself with a rather bland title l have up now until something more original springs to mind.

I have just pushed my birds eye chicken curry dinner into the microwave. In theory very mild in reality l need half a bottle of mayonnaise on to cool it down.

This made me think of the mass "bowel" problem when l ran the kennels in Tenerife.
We were having a lot of problems from the local council over the kennels. Originally they had asked us to run them but now about a year later they were getting pushy as they wanted the area for other unspecified things.

Almost all of the strays were rehomed in Germany. They did a lot of fundraising for us and were happy to take strays as they have very strict laws on animal breeding in Germany and a lack of especially smaller dogs.
It could be difficult to arrange transport. Originally we could book dogs on with no owner and send them, then a law somewhere changed and they had to have an owner.
This meant our German speakers would have to try and arrange people who were on holiday to accept a dog as theirs for the trip home. The airlines were aware of this and accepted it so what was the use of the rule?.

We had meetings with the council who were uncompromising. They go or they die, they were only dogs. We got hints that the kennels would be suddenly and forefully shut. Thankfully it never came off. Anyway by a supreme effort our German speaker managed to get 18 special places on a plane because of our circumstances.

So l began sorting rabies vaccinations and getting paperwork for the parvo, distemper etc ones l had already given. Making sure that l had all the confirmation for no heartworm signed up. Local vets were happy enough to provide this for us, they were nice enough, it was skill they lacked through bad training.

Arranging helpers and transport for 18 dogs and 18 travelling crates, from bull mastif size to cat size. At our end to the airport, at German end onward to foster homes.
All crates had to be delivered well before the day to set up, match dog to kennel space wise and then get them marked up for each traveller.

Freezing enough water bowls so that water did not slop out on take off/flight. A slow thaw meant the dogs did not go thirsty.
Plenty of torn paper for bedding. This soaked up any spill and made a warm bed for the dogs to snuggle into.
And NO sedation this is the biggest killer. Flying lowers the blood pressure, sedation lowers it more and the heart stops, or in such an alien environment the unsupervised animal can go hyperaesthetic (nuts)and injure its self.

Making sure that all paper work was attached to each crate so it could be viewed but not removed and lost. This was the last job done but it all had to be pre sorted so that it flowed on the day.

I was up for 5am on "The Day" and went into the kennels. As l arrived a smell assaulted my nose. Diarrhoea flowed in each kennel. I was stunned, my mind was blank in horror. If they did not go today then every animal on that list went into a bin bang. That was how important this mass flight was. There was no rescheduling, no second chance. With the circumstances as they were it was go or die.

An emergency call to Tony to confirm Buscopan (control of diarrhoea especially when pain or abdominal discomfort is present) and Kaolin and Morphine (to stop the flow) both medications in max. doses.

Then Buscopan, syringes, needles in hand l got busy injecting every dog. Buscopan goes into the muscle, and stings like heck. You often need help or a muzzle to go this route. There was one person me, and l had no time to muzzle anything.
By the time they had screamed or snarled in outrage the next dog was being pulled out and the stunned patient was flying back into the kennel. I had no time to be nice and l felt awful hurting them.

The dogs were just getting over this assault when l was hauling their heads back and pouring Kaolin and Morphine down their throats. I did 2 rounds of this to allow for "paint effect" spitting it out and painting everything with the mix.

By now it was about 8am and volunteers were yawning in. They were met with the sight of a barefoot madwoman covered with diarrhoea, Kaolin and Morphine, and trying to check temperatures and give instructions to helpers.
Some wanted to wait with the flight but they were vetoed, and everyone was in agreement that we had no choice.

Finally we had the dogs cleaned and we set off. The dogs stomaches had settled. Some crates were to be assembled at the airport for ease of carrige others were solid wood and non dismantalable. All paperwork was in order and by the time the flight left several hours later we were all emotionally shattered. I refused to leave till it was wheeles off "just in case" and everyone else felt the same.

The dogs arrived almost clear of diarrhoea and set off to new lives. A day later later l discovered the problem. It was bad bag of food, l had given the remains to one of the helpers as she had run out for her dog. A phone call the next day and she was giggling. Of all days for me to open that bag of food, the day before a major logistics attempt you couldn't script it.

The remaining 4 or so dogs were scheduled to fly out over the following few weeks but if worse came to worse we could foster them in houses short term. Then a couple of weeks later the council decided that they had been to abrupt and backed off. Slowly the kennels returned to full.
Several months later l left the island. About 8 months after that the kennels were moved to a different council area.

Special thanks for help goes to Judith for humour, mental grounding and travelling crate contacts, Elsie for her fluent spanish, German Sue for arranging the flight transport and everyone else who ever reads this and was involved on the "Big Day".

Monday, 6 October 2008

Veterinary Nurse Training

I thought, as this is early days on the blog l would do an early days training story. I shall call the vet who owned the practice Mr Orange or O after Agent Orange as to my mind they have a lot in common.
I would also like to say that this is just one story faced daily by us his staff, it made no difference if clients, or other visitors were present or not.

I had been at the practice about 3 weeks to a month. This was spent out the front on reception learning the computer. In this practice nurses and trainees manned reception as part of their shifts, alongside reception staff.
I would zip into the back at every opportunity to try and learn that side as well. I tend to learn computer systems fairly fast so l was in the back about 3 weeks quicker than normal.

In Tenerife, running the K9 rescue kennels l had a lot of vet type work to do, that is not done here. I decided on treatment (antibiotics and what sort, set up and placed drips, PTS etc) when l needed help Tony Boardman a UK vet was only a phone call away and l trusted his veterinary skills not the local vets. I had heard and seen to much. Things have changed a lot over the years though and now there is good vets there.
Tony would come out every so often and do all the surgical work we and other rescue groups needed doing.
He finally moved out to Tenerife and set up permanently. Unfortunately for the animals of Tenerife he passed on within a few years.

My maths has never been great and l had worked out my own system to calculate drug doses. So long as l had a calculator l was ok. Tony had always confirmed whenever l asked him on doses that l was right so l had no worries about it working.

Back to the present. Mr Orange told me to give a premed to a patient. Bear in mind l had not been there long, and although it was called a training practice, none was given, we had to rely on other qualified or student nurses, or the one other vet who was a gem to help us if they had time. I walked off and began to work out the drug dose. It had been made clear by him, with biting sarcasm when l asked about such things, that we were expected to know how to do this.

Suddenly the calculator was grabbed out of my hand and smashed against the wall.
I was under a barrage of screaming and abuse and dragged into the autoclave room where the screaming abuse continued for about 45minuites on how useless l was, l was a disgrace to the nursing let alone the veterinary profession.....on and on it went.
My sin was using a calculator.

After this l was so shattered the head nurse sent me home. I decided to go on training at the practice.
1) Because no *&$$%^&* was going to ruin my life.
2) VN training places are like hens teeth, and l was not going to run as l probably would not get another.

The net result was that it totally destroyed my confidence in working out anything maths wise. I was able to do it for the exam but even now l still worry if told to give so and so a drug, l double check with the vet on amounts.
I used to try and hide the worry as l was ashamed at my myself. Not now, now l tell any vet l work with at the start and things are always fine. In fact vet's are always using calculators, and more than one has asked how did Agent O know he wasn't under or overdosing?.

I will never allow anyone to treat me like that again. After that Agent Orange and l used to tear into each other but he never sacked me, l don't knows why. I told him to often enough, l wasn't for running away. One day l may learn to turn the other cheek.

Because of what l witnessed and went through under "Agent O" l did my NLP training (Neuro Linguistic Programming)with Andy Smith at Coaching Leaders (see links) NLP is used for helping people with psychological problems. I think it is a lot better than CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) but l guess l am biased.

I now help adults who have been abused in the workplace , usually only via email, but some face to face. The statistics on abuse in the workplace worldwide are frightening and are the hidden side of the adult workplace.
A couple of years ago l was invited on the open forum panel held on bullying at the BVNA VN congress. Unfortunatly Mr Orange is not an isolated case.

So in the end l guess l have a lot to thank Mr Orange for. Despite all. I qualified as a veterinary nurse. I have done NLP and am able to help others, and l have walked a path l would never have dreamed of.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Working Trip to the Seaside

Well l have had a weekend with no nursing and 2 days off, l feel spoilt with time off. Later today l drive across country till l get my feet wet on the other side.

I am going to cover a vn friend's job while she is away for the week. It is a regular cover for the 2 vet nurses. In this case Jill is away. I always stay in her flat but this time l baby sit her 2 hoodlums. Not kids that would be more than l could handle this is cats.
The worst part is Jill won't be there and Hub is of course not there so l am left to cook my own food. I am ok on stews but as to the rest, the dogs have turned my cooking down before and hub won't eat it, he cooks l wash up.

Wibble is the only dog allowed in the flat, not Jill's rules the cats rules. The last dog that a friend of hers tried to take in got shredded by both cats by the time it got over the doorstep. Both are rescue cats FJ her older cat knows Wib as he stayed with us for a time. Momo younger adult looks on Wib as a source of food as Wib is a fussy eater and leaves a lot of food, perfect.

Momo last Xmas opened the cupboard where the overripe Stilton cheese was in the bin awaiting disposal. When l visited 5weeks later FJ and Jill still carried gas masks for when Momo used his litter tray.
I once asked if there was anything that Momo did not eat and was told well he isn't keen on turnips.
I am waiting to see the new slimline Momo apparently through using Hills RD dry and making him hunt for food and using food bottles. Coke Cola bottles with holes in Momo has to bash about to get the food out. All other food, human and animal is battened down. Momo has lost about 1kg.

FJ is very fussy as any sensible cat is, he will only eat Hills Natures Best food. This is how cat's avoid all but accidental poisoning. Stick to a food you know is not going to make you sick. Cats that are poisoned are generally accidental poisonings, grooming after walking through something toxic, or eating a rat/mouse that ate rat poison, eating a bird that ate poisoned slugs etc. Some are like Momo and will try anything but those that have any cat sense are actually the fussy eaters. It saves their lives in the wild.

Both cats are obsessed with water and their idea of heaven is when Jill fills the bath puts in some bubble stuff for cats and lets them loose. First loo rolls, toothpaste etc are removed from the room. If left the hoodlums dart out of the bubbles grab them and haul them back for killing.
If no baths are on offer then especially Momo swims in the water bowl. Well more tries to fit as much of his body in as possible.

I take my camp bed and air mattress. This is always a worry for me l do not trust one of the pair not to decide to bounce on it with claws out, or pull themselves along under the bed claws making numerous holes in my bed. I glare at the pair of them muttering threats if my bed is punctured. So far this has worked.

The practice l am going to, unlike my regular place, is a small, first opinion practice, like 95% of vet practices in the country. They carry out general surgery work. Neutering, dentals, lump removals etc. They hold vet or nurse clinics depending on what is needed, advice or treatment. The more complex medical or surgical patients are referred on by the vet to specialists.
There is no one there over night but anyone who has to leave a pet is warned about this. If the animal is to be checked or needs meds then the vet goes back and checks on them. If a nurse is needed by the vet there is a week rota on whose nurse turn it is. The nice thing about being a locum is l am not on that rota.

Even in general practice the importance of insurance for pets is never to be underestimated. For instance a Pyo is a common problem in unneuted bitches, the uterus fills with pus.
Some people insist vets try and treat them medically but it never really works and the bitch is always falling ill. Removal is always the safest option. Very often the only first option is removal as the patient generally presents collapsed and critical.

Treated in general practice is about £300/400 but if referred you are looking at about £700+. Despite being common a lot of vet's do not want to do them so referral is suggested.
The patient has a lot of toxins in the system with the condition and sometimes to add to the trouble the uterus may leak pus internally during or if very full before removal. The best surgeon can not prevent this and if leakage happens the patient needs intensive vet and nursing work to pull them through.

Some of the insurance companies are starting to pull fast ones on their payouts but Petplan is so far the one l have heard has the least problems on claims, they are the biggest and best quality, yes you pay more but it is peace of mind.
Too many times l have seen patients put down because owners can not afford treatment and can not get a loan from bank, friends or family.

To get insurance some things to look for:
Life cover regardless of age.
Will it pay out for life or just a year or even worse a visit for a problem.
Will they cover an amount per/problem if so not good you may think that it seems a lot of money but it won't go far, not over the pets lifespan.
What is their yearly total the standard at Petplan is about £4000/year but they are just revamping their policies
Do you need to keep your pet vaccinated to qualify for insurance even if it is not related to the problem.
Some companies will not cover a pre-existing condition. With some for life, others if that has not been a problem for a set time they will re-include it in the policy.
Do not be fooled by "winner of...." awards that some places say they have.
How long do they take to payout. Some at least 3months, one notorious company one will only pay when threatened with the insurance ombusman.
A lot of vets will accept Petplan excess upfront but not the other groups. Even if you have full insurance they will make the person pay, if not in full, a large amount up front or get pre agreement for treatment before they do anything.

Well, on that gem, l may as well start thinking about packing and getting some food. My next blog will be sometime tomorrow evening as l am doing sensible work hours ending late afternoon.

I arrived here after a long and boring drive in the dark, had a listen to radio4 and the Himalayan trip on audio from Michael Palin and the BBC.
Once here it took a couple of trips to get my junk, unloaded and about 30mins to pump my bed up.

FJ finally appeared from somewhere and allowed me to scratch his head in homage for a couple of seconds, then he flicked his tail and stalked off to clean where my grubby hand had been, he and Wibs ignore each other.
Momo is more accommodating. He ran over to say hello and almost but not quite sniffed noses with Wibs.
"Hi dog hi dog, you got any food handy, can't smell any on your breath, you wanna get her to get you some and leave me half your bowl, huh huh?"
He was underfoot till all food was down, bless him!.

I tripped off to work and later on in the day had a word with the practice owner about the blog. They preferred l did not write about the practice so l will fill in this week with various happenings over my years in the vn world instead.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

From Floppy Dogs to a Rant.

It started out steady yesterday but then seemed to end up going a bit mad. We were several nurses down so that did not help.

There is a big German Shepard Dog (GSD) in l will call Max. He had been an RTA at about 3am. His main injury was a pneumothorax (chest full of air). When night shift came back on duty they were all shocked to see him. He had come in almost dead and no one would have bet on his odds of survival.

Now he was trying to leap out of the kennel whenever the door was opened, this was often as he had been having his chest drained every 30mins. When l got in they had decided as the amount withdrawn had been dropping it would be left for an hour.

As everyone was battered from playing grab the 10mth old nutter in mid air game, or the lift the floppy dog back into the kennel, l was given the job of official "air puller".
First pull was depressing at 650ml of air, oh well back to every 30mins. After a couple of hours though it settled down and by 23:00 we were only getting fairly small amounts out after an hour or so.

"Max" has a wonderful temperament which makes it nice to deal with him, a lot of GSD are dangerous. Max's problem is he hates to be in a kennel so you have to try and keep him in the kennel by pushing your head up and blocking as he tries to leap out. Sometimes he gives in and lies down, other times he pants and dribbles in your face and hair knowing you hate it and that you are stuck, hands holding the 50ml syringe and working a 3way tap.
Calling for help is no use as everyone is busy doing other jobs and this in theory is a simple job, as he is a softie. If he gets out he stands still for his draining.
Great except try and get him back in the kennel. Back legs slide slowly down front legs go stiff and he folds drunk style to the floor. You are left to lift bits of a roughly 40kg totally floppy dog into his kennel bit by bit, as he does his best to push just enough to slide out.
Slide him round on the floor like a mop head so he is facing the door, he bounces up and is all "Ohhh goody, no more kennel" Turn him back to the kennel and down he goes.

A sweet old terrier came in via a police collection call. His owner was walking down the street and started to kick the dog, ripped off all of his clothes and ran away naked. Well that was other peoples problem the old dog was lame on his back leg but we were not sure if it was an old injury or a new one. He was on pain relief and rest overnight and reassess today (Saturday).
From there it will be treatment on a new injury, decisions on what or if anything can be done to help the old injury. Then off to the rescue kennels where they will decide what his future will be. If they can track down relatives to look after him that will be the first course of action.

I managed to leave just in time last night. I am not a fan of breeders or dog breeding. A bulldog with whelping difficulties turned up. I guess the owners got the dates wrong or are new. Bulldogs are so screwed up thanks to the breeding that they are all caesarian to give birth. If they do manage to give birth to one pup the rest are caesarian out so the stress on them is lessened by elective caesarian.
Bulldog litters often come out all dead from deformations or just a couple dead with deformed bodies.

It gets better l was speaking to a bulldog breeder once he told me that it takes 4 people to support a pair of attempting to mate bulldogs as their legs can not support the effort. An Aussie vet was telling me that over there they just use artificial insemination a lot easier and in that heat would have dead dogs.
One research team was looking into bulldogs stamina and needed them to walk a certain amount of time round a hall (l or 2 circuits) the test was abandoned as none of the dogs could compete the walk.

While nice but ugly bulldogs are a walking disaster of inherited problems and for this people pay upwards of £2000 for one.

Many breeds should be allowed to die out. The extreme cruelty of their existence should be lived by those that want to breed them, not the animals whose crime was to be a source of income.

For information on genetic disorders in dogs, go to

Outright lies are often told to prospective buyers about problems associated with breeds but if they ask the correct people, vets and vet nurses, prospective buyers should be given the correct information in as much that is known but the website is the full known and often updated lists of a lot, but not all breeds.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Happy Anniversary

Just remembered as l am hopeless on dates my parents have their 55th wedding anniversary today so.. Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad, thanks for being you.

Swimming at Night

It was fairly quiet last night. We had a big discharge session. Amongst them the 2 brothers went, still as bouncy as when they came in the night before.

The IMHA cat went home his PCV up to 16% post blood transfusion and will be an out patient while we await test results. His donor was still in as his Mum is ill and unable to collect him. He is an old hand though just feed him and life is good.

The RTA head trauma cat with wired jaw and other facial damage went home. He will need syringe feeding for a long time, possibly a couple of months and strict rest but is able to get that at home. Amazing that despite all he has been through he is so happy, still tries to groom himself as well. Not really a good idea when you can not close your mouth properly but it is his choice.

By a twist of fate we had in another diabetic dog that was in the same kennel as the one who was put down the day before with identical symptoms. It happened to be the only free kennel in Critical Care. This time the owners decided that they did not want to try treatment, it was an older patient than the other one.

The 2 strays, dog and cat reached day 3. The other stray, a big cross breed with a vaginal prolapse that the dog warden brought in, was finally collected at about 22:00 last night. She will to go to their kennels.
What a softie, as soon as you tried to grab her scruff to inject her she would throw herself onto her back to have her tummy tickled. This meant either struggling with a 25kg dog that was determined to not have an injection by acting cute or pulling a chunk of scruff out from under her and injecting that.
I don't think she knew the word nasty and would have been shocked to think that she had teeth that could bite.

A rabbit was admitted last night that was found collapsed. His owners having decided that it was better to leave him alone inside while they went out as it was raining. Not sure what happened to him but from comments made possibly something fell over and wacked him.
Thankfully his appetite was undiminished, once he was placed upright. It can be a nightmare syringe feeding rabbits most do not like it and get them selves very stressed, however you have too keep food going in as they need constant food. Catch 22.

I take my dog Wibble (The black/tan/white one in the photo) with me to work. We went out the back so she could have a quick loo break but l didn't realise it had been raining. Anything more than 10min of hard rain and the back area turns into a pool. We plunged into 4 inches of freezing cold water, carried out a mid air about turn and shot back inside shivering, winter has arrived.

Still have in the post op laparotomy Boxer with awful diarrhoea. Lovely dog, short temperament. He has nearly had a few of us now. Last night when l took his muzzle off he tried to take my hand off, he likes vary of attack, muzzle going on, muzzle going off, muzzle on, he gets top marks for perseverance.
He is a fussy eater when it is normal food but seems to think the idea of buffet a la VN is worth trying.
Of course on a patient that has such a short fuse you assume that the fates will deal a bad hand. They decided on a patient needing long term care, on a drip and needing lots of oral medication, because he has started to get injection reactions.

Management have pulled a really good one. Half of the night staff, those due to work next weekend have been booked to go to the annual Veterinary Nursing Conference. I am already pre-booked to cover day and midshifts and they can not get cover staff. Not many VN are willing to work either nights or weekends, those that are have booked for congress.
The head nurse who has been off for several weeks after "flight training" down a set of stairs and only got back last week wasn't informed till then. Will refrain from adding her comments on trying to sort the situation.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Pink Bunny

We had a couple of brothers in last night. Two terriers, happy and hyperactive that had been vomiting. They were in the same kennel, and although identical, they had different collars on so we could id them. Provided they did not swop collars to fool us, with the way they were behaving l would not put it past them.
Both were on Antepsin l over drew the amount needed, this allows for "paint effect". The 3 of us had a game with the yummy white stuff that l just knew they wanted to try. I lifted them out one at a time and medicated them. Sure enough they did not let me down l got smeared, the walls did and each other as they spat out the yummy white stuff. Oh well not the end of the world they got some and the other drugs were via injection so l know that they went in.

Diabetic dog is no more. After a long consultation between vets and his family it was decided that it was to much for him to cope with and overcome. He had no quality of life and was unlikely to ever pull through, he had just to much going on with his old body.

Siamese cat had great fun yesterday and was back in sweet mode, well 90% of the time. I gave him a small pink fluffy bunny cat toy. He hauled it through the kennel door as soon as he saw it. I was impressed he appeared to take the same dislike to the toy l had been messing about with during change over that the vet had. I thought it had been rather sweet still no accounting for taste. He proceeded to "kill" it for about 20minutes, snarling, biting, ripping and drowning it in spit.

I had to do a discharge last night explaining to owners how to inject their diabetic cat and how to look after the insulin, used syringes and basic info. The full talk hypo/hyper etc was to be given by their vet in a couple of days when they went back at a sensible time not 22:00 and when they were more confident with all that was going on with insulin injections.

All went well until l got to the end and the husband said well think we have it all sorted at home we even have a can of coke cola in case he goes low. I think my eyes crossed and l shuddered.
"Noo no just put that in a brandy or something and drink it yourself, do not give that to him at all" in l hope an emphatic not squeaky voice, while trying to think how the vets would feel about having a caffeine poisoned, inhalation pneumonia elderly cat with diabetes to treat.
"Get your vet to arrange a suitable commercial alternative or keep some glucose handy but for gods sake no coke"

I use a bottle of sterile water as practice and after a few pale looks from the husband who had a dislike of syringes and needles it went smoothly. Finally they decided that they were ready for a few practice injections of bagpus so l went and collected him.

I gave him a quick apology beforehand as l wanted the first injection to make a point in a controlled situation, that even if he gave a yowl it was not the end of life. I had my 2 trainees use the same insulin setup for a couple more practice runs before the first sterile water injection was given.
The resulting yowl got the response l wanted. They leapt 6foot into the air and he glared at them. l was able to explain why and they got the point, blunt needles hurt.
The second injection given l have to say rather bravely by the husband given his dislike of needles good old bagpus did not even blink, smiles all round, and the important confidence boost had worked.

They went off happy to start their new life of 2times daily injections. If they are unable to give them for the first few days then they are fine to take him to the vets and do it under supervision but both were happy with how things were.

We have a possible IMHA cat in or the posh name of Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia. His PCV% (volume of red blood cells in a set amount of blood) was 8% it should have been around 30% at its lowest.
Unfortunately his brother was the wrong blood typing for transfusion but one of our donor cats fitted the bill, post transfusion he defiantly felt a lot better.

We had to send blood off to confirm what he had. Some sensible labs put in their info brochure what you place the sample into EDTA, Serum tube, slide or whatever, not this lab.
So l went off and trawled the net trying to confirm what tube they wanted blood in for Coombes Test. I checked labs we knew did the test, nope, general searches nothing. Finally in desperation and so we did not send off about 5 tubes in the hope one would be right l tried the labs own site and found the info, great half an hour wasted cause they wanted to save on printers ink.