Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy and Prosperous New Year

I wrote the poem and dedicated it to my Aunt Audrey Doidge who passed with cancer, she was always ready for a good laugh and was an excellent cook.

For all those who have lost friends, family or have had a bad time due to whatever circumstances in 2008, l hope that 2009 will bring some light into your lives with laughter and hope.

To my friends, family and blog readers thanks for being able to put up with me for another year. And to My Parents and Husband a HUGE hug and Thanks for being "you".


May the feet that stumble
Be placed back on the level

May the eyes that cry
Be wiped and helped to smile

May the body or mind hurt or fearing
Be healed and calmed

May those lost upon life’s path
Be guided to safely by your clear bright light

May happiness, peace and prosperity
Find a place within us all

(C) CL VN AUG 05


Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Needles and Volcano's

I was in Tenerife running the rescue kennels. It was the end of lunch. I had Pat one of the committee members/helpers with me and we were at the local garage that had a small café attached, when Elsie rang me.

“Oh hello dear” said Elsie “I have just been to the kennels with Frau Weigner and dropped a dog off there. Her English neighbours dumped him when they went back to UK. The thing is he is a bit nasty and only the neighbours and Frau Weigner can handle him. He may need putting down, she understands this. I will leave it to you goodbye dear”

I had learnt by now that Elsie’s little problems made me work. We went straight back to the kennels and found a white German Sheppard locked in a kennel. Blanco as he was called hated the world. Elsie was right this was a PTS dog, and had to be done ASAP l needed the only empty kennel for a dog due in later that day. No way would l trust Blanco in with any thing animal or human.

Pat stood at the bottom of the passage staring in horror at the dog. I pulled up a couple of syringes of Rompun a very strong sedative and got my homemade dog grab ready.
“Right l told her, when l grab and pin this bastard in the corner you stick those in him where ever you can and inject him” I told her.

“What? no way” she said going whiter than Blanco. “I am scared of needles and l faint when l see them, and no way am l going near that, it isn’t a dog it is a demon”.

“Belt up and get a grip on yourself. This needs sorting now so stop pissing about. Use these to practice with and get the feel of” I snapped with all the deep understanding l could muster. I shoved an empty syringe a needle and bottle of antibiotic into her hands.

Pat managed to draw up and inject it back into the bottle a few times but looked very ill.
**At this point health and safety shut your eyes and don’t read on**

“Right l said lets get this sorted” and got Blanco out and pinned in a corner. To be fair Pat was doing her best. I was not to keen but it was a case of needs must. A scared person waving a large amount of dangerous drugs around with a dangerous dog is not smart but had to be done.

There was one very close moment. Pat almost fainted. I pushed her backwards into the kennel walls so she wouldn’t go into the passage back/head first. This nearly allowed Blanco to get a hold of me as l had to loosen my grip on him, and while she was going into her faint Pat almost rammed me with the needle.

Still she didn’t faint, l think slamming into the kennel side woke her up. We got it done. When Blanco was asleep l put him down, and notified Elsie. Later l placed his body in the bins on the way home. In Tenerife there is no where to put bodies other than the tip. No animal crematorium and with volcanic rock no real place to bury bodies unless it was a farmers field or a beach. Somehow l think people would complain at those 2 areas. The other option was an area exploded with dynamite, again not viable, anyhow no sane person would let me loose with dynamite.

This should have been it, problem solved. Until 7am the next day when Elsie phoned me.
“Oh hello dear”
“What” l asked suspicious?
“That’s not very friendly dear”
“Elsie you never ring me at 7am and after yesterdays little gift l am very suspicious, back to my question what are you trying to do to kill me now”
“Oh dear” She sighed. “I did say he was a bit nasty, oh well all sorted and done. Anyway Frau Weigner wants to come and visit Blanco’s grave. She is very religious and feels she wants to see him on his way and say sorry it needed to be done”
“No problem l will take her to the bin l threw him in” I said
“No dear don’t be like that, she wants to visit his grave, can you not just do something”?
I drew a deep breath ”I can easily find the Basura wagon that collected the bin, the lads can tell me what part of the tip he went on how’s that”
“Not funny dear she will be with you later in the morning but l don’t know what time, l will leave you to sort it please be gentle she is very upset and religious”. Elsie rang off very quickly, by the time l could call on all the saints to drop a bomb on her.

My trip to work was done at about 90mph l did not even finish the coffee l was drinking. I rang Pat up on my way out off the house. She had been due in that morning. Her mother was on holiday staying with her and she was under extreme stress. A day with me was apparently less stressful than her mother. “I need you there now we have an emergency” was all the info l gave her and slammed the phone down before she could ask what was wrong.

Pat stared at me like l was crazy. The place was sitting on top of solid rock, only dynamite was going to dig a hole that’s why the animals went in the bin. Ok what about we pile up rock. Not easy the rock was attached to the volcano. So we settled for sweeping up sand and carrying it over to a clearer part between the cactuses.
I forgot to mention those didn’t l thousands of them in all the spare spaces very big plants with very sharp thorns. They made a rhino horn look small. Dead sections of cactus spread by wind lay all over "clear" areas. We managed to clear a section and pile up sand, pebbles and rocks to look kind off like a grave, assuming you were drunk, half blind and cross eyed that is.

We were just walking in when the Frau turned up. She was in tears, carrying a HUGE bouquet of flowers, a big black bible and a smaller book. Pat legged it and left me to handle things, the traitor. I took the Frau around the back and left her. She spent about 3 hours there. Reading stories saying prayers and singing hymns. She left the flowers on the grave. I threatened the council lads around with excommunication if they touched the flowers. Frau Weigner came back every day for about 3 days then once a week for almost a year until l left. She would sit by Blanco's "grave" and read peacefully with her umbrella up to shade her from the sun.

I do not know if she realised the grave was empty or not. I felt awful lying to her, but it gave her comfort and she was so grateful she gave the charity a huge donation.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Drips and Drops

I really need to learn to say no to work. I was rung up Sunday at 16:30 in the afternoon and said ok to working the 17:30-03:30 shift and as we were so busy l didn’t leave till 04:30.
Just as well l went in as from 22:00 there were 2 of us nurses and a vet with no auxiliaries, so we had to do their jobs the laundry, bins, cleaning and reception, phones as well as our own jobs.

I ended up doing the anaesthetics and assisting the vet on ops, l took x-rays (nurses job generally), did dressings (nurses are better at dressings than vets), placed drips, took and ran blood tests and the odd bit of inpatient ob’s to help when l got a chance.
The other nurse did the inpatients, a bit like painting the forth bridge never ending.
The rest of the jobs we shared between us. The 02 alarm has a fault on and at one point l ended up laughing hysterically, leaning against a wall as the other nurse marched like the honey monster snarling in frustration towards the alarm to slam it with her hand for the 10th time or was it the 15th l lost track.

We had a couple of major operations like removing a collar buckle from a stomach. The dog got bored and ate his friend’s collar FFS talk about a pimple brain!
“Duh l am bored wonder what l can do, l know l is gonna eat your collar”
His friend joined in and ate the studs and other bits of the collar that fell on the floor. After all it was his collar so fair is fair, x-ray showed they were moving through his intestines.
That was the op that ended late then l had theatre and prep to clean and mop post op, l refused to pack the kit though just slung it into the cleaning fluid to soak.

A pyo, the uterus fills up with pus and it is life threatening. Why oh why do people not get their bitches neutered when they are puppies. They would avoid the £700+ bill, the misery and illness of the animals.

Add that to the usual night time crop of x-rays of dog and cat RTA’s or accidents and temporary support dressing (if possible) till the patient is operated on.
Stitch up wounds, gastro enteritis - joys of Christmas dinners, blocked bladder cats and renal failures.
Wound breakdowns – Listen people use the sodding buster collars they are there for a reason, don’t sit and watch your pet chew the bloody wounds.
A rabbit, a couple of birds some medical cases and oh 2 Parvo dogs in isolation.

It added up to a fun round of work yourself silly night. Think it was 36 inpatients with 32 on drips. Not the busiest of nights but more than enough to keep us going without a break as we had so few staff. If one more dog pulled, ate or disconnected its drip line then there was going to be a group of hysterical staff on duty. Drip lines can be the bane of our lives. If you have a “Bad Drip Night” you know things are just going to go downhill.

At one point l had 5 redrips waiting for me. I tend to prefer dripping to holding and the other nurse on was happy with that as she prefers holding to dripping.
I had the locum vet holding earlier in the evening. He is a Jelco person. And is to bloody slow when we need to motor. Being male he can hold and talk but not drip and talk and l felt that taping his Irish mouth shut was a bit extreme as being the only other option.

There is 2 main makes of iv catheters (canulas) we all tend to use Surflo or Jelco. I have had to get used to Jelco with locuming about but generally if you can use one sort you will screw up the other. I am in the hate Jelco camp.
The other type is winged catheters. These have little wings next to the cap to suture them in. Not something you do with animals we chop them off.
We tend to use these for rabbit ears. Yes rabbits do need iv fluids and we give it via their ears. I also hate doing rabbit ears. We put a local on their ears but it never properly works. They jump at just the wrong second. The skin is so thin and veins so tender it is all done by hope.. “hope l am in this ***ing time”.
For those who understand sizes, 27 or 26 (purple, yellow) rabbits, puppies and kittens, 23 (blue) cats and small dogs, 21 and 18 (pink, green) bigger to huge dogs.

One Jack Russell broke 2 buster collars and chewed out 2 lines. The little git got a shock when his teeth descended on the 3rd line though. I left his buster collar off and he thought Christmas had come again, stupid vet nurse. I won that round though, l sprayed the line and dressing with bitter spray.
I also placed the drip into his back leg vein. This can be a difficult one to get, but often patients will tolerate it better here. The vein is very wobbly and the stylet on the catheter bounces off it, you have to give a hard jab but not to hard so you go straight through the vein and blow it. The hind legs are a difficult shape (The vein goes diagonally towards the back of the leg just above the animals hock from front to back, run your finger round your pets leg there and you will see what l mean about shape, lumpy, bumpy and a rounded leg.)

There was a lot of short legged dogs last night, again a nightmare to drip. We call the short front legs, Queen Ann legs. The veins are very loose and wobbly, run in weird shapes around the legs and are a nightmare to find let alone drip. These dogs tend to wriggle a lot often try and bite as well and there is no decent handles on them to grab.

The drip lines used where l was disconnect part way up. This is useful when you have dogs to walk and swop lines for some reason or trying them off drips for a bit. The down side is that they can come apart and when this happens blood flows out till it clots. The clot happens fairly fast but not fast enough that the bed is not a blood bath (blood mixed with the fluid leaking out of the bag spreads well).
To sort it you disconnect the whole line and flush the blood this comes out like a hard long worm, then reattach everything. Change the bed, which was probably cleaned about 10minutes before when they peed or pooed on it.

Then there is the restless walkers, round and round till your drip is one long snarling twisted mess and pulls out the leg. Mind you not that it was dripping anyhow. Even if you manage to untangle the drip line before it pulls out they damage it with the tight twists. We were to busy though to give hourly boluses. At least there was only one “walker” and she was a non critical dog, being a recovery and going home the next day, we ended up taking her drip out.

I was so glad to get home last night and climb into bed forgot to drink my coffee. I fell asleep while trying to decide if l should reach a finally warming up arm and hand out to the cold air to grab the mug.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Cat Leg

The call came in at about 23:00. The owner had got back from a night out and his cat had ripped its front leg off. We sent the collection van ASAP. It was a fairly local call but even so we did not expect the cat to be alive.

The driver got back and was almost crying............ with laughter. She had brought the cat back for a vet check but when she got there she performed emergency first aid and reattached the leg.

Step one in emergency first aid for ripped off front leg- Un tuck the leg from the collar where it was stuck.
Step two - Tickle tummy of purring pussy cat who is looking at owner and almost hear the cat say “You plonker”

Needless to say the owner was a tad tipsy from his night out.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Fire in the Hold!

My cooking is not good, my dogs have refused it, hub cooks l wash up, he says it is safer that way and also edible. So l guess the following should not be a surprise as my Boxing Day efforts show:

Take 3 small Christmas puddings.
Decide to have one
No cooking instructions - so guess
Pierce lid and place in m/wave for 3mins (seems an average time for most things)
Leave for 1 minute once pinged
Go to kitchen
Smoke pouring out of m/wave
Open door and engulfed in smoke but no flame (thankfully)
Remove plate holding melted plastic and contents
Throw melted plastic "creature" outside
Leave door open to remove smoke
Wallop smoke detectors that are screaming in fear
Once cooled take all 3 Christmas puddings back to co-op
Get refund

So how did your Boxing Day go?

Friday, 26 December 2008

Chrismas Eve on Duty

On Christmas Eve l had been down to do the 14:00-22:00 but was asked to swop at the last minute to 17:30-03:30. I slunk into the house at gone 4am slurped a mug of coffee, tripped over books because the stairs light blew and l happened to be looking up at it when it flashed and seared my eyeballs and all l saw was flashes for 10minutes.

Work was as expected busy. I went straight into the kennel area on arrival to be told “Hurry up you are in theatre in 10minutes”. We had a splenectomy op (removal of the spleen). The patient was stable for the first part of the op. The last part was a bit of a nightmare as the patient did heart stops and other fun games with me. I was the anaesthetist for the op. Anyhow we all survived, the vet and l with more grey hairs, the patient minus a spleen. His recovery was good though considering the op and a bag of blood was dripped into him, along with other fluids.

Spleen operations are always a guarded diagnosis. In older dogs the spleen is often the target for tumours. They reach a certain point then rupture. The abdomen fills with blood, the body goes into shock and the spleen needs removing to stop the bleeding or the patient dies. Bleeding has often gone on over a week or so with the owner thinking the dog is a bit off colour then the dog's collapse.
The liver and other organs are checked for mets (spreading tumours). If there is mets then generally the patient won't come off the table, 98% of the time if you find mets then they are well advanced. The owners are rung and recommended that the patient is inoperable. Even if they came round the shock of the operation will mean they die within a very short time post operatively often within a couple of hours and it is not fair on the patient.

There were several minor ops during the night. Including a border collie that was very nervous. A nervous dog is the worst if it bites you. They are scared so make the first bite the one that counts. Luckily he didn’t bite, well l got called over by the vet who decided to get him out and the vet seemed intact. He had decided to do a “just” op. These will “just” take 5minutes in this case a quick leg stitch. It ended up as tendon repair and not as straightforward.

A diaphragmatic hernia repair was ending when l left. I kindly gave the night nurse that one, figured the other 2 ops l was involved with was my quota for the night, l did the inpatients instead.
A diaphragmatic hernia (rupture) is caused by extreme trauma, in the cat’s case due to a car hitting it. The diaphragm amongst its other jobs is the “muscle barrier” between the abdomen and the chest. Puss had a lot of trouble breathing because his liver, spleen and stomach were sharing space in his chest with his lungs, if he had not been castrated his testicles would have been in there as well.

We had a Doberman in who weighed about 50kg. At one point his drip line blocked so l so l sat on his bed in the walk in kennel to undo it, clear it and reattach it. This was not too easy. I ended up trying to fend him off my lap. He had a mental image of himself as being a tiny little puppy not a blimming big but sweet lump. We came to an agreement; he sat on my lower legs/feet and crushed those while l sorted his leg out. When left alone he howled until you went in gave him a cuddle then he shut up for about 30minutes. Seemed 30seconds gave 30minutes of silence in his currency.

Day shift had managed to get a lot of inpatients home, thankfully. Still we added a quite few into the empty kennels. Including a wild goose with one leg, the practice manager will take the goose. He has a huge pond and all water birds go to him. The vet and l upset the night nurse. She is a veggie and we discussed how the best way to cook the bird. Would the loss of one leg mean that it was lacking for those who liked leg meat etc? It cheered the evening up she took the bait and hell, we reeled it in.

The little stray pup is still in. His leg is still borderline to be kept or removed. He can not use it and it sticks out straight. He is zooming around happy with life. I did manage to sort of snap a photo of him but it was hard as he does not like to keep still. If there is quiet spells he is taken out and allowed to run riot around the place, if busy he runs round dog ward while we clean his bed. The other night he dived into Wibble’s bed then peed all over it when he got overexcited.

Christmas day was spent having a quiet Christmas day at my parent’s house. None of us like the noisy type day that is generally beloved so for us it was ideal. I would like to thank my folks for a relaxing day.
Hub was given some stilton. Oh joy now whenever l open the fridge l get attacked by this tub of stinky stuff that smells like 2months worth unwashed socks. I regretted making the suggestion to my Mum about getting it as a gift when hub undid the tub and smelled deeply muttering about ambrosia. We defiantly differ on the meaning of the word ambrosia.
I got some money and am saving up for a Sony Reader. It means l won’t have my books falling apart because l read them so often.
I was also given a lovely laser fairy cut into a block, it sits on a small flashing reflector and I’ve placed my special crystals on top of the block. They look perfect as the light shots through the fairy into the crystals in different colours.
We gave my parents a digital photo frame, the Kodak P720. I would recommend it as a gift. I used a 1 gb card for it preloaded 120 photos from the past times and loads of space for new photos.

I am off until Monday and intend to catch up on about 200emails that have collected. And may even consider giving the house a good clean, assuming l am not sidetracked by falling asleep on the settee. My years of nights have played merry hell with my metabolism and now l feel tired at all different times. It seems this is normal amongst night workers. New Year resolution, learn to say “no” when asked to do last minute shifts and changes. And take more days off and cut down on double shifts.

Junior in his buster collar. We have tried him without but he wont leave the external fixator and wound alone.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I hope that everyone has a Happy Christmas and may the New Year bring Peace, Health and Happiness and a New Beginning to those that are in need.

I am not sure if l will get much time for posting over the next few days but if l can l will do.

Many Thanks to everyone who have visited the blog and read, commented or felt that the posts were good enough to link.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Rebar

Twas 2 nights before Christmas a couple of years ago, all was settling and nicely quiet. The dogs were in bed and the cats hunting mice.

Well not exactly. The bull mastiff decided that he would go for a pre bed yippee round the garden. The house was mid repairs and part of the garden held big 5ft+ re-bars. (reinforcing bars)
How Bruno succeeded in getting one through his thigh area no one knew but he was now in big trouble.
I had to go on the call out to sedate Bruno and give him a nice dose of pain relief and sedative, then help get him moved and back to the vets. I went with a now long gone driver called Sam.

When we got there Bruno was lying in his plastic dog bed in the kitchen. The leg sticking up in the air, supported on the bar. The owners were not kidding about the bar. Even though he appeared friendly, I passed the owners a muzzle to put on Bruno. With the way things were l did not want to go trying to upset him more, and I am too old for heroics. I drew up a dose of sedative and pain killer.

While this was going on and the drugs were taking effect there was a regular “thud” followed by digging then snarling and other fearsome noises coming from behind the locked door. This was their other bull mastiff who hated everyone. Apparently if she had got spiked then even the owners would have had problems handling her. And we would probably never have got a muzzle on so she could be sedated or handled. I guess there are some small mercies then, she was not the one spiked, and that sounded like a strong enough door to hold her away from us.

Sam wasn't really in the right job. He was scared stiff of all animals and was staring, like a rabbit caught in headlights, at the shaking door. I sent him out to dismantle all the cages in the back of the van. There was no way would we get Bruno and his bar in any of the cages, or in the back of the van with the cages up in it. The owners of Bruno were following us in their car and the cages were loaded in there.

Getting Bruno out of the kitchen to the van was not the easiest of jobs. First we had to get him out of his plastic bed, without causing him any more pain, he had had injections but even so it hurt. The bed was too wide to go through the door. We could not get him on the stretcher either as the bar was sticking out. Also he would have slid on the stretched as we would have had to tip it to get dog and bar through the door. In the end we got him on a blanket, sort of bending him around the doors and furniture in the tiny lounge.

Once he was loaded l sat in the back of the van to keep an eye on him, and try and support the leg to stop to much movement. This was not going to be fun l am prone to carsickness and was locked in the back of a smelly van. Bruno was very good with just the odd whimper if we hit a bump. It took what seemed like forever to get back and by then I was almost as green as Bruno felt.

The vet and l debated the fire brigade coming out and cutting the bar. We could not x-ray the leg to see where it went, due to the bars position. In the end the vet decided that he would try and pull it through slowly. If it was jammed then fire brigade would be called to cut it off, we would get our x-ray and take things from there.

That dog had to be the luckiest that night. The 5ft re-bar pulled smoothly out of the leg. On it’s way in, the bar hit no major blood vessels, no bones nothing, it just slid through the muscle like the proverbial “Hot knife through butter” and came out the same way. Bruno went home the next day.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Chocolate Feast

This has been for some reason one of the worst seasons l have known for pets and chocolate. Possibly word is finally getting out or maybe people are just being more careless.

Last night we had 2 “chocolate” dogs in and kept both overnight on drips and treatment as a precaution. One ate chocolate several hours before, the other was more impressive.

He was 15kg in weight (about the size of a cocker spaniel) and the owner rung us up. The dog had eaten an 8pack of mars bars and a pack of breakaway biscuits.

I gave him a little injection in the neck with a rather nasty drug. Nasty because after you have eaten all that yummy chocolate, you are not going to keep it, no matter how hard you try, ahh the bliss of apamorphine.
I sat the owner and partner in a consult room with a load of incontinence sheets and said shove that under when he throws up.

I have to say l haven’t seen so much chocolate come out of a small dog before. The owner was muttering l don’t believe it he got the dairy milk as well, OMG he got the crème caramels, and look he got some quality street.

The vet decided that for safety sake we would keep it in. We did not know how much had been absorbed and the sheer volume had us all shocked as he was just a smallish dog. He had climbed on the counter top into the cupboard while the owners were out. Never done anything like this before, now they had to figure out how to stop future problems.

The photo shows most of the chocolate thrown up but a couple of the sheets of chocolate had been thrown away before l got the photo.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Christmas First Aid

I thought l would get some Christmas hints up here so vet staff can have a quiet Christmas and hopefully save some unexpected costs for owners. It applies year round but Christmas is a time of many problems.

This is general advice we give out most nights however If at anytime you are worried always ring your vet. All vets in UK have to have a 24hr cover but some use an emergency service (especially over holidays) to cover for them so always ring your vet with a pen and paper handy and listen to what any message or person tells you to do.

If you are upset then get a friend or partner to do the phone work.

Never just turn up always notify your vet you are on the way down. They may have another place for out of hours emergencies or they may be about to operate and need to hold off for your arrival.

It helps also if you pre find a taxi service that will take you and your pet if you have been drinking you can ring them up instead of panicking at the last moment.

If your pet is on medication make sure you have enough to last the holiday period, especially if you are going away. Often it has to be ordered in by the vet and wholesalers have Christmas closures, so get in and order early.

Do not keep ringing your vet out of hours if your pet was admitted. Christmas is a very busy time for vets. There is usually only a skeleton staff on duty and they will ring you if needed.


Some of the items to be worried about, especially about around Christmas.

Grapes, Sultanas, Raisins
Some dogs can eat grapes or sultanas or raisins with no problem, others can not. The reason is genetic – so just don’t risk it.

Chocolate (the darker the more toxic)
Only use pet chocolates this has theobromine removed.
Christmas trees often have chocolate and sweets hung on them be careful with pets trying to eat them.

Christmas Plants
Cover the water with live Xmas trees the water can be toxic if drunk.
Other Christmas plants may be toxic. If your pet eats any then ring the vets. They can always contact the poisons centre for clarification.

Do not give any medication (other than that prescribed for that pet with that problem at that point in time) unless you have been advised to as human preparations can be dangerous for animals.
Especially DON’T give cats paracetomol you WILL kill them. Do not give paracetomol to dogs unless the vet has told you can and how much to give.

Minor cuts and wounds wash the wound with a teaspoon of salt in a pint of warm water. Avoid human antiseptic solutions these can be toxic. If you are worried ring your vet. Be careful putting on bandages, often they are too tight and cause damage to the area applied, including loss of limbs.

If your pet has eaten anything it should not always ring your vet to check up if other treatment is needed even if it was vomited up. Not all will have come back up and supportive treatment may be needed.
In UK you can pre buy in some washing soda crystals and keep them some place handy and safe. Inform your vet you have them and ask if you can try those to make the dog vomit.
Only use these on dogs and after speaking to your vet, some items can cause problems when they are vomited back out.


Giving your pet a lovely big meal with the rest of the family meal can bring on the good old diarrhoea and vomiting. It is safer to mix a SMALL AMOUNT of food in with their normal meal if you must. Whacking a huge meal of strange food down is asking for problems.

If your or a friends pet is on a special diet i.e. pancreatitis, renal failure, diabetic etc do not feed anything but the prescription diet. Make sure that any friends and family also understand the importance of this. That little bit that can not hurt, may well result in your pet being admitted and needing treatment.

If your dog is an adult or generally over 8mths and gets diarrhoea, and you are pretty sure it was caused by the food you gave them. Stop all food for 24 hrs but make sure they have water. Slowly wean them onto plain boiled rice or scrambled egg or boiled chicken. (no seasoning just plain boiled) then if no more problems over a couple of days, back to their normal diet.

If it is a puppy or under 8mths then ring your vet.

If they vomited stop all by mouth, once they have stopped vomiting for at least 2 hours give very small amounts of water every so often. Too much will cause vomiting. If vomiting restarts stop fluids and call the vet. Water can irritate and cause vomiting, so if your pet has been vomiting do not think "oh this will wash his mouth out". It wont.

If you are worried, if there is blood, if it is coffee grains colour and or texture, or anything looks strange, if at any point, start, middle or end of the vomiting or diarrhoea episode you are worried, call your vet for advice.

If you have a large breed lab, GSD, setter etc dog (but not always large l have known small breeds to bloat) and it starts to retch but unable to vomit They may also appear to have a rounded tummy. Ring your vet tell them your dog has a possible bloat.
Bloat is FATAL and needs treating immediately.

For all ages of felines with vomiting or diarrhoea ring your vet. Do not withhold food/water from cats. Ring your vet for advice. Cats can not go without food for long because of the way their metabolism works. If your cat has not eaten for 12hrs it must see your vet.


Lights can cause problems bite the sweets on Christmas trees and get cable in the mouth bite into it and bang.
Pets especially cats get tangled up playing with the lights cables and getting a shock.

Baubles may get crushed in the mouth by a pet thinking it is a ball. If a bauble is broken, bits of broken baubles may be pushed into feet.

Tinsel glittering can attract a pet especially a cat. They start licking it and it goes down the throat. Once inside it can get bunched and jammed, or cause a telescopic effect on the intestines.


Dim lights and turn off TV/radio do not try and comfort the pet. They are totally unaware of what is happening and often bite in a reflex action. They may also defecate or urinate again they are unaware they are doing it and have no control over themselves.

Wait till the pet stops it should last no more than about 2 mins. They can be disorientated when they come round and stagger into things this can go on for some time and is not unusual. They are also very clingy.

If it has one fit don’t go rushing to your vet. Unless there has been other illness over the last few days. Ring and discuss it with your vet.
Otherwise keep an eye on the dog and see if and when it has another fit (make a note of how long it lasts) ring your vet and see if you should take them down.

If the dog stops and goes back into a fit, or doesn’t come out of it notify your vet and go down.

Travelling in a car can bring on another fit which is why for the single fit dogs we advise keeping an eye on them and going to your vet after a few hrs. Dogs may fit once and never again.

In the car do not hold your pet put it in the back if it is a hatchback or estate car or back seat of it is a saloon as per earlier warnings.

If a cat has a fit then it should see the vet even if it is just one fit as they do not usually fit. Wait for a bit though to allow the animal to settle down unless it does not come out of the fit or goes straight back into one.



An earlier blog contains a lot of advice. It applies to new and old pets (all species) with safe areas and locked doors.

And for fireworks this blog has advice.

Especially if your cat is a nervous type or has a history of not urinating they may stop urinating with all the stress of Christmas. This is more obvious if a litter tray is used, they strain a lot but nothing or just a few drops come out. The pet MUST see a vet, non urination can be FATAL.


I am sure l have missed some info off this, it is just a basic guide. If in doubt about your pet speak to the vet.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Stray Puppy (Part 2)

This is just a short blog, l need to go and watch the inside of my eyelids. Tonight has been a very busy night at work. I met myself a few times! The important part and why l put this up now was that l have updates and photos on the staffie pup. He had his op today, there looks to be quite a lot of nerve damage but with physio will see how it goes.

X-Ray of the right femur 2 positions. 1st is a side view 2nd is lying on his back. The red arrow points to the fracture.

He had an external fixator applied. The x-ray is a final check before the xfix is set in place. The small round looking things are staples closing the op site.

When l got in at 14:00 he was recovering in critical care.

At 17:00 He was having a snack.

19:00 He had to have a buster collar on as he was trying to eat his drip line.
22:00 he was evicted into dog ward l popped a toy polar bear in with him for company as he was yapping and bouncing up and down. I also removed his drip as he was eating and drinking and took his buster collar off. If he starts to pester the external fixator though, it goes back on.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Book Recommendations

I love books and have read 2 very good ones. Zimbabwe is in the news a lot nowadays. Cholera, anthrax and rabies, starvation, brutality, rape and aids are all finally coming to the worlds view. The rose coloured glasses that people have worn have been ripped from their eyes, probably to late to save the country but maybe one day.

This is the story of 2 people that lived under the early days of the regime. One person is still there, the other now lives in the UK.

“Without Honour” is written by Robb Ellis. He served in the Zimbabwean Police. He and his wife live in the UK and are good friends of ours.
Robb was disabled in UK in an accident in early 2000 He is looking for work but even though it is only his arm that was damaged. It was a major not just "an only" problem but it was not his brain. People have a problem with the word disabled and hearing that everything dissolves into blanking out all he has done and can do.

The other “Jambabja” is by someone l have spoken to online and would love to meet one day Eric Harrison. He was a farmer and still lives in Zimbabwe I call him an absent friend.

Eric uses a pseudo name and has changed the name of his farm for a very simple reason. If he used the real details he would be traceable, and dead, as would his family. The cio (zimbabwe secret service) is feared for a very good reason, to them, the truth like Eric’s story needs suppressing.

There is widespread famine in Zimbabwe. As Rhodesia it was the bread basket of Africa now it is the dead basket of Africa. This is the story of the destruction of once fertile land, farms and lives, black and white.

Is written by Robb Ellis, it details Robb’s experiences in the Zimbabwe Republic Police in Matabeleland South in the early to mid 1980's.
Robb was a serving police officer in Zimbabwe during which time Robert Mugabe unleashed his Korean-trained Fifth Brigade on the Matabele people - twenty to thirty thousand people lost their lives in that time. Neither Mugabe nor his armed forces have been brought to book for the massacre.

The police force had always been Robbs ambition. mugabe tried at one point to use him as a propaganda tool, thankfully for Robb it did not work.

Without Honour is excellent. It has a lot of emotion anger and humanity. What surprised me was his naivety. In fact even with things falling down around him there was still some there, possibly the disbelief that it could happen as it was, so that meant there had to be another reason, not the obvious one.

I felt anger and sorrow with the occasional laugh. For me what came across was that it was a release of demons within Robb as he tells his story. This is part of the book and does not overwhelm it, more ripple along like a sub tune within the overall story. Not mentioned but felt.

I recommend it, you can immerse yourself in the book, it will cause raw emotion and is a very humbling read.

Hard Books can be ordered from Lulu or Amazon

If you prefer you can order the PDF file and read it on your computer or print it out Robbs Blog (scroll down on the right to his advert)

The other book is:

Eric was a white farmer who was kicked off his land. His workers were booted off as were all most all of the workers from white owned farms. Many were also butchered. If you have any farming connections or a love of the land Eric's story will break your heart.

This humorous and devastatingly poignant novel is a fact based story of a white African's agonizing battle to save his home, farm and family from brutal and intimidating terror attacks. A Major Work, exploring the collective character of a rebellious Nation torn apart by racism and rationalization and offering an exciting insight into relationships between good governance and State sponsored thuggery and terrorism.

The reader is taken into the story with such gut-wrenching reality, that putting down the book, is like fighting your way out of a vivid dream.

15% of all takings from this book goes to support SOAP an organisation that tries to get food and essentials to pensioners who are suffering in Zimbabwe.

Jambanja can be ordered from Lulu
Or direct from Robb (scroll down on the right to his advert)

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Lighten the Load

As several of my blogs have been serious lately l thought l would lighten things up a bit.

The Stray Puppy (Part 1)

I was at work last night. The dog warden brought in a staffy puppy. He is very sweet. Someone found him Sunday and kept him overnight. They finally rang the dog warden Monday evening to say when they had found it and it had been limping.

He was limping all right, the femur was fractured and the leg was literally "swinging in the wind". It is too high a fracture for us to put a supporting dressing on so he has had a strong dose of pain relief and anti inflammatory. He may have a concious x-ray overnight if he lies still enough.
He had some food when he came in so a GA is out. If not then he will have a GA Tuesday and the surgeon will assess him. I do not know what will happen to the pup, chances are it will be repaired and rehomed but that will depend on the x-ray.

If you find an animal and there is anything amiss please make sure that you contact the dog warden or rspca, as soon as you find them. Even if they are fit they need to be taken to someone (vet, rescue centre,dog warden, etc) that deals with strays who can scan them for a microchip and hopefully trace the owner.
The RSPCA in the NW are often slow at collecting, blame the head office not the ACO. They do a bloody hard job in the face of extreme abuse often over how long they take. There are about 4 ACO (animal collection officers) and they cover a huge area, the whole of the north west UK.
The local dog wardens may also be slow. Help them all by arranging to take the animal in to a vet, ask them to let the vet know you will take it in and they can arrange collection from there.

By law UK vets have to offer first aid, even if that is just putting an animal to sleep. I know some practices that begrudge even pain relief and l have had to sneak it to them with a junior vets ok on the strong drugs l have used. Nothing is noted and drugs given passed on verbally so only the nurses and one vet knows what’s been given and when. A nurse or vet will sneak back overnight unpaid to give more pain relief. Yes it is shameful but the animals will always have someone in the practice to supply their needs above or below the management radar.

Where l went last night they are the opposite. Blood tests, x-rays and general anaesthetics, chest drains, feeding tubes, oxygen therapy, fluid therapy about 90% of the strays need iv fluids and all drugs are supplied.
Each animals needs are assessed. Uninjured strays are shipped off to rehoming /rescue centres as soon as possible. Terrible injures to animals means put down on admit. Those too old, too old and ill, young and too ill, if they are dangerous, or it is just not cost effective to repair them. The animals in these categories are given 3 days, this allows for owners to come forward. The 3 day patients are the worst ones. You nurse them, often intensely over 3 days, then they are put down.

If an operation is possible then major operations are carried out. Amputations, eye removals (one only eye if both needed removal they would be put down) Legs and pelvis are repaired, wounds repaired, spay or castrate is done, and the nurses arrange re homing.
3 nurses tend to specialise and have “black books” although all of the nurses join in.
There is an internal stray fund and anyone that gives a donation, the money goes into that and is put to good use. Check if your vet runs such a fund. To be fair someone has to pay for the drugs used, they are not cheap.

On the other hand when you see the amount of healthy strays that are destroyed, are you doing right by major operations and taking a home a healthy animal may have gone to? That healthy animal is often then destroyed?. Many agree, others see those that agree as cruel. Generally those who think it is cruel, have not had to deal with the sharp end. A rescue centre that is snowed down under healthy unwanted dogs or strays. No where to put them and seeing long term animals getting cage sick.
If anyone has any answers please let me know.

Putting anything down healthy or ill is not easy. You learn to sit hard on your feelings and make excuses or you would tear apart. Even so all of us have those moments when emotion takes us and when it does it is a really hard belly kick. Stress and depression is rife in the veterinary profession. I understand vets have the highest suicide rate. A lovely vet l knew committed suicide about 4 weeks ago. Veterinary Nurses also have a high suicide rate.

The problem is not easy to resolve and until breeding animals and unregulated sale and ownership of animals is brought under proper control it will continue.
Dogs Trust and Cat Protection League (CPL) and some of the smaller charities have packages to help with neutering contact them and do not let your pet have even one litter. Each of those "sweet babies" will grow up and someone may well breed from them and continue the problem.

The stray puppy snuggled under a blanket.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Quid Pro Quo (Part 2)

At this point the auxiliary pointedly looked at the dog and poked my ribs. I had been about to sort it and did not need telling twice. Muttering "Excuse me that patient is in trouble" and went over. I picked up the dog and carried him out to the vet asking the 2 white women [owners] that the black couple had brought from somewhere via car, to wait a few minutes please. The obnoxious client started to rant at me, l ignored her.

The vet came over to examine the patient and went to call the owners in. I went back to the front. As l was walking back the taxi turned up.
I went out and told him what was happening and asked him to wait as the police would be here and probably escort her to the taxi.

“Err huh”? He said

l slowly repeated it.

“So l do what?”

My snarling reply made a rabid Rottweiler in attack mode look sweet. The driver sunk into his seat muttering

“I wait here huh” and locked his door.

I stomped back in. Busy tired and fed up. As l walked into reception the black guy was still leaning against reception.

“You know” he said with a grin starting to bubble up. “You are not racist”

I had enough for one night and was about to let rip. Being male he saw danger signs, being smart he backed off fast, held up both hands and laughed “No no he said please let me explain”.

I decided to give him about 10 seconds, if he talked fast. I was not in the mood for laughing, and l had enough BS to last a year.

You know when you carried the dog through. The crazy woman started to scream you were a racist do you know why?”

“No, l don’t l just blocked her voice out” I told him.

“Because she has a white cat and that was a black dog you took through. She is not right in the head l do not know if it drink or drugs, possibly a mix of both”

His wife piped up “And you were right about her stories, she has changed it so many times my head is spinning, l think it just has hair matts and is not comfortable.”

I knew what she meant about spinning heads. My brain was also doing the salsa trying to join all the dots up of black, white, dogs cats and everything inbetween.

“Let me try something” he said. Walking to the client who had fallen silent and was staring vacantly ahead he said “You know you look awful and you agree your cat is not ill just uncomfortable. What about taking him home and then in the morning going to the vet, it is better than going with the Police tonight, l will even hold the door open”

By now the woman seemed to be have hit her wall. She looked round with a glazed look. “Yes, yes no, l don’t know what l want anymore you all confuse me l will ok go ok” and staggered to the taxi.

“Many thanks, l have to say l have had enough for the night” l said to him.

He smiled “So l noticed and think nothing of it. I know what you mean about Zimbabwe I understand. I am also fed up about people ranting on about racism. Racism is ugly but so are many things in life. Unfortunately it is an easy target for people to carry on about. They do not understand what real racism is though and all they do is cause problems and muddy the waters.”

I rang the police to cancel the call out. As l was about to put the phone down the controller said “wait wait l just realised your ……… vet’s aren’t you, we have a vet type problem”.

I did consider saying “No you wrote the name down wrong, we are ……” l knew l was not going to like whatever occurred to the control. Now l know how Houston felt when they heard ‘Houston, we have a problem’.
“Yes, go on, hit me with it, it’s a fair cop” l said trying to lighten my gloom.

“Great, RSCPA won’t help us and we do not know what to do. What do you know about spiders that spit poison”

I looked for something to poke my self with to see if l was dreaming. “Go on” l sighed

“Well we have someone that was brought a spider over illegally from Australia, and gave it as a gift to a friend. The spider has escaped and is spitting at him. The thing is, it is a poisonous spider and the spit is also poison the guy says”

Trust me to think of calling the police for help. I should have guessed they would want a return favour, swop one crazy client for one poisonous spider that is hardly a fair quid pro quo.
“I want ALL the detail on it l told him. I will consider going only if l know everything about it. In the mean time shut the door and no one goes near it. Possibly it can be sucked into a vacuum cleaner and then dealt with. Block under the door as well so it can not escape.”

“Great you lot handle so much” the control chuckled “l don’t know why l did not think of you before, l will ring you back”

I stared at the phone, glad he was having a night he could chuckle over. I am getting nightitis (fed up of nights)

The couple who had brought the 2 women with the ill dog were looking at me. “Having fun?” he said. I told him what was requested.

“You are just going to get it… just like that”

“Well someone has to and spiders don’t worry me” l replied.

He looked at me like l had just confirmed the crazy woman was still here, he had helped a sane person to the taxi.

I went back to see the vet and tell him what had happened also confirm if the dog was going to be put down. The dog looked and smelled like it had Parvo, the clients no money. The vet confirmed all 3 predictions to me.

At this point the police arrived even though l had cancelled the call. The auxiliary came down to hold the dog for the vet and l went to speak to the pair. They probably wanted an excuse for a break and a coffee.

Before l went l mentioned the poison spitting spider to the vet. He point blank refused to let me go. It really did not worry me l was quite happy to go, he however was not happy about me going.
He stated that as we had no proper protective gear, did not know what the spider or toxin was he flat refused. I said l would find out more, then go. He grinned and said over his dead body. That would be easy to arrange l told him. Men can be a PIA at times, it needed sorting l was happy enough to sort it. All l needed was a plan, and they are easy enough to make.

I had a quick chat with the 2 lads that turned up. Oh god l am getting old l never thought that police would look so young. I always thought that was a myth that my parents and older people said. I pointed at the coffee and said to them “Sort it yourselves l am busy”.

I rang Chester Zoo emergency line, no answer, rang Whipsnade zoo, no answer, Manchester airport animal handling no such department Manchester airport told me. I thought of Heathrow and googled their animal handling department.
Nice bloke l spoke to, but he told me the same info l had told the control, so that was not much use.

I rang the police control back to tell them l could not come out and give them Chester Zoo number to keep trying. A female controller told me it was sorted. She wouldn’t elaborate. I tried to push to make sure that who ever the idiots were they were prosecuted. As to what happened to the spider or the people that had it, I don’t know.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Quid Pro Quo (Part 1)

This is rather a long story so l will split it over a couple of days.

It happened about 5 months ago. Reception rang down the back about 2am saying that a woman was in with her cat and it had not passed faeces or urine for several days. However the cat basket smelt of strongly to belie the faecal comment added to that the woman smelt of booze and had a huge black eye.

The vet was operating so l went to collect the patient and take it down the back and triage it on the other prep room table [He was “fettling” a cut foot).
Apart from the strong faecal smell the cat was a lovely long haired white cat with a lot of matted hair.
And a loud purr, no temperature, normalish heart rate [average for a cat that’s stressed at the vets]

The vet said to tell the owner we would need to admit it and he would phone her later. With what she had described we would have to keep him in, run bloods and possibly drip etc.

I went back to explain this and the cost and the woman became agitated started on about how she had lied to get us to see the cat. It had been to the toilet just before she put it in the carrier. It was just not eating or drinking.

I went back down to speak to the vet. He rolled his eyes heaven wards. If she wants me to examine it when l have finished this op tell her the cost and including blood test. However he was happy enough that the cat was not in danger over anything and would be ok to see a vet in the morning.

Back l trotted with the message. She blew up and said “Your accent, is not English, you are South African?”

“No actually l said l am Rhodesian, although it is called Zimbabwe now” l said with a gritted smile.

“I knew it you are a South African racist. You hate me because l am a foreigner”. She looked possibly Greek and had an unpronounceable name and about as white as l am.

“Actually l am also a foreigner here” l said knowing this was going no place fast.

The client became very fractious and came out with about 5 different stories about the cat. While chanting every few words that l was a racist.
The story that sounded most plausible about the cat was that she found the matts in the coat and felt they were uncomfortable.

“Uncomfortable, no shit Sherlock” but it was not an emergency, l did not say that just thought it. I told her that the cat was fine until morning and to go to her own vet to have the cat’s matted hair clipped.

I tried to get her to give me her benefit status, she did not fall into criteria for at least one of the local charities. And of course it was my racist fault she did not fit the criteria, as l was a racist that hated foreigners.

I got fed up and told her l would ring her taxi or the police she had a choice. Still she refused to move just swearing and cussing. So l picked up the phone and said ok police makes no odds to me. She seemed to become more sober and spat a taxi firm number at me.
I rang them and then told an auxiliary to stay behind reception till the taxi arrived. Then l went back to finish helping the vet with the anaesthetic. Anaesthetic is a veterinary nurses job but on nights when there is small shifts we do all sorts including temporary racist.

After about 15 minutes the auxiliary rang back and asked for the “racist veterinary nurse” while trying not to laugh.
She also mentioned that the clients taxi had not arrived yet. I was getting pissed off by now a joke can go so far. As l walked into reception l mentally swore this could get nasty and it was not a laughing matter.
A black guy was at reception. Thankfully he was well dressed in a suit and tie. Not a yob in street clothes with a big mouth. Even so l was not going to back down or be ashamed of who or what l was.

As l walked through he looked at me and asked if l was the South African.

“Nope l am the Rhodesian and before you say it is Zimbabwe don’t bother. My birth certificate says l am Rhodesian and l do not want to call myself a zimbo and further l do not support the sociopathic scumy psychopaths zanu in charge over there that have destroyed my country”

His mouth twitched slightly. “So what’s the story here” he asked.

To keep the peace l explained things to him, while l looked over at the 2 women holding a dog on their laps. It needed a vet fast. My problem was that the vet was busy and no other nurses were about to sort things. And l did not want the present problem to escalate.

A black woman, also well dressed was sitting with the problem client and looked over very unfriendly and said “Do you not care about animals? This lady just told us all about you”

I told them briefly what had been going on and that the woman’s cat was not dying just had hair matts, she was drunk, possibly on drugs, rambling and incoherent and inconsistent in her stories of the cat and what the vet had said.
The obnoxious client now said she was not leaving.
I picked up the phone and rang the police to get over please ASAP. They are always very good if we have a problem.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Parvo Virus and Vaccinations

As the subject of Parvo virus came up in the replies of an earlier post l thought l would put a bit up about it in this posting.
Parvo is one of those avoidable diseases if your dog is vaccinated. I think that anyone that does not vaccinate their dog should be forced to smell a jar of Parvo and watch the steady downward destruction of an animal.

Some people advocate a herbal vaccine. Would you tell me how many Parvo dogs they have nursed or treated? How many years veterinary university they have passed or how many years of veterinary nursing college have they done?
I am all for herbs, but in their place, after all a lot of medications are plant based, however anyone that has dealt with Parvo will tell you. It needs proper prevention and herbs are not it.
Unless you have something you can burn to mask the smell of a body rotting from the inside.

Yes patients can have reactions to vaccines. If they have had one then a different vaccine can be used and other steps taken with future vaccines.
Treatment can be started if your pet has a reaction to a vaccine, provided the vet is informed, all too often they are not told though.
To say that vaccine made my dog sick or killed your dog as some people have done and so you are never using it again is like saying. ‘My relative was killed in a car crash so l am never riding in a car again’ it is illogical. It does not take into account what caused the car crash and what caused the death. If they were wearing a seat belt what was the car safety like, what happened to the car during the crash, what caused the crash, who caused the crash etc.

If you take an unvaccinated dog/puppy into a house that another animal has had Parvo in even several months later, you will probably give that animal Parvo. Parvo does not need direct contact between dogs to be caught/transmitted.
If you walk through a place that an infected dog defecated up several months before, even though that spot was washed. You can still carry the virus back to your dog, if it is not vaccinated.

The course is 2 vaccinations or sometimes 3 depending on the dog’s age and your vet’s protocol on vaccination, and which vaccine brand he uses with a yearly booster. Again there is some discussion on boosters. Different vaccines have different regimes your vet will discuss what theirs is with you. However a primary vaccine and yearly booster does not just cover Parvo but several other virus as well and the yearly booster also means that your pet is having a health check at the same time, in this world of cost it is really a more than 2 for 1.

Parvo is a virus that originally showed back in the late 70s. It appears to be an offshoot of a feline virus that jumped species. It took about a year to sweep round the world.
Parvo presents in 2 forms one affects the heart the other intestinal. The cardiac one is not seen that much now, in the UK anyway. The intestinal one plagues veterinary practices.

The initial diagnosis pretty much goes as follows:
A puppy or adult dog that is un-vaccinated.
May have had contact with a Parvo dog or the owner may have**
With or without vomiting and or diarrhoea.
Smell from the animal.
General demeanour.
Test performed in house -Negatives of these tests are not always believed when the above is taken into account. The patient may still be treated as a suspected Parvo case.

The patient is placed in an isolation area and on a drip. Usually the initial drip rate is very fast maybe 2 to 4 times maintenance. Maintenance is 2ml/kg body weight.
If you are lucky your vet will have infusion pumps or syringe drivers. These give a set amount of fluid/hr.

Gravity fed drips are subject to stopping due to folded legs or general body position. They may flood the patient as they have to be a higher rate than needed if the patient lies in a way that stops or slows the drip. A move to a different position can cause overload of fluids as the higher rate flows in if a close eye is not kept. It also means that you are continually moving the dog because you can bet what is comfy for the dog is not allowing a proper fluid flow.
This means placing other dogs at risk that are in the main hospital section as you need more contact with the Parvo patient.
Mind you contact is needed anyway you spend a lot of time cleaning them but it is extra contact that could be avoided.

A Parvo dog pours out a mix of blood and gut lining as a diarrhoea. They often vomit a lot as well, these losses cause dehydration. The D+++ and V+++ also upset the electrolytes.
The damaged gut lining allows blood to leak through and anaemia can result.
Secondary bacteria get in to the bloodstream through the damaged gut. What’s friendly when it is under the body’s control becomes unfriendly when a balance is upset. Dying gut bacteria gets into the bloodstream via the damage, which in turn can cause septic shock.
Temperatures are hard to take. The animal’s anus where the thermometer is inserted is very painful and so temperature taking is kept to a minimum.
We try and keep them warm, it is impossible to keep them dry they are wet with the stinking bloody mess they are sloughing out of their anus. (Diarrhoea has a bit of voluntary push behind it Parvo has none)
Young puppy’s have about a 95% death rate. Older dogs have about 80% death rate.
The best way to describe all the above is very simple:
The dog shits its self to death in a bloody, stinking, septic sludge that is almost unstoppable.

Treatment is apart from lots of fluid is pain relief, antibiotics, anti vomit medication and other drugs as the vet feels is necessary. If people have the money to pay then to pay then Virbagen Omega which is an interferon has been helpful, sometimes, in fighting the virus. Nothing can be guaranteed once a dog has Parvo. Virbagen costs around £200-£300 for the treatment (possibly more at some vets). That is on top of the bill you are already paying. It is not a substitute for any fluids, pain relief, antibiotics, etc. the patient still needs those. Virbagen is just another treatment against the Parvo virus.

Often if the virus does not kill the animal directly then the cost will. Many animals are euthanised on the grounds of cost and because there is no guarantee that after £800 to £1000+ of treatment you will end up with a live patient. Good old insurance comes in again. Provided you do not have a clause that says they won’t cover unvaccinated animals.

If you are really lucky your vet has an active veterinary staff on 24 hours a day. Not just someone that pop’s in a couple of times during the night. Or your vet practice uses an out of hour’s clinic. These have staff on 24hours a day. They are on the spot with critical patients and can take steps that may mean the difference between death and living and in some patients that is a very fine line.

To avoid the results of Parvo have your dogs vaccinated, and also your cats against the various feline viruses. A vaccine for dogs or cats covers more than one virus. It covers against the main ones for that species.

You may think that l have gone a bit overboard with the description of a dog with Parvo virus. Once you treat one you realise l have been understating what happens.

The puppy below did not make it through the Parvo and he died shortly after l took the photos. He is standing as l had just cleaned the bed out and tried to dry him off a bit from the mess he was covered in.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Press ........

Although in humour l think l have heard all the following or variations of them and more over the years. Especially doing the emergency night work.


Press 01 to make an appointment.

Press 02 to tell us your life history as well as your pets.

Press 03 to speak directly to a human doctor.

Press 04 if you feel your pets condition is more important than the emergency patient the vet is currently seeing.

Press 05 if your pet's condition has persisted 6 months but has suddenly become an emergency and needs seeing this evening because your are going on holiday tomorrow.

Press 06 if you want us to trim the nails on your 100 pound aggressive dog.

Press 07 if you demand immediate treatment but would like us to hold a check for you until next month.

Press 08 if you would like to post date a previously postdated check.

Press 09 if you need to bring in 10 unvaccinated puppies with vomiting and diarrhoea and you'll only have £10 in your pocket.

Press 10 if you plan to arrive at our surgery facility in a new Jaguar XJS but can only pay for routine vaccinations at £5 a month.

Press 11 if you want to express your unfounded anger at a receptionist or veterinary nurse.

Press 12 to determine if your pet's condition is serious enough to be seen immediately. If it is after midnight, our team of experts will be standing by to debate the issue with you for as long as it takes to agree it can wait until tomorrow.

Press 13 if your pet hasn't eaten in 10 days and you've only just become concerned.

Press 14 if your reptilian pet has been living in an incredibly small tank in a cold dark room and has not eaten for 60 days, despite you having offered it several types of chocolate and crisps.

Press 15 if your pet has removed its bandage because you took off the buster-collar (bucket shaped neck wear), even though we explicitly requested you leave it on.

Press 16 to find out our busiest times, so that you can ensure that when you show up without an appointment and demand to be seen, maximum chaos will ensue.

Press 17 if you would like to disagree with the veterinarians' diagnosis or treatment plan because you read something different on the 'net.

Press 18 if you think people have been coming into your house at night and pulling out your cat's teeth (and all teeth are present on exam).

Press 19 if you need to ask the same question 30 times just in case the answer might change.

Press 20 if you think that your dog is suicidal.

Press 21 if, even after three previous phone calls in which you were told that we are a Veterinary Hospital and DO NOT sell parrots, you still need clarification of the matter!

Press 22 if your dog hasn't had a bowel movement in more than 8 days, you are just now getting concerned, and you just want free advice over the phone.

Press 23 if you are not a client but were referred by a "good friend" and you want to call the vet at home in the early morning as she is trying to get ready for work and get her kid up for school as you can talk about your pet who has been seen by another vet but is not getting better and you want to set up an appointment with her for a second opinion but first you want to know how much for an exam fee.

Press 24 if you are allergic to electricity and want all the electric equipment turned off while you are in the clinic.

Press 25 if you get a puppy from the shelter, it comes down with parvo, and you are extremely angry that no vet will treat it for free.

Press 26 if you want to know what type of home medical care you need to give your dead rabbit when you pick it up.

Press 27 if you would like to call the vet at home after hours on his/her day off to discuss whether your pet's problem is worth bothering the vet who's on call (at the same practice).

Press 28 if you would like an appointment to strip in the exam room to show the vet (pick one):
a) the skin rash/sores that you think are caused by your pet,
b) your current surgery incisions to see whether they are healing properly and whether or not the vet thinks that the human surgeon did the surgery properly,
c) your old surgery/battle scars so you can boast what a tough person you are and why your pet doesn't need pain meds for its pending surgical procedure,
d) your skin lumps to see if the vet thinks they need to be removed (and whether or not the vet would be willing to remove them instead of going to their human doctor).

Press 29 if you still consider the cat you've owned for 10 years a stray because now it is sick.

Press 30 if you are angry because you declined all treatments and your pet is now decompensating rapidly.

Press 31 if your unspayed 10 year old dog has been in labour for over 2 days (when you suddenly realize she was pregnant), and you now suspect "somethin's wrong".

Press 32 if your "rockwilder got the mange".

Press 33 if your 200lb Newfoundland has ingested 5 Cadburys' buttons and you're worried he will die.

Press 34 if you've already given your kitten paracetamol and want to know if it was the right thing to do!

Press 35 if your dog was neutered 6 weeks ago and you are angry because the testicles were removed.

Press 36 if your dog got into your stash of pot but you don't want to admit it for fear of what we'll "think" of you.

Press 37 if you want your dog to be spayed but want the vet to come to the house and crawl under the porch to do it because she will not come out.

Press 38 if you think your chinchilla has a urinary tract infection because you've observed him "sucking his penis" (client actually used a different noun that rhymes with rock).

Monday, 8 December 2008

Basura's Story

This is one of the many stories of animals that came into K9 animal rescue in Tenerife.

Basura (Rubbish) was the only name that fitted him. He was a Belgium Sheppard cross breed(well looked like it) He came in very thin like most of the dogs we got in, but he soon filled out. We had no other history on him.
I did try and find a different name for him but nothing suited. No matter how tidy something was, he destroyed it.

He loved concrete bricks. Common stones were not worth his time. They had to be the big concrete blocks that he could destroy. And if not in destruction mode he would try and horde them for when he was bored. Being that the kennels were in the middle of a builders yard it was his idea of heaven. He would trot across the yard holding blocks he had thieved from various piles. I would trot behind him using strong language, grab the blocks and replace them, while he was already off raiding another pile. Needless to say his teeth were fast wearing down.

I tried to make the dogs nice beds with a solid wood base surrounded by concrete blocks and a thick padding of ripped up newspaper for bedding. I did not think it was possible to make as big a mess as he made. After a couple of days l removed the blocks. It was asking for trouble leaving them there. I tried to make a wood surround to keep the paper on the bed, forget it. He was going to hurt himself on the nails.
His kennel partner always had an “I am a long suffering wife” expression on her face bless her.

He was hyperactive and would bury a block in the sand then come back after running a few times round the compound and “find” his block. Sometimes he would forget where he buried it and sand would fly all over as he got more and more frantic.

I found a lovely home for Basura with an English couple. They had a young dog for company if they were not there, they liked walking and were very active ideal for Basura.
Unfortunately for Basura they had to ban him from bringing stones and bricks into the house. In Tenerife the houses tend to be flat roofed with a seating area on the roof.
Apparently they got home and Basura and their other dog got all excited. Basura could not resist giving a loud “WOOF” The fact he was holding a concrete block in his mouth was immaterial. He wanted to say hi so he dropped his toy. Luckily the family had been looking up and were able to dodge the item when it smashed down from a drop of about 20ft.

Sunday, 7 December 2008


What a fun day yesterday. I was asked to go in early as there were no vet nurses or even auxiliaries on from 16:00 so l worked 16:00 to 03:30. I left a message when l left do not ring me today (Sunday) l am moving to Outer Mongolia and unavailable. So far no calls to work however it is not the days end yet.

Whelping and puppies was the theme yesterday. One caesarean on a bulldog before l got in l just discharged her. They had no box / blanket for the pups, so l said well take off your jersey wrap the 2 pups into your jersey. Not a chance they would do that. The idiot person with the owner pushed a puppy into each pocket and tried to do the zips up on the pockets. Idiot owner pushing bits of puppy’s back into the pockets as they squashed out. One pup may yet need to be put down it had a bad cleft palette but we were not allowed to do so, that’s a big loss of money.

I was told she was 14months old this was her 3rd caesarean. I said to the owners do they know what they are doing to her breeding her like that. And they got all uppity and could not decide if she was 18months, 2 years or 2.5years old, and if it was her 2nd or 3rd whelping.
Finally the male owner whined “We spent £3000 and all we got is these 2” pointing at the 2 little heaving cramped pockets on the friend, “we are loosing money on this you know”.
I just talked over him giving discharge instructions and ignored him. It was safer that way, for all of us.

Two more bitches in whelp turned up. One Bull Mastiff had had a pup stuck paws showing for most of the day. Well it varied they came out with a different reply to whoever asked how long the pups had been stuck.
She came in at about 1am. Pointless asking WTF the person had waited so long for, l tried over the phone and got no sensible reply.
The vet managed to pull the stuck dead foetus out in a pool of blood and gunk and the bitch went home.
The other SBT had ended whelping at about 17:00 and then started pushing non stop. She came in at 2am. X-rays showed nothing there and she showed no signs of pushing, again sent home.

A bulldog puppy 4 weeks old with a chest infection, the owner informed me that everyone accepts bulldogs have trouble breathing, just when the green gunk was pouring out his nose they got worried. (Hold hands by my side at this comment to avoid strangling the owner)
He was further puzzled at my question if it was eating solids yet and said he is only 4 weeks old, and anyhow l don’t know anything about it l never bred dogs before.
I had to give a quick lesson in puppy care. Then stomped through to get a vet to check the pup and bypass the wait in the waiting room. I left the owner sitting in the waiting room, with people looking at him wondering why he was breeding and knew nothing.

Both bitches that came in at 1 and 2am were pedigrees. They and the bulldog chest puppy were via a charity that paid the vet fees. If l gave vent to the feelings of all of us at work over the above then the post would be unreadable. Bulldogs are going for up to £3000 each, Bull Mastiff up to £1000. The bitch with no pups left was a SBT and hers are around £250-£300

When we get calls with owners wanting their pets to see a vet the animals always come first. If the person is elderly or disabled then we will go all out to help as much as possible. The frustrating thing is that often they do not qualify for help. We bend the rules as much as possible. The vets will also do what they can for this group when the person comes in. Just as well management is locked up at night in houses far away or they would have a fit. What they do not know means we sleep peacefully during the day.

There is the sensible owner group. May be insured (please god) or not insured but still want to help their pet.

Then group 3. After about a month on nights even new members of staff can recognise something in the caller’s voice. The following conversations are carried out by all the night staff with varying degrees of tooth grinding.

Often the animal may have been sick for days or hours (this can happen with the first 2 groups but most commonly with the 3rd group). It is a wake up call for owners when people ring and say they have a sick pet, are told the fees and are expected to actually pay. I think it is the first time reality almost hits on many of them.

Before they open their mouths to reply you know you have a choice of 2 answers.
“We don’t care how much it costs”. This really is true, they won’t pay so they do not care about cost. Or

They state that they are on benefits and are again told we are private you pay us for work done. There is a silence while they digest this.
Now at this point one of 2 things happen.
1) They ask if anyone can help them and l pass them on the details.
2) They start screaming that “You don’t care about animals, you are money grabbing scum” and other sweet words, really helping their case. This group l tend to yawn and doodle on a bit of paper, play with the computer and await the end of the hissy fit.
When the tirade dies down l may ask what stopped them ringing a vet during the day 4 days ago when it got it. The usual reply is that l am a money grabbing yadda yadda. Conscience at leaving a sick animal so long without care is not guiding the answer, it is crass stupidity.

Anyhow when l have told them who to ring l give advice on what to do with the animal while the calls are going on.
If they do not qualify then there is the discussion over payments and how we will go about dealing with that.
Generally once it is all sorted comes the final whine. I aint got no transport.
My comment is “So go call a friend”
The whine comes back “They are sleeping” or “They have been drinking”
My reply is along the lines of “Tough l have been working it is not my problem, we are already doing all we can to help you now sort something out for yourself and let us know when you are setting off”
When they realise that they better make an effort because we are not going to do it for them, funny how they manage to get down by taxi or a friend.

Vets legally are obliged to give first aid, even if that is putting the animal to sleep. If the owners can get a charity to pay fine, if the charity will only pay part or non then the owners are legally obliged to pay.

Insurance means that you won’t be able to afford a few beers a month. Do you not owe that to the pet. Some insurance companies are trusted by vets. You can pay the excess and the vet will claim direct for treatment. I think it is mainly Petplan who are accepted for this but some others are as well.

Humans do not have a right to animals; Animals have a right to responsible humans.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Christmas & Winter Humour

I have uploaded some Winter Humour into my photo album. I will take them down when winter is over.

I have just done an upload of Christmas Humour into my photo album. I will take them down when Christmas is over.

A cliché

A few days ago work brought to mind an old cliché, if you know old folks in the neighbourhood then keep an eye on them. If you do not see them go and bash on the door.

One old dog whose owner had been found dead 3 months ago after being dead a few days, the dog had been in rescue kennels since was put down as no relatives were found.

There were 2 old dogs whose owner was found dead the other day. The elderly owner had been dead for at least a couple of weeks.
Luckily there was a ripped bag of dog biscuits and a bath full of water, not all animals have this.
The 2 dogs look like brother and sister. RSPCA have said they will take them on but they can not stay together so they are being separated and sent onto different rescue homes. I understand there is no relatives.
After all they have been through l find this awful. They are at least 12years old possibly a bit more. The female gets very stressed without the male. Even if re-homed l doubt they will settle. And as old animals re-homing is in question anyway.
In answer to the question what happens if there is no obvious food. We collect faeces for police forensics. After a few days the animals go to rescue centres.

We had 3 cats brought in as their elderly owner was found dead after about a week or so. The cats will be sent to a rescue home. I think there is an extra one to come from that group but the house was a tip and they could not catch the cat.

Now the unsavoury subject of human death. People seem to think that everyone will know what to do when they go. Well the government takes care of your kids and your money till either the will sorts. And if no will then the court takes care of the arguments, not as you would have wanted but what the hell, you did not want to leave a will so don’t bitch about it.

Animals are forgotten though. All to often the animals are re-homed in a rescue home or in the case of the old pair above, separate rescue homes.

As old animals they will probably be put down without the re-home chance, no one wants old animals. Even if re-homed they may end up on a spiral of re-homing as it is more difficult for them to settle in what will probably be a noisy home with kids. Generally animals like the ones in the post are elderly, owned by the elderly, who have few friends and absent relatives.
Some places keep animals till they die. This to me is cruel, from loving home to a cage until you die because it is too unkind to put you down.
Life in a cage, no soft furniture that you are used to, strangers looking round all the time, a noisy environment, with who knows what for bedding, wire or bars to look out from is worse than death.

The animals can spend several months in an uncomfortable rescue centre while relatives are being traced who may or may not want the animals, assuming anyone remembers to mention them.

A will makes all the difference to what happens to your money, children, home and chattels, all too often people do not think about their pets. They may have been much loved family members no matter if they are cats, dogs, rabbits, fish, birds or whatever but spare a thought about what happens to them when you die.

Leave written instructions with someone so that immediate arrangements can be made. Discuss it with your relatives and friends if you or they have animals. A will can take time to be sorted but your loved animals will be safely cared for in their new home.

You have a voice when you are dead, but you need to speak before you die or no one will hear your voice.

Friday, 5 December 2008


I had a busy day yesterday worked all day as a vet nurse, then in the evening went to do my occasional job, life modelling for art groups. I do not do it much as vet nursing takes up most of my time.
Life modelling is a job that is ideal for us “larger” folks. If extra curves are added who cares, and if we look skinny great, apparently skinny people are not that way inclined.
Considering how l feel about the cold this is an obscure job. My worries are not about standing naked in front of a group of people that does not worry me.
The worries are how warm will it be, then in no particular order. When is coffee break, will l stay awake (it can be a struggle to stay awake in a long pose) will l manage to get poses that are a challenge. Will my knees handle the strain of some of the poses l attempt. I do not like just standing or sitting. The group are there to practice perspectives etc, so l see it as my job to give them something interesting to practice drawing.

The small art groups are best, they are a good laugh and relaxed. The universities are serious, the rooms tend to be freezing, and they only do life modelling in winter.
It went off well last night l got several "OMG how the hell can we draw that" so l know my poses were good.
I had 2 fan heaters blasting on me. Coffee was also supplied with three biscuits which was also my dinner. I had not eaten since a small pack of garage bought pasta at midday.
To top it off l have been invited over for the Christmas quiz next week, if l am not working.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Samurai Sword Attack

Animals are not immune from being attacked by humans. This little jack Russell was sleeping peacefully when someone tried to break into the house. He jumped up and tried to defend the family.

The family managed to bolt the door but the JRT ended up on the wrong side. The person did run away but not before he had attacked the game little protecter with a Samurai Sword.

He was lucky that there was only the head wound although l suspect that he received several kicks at the same time. It looks bad, a general anaesthetic clip, stitch and clean up and he trotted proudly out of the surgery the next day. Head held high, but l bet a mighty headache.

This was one of many animals mainly dogs l have seen over the years that have been attacked by people for all sorts of reasons. Including eating or messing up drug stashes, not liking the colour of the animal, the dog threw up in the house/car, it was noisy, it smelt, it bit them or their animal/child and many other reasons.

Others are rambling reasons. The strangest l have dealt with was a phone call from a female. She rambled on and on at fast speed about the …? she had locked in a basket. It? had screamed and screamed and now it? was quiet and her friend said it? was dead cause the eyes were staring and open. She did not mean to be cruel just felt it? Was better in the basket where they? Could not get to it?.

I had to cut her short and say “I am sorry but are you talking about a dog or cat or what?”

She said “l told you l have just come out of a mental institution l am schizophrenic it depends who l am as to what animal l have”.
I am afraid l gave up about here and told her l thought the animal was dead to contact RSPCA for help.

Jack Russell Terrier attacked with a Samurai sword. The fetching head bandage was just a temporary measure till he was stitched up.