Volume 10 Issue 1

Breeders' role and responsibilities in the long-term behavioural health of canines

The UK Government and other animal welfare agencies have recognised that many future behavioural problems in companion dogs are caused by poor breeding practices and environments, which do not prepare the dogs for a future life as pets in a home. The registered veterinary nurse (RVN) is ideally placed within veterinary practices to offer advice to breeders to ensure better breeding practices that will help each puppy cope with a future life as a pet. While breeders have exploited physical phenotypes to influence the appearance of dogs, it is less well known that puppies may inherit both desirable and undesirable behavioural traits. Breeders may also influence environmental factors, before and after the puppies are born, which have a greater impact on the dogs' future behaviour than genetic influences. From birth, puppies undergo key stages in behavioural development, which may be positively influenced by the breeder to ensure a robust behavioural development.Special consideration should be given to those puppies that are hand reared, orphaned, rejected by their dam, or born by Caesarean section, as these puppies are more likely to develop behavioural issues associated with anxiety and stress. This paper highlights simple strategies that the author, who is an experienced breeder and a Clinical Animal Behaviourist, has utilised with puppies.

Acute kidney injury

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is defined as an abrupt decline in kidney filtration rate. It is characterised by increased serum/plasma creatinine concentration and changes in urine output. This article reviews the physiology, current veterinary grading systems and common causes of AKI. Nurses should be aware of how to undertake the procedures required for the diagnosis of AKI and how to deliver nursing care to affected hospitalised patients. Patients affected by AKI can achieve complete recovery and effective nursing is key in maximising the prognosis of these patients.

Oral tumours

Dental, maxillofacial and oropharyngeal tumours develop in both cats and dogs, and depending on their type, location and behaviour can have a significant impact on the patient's quality of life and ability to perform their normal activities of daily living. This article aims to outline the incidence, types and behaviours of a variety of common oral, maxillofacial and oropharyngeal tumours encountered and their potential impacts on the patient, as well as current treatment options, as it is vital all veterinary professionals are aware of these facts and factors when advising and supporting clients regarding the treatment options for their pets.

Looking back, looking forward

As we welcome in the new year, it is a natural time to reflect on what we have achieved in the past, and to contemplate the year ahead. The Veterinary Nurse is now in its tenth volume — quite incredible as it seems like only yesterday that we launched!

Ectoparasites in captive reptiles

Pet reptile ownership has increased substantially over the last few years, with 1.6% of the 12 million homes in the UK that reported having a pet, having at least one reptile. Ectoparasite infestations can have negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of pet reptiles, and can become life-threatening if left unchecked. Three groups of mites are known to cause major infestations and play a role in causing clinical disease. A wide variety of tick species are also associated with captive reptiles. Diagnosis/detection of ectoparasites is very straightforward, with the identification of the different parasites on clinical examination or skin scrapings. There is an array of different chemical treatments for these infestations; however, environmental control is also necessary when trying to keep parasites at bay. A quarantine section should be in place in any vivarium receiving imported species, and these reptiles should be kept in quarantine for at least 90 days, isolated from the main reptile population. In the present article, the authors present information on the key external parasites commonly reported from captive reptiles in the UK.

Clinical audit in veterinary practice — the role of the veterinary nurse

Clinical audit is about measuring clinical effectiveness, it is part of a quality improvement process with the goal of continuously improving the quality of patient care. Veterinary nurses play a crucial role in preparing for, setting up and running clinical audits, so it is essential that they have a good understanding of the audit process. Thorough preparation for the audit should ensure a successful outcome. This involves choosing a suitable subject which is relevant to the team and measureable, and then deciding whether an outcome, process or significant event audit is the best course of action. Planning how to collect the data, analysing the data once the practice has it and most importantly acting on the results and making any necessary changes are all vital to ensure the practice gets maximum benefit from the clinical audit. A re-audit once changes have been implemented is also a crucial part of the process. The use of audit to benchmark the practice performance against other practices is discussed and there are examples of both outcome and process audits. Introducing simple nursing audits can allow the team to rapidly see the value of the auditing process and real differences made to patient care.

How to reduce the risk of surgical site infections

For as long as surgery is carried out on patients, surgical site infections (SSIs) will pose an invisible threat. These infections can lead to post-surgical complications that may result in delayed wound healing, sepsis and, in worst case scenarios, mortality. Therefore, it is imperative for all members of the veterinary team to be aware of the implications of SSIs and the ways in which the risks can be reduced. The proper implementation of evidence-based protocols is also necessary to ensure a standardised approach to achieving minimum risk of SSI contraction.

Environmental methods used by veterinary centres to reduce stress of cats and dogs during practice visits

Background:The veterinary practice can be a stressful environment for pets. The stress animals experience when visiting the practice can impact on health, welfare and the likelihood of owners regularly visiting the practice. A number of different approaches have been suggested to be beneficial in reducing stress at the veterinary practice however the methods that practices use to try and reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits, and the reasons for the use of these approaches, has not been determined.Aim:The aim of this study was to determine what methods veterinary practices in the UK use to try to reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits, and gather the views of veterinary staff on the efficacy of these practices.Method:Veterinary practices in the UK (n=45) completed an online mixed methods questionnaire providing information on the practice's use of separate waiting rooms, treat feeding, rehearsal visits, correct handling of animals, appeasing pheromones and sensory enrichment. The reasons why these approaches were or were not used, and the participants' views on whether these practices reduced stress during veterinary visits were also determined.Results:The majority of practices surveyed fed treats to animals during veterinary visits, offered rehearsal visits to animals and their owners, used appeasing pheromones in the practice and stated that they used correct handling techniques for different species during consultations. In addition, the majority of practices surveyed did not have more than one waiting room or use a television or auditory device to try and reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits. The majority of participants believed that separate waiting rooms, rehearsal visits, treat feeding, appeasing pheromones, sensory enrichment and correct handling can reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits.Conclusion:A range of methods are used by veterinary practices within the UK to attempt to reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits. Greater consideration of methods to facilitate separation of species where distinct waiting rooms are not feasible, for example via implementing appointments for cats and dogs on different days and times, would be beneficial. In addition, veterinary staff should consider utilising classical or specially designed species-specific music in the veterinary practice as this may help mitigate the stress of cats and dogs visiting the practice.

ESCCAP spring update 2019

This article draws from information published in the European Scientific Counsel Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) UK & Ireland Parasite Forecasts. It provides a brief roundup of parasitology-related events from 2018, analyses interest trends from the public over the past year, and looks at parasite-related research planned for 2019.

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