Volume 11 Issue 2

Veterinary science on the conservation frontline

Experienced veterinary professionals use their specialist expertise gained from working with various taxa in captive situations such as zoos, falconry and exotic pets, to assist with all stages of wildlife conservation projects from initial stabilisation of critically-endangered populations through captive management, reintroduction/translocation and long-term monitoring.

Creating a just and learning culture through staff support

A just and learning culture consists of a balance of fairness, justice, learning and taking responsibility for actions. It is not about seeking to blame an individual when care falls short of expectations or goes wrong. A recently published report from NHS Resolution, Being fair, sets out the argument for organisations to adopt a more reflective approach to learning from incidents and supporting staff. Instead of asking ‘who is to blame?’ or ‘what did you do?’, try asking ‘what happened?’ and ‘what were the circumstances?’ Such an approach may be the key to improving levels of patient care, as well as the professional and personal lives of veterinary personnel.

Ophthalmology for RVNs

The nurse has a vital role to play in the identification of occult ocular disease, client education about the importance of preventive ocular treatment and the prevention of severe iatrogenic corneal disease in the hospital setting. Four key skills where discussed: assessing ocular pain, assessing the tear film, measuring intraocular pressure and the use of distant direct ophthalmoscopy using ophthalmoscopes and smart phones.

UK parasite trends, emerging threats and the role of the veterinary nurse

In recent years, the threat posed to both pets and people by parasites has grown, fuelled by a milder climate and increased pet movement. Fleas and ticks are growing in numbers and infest pets all year round. Angiostrongylus vasorum has rapidly spread North up the country and Echinococcus granulosus is potentially being spread through abattoirs. In addition to this, pet travel and importation is increasing in the face of a widening distribution of vectors and vector-borne pathogens abroad. This is increasing the risk of exposure and the risk of bringing novel infections back to the UK. Veterinary practices remain on the front line of keeping pets and their owners safe from these threats and veterinary nurses play a pivotal role in giving accurate advice to clients. This article summarises information given to nurses at the recent parasite CPD day held by The Veterinary Nurse and sponsored by Bayer, considering the current parasitic threats to UK cats and dogs and how to address them.

Ear cytology for the veterinary nurse

Ear cytology is one of the most important investigative steps in all cases of otitis externa and lends itself well to input from the veterinary nurse. Stained and unstained samples are useful to assess the ear for the presence respectively of bacterial and yeast pathogens and ectoparasites. Sample collection can be easily achieved in the conscious dog and only a minimal amount of equipment is needed to take and interpret good samples.

Improving utilisation of RVNs in dermatology cases

Pressure on veterinary surgeons to prescribe antibiotics can present in many formats, these can include, time, financial and the owner's expectations. Protocols and guidelines set out within the veterinary practice can help veterinary surgeons by providing structures on how to proceed in set circumstances. Veterinary bodies and representative associations have produced literature and guidance notes on antimicrobial use and these can be built into veterinary practice protocols and clinical guidelines. The introduction of an ear cytology microscopic examination being performed prior to antimicrobial prescribing showed an increase in the utilisation of the registered veterinary nurse (RVN) in the performing of this task, and a decrease in the net value of topical antimicrobials being prescribed was noted. The overall financial value to the practice was however increased.

Biofilms and their significance in veterinary wound management

Wound management in veterinary practice can be challenging at times. With a variety of factors to consider when managing a wound, it can be further complicated if that wound starts to stagnate or regress. A process of elimination begins to identify the cause of the problem. Infection is a contributing factor to delays in wound healing, but biofilms may not always be considered, especially during the initial stages. These communities of bacteria need to be managed quickly and efficiently to prevent them becoming irreversibly embedded within a wound. As nurses it can be a useful wound management skill to be able to recognise biofilms and their signs and understand how early interventions and appropriate wound management can prevent a biofilm from becoming a problem.

Tick-borne encephalitis: an increasing threat in Europe

Tick-borne encephalitis, caused by the tick-borne encephalitis virus, is a rapidly emerging disease in Western, Central and Northern Europe, affecting dogs and people with potentially fatal consequences. This rapid spread, alongside the presence of the Ixodes ricinus vector throughout the UK, had led to concerns that it may become endemic through introduction of infected ticks on imported animals or on migratory birds. This was realised last year when evidence of endemic foci in the UK was demonstrated, particularly in Thetford Forest. This article reviews current information on tick-borne encephalitis, its distribution in Europe and the risk it poses to UK dogs and their owners.

Knowing your way around ‘the big C’ in veterinary practice

When people hear the word cancer in relation to a loved one, the wave of emotion that follows can be devastating. Due to the complexity of oncology, a suspected or confirmed diagnosis often leads to large volume of information detailing the next steps and possible options. Pets are no exception and when owners are required to make emotive decisions with limited time to deliberate, it is the responsibility of the veterinary surgeons and nurses to provide up-to-date knowledge, guiding them to make the best decision both for themselves and their pets. This article explores the prevalence of neoplasia and the role of the first-opinion practice in diagnosis and treatment of neoplasms in pets. It also looks at the recognition of paraneoplastic syndromes in cancer patients and the importance of implementing gold-standard chemotherapy protocols. Understanding key aspects of the most common neoplasms in dogs and cats and their potential treatments helps to manage owner expectation in the practice setting. However, the ability to empathise and convey the importance of quality of life is also fundamental when supporting an owner and their animal through their cancer journey.

A prospective cross-sectional survey of UK-based dog owners to explore canine handling intolerances and owner willingness to disclose these to veterinary professionals

Background: Canine handling intolerances (CHI) can be problematic for veterinary professionals (VPs), particularly when not disclosed by owners. Aims: This study explored apparent prevalence of CHI during veterinary practice visits, owner willingness to disclose intolerances to VPs and their beliefs as to responsibilities for disclosure and risks of non-disclosure. Methods: Using a prospective cross-sectional study design, an online, social media-based survey was distributed, which generated 471 usable responses over 4 months. Results: The majority (60.7%) of dogs had CHI. Most owners (78.1%) would definitely alert VPs to CHI, 90.5% believed it was primarily the owners’ responsibility to disclose, with non-disclosure perceived to make procedures high risk for VPs. Veterinary practices could help prevent CHI, with puppy classes and information on canine body language which respondents also felt could be valuable. Conclusion: With CHI common, owners and VPs have roles to play in prevention, disclosure and management to minimise risk to VPs and ensure all parties’ welfare.

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