Volume 13 Issue 10

The sustainable pet food dilemma

Every aspect of pet ownership has some environmental footprint, whether it is the food they eat, the toys they play with or the faeces they produce. Some of these environmental factors can be influenced by pet owners and healthcare providers, while others cannot. Studies considering the most eco-friendly pets ranked tortoises, rats and mice among the lowest impact pets to keep, with large breed dogs and horses the least eco friendly. These ratings were based on a variety of factors, including the pet's dietary requirements, water requirement, lifespan, transportation costs, grooming and accessories, waste production and likelihood to require veterinary medicines. This article concentrates on the impact of the food source provided to the most popular pets: cats and dogs.

Pre-anaesthesia preparation in cats and dogs – recent evidence

Nurses and technicians practicing veterinary anaesthesia should be familiar with current literature on preanaesthesia preparation for cats and dogs. Reductions in morbidity and mortality in animals undergoing general anaesthesia can be achieved by using low-stress veterinary treatments to allow for thorough physical examinations, diagnostic testing, assessment of anaesthetic risks and intervention planning. This article describes morbidity and mortality in veterinary patients and highlights some recent evidence on the importance of anaesthetic checklists, pre-visit pharmaceutical options, low-stress handling, fasting protocols and associated therapeutics, and the value of pre-anaesthetic laboratory work.

Winter poisoning hazards for pets

In this final article on seasonal poisoning risks to pets, winter poisoning hazards are discussed. Some hazards in this season are associated with cold weather such as carbon monoxide poisoning, antifreeze and medicines for the symptomatic relief of colds and flu. Carbon monoxide poisoning in winter is often associated with use of a faulty heating appliance and may be missed as the effects are vague and non-specific but other members of the household may also be unwell. Ethylene glycol antifreeze poisoning results in renal failure and requires prompt antidotal treatment to prevent the formation of metabolites which are responsible for the toxic effects. If a pet has eaten a cold and flu product it is important to obtain information on the name and ingredients as these products contain various analgesics and decongestants that require different management. Christmas foods (chocolate, foods containing dried vine fruits, macadamia nuts) and decorative plants such as holly, poinsettia and mistletoe are also a potential risk to pets at this time of year. These plants usually only cause mild signs despite their poisonous reputation. Macadamia nuts can cause self-limiting signs in dogs and chocolate commonly causes neurological and cardiovascular signs, but severe cases are uncommon. Ingestion of dried vine fruits requires prophylactic treatment to prevent acute kidney injury.

Pruritus in dogs and cats part 2: allergic causes of pruritus and the allergic patient

There are many causes of pruritus in domesticated dogs and cats and in this article, the second part of three papers devoted to the subject, the major allergic (hypersensitive) causes are discussed. Despite the tempting tendency to consider ectoparasites a major cause of pruritus in pets, the advent of a number of reliable, safe, effective and long-lasting ectoparasiticides into the veterinary market in recent decades, has meant that the average dog and cat, treated regularly and prophylactically for fleas, ticks and mites, is far less likely to become infested by such parasites. Consequently, allergic causes of itching have become relatively more likely to be seen in general practice. It is therefore important for both veterinary surgeons and nurses to recognise the historical and clinical features of these skin diseases, to allow an appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan to be discussed by the veterinary team and with the client.

Anaesthesia in small rodents

Anaesthesia in rodents comes with a higher risk than in cats and dogs and is generally feared and avoided. This article concentrates on anaesthesia in the smaller species seen commonly in general practice such as mice, rats, hamsters, and gerbils. To ensure the safety of the animal and the efficacy of the anaesthesia certain considerations and techniques should be implemented and veterinary nurses should familiarise themselves with the process when dealing with these small mammals.

An investigation of the impact of body condition score on the grade of intervertebral disc disease and recovery time

Background: Risk factors for Hansen type I intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) have been widely investigated, but studies looking at the impact of body condition score (BCS) on recovery times have had many limitations. Aims: To investigate whether BCS is associated with IVDD grade; and whether BCS affects recovery time following thoracolumbar hemilaminectomy in Dachshunds. Methods: An owner questionnaire was shared through social media between 11 November 2021 and 11 January 2022. 294 responses were received from owners of Dachshunds that had had thoracolumbar hemilaminectomies. Data on Dachshund variety, age, gender and neuter status were collected as well as information about the time of developing IVDD including age, weight and BCS using a Dachshund specific scale. Postoperative data included days spent in hospital and times to consciously urinate and to walk without assistance. BCS was then compared with IVDD grade, recovery time (days in hospital, days to urinate, days to walk unaided) to look for any significant differences. Results: BCS was not associated with grade of IVDD (<em>p</em>=0.566). There was no significant association between body condition and days to walk unaided or days in hospital. However, there was an association between body condition and number of days to consciously urinate (<em>p</em>=0.016). Conclusion: Dachshunds that are overweight (BCS ≥ 6) took longer to consciously urinate following IVDD surgery than those of ideal weight. This is new evidence that being overweight can delay time to consciously urinate, highlighting the importance of maintaining ideal BCS in this breed, which commonly suffers with IVDD. No conclusion could be drawn about underweight Dachshunds from this study and so further research about underweight dogs is required.

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