The notion that dogs are naturally ‘status driven’ and will use aggressive behaviour to gain recognition as ‘top dog’ within the human families they live in is based on outdated research, which has been shown to be significantly flawed. However, the concept has been historically so well-received by society that it continues to drive human—dog interactions that involve using aversive, punishing ways to control pet dog behaviour, with damaging consequences on welfare. Veterinary nurses play an important role in client education, particularly around the alternative approach of reward-based training, however client communications might be jeopardised should they feel neither acknowledged nor connected to the clinic team, and do not believe the veterinary nurse credible. Simply refuting another's long-held belief risks alienating them, as well as them perceiving veterinary professionals to be ‘crying wolf’, presenting oppositional information for their own purpose. Understanding dog behaviour and how human beliefs are formed and strengthened can positively impact welfare, while establishing positive, ongoing client-clinic relationships.
Wild European hedgehogs are frequent visitors to domestic gardens and as a result, injured and debilitated animals are often found by the public and brought into veterinary surgeries for treatment and rehabilitation. One of the aspects of this process that is overlooked is the ecto and endoparasites they carry. Parasite burdens are likely to be high in diseased patients and may contribute to disease syndromes or cause primary disease in their own right. Some also have limited zoonotic potential. Veterinary nurses need to be able to help the veterinary surgeon diagnose parasitic infections in hedgehog patients and assess their significance. This article summarises the most common parasites of hedgehogs that are likely to be encountered, their diagnosis and management.
The second in this two part series on nutritional management of dermatological conditions in dogs focuses on the role of diet in cutaneous adverse food reactions (both food allergies and intolerances). It reviews the most common causes of food allergies, how to diagnose them via an elimination diet trial and potentially appropriate diets for the trial. It also explores the most common reasons for failure of a diet trial, the role of the veterinary nurse in providing support and education for caregivers, and a number of ‘top tips’ to increase the likelihood of success of the trial. Finally, longer-term management of patients diagnosed with an adverse food reaction is discussed.
Nutritional disease is common in exotic companion mammals, and the unique dietary adaptations of herbivorous species only compounds this issue. The target species (including lagomorphs, and hystricomorph or caviomorph rodents) exhibit anatomical and physiological adaptations to a plant-based diet that is low in calories and protein, and high in fibre. Digestive tract adaptations such as hypselodont dentition to hindgut fermentation will be reviewed. Veterinary nurses are in an excellent position to counsel pet owners on the appropriate nutrition of their companion animals, and understanding these unique adaptations provides the necessary baseline knowledge to make recommendations.
In the autumn, plants commonly produce their fruits, nuts and seeds, and fungi their fruit bodies (mushrooms). Some of these are poisonous and hazardous to pets. In addition to mushrooms, warm wet weather may promote the growth of mould producing tremorgenic mycotoxins, including on food waste, compost and windfall fruits and nuts. There is also a risk of exposure to luminous novelties and fireworks associated with autumnal events such as Halloween and in the UK, Bonfire Night. For pets that ingest mushrooms, expert identification of the suspect mushroom is highly recommended to identify animals as risk of severe poisoning. Many mushrooms only cause gastrointestinal upset, but others cause neurological effects, renal and/or liver damage. Tremorgenic mycotoxins cause rapid-onset whole-body tremors and seizures. Ingestion of luminous novelties usually only produces a taste reaction which rapidly resolves. Fireworks generally only cause gastrointestinal signs but there is a potential risk of metal poisoning, although this is uncommon. Conkers and acorns are commonly eaten by dogs in the autumn and typically cause only gastrointestinal signs, but there is the risk of obstruction and occasionally more significant signs. Management of autumnal hazards is supportive but advice from a poisons information service should be sought if necessary.
Using local blocks in conjunction with other forms of pain relief have been shown to reduce the length of hospital stays and postoperative recovery times in human patients. This article will explain common hindlimb and forelimb local blocks using electrostimulation for the correct location of the nerve to provide superior pain relief in small animals when used as part of a multimodal analgesic plan.
Conflict in a veterinary practice is generally perceived as between animal owner and veterinary staff, however this is limited research on the internal conflict within practice. This article provides a high level overview of the different styles of conflict and also what strategies may be available in order to improve the working relationship from an employer and employee perspective.
Dogs Trust is hoping for veterinary practices to get involved with Generation Pup. Jane Murray explains how veterinary professionals can get involved by encouraging owners of puppies under 16 weeks of age to sign up to the study. Puppies will be studied throughout their life to provide a clearer picture of how early life experiences, genetics and environment can influence future health and welfare.