Volume 2 Issue 8

The significance of dermatoglyphic characteristics in the determination of equine phenotypic susceptibility to abnormal repetitive behaviour in the thoroughbred (Equus caballus)

Background:Relationships have been established between trichoglyphs (whorls) and temperament, laterality and the occurrence of abnormal behaviour in multiple species. Within the equine industry stereotypic behaviour is considered to impair performance and reduce value in affected individuals, potentially reducing career longevity and compromising welfare through preventing their expression when they occur.Aim:The study aimed to determine whether dermatoglyph profiles (whorl morphology, orientation, number and topography) could be used to predict susceptibility to perform abnormal repetitive behaviours (ARB) in thoroughbred racehorses.Method:Trainer interviews combined with experimenter direct observation were used to ascertain expression of ARBs. Whorls were digitally photographed and overall whorl profiles derived using remote computer analysis.Results:Non-parametric statistical analysis revealed significant relationships between aspects of whorl morphology and performance of ARBs (round epicentre: sum ARBs p<0.05; round gross morphology: sum ARBs p<0.0001), orientation and distribution (abdominal trichoglyph orientation asymmetry: sum ARBs p<0.05; clockwise orientation: sum ARBs p<0.05 and social stereotypies p<0.05).Conclusion:This study indicates that whorls may be viable physical indicators of predisposition to perform ARBs in the thoroughbred. Assessment of dermatoglyph profiles have potential to assist with the improvement of horse welfare via informed management practices if patterns exposed are transferable to other breeds and can reliably predict individuals with a propensity to develop ARBs.

Laterality: implications for equine management and performance

Laterality can be defined as an individual's cerebral hemisphere or motor handed-ness/pawed-ness/hoofed-ness preference, which is recognized in multiple animal species. It has been proposed that the concept can be used to evaluate and predict animal behavioural responses or to determine performance-related variables. This article examines research related to laterality predominately in the horse and its application in clinical practice, in relation to injury prevalence, training and rehabilitation. It concludes that the recognition of hemisphere lateral preference can be used to determine a horse's reactions in novel environments and could inform both clinical and training practice. In addition, assessment of motor lateral preference would be a beneficial addition to integrate into equine training programmes to optimize performance and should be considered when determining rehabilitation programmes post injury.

Changes ahead with the Code of Conduct review

In this year of significant veterinary nursing milestones, we are further defining our professionalism by improving the regulations by which we practice. The review to the current Guide to Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses is complete and a new draft document for a UK Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses is now out for consultation. On page 424 of the last issue, Andrea Jeffery, RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council member who led the group tasked with developing the new Code, and a board member of The Veterinary Nurse, wrote an interesting commentary detailing how the Code has been up for review and what this may mean for our profession. Consultation closes on October 31st.

Development of the VN online clinical placement tool

Learning on clinical placements is an important part of a veterinary nurse's training in UK higher education. Veterinary nursing students at the Royal Veterinary College begin their first placement within 4 months of starting the course and in total will spend at least 60 weeks in placements. Staff and placement providers recognize a need to investigate ways to improve student preparation for learning on placements, with the aim being to enable students to get the most out of the valuable learning opportunities provided. A computer aided learning (CAL) program, the ‘VN Online Clinical Placement Tool’ was created, based on the ‘EMS Driving Licence’ which was designed to assist veterinary students in preparing for their Extramural Studies (EMS). To help develop the content of the nursing CAL, three stakeholder groups were consulted: qualified veterinary nurses in practice, university staff and students. Several aspects of the original veterinary CAL were considered suitable for nursing students and were preserved, for example the main section headings and the ability to print a personalized certificate of completion. Specific issues particularly relevant for nursing students that were not addressed in the original CAL were identified and added. The CAL was evaluated by five second year students via a focus group. Thematic analysis on the results identified three major themes: positive aspects of the CAL; negative aspects; and areas for improvement. Several suggested improvements were implemented, including introductory videos to each section of the CAL. The final version was evaluated by three nurses in practice whose feedback was positive. All agreed that they would use the CAL with future students. The CAL is available online at www. live.ac.uk/vn_placement.

Canine osteoarthritis: improving quality of life

Osteoarthritis is a painful, non-curable, progressive disease of the joint. Clinical signs include stiffness, lameness, and reduced activity. Treatment of the disease usually focuses on pain relief and management to improve the animal's quality of life. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are considered the treatment of choice but it may not always be possible to prescribe these because many of the dogs presented will be geriatric and may have impaired liver and kidney function. There are a number of other ways to help relieve the pain in these animals. Some of the most common treatments for the management of the disease include hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, weight management, dietary supplementation, and drug therapy. Veterinary nurses can play an invaluable role in supporting owners and monitoring a dog's response to treatment through arthritis clinics. Some owners may not be aware that this condition does not have to be an unfortunate process of old age but can be treated.

How to apply a foot bandage

Bandaging is a very common practice for veterinary nurses and when properly applied can provide optimal recovery for a variety of conditions such as cut pads, haemorrhage control and post-surgical interventions. Some care must be taken to assure proper bandaging skills in order to avoid redness, oedema, abrasions and other major complications

Chinchilla husbandry: an overview of correct care

Chinchillas are increasingly being kept as pets in the UK and are occasionally being seen in veterinary practices. They are small, long-lived rodents that are generally most active during the night. They have soft dense fur which may become detached if handled roughly. They are social animals and benefit from being kept in pairs or small groups. Chinchillas require large multi-level cages as they are active animals and like to jump.Diet should consist of hay, chinchilla nuggets and occasional high fibre treats. Many of the conditions encountered in veterinary practice are as a result of inadequate husbandry or diet; dental disease, digestive disorders, diabetes mellitus and heatstroke may all be seen. Their active nature means chinchillas are also prone to traumatic injury.Veterinary nurses can play an important role in educating owners (and prospective owners) about the needs of their pets.

Inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been defined clinically as a spectrum of intestinal disorders associated with chronic inflammation and thickening of the small and/or large intestinal tract. The condition can affect both dogs and cats and there is a notable breed disposition with some forms of the disease. The cause of IBD is largely unknown but dietary allergy, parasite sensitivity, bacterial imbalance and breed predisposition may be important factors contributing to the condition. Definitive diagnosis usually involves intestinal biopsy and treatment is typically centred around management of the clinical signs. Complete remission of the disease is not always possible. Dietary support is a very important part of long-term management of this condition and veterinary nurses can play an important role in client education.

NSAIDs in veterinary practice: focus on Carprieve

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used in veterinary practices for their analgesic properties. They are chosen for their ability to reduce inflammation and their antipyretic actions. The widespread use of NSAIDs has meant that the adverse effects of these drugs have become increasingly prevalent and controversial. Adverse effects of this group of medications may be serious if NSAIDs are used in patients improperly, also their benefits may be questioned for achieving optimum effects if client compliance is not correctly followed. This product focus will briefly discuss the most frequently used NSAIDs, their use in veterinary medicine with the focus concentrating on Carprieve (carprofen) and how compliance can be achieved more successfully, ultimately improving the actions of Carprieve (carprofen) and improving the benefits for the patient.

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