Safeguarding animal health and welfare
Jennifer Hamlin Consultant editor
Jennifer Hamlin Consultant editor
This year The Veterinary Nurse sponsored its first writing award. Sue Gregory explains what it means to her.
In the UK blood components (products), packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, frozen plasma, cryo-precipitate and cryo-supernatant have only been available since the emergence of blood banks 5 years ago. This has led to advancement in transfusion medicine and a positive outcome for thousands of patients whose previous treatment options were restricted due to the lack of available blood. To date in the UK only canine blood products are available with feline transfusion patients being restricted to the option of fresh whole blood donated from emergency donors at the time.With blood products now more widely available a greater understanding of using them becomes ever more important not only to ensure transfusions are being carried out safely but also to make best use of the blood donated by donors volunteered by their owners. Blood typing and cross-matching are two screening tests recommended to be performed prior to canine and feline transfusions.
Knowing how dogs deal with heat(or thermo-regulate) will help veterinary nurses and paraprofessionals better understand how to prevent, recognize and treat heatstroke in canine companions. Armed with this information clients can be educated and help prevent a tragedy. Hyperthermia or heatstroke is a killer on sunny days and can quickly overcome a dog. One of the leading causes is confinement of the dog in a car. The internal temperature of a car can rocket rapidly to in excess of 50°C in less than 10 minutes — less time than it takes to buy lunch ingredients from the local market. Even in low ambient temperatures, on sunny days, dogs confined to cars are at risk.
Obesity is a common health problem in companion animals, with almost half of dogs and cats being overweight or obese. Obesity can lead to many diseases and worsen others. Clinically, obesity may increase medical costs to owners and may increase risk of complications from anaesthesia or medication dosing. Treatment of obesity is a multiphase process: first, an initial assessment; second, developing a plan that includes proper diet selection, adequate caloric restriction, and exercise if possible; and finally, intensive follow up and ongoing assessment. Successful weight management can be challenging and requires understanding of the complex relationship between owners and their pets. Client communication is therefore crucial for compliance. Obesity is more easily prevented than treated and the veterinary nurse can play an important role in educating clients about proper body condition at new puppy and kitten visits, and reassessing body condition at yearly wellness visits.
Pain in critical care patients is a frequent occurrence due to surgery, trauma, invasive monitoring, changing dressings, suctioning various fluids and prolonged immobilization. These varied sources of pain make pain in the critical patient one of the most challenging areas of clinical practice for human nurses, and the same is true for veterinary nurses. Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensory and somewhat emotional experience that is typically associated with tissue damage, or is described in terms of actual or potential tissue damage. The body's nociceptive system initially detects a noxious stimulus, such as heat or a surgical incision, and generates a physiological and behavioural response to the injury; this process can also occur following any form of neuroplastic change, even after a wound or injury is considered healed. Pain is a very complicated concept and there are many physiological processes involved, which can make it difficult to assess and understand in animal patients, especially where pain has developed and seems unrelated to any obvious or identifiable physical process or injury. Due to these difficulties in pain assessment in veterinary patients it is recommended to take a liberal approach to analgesic use for their benefit.
Publishing research findings is the final stage of completing a research project and doing so allows these findings to be shared. In line with the progression of the veterinary nursing profession, nurses should consider these findings and apply them to their own practices. This will further demonstrate the use of objective evidence-based practice.This paper has been designed to be a practical guide for nurses who have completed a research project and who are wanting to submit their findings for publication. The peer-review process is described to allow nurses to understand the stages that will follow paper submission.
The ‘out of hours’ industry in veterinary care has been established for a number of years. Each out of hours provider has an individual approach to rotas, staffing and frequency of inpatient checks during this period. Ethical, moral and professional issues arise from considering the level of patient care to be given, including time allowed between inpatient checks, which can be influenced by a number of factors. As with any patient treatment client communication and patient consideration is a key factor.
Approximately 30% of the veterinary population is now geriatric. The term geriatric is normally used to define those animals that have reached 75—80% of their breed-specific expected lifespan. Age is not a disease, however geriatric dogs and cats are more like to experience anaesthetic-related death and the likelihood of disease increases with age. Age-related physiological changes and diseases will affect the anaesthetic management, demonstrating a need for extra caution, planning and nursing care when faced with anaesthetizing the geriatric patient.