Volume 6 Issue 2

Regulation and connectedness with our community

With the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' new Royal Charter coming into place last month, the whole veterinary nursing profession in the UK is now regulated. Under this new Charter, all those VNs who were previously on the list, have been moved to the Register and we see yet another important development in our journey to full professional status. Regulation of all veterinary nurses continues to bring better protection for our patients, the public, and personnel working in veterinary environments. For many of us, regulation is validation, enforcing the way we have been practicing for years and ensuring that those who fail to uphold minimum standards of practice will be subject to serious consequences which will affect their ability to practice in future. However, regulation also brings with it new complications that we may have never considered and it highlights challenges in the way that we as a profession support our professional community to uphold high standards of care.

An examination of perioperative temperature fluctuations in canine patients undergoing routine neutering

Objective:To examine the fluctuations in body temperature in dogs undergoing routine neutering both during surgery and in the recovery phase.Methods:Utilising a convenience sampling approach, body temperatures of 17 healthy male and female dogs undergoing routine neutering were monitored during and after anaesthesia. Temperature recording was carried out with an auricular thermometer to minimise stress and discomfort. Data analysis was carried out using Microsoft Excel 2013 and Minitab 15.Results:Body temperature of 15 of the 17 dogs dropped below 37°C at some point during or after anaesthesia. Examination of median temperature results revealed a drop from the time of preparation for surgery, through to the time of discharge up to 6 hours after the end of general anaesthesia. At discharge the body temperature of five dogs was still lower than 37°C. Body temperature did not return to preanaesthesia levels during the recovery stage for 16 of the 17 patients.Conclusion:Following anaesthesia dogs are likely to demonstrate a lower than normal body temperature and should therefore be monitored throughout recovery. Longer hospitalisation may be required to ensure patients are only discharged once their temperature has returned to baseline level.

Critical care of the guinea pig: a veterinary nurse's guide part 1

Guinea pigs are a popular pet choice and are often encountered in veterinary hospitals, as they are susceptible to husbandry and stress-related conditions and do not readily show the early stages of an illness. Consequently, they are often presented in a critical condition and requiring ‘life-saving’ treatments which can be challenging, mainly owing to their stoic yet easily stressed nature. A full physical examination will allow for priorities in the treatment plan to be determined, and species-specific considerations could improve patient care. Veterinary nurses should be encouraged by their team to pursue developing skills in clinical techniques such as venepuncture, to ensure efficient relief from suffering. Consequently, nurses can play a vital role in applying the initial critical care and therapies such as heat, fluids, oxygen and nutritional support. This article aims to review the relevant characteristics of guinea pigs as patients and their commonly encountered critical illnesses. Part two of this topic will address the nursing initiatives that can facilitate the critical care and recovery of pet guinea pigs

How to manage indwelling feeding tubes in critically ill dogs and cats

IntroductionAlthough not many veterinary research articles are available to prove the benefits of enteral nutrition in critically ill veterinary patients, it is widely accepted that providing nutrition improves outcome in these patients. In many cases patients do not voluntarily consume adequate levels of energy and feeding tubes are used to facilitate feeding. These include naso-enteric tubes, oesophagostomy tubes, gastrostomy tubes and jejunostomy tubes. This article gives a brief overview of the practical use and management of enteral feeding tubes and the technique for placement of naso-enteric tubes.

The nurse's role in the management of equine limb wounds

This article will address the nurse's role in wound management, specifically of the limbs. This will include a quick revision of wound healing, factors affecting wound healing, types of wounds, dressing limbs and factors to consider when dressing the equine limb. It will also touch on the differences in healing between horses and ponies and help to relate the factors affecting wound healing to certain types of wounds.

Rehabilitation of the older dog with osteoarthritis: workshop report

Putting together a multimodal management plan for OAOnce a diagnosis of OA is made (normally on the basis of clinical signs with radiographic confirmation), a management plan can be discussed with the client. The key features of such a plan are• The Target: a gradual increase in exercise, mobility and comfort• Monitoring: regular checks to assess progress and modify treatment• The Treatment: an appropriate selection of therapy• The Timescale: this should be a therapy that evolves and changes as the patient improves.As part of the initial examination a baseline for the points that will be monitored during treatment should be established. A useful list would be:• Clients’ description of exercise, stiffness, lameness and pain, particularly of common activities, e.g. climbing stairs or jumping on furniture• Estimation of degree of lameness or gait abnormality at walk and trot• Physical examination — especially of affected joint especially• Range of movement (ROM) (measure limits with goniometer)• Pain• Fibrous swelling.Having a common form of recording or an ‘OA’ sheet in the practice for this sort of information is a very useful step in treatment as it makes progress easier to recognise.

Canine patients and stress: the role of the veterinary team

The dilemmaWhen a dog displays a behaviour — no matter how inconvenient for us — it is responding to environmental triggers and basing its behavioural decision on genetic/innate influences and the environmental opportunities that it has received for learning about what works to maintain its safety (Bowen and Heath, 2005). Although there is the capacity for considerable individual variation, as many dogs have failed to receive opportunities to learn to habituate to the wide range of social and physical stimuli around them, the influence of genetics should not be underestimated (Mills et al, 2013). Domestication may have created the capacity for cooperation with other species but it hasn't altered the dog's basic drive to succeed, to thrive and survive — nor has it altered the biologically adaptive methods of ensuring this: freeze, fiddle, flight or fight (Yin, 2009). Evolution has provided these natural responses to resolve social problems and the dog will automatically initiate them. Frustration or failure of these behaviours to resolve a problem will only invigorate efforts as the dog has no alternative tools to use (Mills et al, 2013).All dogs need guidance in developing a socially acceptable behaviour repertoire (Dehasse, 2002). As veterinary professionals are the only specialists that are likely to see the family and puppy at 8 weeks when there is still time to resolve most potential problems, the veterinary profession is the main source of reliable information that the family is likely to access during the early part of developing their pet–owner relationship (Shepherd, 2009). Consequently, the emotional health of the developing dog should be as great a priority as their physical health. This is particularly the case as more dogs are euthanased annually as a result of incompatibilities between their behaviour and their families' expectations, than for any other reason and the majority of these dogs are under 3 years of age (Overall, 2013). This can lead to considerable financial loss to veterinary practices that could have expected to see that animal for routine veterinary treatments for approximately another 10 years.

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) and parasite protection for the travelling pet

Changes to the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) has led to renewed interest in the scheme and concern surrounding pet travel. In addition to the new rules, the distribution of parasites not covered by the scheme are also changing and it is vital for veterinary professionals to keep up to date, not only with new legal requirements, but also the parasite prevention requirements of pets travelling abroad. Veterinary nurses play a vital role in giving pet travel advice, both in day-to-day interaction with clients and as part of organised travel clinics. This article discusses a practical approach both to the compulsory requirements of the scheme but also other parasite prevention that should be considered.

Periodontal probing and charting in veterinary nursing

Dental work is commonly performed in small animal veterinary practice. Everybody involved in the provision of this service should be knowledgeable regarding dental anatomy and terminology. Oral assessment is fundamental to the planning and execution of thorough and appropriate treatment, and should be undertaken in every patient. The veterinary nurse is often involved in patient assessment during various clinics, perioperatively and when tending to inpatients. Therefore, the veterinary nurse is a key person in identifying and documenting problems and providing advice to clients. As such, a veterinary nurse must be proficient in performing conscious oral examinations, but equally competent in the process of probing teeth and charting the findings when the animal is anaesthetised. This article provides an overview of the relevant anatomy and terminology associated with the oral cavity, followed by a discussion about how and what to record when probing a patient's teeth under general anaesthetic.

The Veterinary Nurse workshops 2015: feline patients and stress

Behavioural strategies witnessed during stressful eventsIf cats are faced with something stressful, their most common method of alleviating the stress they feel is to create distance between themselves and the stressor, i.e. they use flight. However, their ability to utilise flight in practice may be naturally hindered, for example due to physical restraint through handling, the cat carrier and caging. In such situations, some cats freeze in the hope that the situation will pass. Others may have a quick groom or may busy themselves with sniffing something — a strategy sometimes known as ‘fiddle’. If such strategies do not reduce the feelings of stress, nor remove the stressor, a cat may then resort to fight. Cats which adopt this strategy in practice can be difficult to diagnose and treat appropriately as examination is so difficult. Furthermore, some cats can become confident in their use of aggression, i.e. other behavioural strategies have not been successful at reducing or removing stressors previously, so are likely to opt to use aggression first in similar situations. Often these cats become the ‘nightmare’ cats that practices do not look forward to dealing with — they have learned to use aggression. In extreme cases, some give no warning hisses or growls and go straight to biting or swiping. Tips to help avoid reaching this point with individual cats are discussed later.

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