I was fascinated recently by a video clip of a bee being trained to play football. A fake bee was used to show a real bee how to move the ball in exchange for a drop of sugar. Once the bee had learned this rewarding move it was then able to show another bee how to move the ball, and when given a choice of ball would always go for the nearest one requiring least work even when the bee that had been observed had been forced to move one further away (Loukola et al, 2017). It is not new that bees can communicate with one another — successful honey bee foragers use waggle dances to tell nestmates the direction and distance of profitable flower patches — but this study has shown that the bee's ability to learn is more sophisticated than previously thought.
Background:Historically, methods used to carry out veterinary procedures in animals within a zoo usually involved manual restraint or darting as a first choice.Aim:To see whether any animal can be trained and if that trained behaviour will improve animal welfare through allowing veterinary procedures to be carried out.Method:A range of species were looked at retrospectively to establish if they could be trained and how that affected welfare. A study was then carried out using a group of Zebras, who were trained for hand injection for their annual vaccination.Results:Case studies indicated that any animal can be trained and the results of using training could improve their welfare. The use of remote delivery systems, such as darts, resulted in pain, stress and deferred aggression.Conclusion:A number of different species can be trained to carry out a behaviour, if this is applied in all animals the need for restraint and general anaesthesia could be reduced. This would result in improved welfare to zoo animals, but can be applied to all patients, exotic and small animal.
Central venous catheters are useful for a variety of clinical situations being used in delivery of fluids and drugs, monitoring, and allowing for large volume of blood to be aspirated. Despite their usefulness, placement of venous access catheters is accompanied by the potential of causing catheter-related bloodstream infection (CRBSI). Attention to preparation of the catheter insertion site, selection of appropriate catheter material, proper hand hygiene, and optimal dressing material and methods play a large role in reduction of CRBSI. A central venous catheter maintenance protocol outlining dressing evaluation and changes, cleaning of the insertion site, and conditions for catheter removal will further improve the chances of an infection-free patient. Veterinary nurses play a vital role in the placement and maintenance of central venous catheters and influence a positive patient outcome.
Increased pet travel, human migration and climate change are leading to the rapid spread of parasitic diseases and their vectors. This, in turn, increases the risk of pets and their owners encountering these agents while abroad and bringing them back to the UK. In addition, legal and illegal imports of dogs from continental Europe are also increasing the likelihood of novel parasites being introduced. Some of these, such as Leishmania infantum, are unlikely to establish as the UK neither possesses their vectors nor has ideal conditions for their establishment. Mosquitoes, fruit flies and ticks, however, are already common across the British Isles and can transmit a number of parasites with veterinary and zoonotic significance. The fluid nature of parasite distributions means that an increasing range of parasites need to be considered and general principals in control and biosecurity implemented. Veterinary nurses are key players in the fight to keep exotic diseases out of the UK. This article considers some of the control measures required to protect the UK and its pets as well as some of the more novel parasites that have entered the UK in travelled and imported pets.
This article explores the development of parasite-control plans and the role of veterinary nurses in their development. Through identification of risk and improved education of clients, the veterinary nurse can increase compliance and therefore the health of pets. This can be achieved throughout veterinary practices but dedicated nurse-run parasite-control clinics offer an opportunity for nurses to spend time with clients and assess their pet's parasite control needs. Parts of this article are based on an article to be published in April issue of The Veterinary Nurse Journal entitled ‘Parasite control clinics and the role of the veterinary nurse’, which will expand further on some of the themes explored here.
This article forms an introduction to stress in companion animal species — what it is, why does it occur and how it does it affect the pets in our care and their behavioural choices. A series of subsequent articles will examine, in more detail, the nature and alleviation of stress in specific companion animal species. Many companion animals live in environments for which they are ill-prepared, resulting in an inability to relax and frequent (if not chronic) exposure to stressors that maintain physiological and neurochemical arousal, with the accompanying predisposition to stress-related health problems. Despite the relative enormity of this welfare problem, recognition of individual animals suffering distress and the prevention of distress is rarely discussed with owners during routine surgery visits.
Nutrition is one of the most important considerations in the maintenance of health and early intervention can play a critical role in ensuring successful patient outcome and management of disease. In veterinary patients, this is reflected by the recognition of nutritional assessment as the 5th vital sign. It is the responsibility of veterinarians and the veterinary nursing team to ensure the early identification of patients in need of nutritional support. Once nutritional intervention is deemed necessary, collaboration is essential to determine the most appropriate method and route of delivery, alongside the patient's nutrient needs and feeding goals. This article outlines a practical, systematic approach to the placement of feeding tubes, a form of nutritional lifeline, frequently utilised in small animal practice.
Otitis externa is a common presenting sign in primary care practice. Up to 75% of all cases have allergy as an underlying cause. The veterinary nurse can play a valuable role in helping to investigate disease by cytology of aural discharge to identify parasites and infection; by the institution of a hypoallergenic diet to help rule out cutaneous adverse food reaction as a primary cause and by owner education on the best ways to clean ears and the most appropriate products to use.
The role of the practice team in the client's end-of-life journey with their pet is one that can make or break the client's experience. Euthanasia experiences are remembered by the pet owner days, weeks, and even years later. For an owner, whose emotions will already be heightened by the quality-of-life decisions they face, and the turmoil of losing a treasured companion, sensitivity to the veterinary environment and their experiences ‘front-of-house’ will play a role in shaping their impressions. It is important that the non-clinical aspects of euthanasia or end-of-life care are comprehensively assessed within a practice, and the support team trained in the customer care aspects of the final client journey.
Continuing research in veterinary nursing is vital for the progression of our profession as well as the welfare of our patients. Evidence-based practice has always been a passion of mine, which has lead me to embark on a Masters by Research. I hope to improve the prognosis of dogs with joint infections by developing a new test that is quicker and more sensitive that the traditional methods.