Volume 9 Issue 7

A preliminary study investigating the use of rabbit-related Facebook groups in relation to rabbit health information

Background:There has been a dramatic increase in the use of social networking sites such as Facebook over the last decade. However, limited research has been conducted focusing on pet owners' use of these sites for pet health information.Aim:The aim of this study was to gather, via an online anonymous survey, information from rabbit owners about their use of rabbit-related Facebook groups and determine if and how these group pages are used for rabbit health information.Methods:Responses from 304 UK rabbit owners who were members of at least one rabbit-related Facebook groups were received and analysed.Results:The majority of participants were a member of more than one rabbit-related Facebook group. The most common reasons for joining such groups were to ‘to keep up to date about rabbit-related information’ (84.9%), ‘to learn more about rabbits’ (78.0%) and ‘to discuss topics about rabbits with like-minded people’ (71.1%). Just over half of respondents (52.3%) joined rabbit-related Facebook groups to ‘seek advice about the health of my rabbits’. Nearly half of owners (41.3%) deemed Facebook groups as a trustworthy source of rabbit health information. The most common health issue Facebook group users asked about was gastrointestinal related.Conclusions:Results of this study highlight the importance of veterinarians and veterinary staff engaging with social media pet health groups to facilitate owners sourcing accurate and reliable online pet health information and seeking timely veterinary treatment.

A practical guide to heart murmurs for veterinary nurses

Heart murmurs are a relatively common finding in small animal medicine, and are additional sounds to the normal ‘lub’ and ‘dub’ heard on auscultation. The most common type of murmur recorded is a systolic murmur, and can be an indicator of disease severity in dogs with mitral valve disease. However, murmur intensity is not related to the severity of dilated cardiomyopathy, and in cats, having a murmur has been linked to a favourable outcome, while cats can have heart disease and have no heart murmur. It would be ideal if there was a heart murmur chart that correlated heart murmur auscultated, heart disease severity and anaesthetic risk. Unfortunately, such a thing does not exist, and it is up to the veterinary professionals involved, to interpret what heart murmurs mean and know which breeds are at risk of cardiac disease and/or cardiac failure. This means that the nurse needs to not only monitor heart rate, rhythm, and pulse quality, but also respiratory rate and effort, oxygen saturation and systolic blood pressure carefully in those suspected of, or those diagnosed with, cardiac disease.

Urethral obstruction in the male cat

Urethral obstruction in male cats is a common condition that can result in potentially life threatening complications. Veterinary nurses play a fundamental role in the nursing management and can greatly improve client education of these cases. It is important that veterinary nurses have an understanding of the pathophysiology, clinical signs and nursing interventions when dealing with cases of feline urethral obstruction to enable effective treatment.

Appetite stimulants in chronic kidney disease

Poor appetite is a common clinical complaint in patients with chronic kidney disease. Nurses can play an important role by helping to perform regular nutritional assessment to identify patients that require intervention. This article aims to discuss the importance of this clinical problem and the different mechanisms by which appetite may become abnormal in chronic kidney disease. Recent research on pharmacologic options for appetite stimulation offer new options such as mirtazapine for cats and capromorelin for dogs.

Helping kittens to become confident cats—why they and their owners need the support of the veterinary team. Part 2: environmental effects and support

Despite having outcompeted the dog in popularity in UK, the cat has lived in close proximity to man for a relatively short period of time. This shorter period for domestication has affected the nature of the cat's level of domesticity, creating limitations on the behavioural flexibility that companion cats can offer. A previous article examined possible genetic predispositions that may interfere with a kitten's social flexibility. This article examines whose responsibility it is to assist a cat in maximising that flexibility while considering the question of how the cat's experience during its early weeks of life can place considerable restrictions on its capacity to relax with and interact with other cats, humans and a human environment. Following this, the article considers the nature of the advice that veterinary clients may benefit from, if they are to improve the behavioural welfare of the kitten that is expected to become a confident, sociable, companion cat.

A heart-breaking disease: how to prevent lungworm infection

Since first detected in the British Isles, in a Greyhound in Ireland in 1968, the lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum has spread to become a prevalent parasitic disease, and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, in dogs. Faced with the increasing threat posed by canine lungworm, parasitologists are tracing the geographic spread of infections; and some clinicians remain uncertain about the optimal frequency of dosing for preventive therapy. For this reason, control of canine lungworms has been an increasingly important focus of the veterinary profession, with significant progress being made on a number of fronts, particularly the diagnosis and treatment of lungworm disease. One notable success has been the development of potent anthelmintic drugs to control this disease. Despite this progress, infection due to A. vasorum remains a formidable clinical problem, and may continue to do so for many years to come. What has been learned over the past decade, is that control of lungworms is too complex to be handled by a single approach; and any attempt to do so may be unsuccessful. In this article, the author argues that the implementation of integrated parasite control strategies is crucial, in order to mitigate the risks caused by lungworms, reduce the transmission of infection and improve treatment outcomes.

The role of reflective practice in professional development

Reflective practice (RP) is a process of critical evaluation and self-assessment whereby one deeply explores an event in order to learn from experiences, and consequently undertakes a change in perception or behaviour. RP can benefit practice through enhancing professionalism and encouraging self-directed learning (SDL). SDL is an important part of the lifelong learning undertaken by registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) who participate in ongoing continuing professional development (CPD). CPD is traditionally delivered using an input-based model, where the time in attendance of activities, such as lectures and seminars, are accrued. Although this model ensures a learning activity has been undertaken, it does not ensure any actual learning has occurred, and whether there has been a resultant increase in professional competency. As such, an outcome-based model of CPD has been proposed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) which includes planning, doing, recording and reflecting. The addition of RP to this new cycle ensures that RVNs explore the completed CPD activity more deeply, and consider what specific learning has occurred. This learning can then be measured as outcomes, which may include, for example, improvements to patient care, client service delivery, local processes, the wider organisation, or the management of staff or students. There have been concerns expressed within the profession about the proposed move to an outcome-based CPD model, including the increased time that measuring and recording outcomes will add to the process. If the implementation of this new model is to prove successful, these concerns will need to be addressed.

Loving lifelong learning

Welcome everybody to the September issue of The Veterinary Nurse—it gives me great pleasure to write this piece as I return to the editorial board as Consultant Editor. This month also sees me embark on another major change as I make a return to studying, starting a MSc in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. For me continued learning is vitally important. The more I learn, the better I become as a nurse, and this reflects on my ability to care for my patients. Nurses are vital in the outcome of the cases that we see, and anaesthesia is one of the areas that I focus on within my clinic. As we improve our skills set through education and experience, our knowledge base and close attention to detail allows us as veterinary professionals to become increasingly respected and trusted members of the clinical team. Within my hospital our nurses' views on patients' treatment plans are acknowledged as being vitally important, as they are the ones who spend the majority of the time with the patients and notice the subtle changes in their clinical signs, in their behaviour and in their response to treatment.

Keep up to date with The Veterinary Nurse!

Sign up to The Veterinary Nurse's regular newsletters and keep up-to-date with the very latest clinical research and CPD we publish each month.