Clinical

Management of tubes, lines and drains

  • December 2018

Infection control is of paramount importance when placing and maintaining tubes, lines and drains in veterinary patients. This article covers the most commonly placed instruments in veterinary patients and how to care for them at a high standard. Emphasis is placed on the importance of hand washing in practice. As veterinary professionals, nurses should ensure they are implementing the highest standards of cleanliness in their practices.

Why use manuka honey?

  • December 2018

Wound management can be a challenging and confusing subject. With numerous products at our disposal and ever-changing advances in wound management techniques, it can become overwhelming trying to make the best clinical decision to suit patients. With the increasing awareness and concern of antibiotic resistance, and a holistic approach to veterinary medicine being sought by clients, the new and old ways of treating wounds are under scrutiny. Throughout various points in history honey has been linked to wound management, possessing desirable properties that can provide osmotic debridement, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects that are beneficial during the inflammatory phase of healing. This article aims to discuss how manuka honey's properties can best be utilised within modern veterinary practice.

Practical strategies for supporting elderly cats and their owners, both at home and in the veterinary surgery

  • December 2018

As cats become elderly they are at increased risk of developing both health and behaviour problems. Veterinary nurses can support owners of elderly cats by encouraging them to bring their cats to the surgery for regular health checks, as earlier diagnosis and treatment will improve the prognosis for many health problems. They can also ask about and provide advice on any behaviour problems that arise, including giving advice about simple changes that can be made in the home to support cats that are becoming less mobile, or that have cognitive or sensory deficits. This should reduce stress and the incidence of problem behaviours, resulting in improved welfare for elderly cats, and potentially also improved quality of life for their owners.

Perioperative care of the brachycephalic patient and surgical management of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome

  • December 2018

Over recent years many brachycephalic dog breeds have become more popular, i.e. French bulldogs, Pugs, Chihuahuas and British bulldogs. Due to the anatomical differences in these breeds compared with other normocephalic breeds presented in practice, more cases are requiring treatment for airway management. The most common airway issue connected to these breeds is brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome. This article discusses the presentation, surgery and perioperative nursing care for these patients.

How to carry out a wellness examination for rabbits

  • November 2018

The same standard of veterinary care should be given to all pets. As pet rabbits become more popular, it is important that veterinary clinics are familiar with performing general wellness check-ups. It is more difficult to detect signs of illness in pet rabbits than in cats and dogs because they are a prey species. Knowing the first indications of illness in pet rabbits is critical to performing a thorough examination. It is also important to educate pet rabbit owners to look for these signs at home. All of this begins with a routine, annual wellness examination. A wellness examination encompasses a lot, from a thorough history, complete physical assessment of the pet, to recommending proper husbandry. Veterinary nurses should be comfortable with all of these aspects of a complete rabbit wellness examination.

Helping owners to support the emotional and behavioural needs of the socially mature cat

  • November 2018

This article forms part of a series that considers the behavioural and emotional needs of the domestic feline — from kitten to geriatric cat — and how the veterinary practice team can support the cat's owners in maintaining its emotional welfare. The articles are based on a series delivered on behalf of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors and the British Veterinary Behaviour Association. This article is based on the material presented by Vicky Halls (RVN Dip Couns, Reg MBACP) at the London Vet Show (November 2017). The article considers the respective needs of the cat at various life stages post kittenhood, as well as feline stress and its effect on the domestic cat, the cat's behavioural and emotional needs, and how owners can make appropriate provisions. In addition, the article considers the issues that can arise when owners wish to maintain a multi-cat household, and how best to go about attempting to integrate a new kitten or cat into an existing feline group. A future article will pay specific attention to the needs of the senior and geriatric cat.

Tea tree oil exposure in cats and dogs

  • November 2018

Tea tree oil is an essential oil from the Australian tea tree Melaleuca alternifolia and is sometimes promoted as a natural or herbal treatment for fleas in pets. Although products containing low concentrations of tea tree oil are not expected to be a problem in pets, the use of pure tea tree oil directly on the skin is potentially very serious in pets and should never be used. Exposure may cause ataxia, salivation, lethargy, coma and tremor. Dermal exposure to tea tree oil may also result in dermatitis as the oil is irritant to skin. Even a few drops of pure tea tree oil applied dermally can cause clinical signs, and deaths have occurred in pets treated with pure tea tree oil. Treatment includes dermal decontamination and supportive care.

A veterinary nurse-led approach to flea control

  • November 2018

The cat flea Ctenocephalides felis is a common infestation of household pets and a source of revulsion, distress and irritation to pet owners. They can also transmit disease to both humans and pets. Flea control is therefore vital but not easy to achieve, and failures in attempts at control are common. This leads to owner frustration, as well as increased morbidity in pets, and raises questions regarding treatment efficacy and drug resistance. The veterinary nurse plays a vital role in educating clients on the risks associated with fleas, communicating the importance of effective control with clients and maximising compliance once a flea control plan has been established. This article discusses the principles of flea control and the role of the veterinary nurse.

Nutrition for puppies

  • November 2018

By the time most puppies reach adulthood, they will have increased their birth weight by 40 to 50 times. However, as there is a great variation in dog size, from tiny Chihuahuas at around 2 kg to Irish Wolfhounds at around 70 kg bodyweight, growth periods vary. Small breed dogs generally reach adult body size at between 9 and 12 months of age, and large and giant breeds not until they are 18–24 months old. If one considers that an adult giant breed dog may weigh the same as an adult human, who would take 18 years to reach maturity, this is a remarkably rapid growth period!

How to approach weight loss in the obese canine

  • October 2018

The terms ‘obese’ and ‘overweight’ are based on an animal's current bodyweight relative to an ideal bodyweight. According to a 2010 UK veterinary practice survey, slightly over 59% of dogs were classified as overweight or obese. Canine obesity increases risk and prevalence of metabolic disorders, endocrine disease, reproductive disorders, cardiopulmonary disease, urinary disorders, dermatological disease, and neoplasia. A successful obesity treatment protocol should incorporate a plan for both weight loss and weight maintenance. Weight rechecks and ongoing nutritional coaching by the veterinary healthcare team are vital components of a successful canine weight loss programme.

Advanced equine diagnostics — magnetic resonance imaging

  • October 2018

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become one of the most valuable pieces of diagnostic equipment in equine practice. Both standing and general anaesthetic units are available in the UK, and with growing popularity and public understanding, clinicians have an increased ability to utilise this modality. Considered ‘gold standard’ in terms of lameness diagnostics, MRI is non-invasive and has the capacity to enable precise diagnosis and treatment to be provided. MRI does not use ionising radiation and to date there has been no conclusive evidence to suggest any negative biological hazards associated with its use in patients or technicians. Ensuring the environment the unit is kept in is regulated, with minimal outside radiofrequency interference, and a clear gauss line adhered to, MRI can be calibrated via external services electronically or manually by appropriately trained staff. Patient care and procedural understanding are crucial elements of the veterinary nurse's role; identifying possible complications and implementing nursing interventions appropriately are vital to the successful management of the equine MRI patient.

Spaying bitches: why, when, how?

  • October 2018

Spaying is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the UK, and yet there is little in the way of consistency among practices in the advice given to owners wishing to have their bitch neutered. Opinions are often conflicting in terms of pros and cons of spaying, timing of spaying and whether the uterus and ovaries should be removed, or just the ovaries. This article considers some of the available evidence and tries to resolve some of the ambiguity where possible.

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