Organisers of the 2018 National Equine Forum (NEF) are celebrating what has become a global phenomenon, thanks to live streaming and the power of social media.
The 26th annual event, held in London, saw politicians, vets and equestrian business leaders share knowledge and encourage debate not just with the packed auditorium, but also with audiences across Europe, the US and Australia.
The Princess Royal summarised the day and presented the Sir Colin Spedding Award to Simon Curtis – a practising farrier in Newmarket, Suffolk – in recognition of his exceptional practical and educational contributions to farriery over 45 years. Runner-up was the British Grooms Association.
NEF administrator Georgina Crossman said: “This year, with our live streaming, speaker podcasts and new website, I feel the forum has truly achieved its key aim of informing, educating and stimulating discussion within the equestrian industry – not just in the UK, but around the world.”
She added: “The popularity of the forum is consistently growing, and we are conscious, for several years, there has been a waiting list for tickets.
“By introducing live streaming, we can reach many more people and more effectively achieve our objective to provide a platform for impartial discussion and sharing of knowledge.”
To access streaming of the day’s proceedings and listen to interviews with some of the speakers and organisers via #HorseHour podcasts, visit the NEF website.
The 27th NEF will be held on 7 March 2019 at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.
The growing crisis of UK pet obesity is being compounded because vets do not find it “an interesting enough topic”, it has been claimed.
Weight management expert Alex German told an audience of veterinary professionals, at what is believed to be the UK’s first weight management congress, obesity did not “pique the interest” of graduate vets more interested in “complex and exciting” areas, such as internal medicine and surgery.
Addressing delegates at the Royal Canin Weight Management Congress, Prof German said the problem of, and prejudice around, obesity was ingrained and suggested the focus should shift to vets of the future and vet nurses, “who really do get the topic of obesity”.
Prof German said: ”Quite frankly, vets still don’t find [obesity] an interesting enough topic.
“So, when vets develop a clinical interest when they graduate, it has to be things that pique their interest, such as internal medicine and surgery. All of these things are interventions: they are complicated and exciting.
“If you contrast that with obesity, which is a question of very readily making a diagnosis and recommending a plan of nutrition that people aren’t comfortable with, it’s not exciting.”
The fact many people have an ingrained prejudice about obesity is also an issue that could take many generations to eradicate, Prof German explained.
”In reality, we probably can’t shift opinions much with current vets, but perhaps we should be focusing on vets of the future and veterinary nurses who really do get the topic of obesity,” Prof German said.
”If we can be training students and others to be better [and] take this problem seriously, I think that is where we could make a difference.
”People need to be talking about this topic early on – talking more about prevention and wellness, whether it is in vet schools or CPD, or as a profession, could also help.”
Prof German suggested to his audience ”growth charts” had a role to play in addressing the potential issue of obesity in puppies and kittens. As with human children, the [pet] charts help monitor weight and give early warning to owners and vets of a potential weight issue developing.
”I believe [weight charts] could revolutionise early life veterinary care. If we could influence the outcome of 10 per cent of the latest puppies, that is a start.”
Read the full story in the 19 March issue of Veterinary Times.
Breeders (of any species) can be some of the most challenging clients you’ll come across as a vet, and every year Crufts reminds us why. A lot of tension always ensues as interpretations of The Kennel Club’s breed standards often contrast with the opinions of vets.
Despite a well-rounded veterinary education and some excellent EMS practices with a wide variety of clientele, as a new grad, I still feel a bit intimidated by breeders.
The word “breeder” can often conjure an image of someone with a jumped-up, know-it-all with the attitude of “I’ve bred these dogs my entire life, who are you to start telling me what to do?”
But I’m not just referring to those determined to wage war on vets – I refer to breeders in the simplest sense of the word; the Oxford definition:
Breeder › noun: a person who breeds animals or plants.
I have never bred any animal, never mind a particular breed of dog with specific needs. So many different breeds exist, and I still wouldn’t recognise some of the obscure ones, let alone know the ins and outs of their breed-specific rearing and nutrition needs.
I claim to be more of a cat person – more specifically, a moggie person – and still I know very little about the various “posh breeds” (aside from owning an accidental colourpoint moggie, resulting from an intruding tom on the farm, which I can only assume was something like a Birman).
That’s not a Pomeranean! The woolly beast – aka, the chow chow.
So, when a breeder comes into the consult room, I feel like I’m already starting on the back foot because I was expecting a Pomeranian-sized dog and am presented with a woolly beast – in this case, a chow chow.
I had never seen one before, but did recall from vet school that it’s the only dog for which having a blue tongue is entirely normal.
When an offhand comment is made, such as “you know how chows are with their legs”, I agree, masking my ignorance and making a mental note to later look up what orthopaedic problems are common in the breed.
I fudge the kennel cough vaccine – my credibility going from almost zero to well below – and, whether the breeder notices, I feel like a complete moron.
This was in no way the most horrific of consults and, in fairness, I think outwardly it was handled well – I just felt like an idiot for not realising how big the breed was.
However, even those of us unfamiliar with certain breeds are aware of the medical problems and associated statistics for those brachycephalic.
Rather naively, I had a spontaneous outing to Crufts with my (non-vet) other half. We had a great day watching the heelwork, agility and flyball until outcry on one of the veterinary Facebook groups related to one of the breed stands. We’d already wandered around those stands, but had avoided the brachycephalic ones for two reason:
we both much prefer gun dog types
sadly, but rather unsurprisingly, the brachycephalic stands were absolutely packed with people trying to glimpse or pet these “cute” canines
The stand in question was allegedly displaying a sign inferring that the main cause for caesarean sections in the breed was lack of out-of-hours veterinary care. Justifiably, the veterinary community was outraged by this and called for any vets at the show to talk to the stand holder in question.
Not only was the statement blatantly untrue, it also implied vets are not providing adequate OOH care.
We made our way to said stand, mostly out of curiosity as to whether the sign remained in place. It was indeed there and, hoping it was just badly worded, we enquired, politely, what was meant by lack of OOH care.
The breeder on the stand wholeheartedly believed some areas of the country had OOH care provided over weekends, therefore vets were pressuring clients to opt for planned caesareans to avoid the risk of needing one as an emergency.
We pointed out all practices have to either provide their own OOH care or outsource to a dedicated OOH provider, and queried where the data for the claim on the sign had come from. The breeder couldn’t give a definitive answer and directed us to another stand to find out, which, incidentally, did not come to anything.
I felt drained by the absolute conviction with which they were supporting the entirely incorrect statement.
By the end of the day, a number of vets had questioned the sign, and by the final day of the show, the sign had been replaced with a similar, but better worded, version, stating the most common cause for caesareans was owners preferring to go to their normal vet in working hours and not wanting to visit a different vet in an emergency scenario.
A small victory – unfortunately a little late on in the show, but a victory nonetheless.
But why does it always have to feel like an uphill battle whenever we encounter breeders? When they are lovely, I feel like I don’t know enough, and when they are strong-willed and believe in something absurdly wrong, it’s utterly exasperating.
We can only endeavour to educate our clients on the matters we are knowledgeable about, and hope, gradually, we can change the attitude and relationship between breeders and vets.
Learning how to cope with breeders in the short term, however, will come with experience, so for now, I’ll keep working on the poker face.
Vets from seven countries gathered in Cremona, Italy, to undertake the first module of the new General Practitioner Advanced Certificate (GPAdvCert) in Orthopaedics launched by veterinary CPD specialist Improve International.
The GPAdvCert is aimed at European veterinary professionals who wish to advance their knowledge and practical skills in small animal orthopaedics.
Accredited by the European School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies (ESVPS) and validated by Harper Adams University, the programme is delivered over 15 modules at 3 venues, including TrecchiLAB, a new international practical education centre in Cremona.
Improve assistant managing director John Douglass said: “We were delighted to welcome delegates to our highest-level surgery syllabus under the expert tutelage of European specialists Bruno Peirone, Lisa Piras, Aldo Vezzoni, Ulrike Matis, Hugo Schmökel and Ditte Skytte, and using the fantastic facilities at TrecchiLAB.”
This is the first programme Improve has run in partnership with the Italian Companion Animal Veterinary Association and is a milestone for the business as it celebrates its 20th year.
Mr Douglass said: “We are looking forward to welcoming the delegates back for their second module in June in Madrid, Spain, and at our new practical facility in Sheffield in October.”
Vets should be using “baby talk” with unfamiliar canine patients to make them relax and comfortably interact in the practice, according to research.
Previous studies on communicating with dogs had suggested talking in a high-pitch voice with exaggerated emotion, just as adults do with babies, improved engagement with puppies, but made little difference with adult dogs.
Now, researchers at the University of York, who conducted a series of scientific speech interaction experiments between adult dogs and humans, believe sing-song “baby talk” works for older dogs too, when combined with dog-related phrases such as “good boy”.
The work, published in Animal Cognition, saw scientists monitor the varying reactions of canine subjects when humans (who were completely unfamiliar to them) addressed them in different modes of speech – from infant-directed speech to dog-directed speech.
One of the authors, Katie Slocombe from the University of York Department of Psychology, said: “The take-home message for vets is, when interacting with unfamiliar dogs where the aim is to make friends with them, and make them relax and comfortably interact with you, talk to them like a baby.
“So, high-pitched, lots of exaggerated intonation and lots of dog-related words like ‘good boys’ and ‘good dogs’.”
“Our research shows speaking to dogs in the ‘sing-song’ way you would to a human baby makes them pay more attention to you and, importantly for a vet, those animals are more likely to show affiliative behaviour to the person who uses that type of speech.”
Dr Slocombe accepted the findings could not be used “blanket” fashion by all vets with all dogs, and there would be some cases where a different approach would be needed.
Dr Slocombe said: “It depends what you need the dog to do. If you’ve got puppies coming in for their first checkup and you want them to start having a positive association with the vet clinic then this would definitely be helpful.
“My guess is, if you’re going to have to examine an aggressive dog and that animal is not going to like it anyway then that will be different.
“It’s not a blanket rule that we should all be talking to all dogs all the time in this way, but I think our results show – particularly if you are unfamiliar with a dog, and you want that dog to affiliate with you and for it to be a pleasant experience for the dog – this is a scenario vets and pet owners should be using.”
Read the full story in the 19 March issue of Veterinary Times.
A 44% increase in animals seized as a result of animal cruelty investigations in Scotland has been reported by the Scottish SPCA.
Scotland’s animal welfare charity also revealed almost half of the record 302 animals taken into care by its inspectors, following cases submitted to the Crown Office, in 2017 were victims of the illegal puppy trade.
Chief executive Kirsteen Campbell said: “Overall, 52 people were banned from owning animals last year following our investigations. That’s an average of one every week, with many of these animals having suffered in the most appalling conditions.
“The illegal puppy trade remains a major concern, with 143 of the record 302 animals seized by our inspectors and undercover special investigations unit last year rescued from dealers who treat dogs as nothing more than commodities.
“Furthermore, we prevented an additional 75 puppies involved in the illegal puppy trade entering Scotland via Cairnryan Port from Ireland. We work closely with our sister organisation, the Irish SPCA, to ensure these pups receive the highest possible care and are happily rehomed in Ireland.
“This situation simply cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we have welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase potential penalties for animal welfare offences, to tackle illegal puppy dealing and license animal sanctuaries.”
The charity has called for court cases involving animals held as evidence while their owners await any further action to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Mrs Cambell said: “Animal cruelty cases can often take years to be heard in court. This is a real issue – we had more than 1,000 animals in our care in 2017 with no home to go to because their owners had not yet faced trial.
“First and foremost, this is not good for animal welfare; it is also entirely at our expense and we would like to see these types of cases being heard in court sooner.”
A northern-based veterinary group is introducing “peternity” leave for its 220 staff, whereby each member will be entitled to two fully paid days off work when they own a new cat, dog or rabbit, to help settle them into their new home.
Family-run White Cross Vets, established in Leeds 80 years ago, operates 18 practices across the UK and has been named in The Sunday Times Best 100 Small Companies to Work For List for the past six years running.
White Cross Vets is launching “peternity” leave for its staff. Image: White Cross Vets.
The initiative was the idea of one of the practice’s client care coordinators, who suggested it while she was acting as managing director for the day, as part of White Cross Vets’ 80-year anniversary celebrations.
White Cross managing director Tim Harrison said: “We believe we are the first veterinary practice in the UK to offer two full days paid peternity leave.
“Our ethos is all about caring for pets, and the first few days at home with a new addition are so special.
“It’s, therefore, essential quality time can be dedicated to a new pet, to make sure it feels comfortable and safe in its new environment.”
Mr Harrison added: “As all of our team are pet owners already, this time off will give them the chance to introduce and socialise any new family members with existing pets, which must be done carefully and under supervision.
“Bringing a new pet into the family takes a lot of patience and perseverance, and certain breeds or older pets can be harder to train or take longer to bond.
“Also, there is a lot of preparation work that needs to be done in the home and garden when a young pet dog, cat or rabbit arrives, so this time off will hopefully make it easier for our team to give their new pets a safe and welcoming start in their new homes.”
Researchers have found testing anti-epileptic drugs’ effectiveness and safety for cats has been generally subpar, worse than what was formerly reported in dogs.
Scientists from Ghent University, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna and the RVC have reviewed and assessed “vast amounts” of data to come to their conclusion.
They found much of the evidence for the medical treatment of feline epilepsy was based on below-par reporting of efficacy and adverse effect. It is hoped these findings will inform practices going forward, highlight the need for more high-quality evidence and, by extension, improve the treatment that epileptic cats receive.
The work, published in BMC Veterinary Research, was the first-ever systematic review on the efficacy and safety of all anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) in feline epilepsy. The aim of the study was to assess the efficacy and adverse effect of each AED by analysing available data published then evaluating how reliable it was.
The researchers gathered, screened and assessed all the information published in peer-reviewed journals and publications. The individual studies were evaluated based on the quality of evidence, study design, study group sizes, subject enrolment quality and overall risk of bias, as well as the efficacy and safety outcome measures.
Lead author of the study Marios Charalambous, from Ghent University, said: ”We recruited systematic methods to combine, compare and summarise the results of independent studies and, therefore, create more objective and reliable conclusions based on the current evidence.
”It was a time-consuming, demanding and challenging process, and we hope we provided the clinicians with essential information they can use for daily practice.”
Holger Volk, head of the Department Clinical Science and Services and professor of veterinary neurology and neurosurgery at the RVC, summarised: “Not only does this study offer a new perspective on the management of feline epilepsy, but also highlights the importance of the need for trials that provide high-quality evidence to have more reliable and objective results about the efficacy and safety of the AEDs in feline epilepsy.”
The launch of a guide to improve conformity at dog shows has been welcomed by animal welfare campaigner and vet Emma Goodman Milne.
The Breed Watch Illustrated Guide from The Kennel Club (KC) has been created to help vets and judges identify physical features that could lead to health and welfare issues in show dogs.
Detailed information and illustrations demonstrate how exaggerated conformation can affect dog health in category two and three breeds – those identified by The KC as being at risk of health problems due to their physical conformation – and the conditions that should be penalised in the show ring.
Mrs Goodman Milne welcomed the publication. She said: “Any move like this can only help, but it must be used and enforced.
“As for show vets, I really hope this will empower them. The vet checks in recent years have clearly failed to stop some animals progressing to the later stages of shows that had obvious conformational problems.”
Mrs Goodman Milne continued: “My concern with vet checks is they are insufficient, and there is too much potential for vitriol and harassment of show vets, which may add to the pressure on them to overlook issues. Crufts this year will be very interesting, I think.”
The booklet, which covers various areas of canine health and welfare, was sent to all Crufts judges and breed health coordinators of category two and three breeds. It forms part of the Breed Watch, which serves as an “early warning system” to help judges identify and monitor breed-specific visible characteristics associated with health problems, known as “points of concern“.
Both category two and three breeds have listed points of concern, and judges examining these breeds are required to complete health monitoring forms after every appointment at group and general championship shows.
KC secretary Caroline Kisko said: “It is hoped this guide, part of the KC’s Breed Watch programme, will help to improve dog health and welfare.
“Breed Watch aims to help those breeds that have points of concern related to their conformation, by ensuring health is at the forefront of judges’ minds.
“The booklet covers points of concern listed under each visual area assessed by judges: the nose and nostrils, mouth and dentition, skin and wrinkling, eyes, weight and body condition, tail and limbs, and movement.”
The guide is available as a free download with a judge’s Kennel Club Academy subscription or can be purchased from The KC for £10 via its website.
Read the full story in the 19 March issue of Veterinary Times.
An RVN from York with a thirst for knowledge is preparing to take on extra studies in a bid to boost her abilities.
Ellie Tomlinson will continue to work as a VN at The Minster Veterinary Practice in York while studying for the Certificate in Veterinary Nursing in Emergency and Critical Care.
The added qualification will prepare her to deal with patients in critical conditions and that require anaesthetics.
Miss Tomlinson is following in the footsteps of fellow VNs and colleagues Alice Jones, Hannah Allanson and Katie Tallett, who have already taken on the challenge of further study.
Mrs Jones, who had already obtained a diploma in advanced nursing, chose to convert the qualification into a bachelor of science in clinical veterinary nursing degree. Her dissertation focused on intensive care patients requiring blood transfusions.
Elsewhere, Miss Allanson took her learning to the next level, with a City and Guilds Certificate in Veterinary Nursing of Exotic Species, while Mrs Tallett completed a BVNA certificate in wound management.
Clinical nurse manager Kate Harrington said: “We encourage all staff to further their abilities and, with the support from VetPartners, we have been able to offer these opportunities to our nurses.
“It’s excellent our nurses are keen to develop their own professional skills, as it demonstrates the dedication and passion they have for their jobs, which is integral as a team member of Minster Vets.”
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