Friday, May 19, 2017

Waking up to a text...

"Do you want to come and spay a quail and amputate a Harris' Hawks wing?"
...and of course, I did!

One of the vets in the Exotics clinic and a friend were doing a salpingectomy or hysterectomy on a quail; something they'd not done before so I just went down to help out monitoring anaesthesia and flicking through the surgery textbook.
Initially we started with a left ventral incision but found it hard to identify the ovaries so then we went midline, which gave much better visualisation and the procedure went smoothly. Ideally the textbook says it would be done endoscopically using surgical clips but I think it's better to walk before you can run!

The great thing about the Exotics clinic is that you don't know what's going to come in next so while we were there a Rosella (small parrot) came in with a leg ring which was far too tight and needed removing as it had caused the foot below the ring to swell up. He was more difficult to anaesthatise than the quail as they can bite so we caught him in a towel and gave Isoflo with a mask. The ring came off with a dremel and needed bandaging to reduce the haematoma and stop him biting at the wound. As he was under we also coped (filed down) his beak and nails.

Finally we amputated the Harris' Hawks wing. He was bred by a friend of ours and sold to a falconer for hunting but had an accident whilst out in the field and was electrocuted. The whole of the carpometacarpus and second digit were necrotic and had to be removed back to the bone and sutured up. He recovered quickly so will be fed up in the clinic and eventually come to us in Falconry Club as he can no longer be flown to hunt.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rabies Vaccinations

I'm going to India for a month this summer and will be volunteering in a neuter clinic performing surgery and going out vaccinating street dogs with Mission Rabies. One of the requirements is that we are vaccinated against rabies ourselves.

While I was at home for Easter I looked at prices and was quoted £55 per vaccine and we need a course of three. In Slovakia I got three vaccines for €46 from the pharmacy, supplied with a needle ready to go! I know some people have vaccinated themselves but we need a certificate so had to get that from the hospital.
I've not had an injection for about 8 years so just before I went in I was kinda nervous and was planning on not looking but it was fine and I watched her do it. Quite odd to have a vet scared of needles, something we use all day every day!

The worst part of the whole thing is that she said we have to avoid hard work, alcohol and sunbathing for 4 days; I live for two of those things!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Exotics and Wildlife Weekend

Another UVM Kosice conference weekend, this time the topic was Exotics and Wildlife with BSAVA President John Chitty and wildlife vet from the Netherlands, Sophie Bosch.
We covered all sorts of topics from initial consultation, stabilising, husbandry, surgery and how to get into wildlife vet work. John also did a session on PDP which is the Professional Development Phase new grad vets must complete and usually takes around 18 months after graduating.
The weekend finished with the Avian afternoon (save the best til last) which was really interesting. I learnt lots at BSAVA Congress and even more this weekend, particularly about parrots which I don't have much experience with.
Listening to John it became clear that the best way into exotics is to get into birds first, reptiles later as birds tend to be emergency cases which really prepares you, then these skills can be transferred to reptiles which you can generally take more time working with.
A true bird emergency is critical to be dealt with in 20 minutes whereas something like a tortoise can be stabilised and operated after a few days or even weeks. That's great for me as I already have a keen interest in birds and could possibly transfer these skills into reptiles.

He also taught us to question 'standard protocols' such as triple anaesthesia being used in every rabbit surgery; we don't treat all cats the same so why exotics? I'll definitely be paying more attention to the drugs used in practice this summer as previously I've just accepted the standard 'rabbit anaesthesia' protocol stated on the wall and not given it too much thought.

John and the BSAVA very kindly donated two BSAVA Manuals which he is Editor of to our Falconry and Raptor Rehabilitation Club; the Manual of Raptors, Pigeons and Passerine Bird and the Manual of Psittacine Birds.
Thanks again to Laura and Chris for organising the weekend and to Sophie and John for coming to speak to us.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Final Day with the 5th Years

I've spent three years with this class and loved (nearly) every minute of it.
Today was the last day we are all together as next year they split into four State groups for final year and I finish off 5th year with my second State exam and a couple other subjects I wasn't able to take this year.

Monday, April 10, 2017

BSAVA Congress 2017

I've known about BSAVA Congress for the past few years as it's always been held in my hometown of Birmingham and the vets I see practice with always go as well as vet students friends. I attended for the first time this year and wish I'd been before - it was great!
It's the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress where veterinary professionals from all over the world gather to for lectures, to present research and award ceremonies as well as an exhibition.

There are 16 lecture streams running simultaneously throughout the day covering a huge variety of topics so we sat down and decided which we wanted to go to. Every delegate has a lanyard with their name badge which is scanned as you enter and the lectures are emailed to you at the end of the day; they also count towards CPD points for vets. I think videos of all streams are available to download but I've not had a chance to look yet.

Highlights for me were the Vet Student stream and How to... where we learnt about performing your first bitch spay, euthanasia consults and clinical stuff. Sophie Adamantos is an ECC clinician at Langford and I could have spent a whole day listening to her, the was she explained working in Emergency clinics was so calm, collected and funny. There was a Bloopers stream which was great to learn from other peoples mistakes and I took a lot away from Matt Gurney, even little things to make a habit of checking as you walk into theatre or kennels.
Neurology was something I've not covered at university yet but I went to two lectures by Laurent Garosi which were really interesting and delivered so that I would understand everything, so I'm looking forwards to that next year.
It made such a difference listening to native and fluent English speakers as they go through topics quickly but you can keep up as they explain it so well and crack jokes throughout to keep it interesting and engaging.

I've been wanting a miniVET guide for a few months after seeing people with them in lectures but didn't want to pay postage to Slovakia so luckily I was able to buy one in the exhibition.
As we're International Delegates we were invited to drinks at the SeaLife Centre on Thursday evening for drinks and canapes for a chance to network with people.
Every day at the exhibition they provided lunch as well as hot drinks and Prosecco all day (which I may have taken full advantage of).
Walking around I saw lots of people I know from the various clinics I've seen practice with so had lunch and went to lectures with a few. They all asked me to keep in touch and book weeks with them over summer which was really nice.

I also met Chris and the team from WVS who I'm going to India with this summer so it was nice to put a face to a name. We picked up lots of information about the course, what to expect and what to take (a head torch!) so I'm really looking forward to that now.
We got so many freebies that I don't know what to do with them! A rucksack, thermos flasks, water bottles, fob watches, torches, books, a tourniquet, waterproof catheter covers and countless pens which will be great for seeing practice.
I even spoke to a lady on the KRUUSE stand and she gave me loads of boxes of suture material on Sunday for suture practice!

It only costs £90 to attend as a vet student and the value for money was excellent considering all the lectures we attended, they fed us and all the Prosecco I consumed! I would highly recommend going, I still have two years of vet school left and learnt so much so I'm sure those in final year took even more away.
I've emailed Angharad, Head of Congress, to say what I great time we had as I know from my old job, people are quick to complain but don't say thank you enough. I had a fantastic time and will definitely be attending next year.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Farm trips

This week we've had two trips to the university farm which is 45 mins away by coach and means getting up early as we leave at 7:15! The weather has been great, sunny and pushing 16oC so it's nice to get outside in the fresh air and practical stuff is always fun.

On Tuesday we were blood sampling and vaccinating cattle against trichophytosis which is an infectious skin disease commonly known as ringworm. The cows were vaccinated two and four weeks ago so the bloods we took will be titre tested to see how effective the vaccination course has been.
Today we were working with small ruminants (sheep and goats) doing much the same.
First we had to collect blood samples to test for Brucella, then we did the California Milk Test to look for mastitis and hoof trimming for those which needed it. Finally we did intradermal tuberculin tests for TB.

One of the ewes had a wound on her leg which looked like a blunt trauma, maybe from a gate or hayrack. We cleaned and flushed it with Betadine and saw that there was a yellow fibrinous mass deep inside so we debrided it to encourage wound healing and flushed again.
One of the Professors came over and said he was "very impressed" with my hoof trimming and asked if I have sheep at home; I was secretly chuffed that all those years of lambing paid off!
I kind of take it for granted having worked with sheep for quite a few years on work experience and during my undergrad but other people who are focussed on working with small animals have never really had the opportunity. Teachers here will often assume basic knowledge and won't re-cap procedures or handling techniques which we might have talked about in a lecture 2 years ago unless asked, so people can miss out.

One of the girls was criticising they way we tip the sheep (making them sit on their bums) but they're easily restrained in one movement and they don't struggle once sat so while there will be some degree of stress from any restraint, there is no pain and it gets the job done quickly and efficiently.
Goats aren't as easy to tip as they're more athletic and stressy than sheep but can still be done, you just tip them further onto their back like we've done above - being careful of horns! We were able to blood sample, examine udders, CMT and hoof trim in less than 5 minutes and the goat didn't struggle.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Rectalling ruminants with retained placentas

We had a trip to the school farm today for rectalling of post-parturient cows with retained placenta or metritis. There are several reasons why animals can retain the foetal membranes after birth so they must be watched closely to ensure it is cleared.

The uterus is normally sterile but during or after calving, environmental microorganisms can enter and cause infection, especially as the cervix is still open for a few days during involution when it's all shrinking back down.
Metritis is an inflammation of the uterus which occurs directly after calving. Endometritis is a common condition which occurs 21 days or more after calving. The main problem with this is that it will reduce fertility and delay the next conception, increasing the calving interval, decreasing the milk yield and costing the farmer more money.
First we rectalled the cows to feel for the uterine horns, which when inflammed was very obvious in that it was full of pus. We were able to massage the uterus to remove the mucopurulent vaginal discharge.

Then we went per vaginam and treated (or prevented) the infection by placing a broad spectrum antibiotic bolus directly into the uterus or cervix.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Official Opening of the Small Animal Hospital

Today saw the official opening of the UVM / UVLF Kosice Small Animal Hospital.
The building work started back in 2015 and at a cost of nearly €7 million, it has largely been funded by the European Union which has meant it's been a long process to get everything signed off and opened.
It is hoped that animals will travel from Slovakia and neighbouring countries to use the facilities as well as offering a referral service for private vets for patients requiring surgery and hospitalisation.
It includes a 24 hour emergency surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, oncology, a dental clinic, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and a operating rooms. It also has the only incubators for small animals in Slovakia and an area for the preparation of medicines and chemotherapy for cancer patients.
They have several well equipped operating theatres which can be arranged for different procedures and classes as well as having cameras to record surgery or stream them to lecture theatres.
Incubators for small animals
I'm excited to start my small animals staze (rotations) and be able to use all the new equipment in the clinic! There is a compulsory rotation for 5th and 6th year students with final years also covering night shifts.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Storm Doris

Storm Doris hit the UK yesterday and left her mark on our garden.

We lost 6 fence panels, a whole tree came down and the corrugated plastic roof blew off our walk in chicken run. Lots of the glass panels on the greenhouse were smashed too.
Luckily noone was injured and all the animals are fine. I saw on the news a young woman was killed by fallin debris in Wolverhampton and others around the country were badly injured.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging

I passed my Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging earlier in the summer and knew it was important and relative in practice, but didn't really appreciate how important it was.

Whilst on placement at Straiton's Veterinary Hospital they had a fantastic referral level BCF GE Logiq abdominal and cardiology ultrasound scanner which was used several times daily for diagnostic imaging; ultrasound is something I've not seen used a lot in practice before.
At uni I've been able to perform ultrasound to locate and visualise the bladder, liver, kidneys and heart but not really got a feel for what I was looking at so seeing several ultrasounds done each day boosted my confidence greatly. It really helped that the scanner had amazing image quality so we could see exactly what I was looking at.
It's great because it's non-invasive, really quick to do, can be done in a conscious animal so with no risks and pretty inexpensive.

During my second week I did a few scans myself and was able to identify main structures and pathology; one case was confirming a pyometra (pus in the uterus) in a Staffordshire Bull Terrier before admitting her for surgery and in another patient, a cat, I found a mass on the apex of the bladder.
Initially I wasn't sure what it was, just that it wasn't physiological, so we measured it and found that it was 8cm long which when you compare that with the size of the cat is massive.

At my previous practice I'd only seen the ultrasound used twice in two years. By their own admittance their machine is 20 years old with only one probe so whilst basic imaging can be done, I struggled to take much away from it.
Having used a new modern machine I was amazed at what could be detected with ultrasound!

Again, with the rise and popular use of Digital Radiography, images can be taken and analysed in a matter of minutes, rather than waiting 10 minutes for films to process.
We had a horse come in for laminitis exaluation, x-rays were taken and in less than 2 seconds the images were available on a tablet to examine and take other views as necessary.

Another use I thought was interesting was at the PDSA.
Being a charity they do not have the funds and resources to send every possible tumor away for histology (I think in private practice it costs around £60 per mass) so before surgery they will often take a radiograph of the chest and abdomen to look for metastasis; the spread of cancer from one place to other parts or organs of the body.
If the cancer has spread throughout the body and metastatic cancer is identified, they have a better idea of what they are dealing with so a decision has to be made with the owner before putting the animal through surgery.

We have the chance to take an optional Ultrasonography module this semester so I've signed up for that and hopefully will get to practice scanning and be able to use it in practice.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Saturday, November 12, 2016


This semester we are able to take Stomatology as an optional course. The lectures were done a few weeks ago but due to the class size and timetable we had the practical on a Saturday.
Stomatology or dental medicine is the study of the mouth and it's diseases.
We started with Radiography, taking intra-oral x-rays with parallel views
and bisecting angles
and then processed the dental films in a dark room!
Next up we practiced scaling and polishing which I've seen done lots in practice but only had a chance to do a few times; it's surprisingly therapeutic once you get into it!
Scaling is really important as it affects around 90% of adult dogs and dental plaque or tartar is the main cause of gingivitis. Gingivitis can be treated but if left can lead to peridontal disease which is irreversible.

We practiced performing root canals and peridontal surgery to repair teeth and deal with chronic infections of the root apex as well as amalgam (containing mercury) and composite fillings which I've never seen, or even heard of, in the UK.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Trip to the Shelter; Útulok UVP Košice

Today we went on an Ethology trip to the Utulok UVP dog shelter.

We were each given a dog to assess their behaviour and do temperament testing. The shelter houses around 200 dogs, many in large groups so they adopt a pack mentality which can be challenging when socialising and integrating them with other dogs.
I know Vicky from the shelter having been to some of their adoption days so she gave me a puppy, meet Pongo...
He was so sweet! He's being kept inside with a few other pups, away from the older dogs, until they have completed their vaccinations, particularly for Parvo virus.

The shelter took on a bitch on Saturday and on Sunday she produced these two puppies, bit of a surprise!
 The pups are also being kept inside in the warm away from all other dogs and they will be fostered out to homes wither with or as soon as they can be separated from their mother.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Two New Chickens

Over the last couple years I've gotten into taxidermy ...I guess as a vet student it comes with the territory! I prefer skulls and skeletons to full mounts as the anatomical differences are really interesting.

Anyway, a friend messaged me as Uni were throwing out four taxidermy chickens. I went down to have a look with a couple friends and brought two back to dorms!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

UVM Kosice descend on Budapest

This weekend around 30 vet students travelled from Kosice to Budapest as the girls were playing rugby on Saturday and the boys on Sunday.
We went along to support them and Kosice won all of our matches!
We all stayed in a hostel and it was great to get out of the city, especially for Halloween as there were loads of parties and events going on.
Budapest is a much bigger city so seemed really busy. We took full advantage of the food and drink we can't get in Kosice, highlights being Mexican restaurant as well as Starbucks and a drunken KFC.
We spent most of Sunday walking through the city, along the river and taking in the sights before getting the train back on the evening.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Small Ruminants Trip

We were at the university farm again this week, looking at small ruminants; sheep and goats.

That particular farm is managed by one lady, responsible for 350 small ruminants, a group of heifers and a pig unit. She has some staff but ultimately time and money are limited, I guess pretty typical for most farms in Slovakia (and the rest of the world).

We noticed one of the breeding rams was lame on his front right so we grabbed him for a look. He also had some nasal discharge so we did a clinical exam; TPR, auscultation, took nasal swabs and blood for testing.
The lecturer asked for one of the boys to tip him (restrained sitting on his bum) so I was given the task. We started hoof trimming and it was obvious there was some foot rot so pared them right back and sprayed them. 
Even though I've not done it for years we used to do loads of hoof trimming when I was lambing so the lecturer showed us how to do it and then I helped people if they needed it.

The farm has a foot bath but it was damaged and not a priority to replace at the moment. We moved the ram into a separate smaller pen to stop the spread of foot rot bacteria.

Hard work all this manual labour!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Kraków and Auschwitz Trip

We usually go away at the end of Freshers week so this year we decided to go to Kraków in Poland. There were 14 of us so we hired a minibus and driver and off we went.
The AirBnB we booked was really nice and the lady told us the best sights to see so off we went and found the main square. It's a much bigger city that Košice and definitely geared more towards tourists so was easy to get around.

After walking around the city, along the river and castle we found the Jewish Quarter and went for food. There were quite a few vegans and veggies in the group and it was really easy to find somewhere they could eat.

For Saturday we had booked a tour of the Auschwitz concentration camps. I stopped History at school after year 8 so the most modern history I studied was the Tudors and never really learnt about the Second World War so was interested to visit. 
We had a tour guide who was great at explaining the various buildings and exhibits. It's hard to believe over 1.1millions prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90% of them Jewish. We know that Jews were put on the train in Košice bound for Auschwitz, 170miles away.

I didn't take many photos for obvious reasons;
Auschwitz Camp I
Auschwitz Birkenau II

Back in Kraków we went for food and met up with a few friends before heading out
On Saturday, our final day, we had planned to do the Salt Mines but half the group went earlier in the morning and queued for 2 hours to get in so we decided against it.
We booked an open top bus tour of the city and the heavens opened. We got soaked and didn't get off at any of the stops but it was good all the same!
Home time!
I definitely want to go back at some point to do the Salt Mines and a few other bits we missed out.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Františka & Falconry birds

I went down to campus today to see the birds at Falconry club, just to check everyone was alive and well as they're being looked after by the technicians (equivalent to our vet nurses) over the summer.

The birds are put up to moult while we're away which works well as they're not worked or flown, just fed while they lose all their feathers and grow back a new set ready for the hunting season.

All the outside birds were fine: Františka the Harris' Hawk and Lubo & Kubo the Harris' boys as well as the un-named European Eagle Owl.
I couldn't get in the clinic to see the owls and smaller birds which are inside as they're rebuilding part of it but I'm sure they're fine.

Františka is looking good and has nearly finished her moult, still a few tail feathers need to grow in properly.
Excuse the food boob; it happens to the best of us.

Her beak is overgrown so it will need coping (filing) in September when we start flying her again.
Once it has been coped she will keep it down by munching on meaty bones like hare heads and pigeon breast bones. It's great as it keeps her occupied working for her food and also files her beak.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Seeing Practice with PDSA

I've been Seeing Practice with PDSA Oldbury this week and loved every minute!
The PDSA are a national charity providing free veterinary care to pets of people in need since 1917, with 51 hospitals and 380 pet practices across the UK.

The Oldbury hospital opened in 2015 so the facilities and equipment are all great.
Within half an hour of walking in on Monday morning I had donned gloves and gown and assisting in surgery; a cystotomy to remove bladder stones. I was able to hold the bladder to stop it disappearing back into the abdomen and place catheters to flush saline and clear the calculi.
The vets were great at explaining things to me and nurses very patient explaining and restraining animals for procedures.
I did a few afternoons consulting, taking histories and doing clinical examinations - they have double consulting rooms split down the middle so I was able to grab a vet after they'd finished their consult to discuss my patients and what treatment was necessary.

The first few consults were general health checks either post-operative or new kittens, I had a diabetic dog come in which hadn't eaten breakfast but was still given insulin and went into a hypoglycemic state. The owner had given cake and glucose powder so I admitted the dog for blood glucose and monitoring. The nurses were great in letting me do the blood glucose throughout the day and on the discharge consult I was able to explain the importance of routine for diabetic patients; consistency of feeding and insulin routine and reasons why.

Throughout the week I scrubbed in and assisted on lots of other surgery including a caesarean section, dentals, pyometra and an ex-lap which unfortunately found a stomach tumor so I euthanised and closed up.

I have another week with the PDSA in September and will hopefully be back again next summer!