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!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

BBC Countryfile Live

I've been at Blenheim Palace for BBC Countryfile Live this week, giving talks for #TeamPoultry in the Adam's Farm area.
The show was huge and nothing like I've been to before. Loads of things to see and do, activities for the children and loads of great trade stands.
The talks went down really well and we had thousands of people visit our stand.
As always we had day old chicks, pure and rare breed poultry, ex commercial hens and new for this year, Call Ducks and Sebastopol geese.
The chicks were very popular with the public, everyone wanted to hold them so we had to restrict handling times to give them a rest!

We met Adam Henson
and Ellie Harrison
I even did an interview for That's Oxfordshire which went out on TV and is on their YouTube channel

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Game Fair

I've been working at The Game Fair at Ragley Hall this weekend with Clydach Farm Group who produce and sell a range of poultry and dog feeds.

The company is owned by Callum, an old friend, and has gone from strength to strength over the last few years; mainly due to the results they've been getting. It's all made with ethically sourced British meat which is something lots of people were interested in over the weekend.
The feed is all hypoallergenic and they have a grain free diet which is 50% meat and 50% sweet potato which is easy to digest.

It was great to speak to the public about what they're feeding at the moment any any concerns they've been having.
We saw some interesting intolerances and allergies as well as lots of cute puppies!

I decided I need to order one of these
even though I don't have a dog.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Week 2 of Mixed Practice at Straiton Veterinary Hospital

My second week at the EC Straitons Veterinary Hospital has been even better than the first.
Now that I've got to know all the staff and learnt where things are kept, how procedures are done, I've felt a lot more useful and learnt more from it.

On the other hand, now that they know me, I've been able to do more too.
Whilst I didn't get to do any surgery I learnt loads of practical skills, especially placing catheters to take blood and giving intra venous injections. While we are taught these skills in vet school and able to learn in practicals, you don't really get a feel for it until you have a go and regularly practice; even little things like which size catheters to use in different patients.

I saw several TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement) and TCT (Tibial Crest Translocation) surgeries which are often done as referrals, I got to understand the procedure and equipment used so was sterile during the surgeries to pass the surgeon kit and suture material. I was also able to position for x-rays before and after the surgery so I could really see the difference.
As they do orthopedics on a regular basis there were several post-op check consults which meant I saw a whole range of cases, from pre-surgery to 6 weeks post-surgery.

Being a Mixed practice I had hoped to get out on some farm visits but due to the time of year and staff holidays the farm work has been quiet, apart from routine TB testing which is done all year.
I saw a few horses that came in to the hospital for lameness evaluation and radiographs.
They have a great wireless digital radiography system which they use for equine work which is portable and means x-rays can be taken and viewed immediately (1.9 seconds) on a HD tablet for diagnosis and taking of further views as required.

They provided me with a glowing reference and invited me to go back next year so I'd like to return in January or Easter time when there will be more going on with the farm animal side, especially lambing!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mixed Practice at E C Straiton

I've just finished a two week placement at EC Straiton & Partners Veterinary Hospital in Penkridge and had a great time. They are about 40 mins from home but my nearest mixed (small animal, farm and equine) practice and have a great reputation so I booked the placement 18 months ago.
The hospital has 13 vets so a very busy practice, from new grads to vets who have been with the practice 37 years!
Everyone was great and made me feel really welcome. The vets would ask my opinion on cases and medicine, so whilst I wouldn't always know the answer they tried to get me to think logically and then explain why they'd use certain treatment. Of course the next time a similar patient presented, I was able to explain possible treatments, using pattern recognition.

The hospital is built around what used to be an old farm yard so it took a few days to get my bearings but the layout is great and works really well for the team.

It's been sweltering this week, pushing 33oC on Tuesday so unfortunately we had a dog come in with heat stroke which died; just goes to show the importance of not leaving dogs in hot cars, even 'just for 5 minutes'.

Friday, July 8, 2016

So promise me one thing.

"Now I know it seems scary, but you have worked so hard to get here. What is the point in putting so much effort in to get to a place you are too stressed and worried about to enjoy?

So promise me one thing.

Once a week, on your way to work, just take 2 minutes and think how long you’ve wanted to be where you are right now.
No matter what is waiting for you at the surgery and no matter what happened last week… you’re a vet [student], and that is seriously cool."

This article from recruit4vets really struck a chord with me recently so thought I'd share the final paragraph.

You're a vet student, and that is seriously cool.

Source: @RoryTheVet

Thursday, June 30, 2016

UVM Košice Class of 2016

Today the University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Košice class of 2016 graduated as fully fledged Doctors of Veterinary Medicine.
I went along to graduation to congratulate the class and it was great to see how proud everyone's friends and families were.
Three students gave speeches which really hit home about how important it is that we stick together and support each other throughout our time here.
This year we have people graduating from the UK and Ireland, Norway, Iceland, France, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Malta and even Canada!

Speaking to people, it seems that everyone already has a job to go to or the few that don't are in the process of interviews; some are even going to work with Košice alumni.
That speaks for itself really that practices are eager, and in some cases actively seeking, to employ graduates from European vet schools; something I know applicants and new students are often worried about.

Good luck to everyone and can't wait to hear how they all get on in their new jobs!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Your Chickens Poultry People - Lewis Wescott

I was really pleased to be asked to appear in the Poultry People feature of Your Chickens magazine this month, June 2016.

I spoke with Jeremy Hobson who wrote the article and focused on my vet studies and aspirations of a career in avian medicine!
The photo with the article is an oldie that the magazine have used before. I did send some more recent photos taken in practicals at vet school but as they're all taken on iPhones the quality isn't high enough to print.

Mission for this summer is to get some new photos!