This week at the vets, I was watching consults. The first of these was a greyhound limping and in pain. It had a pinprick spot on its pad where it had stepped on something sharp. In most dogs this would not be a problem, however, greyhounds are often particularly sensitive. The bet advised the owner to bathe the dog’s paw in strongly concentrated salt water. By osmosis, this would cause fluid in the wound to move down the water potential gradient, to the surface of the pad, encouraging any foreign bodies to be pushed out. Furthermore, some very mild painkillers were prescribed but otherwise the vet was sure that the area of pain would heal quickly and efficiently.
A budgerigar was brought in by its breeder as it had not been eating and had lost weight. Previously, a specialist bird vet had advised that the antibiotic Baytril should be administered to his birds when this happens. Therefore, the breeder wanted some more of this medication, knowing that it had worked successfully when he had used it before. Baytril is the trade name given to the antibiotic enrofloxacin. It is a broad-spectrum antibiotic and has approved use in individual animals and domestic pets. However, there have previously been problems with resistance especially in the bacterium Cambylobacter which is a human pathogen as well. This high level of drug resistance and known problems enrofloxacin has in causing growth abnormalities in the development of cartilage 1 caused the vet to doubt the judgement of the breeder. She had to consider the possible risks that could be caused by supplying Baytril when another, safer drug could be used to the same effect whilst remember the rights of the breeder in choosing what medication was given to his animals. Therefore, she chose to prescribe Baytril. She carefully calculated the dose required for one week’s treatment according to the weight of the budgie so there would not be enough of the drug for the breeder to use independently without considering the risk of resistance.
The most exciting thing that happened was when my mum brought my dog, Simba, in for his annual check up and booster vaccination. The vet asked whether I wanted to give him his vaccination and I leapt at the opportunity. As I had never given an injection before she showed me carefully how to do it. I massaged the skin on the back of his neck to loosen it and encourage him to be comfortable. Then I pulled up the skin to make a tent. I had to inject parallel to his body and into the entrance of the tent, avoiding my own fingers. Afterwards, I scratched his neck to suggest to him that anything he felt because of the needle was just me scratching him. I was proud of myself and of Simba for behaving so well and I kept the bottles to prove that I vaccinated Simba against distemper virus, adenovirus, parvovirus, parainfluenza type 2 virus and leptospirosis.
A very old cocker spaniel was brought in by her owners to be put down. She had numerous problems as a result of her old age and was becoming progressively worse despite having stayed in the kennels for a period on a drip. Her skin and gums were yellow whilst the owners told us that the only food that she had eaten was a small amount of chicken which had been vomited up along with bile. I did not stay for the euthanasia as the owners wanted to be with their dog. However, afterwards I asked the vet whether she finds it hard to put animals down. She told me that it was often sad if the owners were very emotional but it was only ever hard when there was not a good reason behind the decision. She gave the example of dogs that had attacked children. If the dog was aggressive it is understandable, but often, dogs that do harm are provoked in some way. I believe that euthanasia is a form of treatment and often it is the kindest thing to do in order to make the animal better, however I think that difficult decisions are always involved and all options must always be considered.
A Shar Pei had had its ears flushed out under sedation two weeks ago. The samples taken showed yeast in the ears but no bacteria or white blood cells suggesting that there was no infection despite the inflammation the owners were worried about in their dog. They were concerned that there had been no improvement since they had been flushed out. The narrowed ear canal caused by the selectively bred skull shape means that its ears are hard to clean, especially when inflamed. The vet cleaned the ears as best she could without the dog being in too much pain, prescribed some ear drops to be given two times daily and discussed the idea that the inflammation could be caused by an allergy. Only 5% of allergies in dogs are shown to be related to food so although vets suggest trying different foods, I have noticed that they try to establish clearly that this is unlikely to sure allergy related problems. However, owners are often keen to try eliminating foods from their dogs diet to see the effect because it encourages them that they are acting in the best interest of their dog.
The old spaniel I saw two weeks ago with the large mass cell tumour was brought back in. The owners wanted to consider surgery as the main tumour had reduced in size but had noticed that there were new tumours surrounding the site which were exposed on the surface. Samples were taken to be examined under the microscope by the vet. It was likely that these were extensions from the main tumour and if this were revealed to be true and if these masses were also malignant, it could create complications during surgery for it greatly increased the size of the area needing to be removed.
An old dog with bad osteoarthritis had been rushed in yesterday with a staggering temperature of 41.1°C compared to 38°C of a healthy dog. Now, its temperature had reduced slightly to 40.1°C. The vet was still worried but gave it an antibiotic injection. It was more likely that this was caused by a virus but this is all the vet could do. The owner will bring his dog in again tomorrow as constant vigilance is needed when the temperature is so dangerously high. If it remained high, the dog would be admitted into the kennels and put on a drip.
A dog was brought in with an inflamed ear full of discharge. The owner had tried cleaning it with water but this must never be done as it provides a moist site where bacteria can thrive, living and reproducing rapidly. The vet instructed that this infection should be treated with antibiotic drops which must be syringed in and the ears must be cleaned daily with special cleaner. This dog had had ear problems in the past and the owner had tried tipping the drops in because the dog recognised and was scared of the medicine bottle through which it is designed to be administered. Tipping it in is not enough and often makes the situation worse because not enough antibiotics is given so the weakest bacteria are killed whilst the strongest selectively survive creating a pathogenic community in which resistance can develop.
A couple of cats were brought in to be given their worming tablets, administered using a pill gun as cats are notorious for taking tablets. Both cats needed their claws clipping whilst the owner was worried that one of them had a urine infection because it was going to the litter tray frequently and straining when trying to urinate. The vet suggested that if the cat had cystitis it was probably due to stress rather than infection. The owners said that they had just changed their carpets and the vet agreed that this would be a likely trigger. She prescribed a colostrum based medication which could be given if anything stressful was going to happen, it would calm the cat and hopefully prevent cystitis being induced.
The last consult of the day was a Manx cat which was incontinent. It had come in for a general check up. Being incontinent, the cat could not control its bowel movement so the owners would have to express it each day when appropriate to do so. This was going well and the owners were aware of what they needed to look out for and the importance of regular check ups.