Now I am in the sixth form, I have free periods. I am going to try and use my time wisely during these frees, therefore every Wednesday afternoon I am going to do work experience. Fortnightly, I visit the RSPCA Ashford Garden Cattery, where I help with cleaning and handling the cats, and on the alternating weeks I spend several hours at Cinque Ports Vets, Kingsnorth. Here I help out and watch consults, always learning something new.
Today, I went to Kingsnorth Vets from 4.00 to 7.00. I began by cleaning out kennels and rinsing both an endoscope, which had been inside the stomach of a dog, and a bronchoscope, which had looked into and dog’s lungs. I had to be very careful because they were microfiber, so I gently inserted a small brush on a long wire inside the tubes, squirted them with the diluted disinfectant they had been soaking in and gently scrubbing the ends.
After this, the head nurse left for the night, leaving the nurse who was on call whilst I went into consults. I saw many vaccinations of dogs, cats and a rabbit, who was being vaccinated against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease. Rabbits used to require boosters every 6 months but since a new myxomatosis vaccine has been developed which needs only annual boosters, just like VHD. The most memorable injection was into a nine week old, Chihuahua pug cross. The dog was tiny and the owners were terrified of the injection hurting it. As soon as the needle touched its skin, it yelped wildly and squirmed away from the vet. Holding it tightly despite the looks of shock from the owners, the vet continued to jab the dog as fast as possible whilst it screamed in protest. The vet said it was the worst cries she had heard in her whole career and the puppy still whimpered feebly as it was carried out. The next two clients both asked what had we done to that poor little dog!
A French Bull Dog was brought in to check to see if she was pregnant. The owners had mated her twice about 7 weeks previously and had thought that she was pregnant because of her rapid mood swings and apparent ‘morning sickness’. However, if an egg had been fertilised, the puppies would be due in about 10 days. The vet massaged her abdomen and concluded that she almost certainly was not pregnant. At this stage in pregnancy the puppies’ bodies should be clearly felt and it would be expected for the mother to have a swollen abdomen. None of these signs were present, and the vet said that the side effects could have been the result of a false pregnancy. I asked why false pregnancies happened and the vet told me that after being mated, dog’s hormones can respond as if and egg has been fertilised even if it has not. This means that the teats and abdomen swell and the dog begins nesting. The vet told me that this could be a trait left from wolves because all the female wolves in a pack will produce milk and help feed the pups of the alpha female, even though they have no pups of their own.
Another dog came in for a check up. This dog had had trouble in the past when several large tumours had been found in its mouth. An operation was done and the lumps were removed whilst a sample was sent to the lab. Here, they found that it was a very rare type of cancer so did lots of research and tests, free of charge. This was a positive result for the labs to have this new piece of information, but while the dog was staying in kennels, the vets found that it had an anal gland infection as well. This check up confirmed that the dog was fit and healthy after responding well to the anal gland medication.
Earlier today had been very hectic with lots of operations happening. One operation had been on a dog which had eaten three socks and a tea towel. It had thrown up two of the socks but after being continually sick it had been brought in and underwent surgery which successfully removed the remaining sock and tea towel. The owners had come in to talk to the vet and see the dog. The dog was still very drowsy and was taking a long time to come round from the anaesthetic as it had been so ill before hand, the owners were very upset but the vet assured them that he was just taking his time and would be perfectly fine. Many owners feel guilty for the accidents that happen causing injury to their animals, and often a vet has to deal with this, helping the owners to realise that accidents happen to everyone and it is only hindsight which allows us to feel this guilt.
When animals come in for vaccinations, it often presents a good opportunity for a routine check up. This proved to be valuable for an owner with a nervous cocker spaniel who kept licking his feet. Although this could be behavioural, the vet suggested that it could be down to an allergy, possibly caused by harvest mites which are prevalent during this time of year. If the owner wanted to, he could give the dog any form of antihistamine as it would not do any harm but may help prevent the symptoms if they were related to an allergy.
Cats often have problems with fleas, and when one cat was having a vaccination, the owner asked about this. Her cat had always been an indoor cat but she was worried that she may have brought fleas into the house with her. The vet combed through the cat’s fur and found fleas around the neck and tail. She advised the owner that it is most important to treat the house and use prevention in the form of Frontline or other similar products on the cat. Fleas are often an on going nuisance which need continuous perseverance in all aspects to eliminate their rapid reproduction.
During the consults, I was asked to help draw up syringes of a morphine derivative, non-steroid pain killer which an owner needed to inject into his cat daily. 14 syringes needed preparing so I worked alongside the nurse and as it was my first time doing this, I found it quite tricky. The most essential thing to remember is not to get air inside and by the end, I felt I was improving and could definitely see that this was a skill to be practised and perfected.