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Cat microchipping to become compulsory

Owners will be required to microchip their cats by 20 weeks of age.

Microchipping of pet cats will become mandatory under new rules announced by the Government today (4 December).

Under the plans, owners will be required to microchip their cats by the time they reach 20 weeks of age and their contact details stored and kept up to date in a pet microchipping database. 

Owners found not to have microchipped their cat will be given 21 days to get one implanted or could face a fine of up to £500. 

The rules follow a Government call for evidence and consultation on the issue in which 99 per cent of respondents expressed support for the measure.

Animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen.

“These new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country and will be brought in alongside a range of other protections we are introducing under our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”

Cats Protection’s head of advocacy & government relations Jacqui Cuff said: “As the UK’s leading cat charity, we have been at the forefront of the campaign for compulsory microchipping of pet cats. Every day, we see how important microchipping is for cats and for the people who love them – whether it’s reuniting a lost cat with their owner, identifying an injured cat, or helping to ensure an owner can be informed in the sad event that their cat has been hit and killed by a car.

“Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost cats and can help ease the pressure on rescue charities like Cats Protection. Without a microchip, a lost cat will most likely end up being rehomed to a new home as there is often no trace of their original owner.” 

The Government has been working with the RCVS to introduce new guidance which requires vets to scan the microchips of healthy dogs to help ensure they are not put down unnecessarily. It is also conducting a review of the regulations on dog microchipping and the related microchipping database systems to consider whether improvements can be made.

The new cat microchipping rules will come into force when this review concludes to ensure that any changes to the operation of the microchipping regime are brought in at the same time as the new microchipping rules for cats.

Vets and educators meet to address workforce shortages

Vets and educators meet to address workforce shortages

RCVS Workforce Summit explored recruit and retention concerns.

Delegates from across the veterinary sector met in London this week to discuss potential solutions to some of the key workforce issues currently facing the professions.

Representatives of veterinary and veterinary nursing associations, employers, charities, government and educators were among those in attendance at the RCVS Workforce Summit, held at the organisation’s headquarters on Tuesday (30 November).

During the meeting, participants were invited to identify solutions on six topics highlighted as priorities by preliminary research conducted by the RCVS, including ‘readiness for work’, work-life balance', and ‘workplace culture’.

Delegates were then asked to condense their ideas into viable solutions that would have a positive impact on the professions and the public. A report of the day is expected to be published shortly, together with an action plan that will include a commitment from a range of stakeholders.

RCVS CEO Lizzie Lockett said: “It’s clear that there are a number of workforce issues affecting the professions, such as high vacancy rates that employers are struggling to fill and a resultant increase in pressure on the professions in terms of caseload and hours worked, together with an increase in the number of people choosing to leave the professions. 

“While many of these issues are long-standing, and due to complex and multifactorial reasons, the scale of the problem has been exacerbated by three things: the UK’s exit from the EU and the impact this has had on overseas registrants; the ongoing impact of the pandemic in areas such as staff absence and burnout; and an increase in demand for veterinary services.”

Concluding the meeting, RCVS President Kate Richards, said: “The connections that we have with each other as veterinary professionals – through our dedication to animal health and welfare, our vital role in public health and protection, the trust placed in us day-in, day-out by the public – those connections have sparkled through today’s discussions.

“We can’t change what brought us to this particular moment, but I now feel confident that we have the beginning of a roadmap to address and mitigate the issues currently facing the profession. It won’t be quick or easy, and there are many factors and circumstances that aren’t within our control, but thanks to you, we have a direction of travel and a sense of how to get there.”

New avian influenza guidance for vets

New avian influenza guidance for vets

Guidance follows multiple findings of the disease in recent weeks.

New guidance has been published for veterinary professionals who see wild birds and backyard poultry in practice.

The guidance - jointly developed by the BVA, the British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA), the BSAVA and the British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS) – outlines the clinical signs of avian influenza, how to examine suspected cases, next steps and how to report.

It follows multiple findings of avian influenza in recent weeks and the introduction of new housing measures that require all bird keepers to keep their flocks indoors.

James Russell, BVA senior vice president, said: “The Chief Veterinary Officers have taken swift action in response to several outbreaks in recent weeks, and brought in robust measures to contain the spread of the disease as much as possible.

“Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe in the winter months can carry the disease and infect other species of bird, so it’s vital that veterinary professionals who may be seeing poultry and wildlife casualties in practice know how to spot the signs and act quickly if presented with suspected cases.”

The latest government update on avian influenza on 3 December confirmed the presence of avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 at a sixth premises in Thirsk, North Yorkshire. The update also confirmed the disease at premises in Staffordshire and Herefordshire. 

Liz Mullineaux, BVZS senior vice president, said: “The current avian influenza situation in the UK is rapidly changing on an almost daily basis. This is clearly very difficult for veterinary colleagues in the poultry sector, but also presents some problems for those in general practice working with both backyard poultry and wild birds. 

“The joint guidance should provide some useful practical background material for those in practice, as well as links to all the up to date Defra information.” 

RCVS and VN Council nominations open

RCVS and VN Council nominations open

Both elections will be held completely online. 

The candidate nomination period has now opened for election to RCVS and VN Councils for 2022, and will close on Monday 31 January at 5pm.

Both elections will be held entirely online, following the success of the previous year's online format, with both nominations and votes to be submitted electronically.

RCVS registrar and returning officer for the elections, Eleanor Ferguson, commented on the continuation of the online format: “Last year demonstrated that we are able to successfully hold our elections online, making the process more efficient and convenient for our members.

“Once again, for prospective RCVS and VN Councils election candidates, this will mean that, rather than having to send us hard copies of your nomination documents in the post, the forms can simply be emailed to the College along with the relevant digital photographs and electronic signatures.”

Full eligibility criteria for RCVS Council, alongside further information, guidance notes and frequently asked questions can be read here, and all equivalent similar details for VN Council can be read here.

Prospective RCVS and VN Council members can contact Dr Kate Richards on president@rcvs.org.uk for an informal discussion on what it means to be an RVCS Council member, or Matthew Rendle, VN Council chair, on vncchair@rcvs.org.uk for a discussion on VN Council membership.

Kate said of the RCVS Council: “I’m on Council for my second term and can reassure any prospective candidates that it is a wonderful experience, both personally and professionally.

“You will learn new things not only about the College, but also the professions, policy and government; you will have fascinating discussions and debates with colleagues on issues of great importance and consequence.”

“I would be happy to talk to anyone who might be interested in joining VN Council about its role and how you could contribute both to it, and to the wider profession,” Matthew added.

“This 60th anniversary year for the veterinary nursing profession has been a time to take stock about how far the profession has come and where it is going.

“One thing I have appreciated is the important role both VN Council and its committees will continue to have in this development process, by making key decisions on areas such as student training and wellbeing, continuing professional development, post-registration qualifications and statuses, and registration of veterinary nurses.”

There will be one RCVS Council meeting prior to the nomination period deadline, on Thursday 20 January 2022, and any candidates interested in attending virtually as observers should contact Dawn Wiggins on d.wiggins@rcvs.org.uk

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Penguins post their Christmas wishes to Santa

Penguins post their Christmas wishes to Santa

London Zoo posted some adorable footage of their penguins getting festive.

Penguins at ZSL London Zoo have been busy posting their Christmas wishes to Santa Claus, to launch the Zoo's festive activities and celebrations.

Adorable footage released by ZSL shows a zookeeper helping the penguins to post a letter through a 'North Pole' post office box.

The letter, addressed to Santa and signed 'love, the penguins', is passed back and forth through the post office slot by the curious penguins' beaks.

Jessica Jones, the zoo's penguin keeper, said: “We’re pretty sure Santa now knows to get something fishy for the penguins this year, but from this Saturday, we’re inviting visitors to become elves-in-training and help make sure Santa brings the perfect pressies for all the other animals."

Watch the penguins post their Christmas wishes here.

 

Images and footage (C) ZSL London Zoo

 

 

VET Festival returns for 2022

VET Festival returns for 2022

The unique CPD opportunity will run from 20-21 May. 

VET Festival, the unique CPD opportunity, is returning for 2022, running from 20 to 21 May.

The outdoor event, held at Loseley Park in Guildford, will feature 17 education streams, with a dedicated stream covering veterinary wellness, leadership and management topics. The festival will feature veterinary speakers from around the world, with the opportunity to collect 14 hours of CPD across the two-day event.

Alongside veterinary education, VET Festival will also offer wellbeing activities such as yoga and mindfulness activities, with the popular VETFest Live Party Night making a return for 2022.

Tickets available here.

Image (C) VET Festival

Avian influenza housing order declared in Yorkshire

Avian influenza housing order declared in Yorkshire

Keepers in the North of the county are now legally required to keep their birds indooors.

A new avian influenza prevention zone has been declared in North Yorkshire following the identification of H5N1 avian influenza at a number of premises.

The requirement means all bird keepers in Harrogate, Hambleton and Richmondshire are now legally required to keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures.

Several other cases of H5N1 avian influenza have also been confirmed in recent days at sites in Essex, Cheshire and Cumbria. On Monday (22 November), the disease was identified near Wells-next-the-Sea, North Norfolk. 

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been in place across the UK since 3 November, under which bird keepers must follow strict biosecurity measures to protect their flocks.

Study pinpoints risk factors for falls in eventing

Study pinpoints risk factors for falls in eventing

Findings will help make the sport safer for horses and athletes.

A study by the University of Bristol has identified characteristics associated with an increased risk of falls in eventing.

Researchers found that horses competing at higher levels, horses competing over longer courses, more starters at the cross-country phase and less experienced athletes are all factors that might contribute to a fall. 

Writing in the Equine Veterinary Journal, the team recommends ways to reduce the chances of a fall, such as adjusting minimum eligibility requirements (MERs) to ensure horses and riders always compete at an appropriate level.

Bristol Veterinary School’s Dr Euan Bennet, explains: “Eventing is an exciting equestrian sport, but horses and riders sometimes get injured during competitions.

“We have gained a detailed understanding of the risk factors that make horses more likely to fall so that we can provide actionable advice to governing bodies on how to reduce the number of horse falls, and therefore injuries and fatalities among horses and riders.”

The study is the first of its kind in more than 20 years. Other factors highlighted by the paper as contributing factors to a fall include: 

  • horses that had previously made fewer starts at the level of their current event
  • male human athletes are at increased odds of experiencing a fall compared with female athletes
  • Younger athletes are at increased odds compared with older athletes.
     
Looking ahead, the team hopes the FEI will use the new evidence to implement evidence-based rules for eventing to protect the safety of athletes and horses without compromising on competitiveness.

BVA launches 2022 photography competition

BVA launches 2022 photography competition

Categories include ‘sustainable futures’ and ‘All creatures great and small’.

The BVA has launched its annual photography competition, with £250 worth of John Lewis vouchers up for grabs and a chance for the most highly-commended images to go on display at BVA Live.
 
Now in its sixth year, the Veterinary Photographer of the Year Award showcases the best companion animal and wildlife photography and attracts hundreds of entries. This year the competition includes a brand-new sustainability category to coincide with BVA President Justine Shotton’s presidential theme.

“Every year it is so exciting to see the incredible photos which are sent in for the BVA Veterinary Photographer of the Year Award," commented BVA President Justine. “The amazing photos captured by our members never fail to impress and amaze, and we are always blown away by the high standard of all the entries."

Last year’s awards saw Adele Williams scoop the ‘Vet’s life in lockdown’ category with her emotive image of a vet mum nursing her baby while simultaneously working on referral reports, titled ‘A new working normal: multitasking to new levels’.

The All creatures great and small category was won by Ellie Dudson, with her photo ‘In the spotlight’, which showed a cow bathed in sunlight in a parlour. Happy pets that make us smile was won by Harriet Williams with her photo ‘In Expectant Anticipation of a Tennis Ball’, picturing a very excited dog playing on a beach. 

The categories for 2022 are as follows:

Sustainable futures
What does a sustainable future look like for the veterinary profession and animals? Exploring the impact of climate change and celebrating efforts to create a greener future for humans and animals alike.

All creatures great and small
An opportunity to look at the vast diversity of the animal kingdom: domestic, agricultural and all aspects of wildlife

Happy pets that make us smile
Reflecting the joy of a happy, contented animal
 
All BVA members are invited to participate in the competition and membership must be active at the time of entering. The competition remains open until 9 am on Monday 14 February 2022, with the winners announced in April. 

For more information and to submit your entry, visit the BVA website.

Kennel Club updates French bulldog breed standard

Kennel Club updates French bulldog breed standard

Update stresses the importance of the length of the dog’s muzzle. 

The Kennel Club has updated the breed standard for the French bulldog to highlight the importance of avoiding exaggerated features that can lead to health problems.

Among the changes include the insertion that the well-defined muzzle should also ‘be clearly viewed in profile’ and that the nostrils should be ‘visibly’ open.

The move comes after the launch of the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme, launched in 2019 to support and encourage the responsible breeding of French Bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds.

Bill Lambert, health and welfare expert at The Kennel Club, said: “Certain health problems in French Bulldogs have been impacted by their huge increase in popularity, and we continue to be extremely concerned that exaggerations which are perceived to create a ‘cute’ look or sound, have gradually become seen as normal and even desirable.

“All breed standards are regularly reviewed, informed by ongoing breed-specific health data, and are explicit that any physical exaggerations should be avoided. These changes to the French Bulldog breed standard aim to ensure it cannot be misinterpreted and that dogs are bred with their health and welfare as the absolute priority.”

The French Bulldog breed standard was reviewed by the Kennel Club, together with breed clubs, experts, vets, academics and welfare organisations that make up the Brachycephalic Working Group (BWG), formed in 2016 to improve the welfare of ‘flat-faced’ dogs.
 
Welcoming the move, RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “We’re really pleased to see the Kennel Club has updated the breed standard for the French bulldog to further highlight the importance of breeding these dogs with health and welfare as a priority.
 
“The RSPCA - as a member of the Brachycephalic Working Group - has long been calling for an urgent review of the breed standard, and we’re pleased that the Kennel Club has committed to this update which stresses the importance of the length of the dog’s muzzle as well as having wider nostrils. We are hopeful that these changes are reflected in the show ring with judges awarding dogs for more moderate features and that other breed clubs will similarly follow suit.”

BWG chair Dr Dan O’Neill added: “These changes show that all breeds can, and must, evolve to redress any serious health issues associated with conformation. We encourage would-be owners to place good health, welfare and temperament above human desires when choosing a breed, and we urge more people to ‘stop and think before buying a flat-faced dog'".

Applications open for new BSAVA Research Fellowship

Applications open for new BSAVA Research Fellowship

Grant will support veterinary professionals in the Early Career Researcher phase. 

Applications are now open for BSAVA PetSaver's new Research Fellowship, with a grant of up to £35,000 for two years' work in companion animal research.

Qualified veterinary professionals (vet surgeons and RVNs) are invited to apply for the Grant, which aims to support Early Careers Researchers immediately after gaining a postgraduate research qualification.

Applicants must have completed either a PhD or Masters and should be within their first four years of starting an academic post. Candidates must not have also received any more than £50,000 in funding in competitive external grants.

David Killick, chair of the BSAVA PetSavers Grants Awarding Committee, said: “BSAVA PetSavers is delighted to launch the PetSavers Research Fellowship. It is well recognised that the journey from completion of a PhD to becoming established as an independent researcher is one of the most challenging times of a researcher career.

“With this new grant, BSAVA PetSavers will support exceptional veterinary professionals in the Early Career Researcher phase develop their research ideas by providing £35,000 towards research costs over a two-year period.

He added: "Through this initiative, BSAVA PetSavers aims to help these researchers reach their potential and in so doing expand the capacity for companion animal research in the UK.”

Applications will remain open until 28 February 2022, with the decision reached by the end of May 2022. For more information and to apply, visit petsavers.org.uk

Cats Protection welcomes debates on pet travel

Cats Protection welcomes debates on pet travel

“The current laws on importing kittens and cats are far too relaxed” - Jacqui Cuff.

Feline welfare charity Cats Protection has welcomed the news that MPs are to hold two debates on pet travel following concerns cats are getting left behind.

MPs are holding a general debate on pet travel in Westminster Hall today (2 December) and during oral questions in the House of Lords on Tuesday (7 December). 

The debates follow a recent Government consultation on pet travel that contained significant changes for dogs - including raising the minimum travel age and banning the movement of dogs that are heavily pregnant. However, the consultation failed to extend the same protection to cats. 

As such, Cats Protection is calling on the Government to introduce similar changes to cats - increasing the minimum age of travel from 15 weeks to six months and prohibiting the movement of pregnant cats in their last 42 days of gestation. 
The Charity is also pushing for a total ban on the importation of de-clawed cats. 

Jacqui Cuff, head of advocacy & government relations at Cats Protection, said: “While the Government is looking at changes to improve the welfare of puppies and dogs being brought into the UK, it is not considering the same improvements for cats, which is a huge concern. 

“We know there has been an increase in the numbers of people looking to buy a kitten, and prices have also gone up. The current laws on importing kittens and cats are far too relaxed and urgently need to be tightened up to prevent a surge in unscrupulous traders importing kittens into Great Britain for onward sale.”

Lord Black of Brentwood, who will be raising the issue in an oral question in the House of Lords, said: “Over the years, I have been an advocate for the welfare of our companion animals. We are a nation of animal lovers, and pets are so important to the lives of many, an important part of the family, and providers of joy and companionship.

“There are risks in buying pets online, particularly from sellers based abroad, and the Government’s review of the pet travel provisions presents a real opportunity to clamp down on unscrupulous sellers smuggling pets into Great Britain.”

He added: “While the horrors of puppy smuggling are well publicised, we must not open the door to sellers turning their attention to bringing in kittens to meet the UK market. New pet travel provisions must apply to kittens as well as puppies, both of whom need legal protection.”

Dr Peter Rossdale dies aged 94

Dr Peter Rossdale dies aged 94

"Peter was the catalyst for the fabulous practice that has influenced so many people" - Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons.

Renowned veterinary surgeon Dr Peter Rossdale has died following a short illness, it has been confirmed.

The 94-year-old, who was the founder of Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons, passed away on 26th November 2021, according to an announcement on Rossdales’ website.

The announcement reads: “It is with great sadness that we announce that our Founder, Dr Peter Rossdale, passed away on 26th November 2021, at the age of 94 years, following a short illness. 

“Described by Rossdales' former senior partner Professor Sidney Ricketts as 'the 'giant', whose shoulders we 'stood on', Peter was the catalyst for the fabulous practice that has influenced so many people.

"We all thank Peter for our opportunities, and we are very grateful to him for his foresight, direction and kindness. We are very sorry to lose him.

A graduate of the RVC, Dr Rossdale entered general practice in Rye, and subsequently spent several years in equine practice, before opening his own practice in Newmarket 1959.
He was later joined by other pioneering veterinary surgeons who together formed the foundations of Rossdale & Partners, which is now world-renowned as Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons.

Dr Rossdale’s extensive career saw him obtain an FRCVS by thesis in 1967 and, in 1985, a PhD from Cambridge University based on published papers in the peer-reviewed literature. He also received Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Berne, Edinburgh and Sydney and served on the scientific advisory boards of the Wellcome Trust, the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the Animal Health Trust. 

Dr Rossdale was editor of the Equine Veterinary Journal (1980-2010) and editor-in-chief of Equine Veterinary Education (1986-2006). He retired from practice in 2004. 

Image (C) Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons.

Canine-human cancer finding could advance new therapies

Canine-human cancer finding could advance new therapies

Researchers confirm molecular similarities between oral tumours found in dogs and people.

US researchers have discovered a striking resemblance between a non-lethal canine tumour and a devastating tumour in people, paving the way for new treatments in both veterinary and human medicine.

The study by Cornell University found that canine acanthomatous ameloblastoma (CAA) – a common tumour of dogs – is molecularly similar to a rare oral tumour in humans known as ameloblastoma (AM).

Scientists had previously noted a resemblance between CAA and AM, but it is not until now that any molecular similarities have been confirmed. The findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“This research was a good example of a full cycle of translational research,” commented lead author Dr Santiago Peralta, a veterinary dentist and oral surgeon at the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “We took something we were dealing with in the clinical setting, studied it in the bench setting and are now hoping to use it to help veterinary patients and, potentially, humans.”

Previous research by Peralta and his team revealed both AM and CAA shared mutations in a well-known signalling pathway, known as the RAS-RAF-MAPK pathway.  In this study, the team analysed a large genomic dataset generated by the Cornell Transcriptional Regulation and Expression Facility to better understand the biological consequences of these mutations.

At the same time, the team compared the CAA tumours with another common canine tumour (oral squamous cell carcinoma) and healthy gum tissue, made available through the Cornell Veterinary Biobank. The team also used genomic data from human tissues to run comparisons.

Through analysing these different tissues, Peralta and his team were able to see that the mutations they had identified in their earlier study were largely responsible for the tumours they were seeing.
They also found that CAA and AM are very similar at a molecular level - giving strength to the idea that dogs represent a potentially useful natural model of the human tumour.

“All the dysregulated molecules and pathways in CAA tumour tissues were consistent with the mutations we’d found and remarkably similar to those observed in AM,” said Peralta.

The team is now looking to establish in vitro and in vivo models of different canine oral tumours that can be used to test potential drugs. It is hoped that any drugs that prove effective in treating oral tumours in dogs may also have the potential to help human patients.

 

RCVS Knowledge launches clinical audit course

RCVS Knowledge launches clinical audit course

The course supports RCVS’ Practice Standard Scheme changes.

Clinical audits and the benefits they bring to teams, clients and animals are to be covered in the second series of RCVS Knowledge’s free educational course, ‘QI Boxset’.

The course, which launched on Tuesday (30 November), aims to help practitioners implement Quality Improvement (QI) in practice – a topic that will be most relevant to Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) accredited practices owing to a series of updates to the requirements announced earlier this year.

Open to the whole practice team, the topics covered in the series include starting out with audits and carrying out audits. There are also real-life examples of teams that have used audits, together with bite-sized content containing webinars, podcasts and reading resources.

Welcoming the series, David Ashcroft, lead PPS Assessor, said: “The latest update to the Practice Standards Scheme has reflected the value and importance of clinical audit by including it at General Practice level, so a lot more practices may wish to seek guidance. RCVS Knowledge remains the perfect place to start, and the Boxset is an extremely user-friendly resource.”

Pam Mosedale, QI clinical lead at RCVS Knowledge, added: “The RCVS Knowledge team have been working hard on producing these free resources to support veterinary teams, and I am delighted that the series is now available.

“The benefits that clinical audits bring to practice is massive, but we understand it may seem difficult to know where to start. This series features a huge number of resources from teams who have identified the benefits of clinical audit for themselves, and we hope they will be both useful and inspiring. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all the contributors.”

To access the series, visit RCVS Knowledge's Learn Platform.

A quarter of scour cases caused by a mix of disease organisms

A quarter of scour cases caused by a mix of disease organisms

Vets highlight the importance of good husbandry to prevent infection.

A quarter of infectious scour cases in calves are likely to have been caused by a mix of disease organisms that are widespread in the UK farming environment, according to new research.

Data published by MSD Animal Health, gathered between October 2020 and March 2021, shows that 23 per cent of positive tests taken from UK calf rearing units had mixed infections.

Testing took place at 112 farms, using ScourCheck diagnositic kits, with 61 per cent of faecal samples from these units returning a positive result. The kits identified the presence of rotavirus, coronavirus, E.coli or cryptosporidium infections.

In light of the findings, vets are highlighting the importance of good husbandry to stop the disease from developing in the first place.

“Practically, this means making sure your cow colostrum is as good as it can be, in addition to ensuring good environmental hygiene and management,” explained MSD Animal Health livestock veterinary adviser, Dr Kat Baxter-Smith.

“Indeed, a good first step in terms of making your calf rearing enterprise more resilient to infectious scour problems is to give your dry cows a vaccine to boost dam colostrum quality pre-calving – and then feeding enough of this fortified feed to your newborn calves.”

Scour is a significant disease problem in young calves, especially during the winter, and is the most common cause of death in calves under two months of age.

According to Dr Baxter-Smith, calves are most at risk from infectious scours during the first one to four weeks of life, and they require the passive transfer of antibodies in the colostrum to help keep them healthy. On many units, however, normal colostrum may not provide enough antibodies.

“However, vaccination of the calf’s mother with Bovilis® Rotavec® Corona between 12 and 3 weeks before calving boosts colostrum quality, allowing you to feed high levels of antibodies against rotavirus, coronavirus and E.coli F5 (K99) in early life,” she said.

“To ensure this passive transfer of antibodies from the dam to calves, four litres of colostrum (or at least 10 per cent of calf body weight) containing 50g/litre of IgG antibodies should be fed within the first four hours of birth. This should be followed by two additional litres within 12 hours of birth.

“For calves left on the cow, getting four litres of colostrum requires approximately 20 minutes of continuous suckling.”

Puppyhood diet a 'significant factor' in allergy development

Puppyhood diet a 'significant factor' in allergy development

Findings suggest raw food could protect puppies against skin issues.

A puppy's diet could affect the onset of allergy and atopy-related skin symptoms in adulthood, new research suggests.

The study by the University of Helsinki found that puppies whose diet consisted of at least 20 per cent raw food, or less than 80 per cent dry food, developed significantly fewer AASS in older age. 

Conversely, puppies that did not eat any raw food - or whose diet consisted of mostly dry food -  developed more AASS symptoms in later life. The findings are published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine

“The puppies that had been fed raw tripe, raw organ meats, and human meal leftovers during puppyhood showed significantly less allergy and atopy related skin symptoms in adult life,” explained Anna Hielm-Björkman from the University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

“On the other hand, puppies not getting any raw foods, eating most of their food as dry food, i.e. kibble, being fed fruits, and heat-dried animal parts, had significantly more allergy and atopy related skin symptoms in adulthood”.

In the study, researchers observed more than 4,000 puppies to examine the link between diet and the prevalence of owner-reported allergy/atopy skin signs. Building on answers that owners had given in an independent online feeding survey, a total of 46 individual food items and four major diet types were studied for their association with AASS in adulthood.

Among their findings, researchers also discovered that processed commercial dog foods, such as canned foods, appeared to increase the prevalence of AASS in later life. Dogs that never ate such foods showed a significantly decreased prevalence of allergies and skin issues.

“These findings indicate that it was the raw food component that was the beneficial health promotor,” said Hielm-Björkman, “and that even as little as 20 per cent of the diet being raw foods, already gives health benefits”. 

The researchers conclude that the study only suggests a causal relationship but does not prove it, adding: ‘Puppyhood exposure to raw animal-based foods might have a protective influence on AASS incidence in adulthood, while puppyhood exposure to mixed oils, heat-processed foods and sugary fruits might be a potential risk factor of AASS incidence later.'

Vet students volunteer with BHWT

Vet students volunteer with BHWT

Glasgow students got hands-on experience with chickens.

A group of veterinary students from the University of Glasgow recently volunteered at a British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) rehoming day in Denny.

The volunteering trip was set up by the new Association of Avian Medicine (AAM), a chapter of the Association of Avian Veterinarians. Founded by veterinary students at the University of Glasgow, the AAM has around 80 members.

Cameron Clark, co-founder of the AAM and a first year veterinary student, commented on his experience with the BHWT: “It was a great opportunity to not only help with the re-homing but also get hands-on with the birds because at vet school we get little experience handling poultry. 

“Plus, all the people there were so knowledgeable about chickens and husbandry that it was great to speak with them and pull on some of the knowledge they had to offer.

“I would love to go on and specialise in poultry or avian veterinary. I’ve had hens since I was nine-years-old, and I was given a few to start off with; I’ve been fascinated ever since.”

 

Images (C) BHWT

WSAVA demonstrates need for global oncology education

WSAVA demonstrates need for global oncology education

The results have been released from the organisation's oncology survey.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has shared that veterinary professionals globally rate their knowledge of oncology at five out of 10, from a recent survey held to ascertain global levels of knowledge of veterinary oncology.

Conducted by the WSAVA Oncology Working Group (WOW), the survey, completed in 10 different languages, found that veterinary professionals rated the importance of oncology cases for their practice at seven out of 10, with little variation between languages. 

Dr Jolle Kirpensteijn, member of the WOW Group and former WSAVA president, said: “Cancer is increasingly common in companion animals, with almost 50 per cent of dogs over 10 years of age developing this devastating disease. 

“To support WSAVA members effectively in treating oncology patients, we wanted to know where they needed help most urgently.”

The survey also found that the most common type of tumour found in practice was a mammary tumour (81 per cent). The second most common type of tumour encountered was a skin tumour (75 per cent), followed by abdominal tumour (40 per cent), malignant lymphoma (39 per cent) and other tumours (five per cent). 

When asked about educational resources, and which topics would be most valuable, chemotherapy protocols was considered to be the most needed, requested by 82 per cent of respondents. 

Dr Jolle Kirpensteijn added: “Our survey is the largest the WSAVA has ever conducted and shows the reach of this well-respected association, which works to share best practice in companion animal veterinary care around the world.

“It is salutary to see the huge demand for veterinary oncology education all over the world. We have much to do but are excited at the opportunity to support WSAVA members and to offer new hope to oncology patients and their owners globally.”

BVA junior vice president role opens for nominations

BVA junior vice president role opens for nominations

Vet surgeon members are being invited to nominate themselves. 

The BVA is inviting nominations from its members for the 2022/23 BVA junior vice president (JVP) role.
 
Representing the BVA and the wider veterinary profession, the JVP uses their expertise to provide political advice and works closely with the Association’s CEO and policy, media and membership teams.

As with other Officer positions, the term lasts for one year, beginning in September at BVA’s Annual General Meeting. The successful applicant would then become president in September 2023, with a total commitment of three years as BVA officer and a further three years serving on BVA Council.

BVA president Justine Shotton, who was elected BVA JVP in 2020/21, said: “I would encourage anyone with a passion for animal health, animal welfare, and our wonderful veterinary profession, to consider putting themselves forward to join our officer team. There’s no denying it’s hard work, but the rewards are enormous, and we’re expertly supported by an incredible team at BVA HQ. 

“The team spirit is tangible, and the team brief us on key messages and ensure that everything runs smoothly, enabling us to represent the views of our members clearly and concisely, not only to policymakers and politicians but also both local and national media.

“If you think you have what it takes to represent the views and interests of BVA members and the wider UK veterinary profession to governments, politicians, and the media; forge and maintain excellent relationships with our stakeholders, and lead on a portfolio of priority issues, then why not put yourself forward?”

Nominations remain open until Monday, 17 January 2022, with BVA veterinary surgeon members invited to nominate themselves for the role. Further details, including a nomination form, are available on the BVA website.

BVA asks owners to protect pets in winter

BVA asks owners to protect pets in winter

The BVA is offering top tips for avoiding cold weather hazards.

The BVA is reminding pet owners to take extra precautions to protect their pets over the winter months with six top tips to keep pets safe from the cold.

“Many of us will be wrapping up a little warmer over the coming weeks and its important to remember that freezing temperatures and icy conditions also call for extra precautions to protect pets,” said BVA president Justine Shotton. 

“If you have any concerns about your pet in this cold weather, please consult your local vet for advice.” 

The BVA's top tips for pet owners to keep pets safe in the cold weather are as follows: 

• Provide a warm, draught-free shelter, and for outdoor pets, ensure that the enclosure is in a sheltered position and at least 10cm off the ground.
• Take precautions such as coats during and after walks, and wipe down dog's paws and stomachs once home to remove ice or salt, and regularly check for cracks in paw-pads.
• Avoid antifreeze poisoning by wiping your pet's paws after they have been outside, and store and use antifreeze products carefully.
• Take care near frozen bodies of water, do not let your pet off the lead near them.
• Keep the temperature of rabbit homes between 10 and 20 degrees celsius and the temperature of guinea pig homes between five and 20 degrees celsius.
• Provide extra bedding for rabbits and guinea pigs, and cover outdoor enclosures with an old duvet, blanket or tarpaulin. Consider moving them inside to a well-ventilated space if the weather becomes particularly severe.

VetPartners announces expansion in Switzerland

VetPartners announces expansion in Switzerland

Swissvet becomes group’s founding network of practices in the country.

VetPartners has announced its continued expansion into the European market with the acquisition of a group in Switzerland. 

The Swissvet Group, which was founded five years ago, has become VetPartners’ founding network of practices in the country.

The group has 100 employees working across 12 practices in the French-speaking part of Western Switzerland. Group co-founder Florent Bourachot will continue as CEO to oversee the organisation’s further growth.

Mr Bourachot said: “VetPartners is the right fit for us because we share the same values and culture. It is a very caring group that looks after its people and supports teams while still allowing them the autonomy to make clinical decisions.

“The veterinary market is evolving in Switzerland and VetPartners will help us to pursue our strategy by being more competitive and to expand in this country. We already have interest from other practices and projects for new practices.

“Being part of a larger group means our employees will benefit from having access to knowledge and data throughout the VetPartners group, and there will be opportunity to benefit from CPD and training. It is also a group that looks after the wellbeing of employees, which is important in today’s challenging climate.”

UK-based VetPartners already has practices in France, Italy and Germany, and plans to further expand in Spain. 

VetPartners CEO Jo Malone said: “As soon as I met Florent and Antoine, I knew that Swissvet Group would be a good fit for us. We are delighted that they are now working with us and we look forward to being part of the future growth in Switzerland.” 

Image (C) VetPartners.

Scottish beavers to be 'translocated' to boost population

Scottish beavers to be 'translocated' to boost population

The move will help to establish the species outside its current range.

New measures to boost biodiversity and expand the beaver population have been announced by the Scottish Government.

Under the measures revealed on Wednesday (24 November), ministers will be actively promoting 'translocation', which involves safely trapping and moving beavers to a more suitable area. 

It is hoped the move will reduce or avoid the negative impacts associated with beavers and help establish the species in parts of Scotland outside its current range.

Commenting on the announcement, biodiversity minister Lorna Slater said: “Beavers were driven to extinction in Scotland but have now become an established part of our environment in some areas following their reintroduction, and today’s announcement will help them to continue to expand across the country. 

“Restoring this lost species is important in its own right, but beavers will also contribute to restoring Scotland’s natural environment as they create wetland habitats that support a range of species, and their dams can also help filter sediment from watercourses and mitigate flooding.”

Eurasian beavers are native to the UK, but they were driven to extinction in the 16th century over demand for their fur and meat. In recent years, however, conservationists have been working hard to restore the species to Britain – figures published by NatureScot figures show there are an estimated 602 to 1381 beavers in Scotland alone. 

In some areas, beavers can impact negatively on agricultural land, forestry and infrastructure, but thgough their work conservationists have gained a deeper understanding of how they can manage this now-protected species. They and the Scottish Government will continue to work with landowners to reduce any negative impacts, and the option of translocation will further support this. 

Welcoming the announcement, Sarah Robinson, Director of Conservation at Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “Moving beavers requires specialist skills and resources so providing funding and increasing the number of people who are trained to carry out translocations effectively is an important step forward.

“To fully benefit from the return of beavers to Scotland we need to see joined-up thinking. We look forward to working with groups from a range of backgrounds to help shape a robust and forward-looking national strategy for the species.”