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Pug no longer 'typical dog' from a health perspective

RVC research highlights the health crisis experienced by UK pugs. 

New research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has revealed that pugs can no longer be considered 'typical dogs' from a health perspective.

Led by the RVC's VetCompass programme, the study compared the health of random samples of 4,308 pugs and 21,835 non-pugs to document and fully understand the serious health crisis in UK pugs.

Dr Dan O'Neill, associate professor in Companion Animal Epidemiology at the RVC and lead author of the paper, explained the need for the study: “Although hugely popular as pets, we now know that that several severe health issues are linked to the extreme body shape of pugs that many humans find so cute.

“It is time now that we focus on the health of the dog rather than the whims of the owner when we are choosing what type of dog to own.”

The findings of the study showed that pugs were 1.9 times more likely to have one or more disorders recorded in a single year in comparison to non-pugs, highlighting the breed's overall bad health.

Out of the 40 most common disorders across groups of dogs, pugs were found to have a higher risk of 57.5 per cent of the disorders, and a lower risk of just 17.5 per cent of the disorders.

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) was identified as the disorder with the highest risk in pugs. Compared to non-pugs, pugs were almost 54 times more likely to have the condition.

RVC veterinary student and co-author of the study, Jaya Sahota, said: “Demographic statistics from this Pug study show that the current Pug population is predominately young with a wide variety of health disorders recorded.

“This leads to serious concerns of an impending brachycephalic ‘health crisis’ as this young population ages.

“Widespread ownership of Pugs with extreme facial and body conformations should be discouraged until measures are in place to ensure stricter and more acceptable breed standards.”

Although pugs were found to have such severe health issues that the breed can no longer be considered 'typical' from a health perspective, there were a few conditions that the breed had a reduced risk of, including heart murmur, aggression and wounds.
 
As the RVC notes, pugs' lack of aggression and gentle temperament may make them appear to be a good pet from a human perspective, the quality of life that a dog will experience should be taken into consideration.

British Veterinary Association president Dr Justine Shotton added: “These statistics are shocking but, sadly, they will not be surprising to our members.

“Vet teams see pugs with these distressing health problems – from breathing difficulties to eye ulcers and painful spine abnormalities - in veterinary practices across the UK on a daily basis.

“This study clearly demonstrates how it is the extreme characteristics many owners find so appealing, such as squashed faces, big eyes and curly tails, which are seriously compromising pugs’ health and welfare and often result in a lifetime of suffering.

“While these extreme, unhealthy characteristics remain, we will continue to strongly recommend potential owners do not buy brachycephalic breeds such as pugs."

Published in Canine Medicine and Genetics, the study is available to read online here.

Report sets out options for student EMS

Report sets out options for student EMS

Action plans will be presented later this month.
 
A report outlining options for the future implementation of student extra-mural studies (EMS) has been issued by the RCVS.

The document, available on the RCVS website, summarises discussions held at an RCVS stakeholder day in November, attended by practising vets, students, new graduates, vet schools and membership organisations.

Delegates at the 'Future of EMS' event considered the benefits and challenges around implementing EMS – particularly long-term sustainability - and worked in small groups to discuss the following three models

  • enhanced learning outcomes focused EMS placements that could reduce the number of weeks of EMS needed
  • additional structured placements co-ordinated by the school, further to intramural rotations, focusing on consolidating skills learned in the programme
  • initiatives to increase the availability of EMS placements and the number of workplaces offering EMS.

Outcomes from the day will be written up into viable proposals, with action plans presented to the RCVS Education Committee later this month.

The coronavirus pandemic had a profound impact on EMS, with the number of mandatory hours temporarily lowered and several modalities of EMS altered. Despite this, the stakeholder day revealed that students often find placements to be a valuable element of their studies.

In recent years, stakeholders have identified several challenges with the implementation of EMS placements, including the consistency of the quality of the experience for students, the availability and cost of placements and instances of discrimination faced by students.

Dr Linda Prescott-Clements, RCVS director of education, said: “We are aware of the challenges that EMS places on students and providers and understand that, for many students, the placements can impact them financially. As well as addressing these issues, we also want to make sure that the implementation of EMS is sustainable in the longer term and continues to provide valuable experience for students.

"The EMS stakeholder event was an opportunity for people from across the veterinary professions to come together to discuss the benefits and issues with the current systems and put forward suggestions for what future models of EMS could look like."

BVA responds to the Queen's Speech

BVA responds to the Queen's Speech

The Association welcomes a pledge to bring the Kept Animals Bill into law. 

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed a pledge from the government to prioritise animal welfare in the next parliamentary session.

While animal welfare did not receive a mention in the Queen's Speech on Tuesday (10 May), upcoming legislation accompanying it confirmed that the Kept Animals Bill will continue its passage into law via a carryover motion.

The Bill, which has already gone through its first and second reading in parliament, aims to tackle welfare issues such as pet theft and puppy smuggling. A date for the report stage and third reading of the Bill is due to be announced.

The BVA has long-campaigned for action in areas covered by the Bill, but says that progress has stalled in recent months.

Plans to ban the import and sale of fur and foie gras were not included in Tuesday's announcement, which would have been introduced via the Animals Abroad Bill. BVA has previously warned against importing animal products that fail to meet the UK’s high health and welfare standards.

Justine Shotton, BVA President, said: “We’re disappointed that animal welfare didn’t get a mention in the Queen’s Speech itself, but at least reassured that the carryover motion cements plans to finally get the Kept Animals Bill over the line and into law. This crucial and long-awaited piece of legislation promises to bring in a cross-species suite of measures that will improve the lives of billions of animals.

“The Bill pledges to tackle issues which our members have identified as some of most pressing animal health and welfare issues of our times, and the impact of the pandemic on longstanding concerns such as puppy smuggling has only added to this urgency. BVA urges the government to bring this vital Bill into law as a top priority in the upcoming parliamentary session.”

Half of vets experienced online abuse in 2021

Half of vets experienced online abuse in 2021

BVA launches campaign to support veterinary workplaces experiencing abuse from animal owners. 

The BVA is calling on vet teams to protect colleagues from client abuse as new figures show one in two vets experienced online abuse in 2021.

The association has launched a new campaign named: 'Respect your vet team – end abuse', which aims to support vets and veterinary workplaces who experience abuse from animal owners either in person on online.

Figures released from BVA's bi-annual Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey reveal that online abuse is almost as common as in-person abuse. Another survey conducted last year showed that 57 per cent of vets in clinical practice felt intimidated by clients' language or behaviour.

BVA President Justine Shotton said: “The current pressures on vet teams are immense, and it’s simply unacceptable that their jobs should be made even harder by abuse from clients, either online or in person.

"We’re very aware that a visit to the vet may be an anxious and uncertain time for animal owners, particularly when the prognosis is poor or the necessary treatment is costly, but it is absolutely unacceptable to take these frustrations out on veterinary staff. These figures show that such interactions are just as frequent, and just as damaging online as they are in person."

She continued: “I know from experience the huge impact that a single aggressive or intimidating interaction with a client can have on your mental wellbeing. When incidents mount up it is no surprise that they can affect our sense of job satisfaction and ultimately drive skilled veterinary staff out of the profession.”

The latest survey figures show that vets who had experienced online abuse in the past 12 months were more likely to report that they will have left the profession in five years to pursue another career. They also show that female vets (45 per cent versus 30 per cent male) and younger vets (49 per cent under 35 versus 27 per cent 55 and over) were more likely to experience online abuse. 

The most common form of abuse was unfair reviews, while almost half of those who had experienced online abuse had experienced abusive language. One in three vets experienced trolling, and three in ten experienced online harassment.

To help support vets in practice, BVA has published a toolkit with new resources, including practical tips on protecting staff from online abuse, downloadable posters, graphics and a series of blogs. BVA is also working with Vetlife to tackle the impact of abuse on mental health and wellbeing.

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Holyrood Dog of the Year crowned

Holyrood Dog of the Year crowned

Mabel beat out all her paw-litical opponents. 

The Holyrood Dog of the Year competition has crowned a winner for 2022.

Mabel, a one-year-old German shorthaired pointer, entered the event with Christine Grahame, Scottish National Party (SNP) MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, and won over the judges with her loveable nature. 

Bill Lambert, health, welfare and breeder services executive at The Kennel Club, said: “We were delighted to meet Mabel, who was a great example of a dog that has been responsibly sourced through a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, and she wowed us with her friendly and affectionate temperament.”

Organised by The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, the fourth Holyrood Dog of the Year competition took place on Monday (9 May) in the Scottish Parliament Gardens in Edinburgh, and returned for the first time since 2019.

Whilst also celebrating the dogs who live and work alongside Scottish politicians and their teams, the event also puts a spotlight on dog welfare, and endeavours to promote responsible dog ownership. 

The event also gives MSPs a chance to discuss important issues surrounding dog welfare with experts in the field to help inform and support their work in Parliament on animal welfare.

Commenting on her win with Mabel, who belongs to her office manager, and on her commitment to canine welfare, Christine Grahame said: “They’re all winners because the dogs are all wonderful, but the event is really about highlighting animal welfare and dog welfare. 

“I’m bringing a Bill forward in Parliament [Proposed Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill] to make sure people who acquire a puppy, just like Mabel, do their homework first, and from a breeder who makes sure they have the right household and the right lifestyle.

“I want to stop people buying puppies from puppy farms. Mabel is a puppy who had an excellent start to life. She was in a super litter, brought up properly, she was in a happy household. All dogs should have that in their lives.”

Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust chief executive, commented: “With the last Holyrood Dog of the Year taking place in 2019, it is wonderful to be back in Edinburgh to celebrate our canine companions.

“Choosing a winner is never easy as there is no doubt all the dogs are winners, but congratulations to Mabel and Christine Grahame MSP who stood out because of their great work in Parliament together.”

Second place went to a cockapoo named Tony, owned by Scottish Labour MSP for the Glasgow region Pam Duncan-Glancy, and third place went to Claire Adamson, SNP MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw, and her rescue dog Ollie.

An additional winner was also decided via a public vote, which went to a greyhound named Bluesy, accompanied by Mark Ruskell, Scottish Green Party MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife region. 

 

Image (C) Holyrood Dog of the Year (Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club)

World Bee Day celebrations begin

World Bee Day celebrations begin

The annual event considers why pollinators are important. 

Today (20 May) marks the fifth annual World Bee Day, which raises awareness of the importance of bees and pollinators to people and the planet. Observed on the anniversary of pioneering Slovenian beekeeper Anton Janša's birthday, this year's celebration is themed: ‘Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems’.

Organisations and people celebrating the day will raise awareness of the accelerated decline in pollinator diversity, and highlight the importance of sustainable beekeeping systems and a wide variety of bees. Slovenia, the initiator of World Bee Day, will be focusing on teaching young people about the significance of pollinators.

Further avian flu cases confirmed

Further avian flu cases confirmed

Further avian flu cases confirmed

Avian influenza H5N1 identified in Suffolk and Nottinghamshire.


Three cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in recent days, bringing the total number of cases in England to 98.

On Thursday, the APHA confirmed two cases of HPAI H5N1 near Redgrave, Mid Suffolk and Market Weston, West Suffolk. A case H5N1 was also confirmed in poultry at a premises near Southwell, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire.

Protection and surveillance zones have been placed around the affected premises. Further details are available at gov.uk

Views sought on feline hypertension

Views sought on feline hypertension

Survey will inform how best to support practices.

A new survey is seeking views from veterinary professionals on feline hypertension in a bid to see how teams currently assess blood pressure in cats.

The research is being led by Dr Sarah Caney, an RCVS registered specialist in feline medicine, and is set to be the biggest ever survey conducted on the condition.

Veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses are being asked to share their views on when and how they measure blood pressure and their views on feline hypertension.

Dr Caney explains, “Feline hypertension is easily missed as clinical signs are often limited or non-existent, so regular, accurate blood pressure monitoring is essential, particularly for senior cats. We hope the results of this survey will help us to identify how we can best coach, support and develop practices in the future so they can identify more of these patients and improve their quality of life.”

All veterinary professionals taking part can receive a fob watch to thank them for their participation. To take part, visit bit.ly/FelineHypertensionSurvey.

Goa on track to eliminate rabies, study finds

Goa on track to eliminate rabies, study finds

Study proves how mass vaccination of dogs can prevent thousands of deaths in people.

The Indian state of Goa could soon be free of rabies, thanks to a successful campaign by Mission Rabies to vaccinate dogs in the region.

According to a study by the Government of Goa, Mission Rabies and the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Goa is now on track to eliminate the disease.

Researchers say their findings prove how mass vaccination in dogs can lead to the elimination of rabies in people and how the approach can be scaled up across India to prevent the deaths of thousands of people. 

The paper published in Nature Communications describes how the team used smartphones to capture large amounts of data on stray dogs. This data enabled them to target dog populations in Goa more effectively to eliminate the virus in both dogs and people. 

A comprehensive education programme and intensive rabies surveillance were also necessary to control the spread of the disease and were significant factors in the success of Goa, the study found. 

Researchers say that lessons learned during the Goa campaign will be vital in the ongoing fight against rabies in India and across the world.

Dr Andy Gibson, director of strategic research at Mission Rabies and study lead, says: “The One Health program evaluated in this paper consisted of three core areas of activity: dog vaccination; rabies education; and intensified human and animal rabies surveillance. These are the three cornerstones required to beat this disease.”

Luke Gamble, CEO of Mission Rabies, states: “The work of Andy and the team showcases what can be achieved by phenomenal grit and determination. Vaccinating over half a million dogs in Goa over the last five years has been no simple feat, and this paper demonstrates what many thought was impossible.”

Some 99 per cent of all human cases of rabies result from being bitten by a rabid dog. The virus spreads via saliva and enters the body through damaged skin or the eyes, nose or mouth before travelling up the peripheral nerves to the brain.

Rabies has the most significant mortality rate of any infectious disease, and there is no treatment once symptoms appear.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target for global dog-mediated human rabies elimination by 2030.

Birth of wildcat kittens signifies future for the species

Birth of wildcat kittens signifies future for the species

Those born at Saving Wildcats will be released into the Cairngorms.

Three litters of wildcat kittens, with more expected in the coming weeks, will be the first of the species to be released into the wild in Britain.

The kittens were born at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's (RZSS) Highland Wildlife Park as part of the Saving Wildcats breeding for release programme. 

Saving Wildcats conservation manager David Barclay said: “Put simply, these kittens are the future of wildcats in Scotland. 

“Decades of extensive research have shown their species is highly likely to go extinct in Britain if we do not carry out releases to restore our critically endangered wildcat population.”

Eight kittens have been born so far, after 16 wildcats were paired up to conserve the species, and the wildcats will be released into the Cairngorms National Park, in specially selected locations.

Dr Helen Senn, head of conservation and science at RZSS, commented on the initiative: “Wildcats are Scotland's most iconic animal but sadly also one of our most endangered. 

“Habitat loss, hunting and inter-breeding with domestic cats have all taken their toll, leaving this incredible species on the brink of extinction.

“Fortunately, our Saving Wildcats team, partners and many other wonderful supporters are working together to restore wildcats in the Highlands. 

“Planning is underway for the first releases in 2023, which will be subject to receiving a translocation license.

“This enormously collaborative effort includes our dedicated keepers caring for the cats in the centre, the field team carefully assessing the suitability of potential release sites, and national and international experts sharing best practice and their experience of breeding a whole range of species for release in conservation projects across the globe.”

Commenting on how the wildcat kittens are progressing so far, David Barclay added: “It is still early days for our new wildcat kittens who are very vulnerable in their first weeks and months. 

“They have a lot to learn over the next year, but our expert Saving Wildcats keepers will be on hand to help prepare them for the many challenges of life in the wild.

“We have a very hands-off approach with the cats to give them the best possible chance of survival after release. 

“This means we are only able to monitor the kittens on remote cameras at the moment, though we have been able to confirm there are at least eight kittens from three litters so far and hope there will be more to follow in the coming weeks.”

Blue Cross helps one-eyed kitten

Blue Cross helps one-eyed kitten

Little Candy Cane has found her forever home. 

A one-eyed kitten who came into the care of animal welfare charity Blue Cross has found her forever home after building confidence in a foster home.

Candy Cane was discovered with a painful ruptured right eye, and her veterinary team had to remove the eye in order to make Candy more comfortable. 

Understandably, Candy Cane was incredibly nervous and distrustful of humans, and so the charity decided to place her in foster care until she had recovered from her operation.

Foster carer Wendy Penfold took Candy Cane in to her home in Kent, and cared for her as she built her confidence up. Wendy said: “When Candy came to me, she’d lost her trust in humans and was very nervous.

“She would run and hide when I’d come into the room but by the end of her time with me, she became more inquisitive to know what I’m doing and staying in the same area as me.

“After the first week of hardly moving from her hiding hole she discovered the benefits of the tall cat climber in her run where was out of reach and could watch everything going on at a safe distance.”

A regular pet foster carer, Wendy was also caring for another cat named Rita, who she believed helped Candy Cane to come out of her shell. 

Wendy explained: “I think Rita helped lure Candy forward in the pen as I would sit and stroke or play with Rita in the corridor so Candy could see I was a nice person with to be around cats. 

“A lovely young couple in Hampshire have adopted her that are happy to give her the space and time to see how far she can settle in a family home. 

“They understand she may never be a lap cat but want to love her and let her know this is a safe place for her.”

A testament to the love and care of pet foster carers, Candy Cane's small steps toward confidence reflect the great care she has received.

Animal welfare assistant at Blue Cross Hertfordshire, Sarah Miller, commented on Candy Cane's experience: “Wendy has done an amazing job for Candy Cane and even though steps might seem small, they have been huge for her.

"We hope that over time she will build up a relationship and trust with her new owners.”

Battersea Old Windsor launches appeal for blankets

Battersea Old Windsor launches appeal for blankets

The charity is seeking blankets for the dogs after a shortage of donations.

Battersea Old Windsor, one of the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home's rescue centres, is appealing to animal lovers for blankets for the dogs after a shortage of donations.

With not enough blankets to go round, the team at Battersea is having to share them out. 

Kaye Mughal, centre manager at Battersea Old Windsor, shared the story of Ruby, a two-year-old greyhound waiting at the centre to be adopted: “Ruby likes to sleep in a soft, comfy bed with a blanket over the top of her and absolutely loves to be gently tucked in at night. 

“With her fun and playful temperament and a tail that never stops wagging, she needs a steady supply of blankets, while she waits for the perfect home to come along.”

The team is seeking clean fleece blankets, throws or non-feather single duvets to ensure that the dogs always get a good night's sleep whilst in the centre's care. 

“Battersea rely on the generosity of our kind supporters to help keep our dogs warm and comfortable,” said Kaye.

“We have lots of different dogs of all shapes and sizes coming through our doors and as you can imagine we use a lot of blankets, they are washed every day, so we would be very grateful for any donations.”

Any animal lover with blankets to donate can contact Battersea Old Windsor on 01784 494 440, or email bowreception@battersea.org.uk for details on how to donate. 

BVA president addresses annual Scottish dinner

BVA president addresses annual Scottish dinner

Justine Shotton spoke on avian flu, animal welfare legislation and future-proofing the veterinary workforce.

BVA president Justine Shotton addressed attendees at the association's Annual Scottish Dinner on Tuesday, reflecting on the avian influenza outbreak, the future of the veterinary workforce and pet welfare.

During her speech, Ms Shotton praised the work of veterinary teams across Scotland to make animal health and welfare a priority despite having to contend with COVID-19, Brexit and a recent surge in pet ownership. She did, however, warn that that their efforts had come at a significant and unsustainable cost to the profession’s capacity and wellbeing.

She said: “If we are going to cope with ongoing and new or unforeseen challenges ahead, we need action now to improve recruitment, retention and rates of return to veterinary work, to ensure that all existing vets can feel supported, safe and rewarded in their careers, and to encourage future vets from all walks of life to follow in our footsteps.”

On creating a “flexible, resilient and future-proofed workforce,” Ms Shotton called on the Scottish and UK governments, animal owners and the profession itself to carry out a range of actions. These included ensuring that new vet schools are adequately funded, to reminding animal owners to “Respect your vet”.

Speaking on the avian influenza outbreak, Ms Shotton said that with disease control sitting within the scope of the proposed new Scottish Veterinary Service, it was vital to ensure systems collaborate closely with the rest of the UK and beyond, warning: 

“I don’t have to tell any of you around the room tonight that diseases and animal welfare problems don’t respect borders. It will therefore be critical that the new service has systems that collaborate and liaise with the rest of the UK, and beyond, on disease surveillance, data collection, and information sharing. We’re engaging closely to ensure that veterinary expertise is at the heart of these new proposals.”

On animal welfare legislation, Dr Shotton said that BVA welcomed the Scottish government’s commitment to banning the sale and use of glue traps, describing them as “inhumane devices, which subject trapped animals to prolonged pain and suffering."

She advocated for similar action against snares, which may cause severe and unnecessary suffering to animals, including pets and protected wildlife. 

On pet welfare, Dr Shotton acknowledged some significant campaign wins in the past year, including BVA successfully lobbying alongside others for the UK Government to take action against the “barbaric and purely cosmetic practice” of cropping dogs’ ears. 

She said that BVA will now be turning its attention to the rise of canine fertility clinics in Scotland and the rest of the UK. 

ZSL London Zoo hand-rears hungry penguin chicks

ZSL London Zoo hand-rears hungry penguin chicks

The youngsters have 'perfected their squawk'.

Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo are hand-rearing five Humboldt penguin chicks, after their parents were unable to care for them.

These hungry chicks are staying in the penguin nursery, with warm heat lamps and soft penguin cuddle toys to snuggle with, and will stay there until they are 10 weeks old under the expert care of their keepers.

The birds are weighed every single morning, and are hand-fed three times per day with 'penguin milkshake' – made of blended fish, vitamins and minerals.

Suzi Hyde, penguin keeper at the zoo, explained: “During breeding season, we check the nests on Penguin Beach every day, keeping an eye out for any chicks who might not be feeding enough or whose parents are struggling to care for their brood.

“These five chicks all had first-time parents who needed a little bit of extra support, so we were happy to swoop in – with a little help from a few soft toy penguins, donated by the Zoo shop, for them to snuggle up to.”

Once the Humboldt penguin chicks reach 10 weeks old, they'll move into London Zoo's nursery pool, where they'll learn how to swim before returning to the Penguin Beach pool with the zoo's other penguins.

“The chicks have all steadily increased in weight by 10 per cent each day, so they’re growing very quickly,” Suzi added.

“They’re always eager for their next meal and make sure we know it’s feeding time – they may be only a month old, but they’ve definitely perfected their squawk!”

All five of the soft feathered youngsters have been named in honour of British people who have achieved great things, or historic events, in the last 70 years.

The chicks have been named Hillary after Sir Edmund Hillary, the first British person to scale Mount Everest in 1953, Apollo – to mark the 1969 moon landing, Bobby – after England Captain Bobby Moore's 1966 World Cup victory, Bernie – after the inventor of the internet Tim Berners-Lee, and Mac – after Ellen MacArthur, who sailed non-stop around the world and set a new world record in 2005.

Suzi commented: “When these five chicks arrived, we decided to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee by naming them Hillary, Apollo, Bobby, Bernie and Mac, after some of the historic moments that have taken place during her incredible reign.”

BVA Live event adds clinical nursing CPD

BVA Live event adds clinical nursing CPD

“It's more important than ever to give vet nurses a platform” - Rob Chapman.

A nursing theatre has been added to the line-up for the 2022 BVA Live event.

CloserStill Media, the organisers of the vet show, and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) have announced a collaboration with the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) to provide clinical nursing CPD at the conference.

Managing director of CloserStill Media's veterinary portfolio, Rob Chapman, commented on the collaboration: “It was important for us to get vet nurses involved from the first edition of BVA Live. 

“It took us a few years to get it right at the London Vet Show and we feel that post-pandemic, it’s more important than ever to give vet nurses a platform to gather and learn alongside other practice staff. 

They bring a unique and dynamic energy to live events and we know they will appreciate the opportunity to have their voices heard in the important conversations taking place in the debates.”

Speakers on the nursing theatre include Kathryn Latimer from North West Veterinary Specialists, Nicola Lakeman from Plymouth Veterinary Group, Gemma Crowley from Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital and Goncalo Babau from Hospital Veterinário do Atlântico.

Commenting on the addition of clinical nursing CPD, BVNA president Alex Taylor said: “BVNA are delighted to support the first BVA Live event and give members and our profession the opportunity to be a part of the bigger discussion, whilst enjoying benefits of an in-person event. 

“We look forward to working with BVA and CloserStill Media to ensure that future events have that Vet Nurses presence and content that is so important to take us all forward.”

Justine Shotton, BVA president, reiterated the importance of a veterinary nursing presence at the event: “This is a really important addition to the event and will provide plenty of opportunities for veterinary nurses to expand their knowledge, join in with discussions and debates and to enjoy networking with like-minded delegates.

“Veterinary nurses are absolutely integral to veterinary teams and we hope as many as possible will attend and add their voices to these insightful and informative sessions.”

Open to all members of the veterinary professions, BVA Live will take place from 23 – 24 June at the NEC, Birmingham. 

Discounted tickets are available for BVA members and nursing staff. Visit bvalive.vetshow.com/ to book.  

Review does not support use of ACEIs in dogs with preclinical MMVD

Review does not support use of ACEIs in dogs with preclinical MMVD

Researchers review adverse events of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor use.

The use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) for managing preclinical myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) in dogs results in little or no difference in the risk of developing conegestive heart failure, according to new research.

The study, published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice, is the first comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis on the efficacy and adverse events of ACEIs for the condition, often seen in cavalier King Charles spaniels and dachshunds.

It found that administration of ACEIs to dogs with preclinical MMVD and cardiomegaly results in little or no difference in the risk of developing congestive heart failure and may result in little or no difference in cardiovascular-related and all-cause mortality. 

The study was conducted by researchers in Argentina, Italy, Austria and Chile, who set out to evaluate the efficacy of and adverse events from the administration of ACEIs, via a systematic review of published evidence conducted according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.

Certainty of evidence was assessed using the GRADE approach, and the main finding in relation to dogs with preclinical MMVD and cardiomegaly backed by a high certainty of evidence. The certainty of evidence relating to the efficacy of ACEI administration in dogs without cardiomegaly was low.

Dr Pablo Donati, corresponding author for the paper, commented: “In recent times, multiple clinical trials have provided fundamental information to veterinary cardiology. In the era of evidence-based medicine, systematic reviews and meta-analyses have emerged as a fundamental tool for clinical decision-making by gathering, appraising and summarizing the best available evidence. 

"It is the hope of the authors that this systematic review and meta-analysis helps in the decision-making process for the treatment of preclinical myxomatous mitral disease with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors in dogs.” 

Nicola Di Girolamo, Editor of JSAP, added: “In line with other leading journals, the JSAP is prioritizing the publication of methodologically sound systematic reviews such as this one. However, our readers should be aware that the findings of systematic reviews should always be considered in light of their internal validity, i.e. the quality of the included studies, and their external validity, i.e. the generalizability of the included studied to the individual patient.”

Image (C) Dr Pablo Donati.

 

Companionship is main motivation for dog ownership, study reveals

Companionship is main motivation for dog ownership, study reveals

Dogs Trust study explores reasons for UK dog acquisition. 

A new study carried out by Dogs Trust has revealed that the most common motivation for dog ownership in the UK is companionship.

Although dogs are hugely popular in the UK, there is a gap in published evidence exploring owner motivation for dog ownership, and Dogs Trust hoped to address this gap. 

The findings of the study could be used to develop interventions to support owners' decision-making when thinking of getting a dog, and to help ensure that potential owners have realistic expectations of ownership. 

Using both quantitative and qualitative research, researchers found that eight in 10 owners said that companionship for themselves was the reason they got a dog.

From the findings, other popular reasons for dog ownership were cited as to help a dog in need (51.1 per cent of current owners) and to facilitate exercise (48.2 per cent of current owners). 

Dogs Trust researchers Katrina Holland and Rebecca Mead commented on their study: “Despite the huge popularity of dogs in the UK, there is a lack of published evidence exploring exactly why people get dogs. 

“As the UK’s leading canine charity, we wanted to address this gap and, while there are no big surprises from what we found, we’re really glad to have some solid evidence about why people choose to bring a dog into their life.”

From the findings, researchers identified three key themes in motivation for dog ownership, the first of these being self-related ownership – the ways in which owners perceived dogs to benefit and enrich their lives.

Social-based motivation was the second broad theme identified, with motivation for getting a dog influenced by others, either by other people, or by dogs.

The third theme found was dog-related positive affect-based motivation, with the role of previous experiences owning or meeting dogs shown to be important in motivating the decision to own a dog. 

A summary of the report can be accessed online here, and the full report can be read in Frontiers in Veterinary Science journal.

 

Image (C) Dogs Trust

VMG president steps down

VMG president steps down

Georgina Hills RVN is leaving the industry to persue a career in mental health.

Recently-elected Veterinary Management Group (VMG) president Georgina Hills RVN is stepping down from the role “as a result of an unexpected opportunity to change career direction”.

In a press release, the VMG said that VMG senior vice president Rich Casey will serve as acting president until the end of the year, supported by VMG chair, Ruth MacKay.

Georgina, who is currently practice director for Irby and Neston Vets in Cheshire, took up her presidency in March 2022.

Her interest in mental health had led her to consider a career change in this area - which she was hoping to pursue after her presidency. A new opportunity has, however, presented itself much faster than anticipated, so she decided to step down.

Rich Casey was VMG President from 2020-to 2021 and is an executive director of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. He will resume the role as president for the remainder of 2022, sharing responsibilities with VMG chair Ruth Mackay, co-owner of a small animal practice in Lancashire.

Georgina commented: “I feel honoured to have worked in the veterinary industry for the last 27 years. The people I’ve worked with have inspired me to learn more about how we think and feel and I am now privileged to continue this learning in my new role in a mental health advocacy charity. I am very sad to be leaving the VMG early but must seize this opportunity. I will take the values of learn, share, grow with me and will follow the VMG’s progress with great interest and support its work where I can.”

Ruth Mackay said: “George’s change of direction into human mental health is bittersweet. On one hand, we are proud and delighted that the skills she has developed during her time in the veterinary industry, and especially with VMG, have given her this amazing new opportunity. On the other, we are sad to be losing her, as her vision, passion and knowledge of veterinary leadership and management make her an excellent ambassador. We wish her all the best and hope that she will come back to share some learnings in this critical area with us in due course.”

New tool launched to improve antimicrobial use

New tool launched to improve antimicrobial use

RCVS Knowledge adds tool as Farm Vet Champions programme.

A new goal-setting tool for improving antimicrobial use has been launched by RCVS Knowledge.

The SMART goals tool, available to access for free through the RCVS Knowledge Learn platform, will allow farm veterinary teams to target, track and improve their antimicrobial prescribing. 

Launched as part of the Farm Vet Champions programme, the tool was developed with the team at RCVS Knowledge along with a dedicated steering group from the veterinary and agricultural spheres. 

Fiona Lovatt, Farm Vet Champions clinical lead, commented on the new resource: “I am so excited to see the launch of our SMART goal tool. It is both engaging and simple to use, and I expect it will encourage practice teams to motivate each other to track their progress in their stewardship activities.

“It is such a critical time to ensure we are using antimicrobials responsibly so that they will work when patients really need them. 

“We all have a responsibility to fight antimicrobial resistance. The good news is there is a lot we can do – one of those things is getting involved with Farm Vet Champions, enhancing our skills and adapting our practice.”

Supporting the launch of the SMART goals tool, RCVS Knowledge will run an interactive webinar to allow veterinary teams to learn more about the tool and antimicrobial resistance. This will take place on Zoom at 12.30pm today. (Tuesday 17 May). 

Canine Welfare Grants programme opens for applications

Canine Welfare Grants programme opens for applications

“Funding research is a vital part of the dog welfare jigsaw" - Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust.

Dogs Trust is offering research grants to academics working on projects that aim to positively impact dog welfare.

The charity's Canine Welfare Grants programme is seeking preliminary applications from researchers across the UK until 9 June 2022. Full details can be found at dogstrust.org.uk

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, said: “Funding research is a vital part of the dog welfare jigsaw, and Dogs Trust is very proud to be one of the key distributors of such funding in the UK. Over the years, the Canine Welfare Grant projects have had far reaching impacts on dog welfare, making huge differences to the lives of dogs."

There are two funding models for the scheme, including:

  • the standard application model, welcoming applications from individual institutions and interdisciplinary groups
  • the collaborative grants programme to encourage wider collaboration with Dogs Trust's internal research team.

Key areas for the standard and larger fund applications include:

1. Preventing problems in dogs developing or becoming a crisis. This could range from understanding and providing solutions for the genetic basis of disease, healthy ageing and understanding canine behaviour as it related to canine welfare.

2. Epidemiology of canine disease: Dogs Trust recognises the importance of data to underpin research into canine health and is looking for applications that will help to address the current dearth of information available, including those that use big data sets.

3. The welfare of dogs suffering from chronic disease*: Dogs Trust will accept applications that cover the spectrum of chronic diseases in dogs, including obesity and can include applications that help us understand the biology of important canine diseases and ways in which outcomes and quality of life can be improved.

Paula added: “There is a range of grants available from pump priming (up to £20,000), PhD (up to £100,000) and experienced investigator (up to £200,000). We are looking for applications with very clear pathways to impact with a focus on ‘healthspan’, the healthy lifespan of a dog.”

Baby giraffe receives unique brace treatment

Baby giraffe receives unique brace treatment

Three-month-old Msituni can now stand and walk properly.

 

Image (C) San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 
An adorable three-month-old giraffe calf is thriving after receiving specialised orthotic leg brace treatment to correct abnormalities that could threaten her survival.

Msituni, born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, was discovered to have a hyperextension of the carpi which meant that her front legs could not bend properly.


Image (C) San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 

Despite never having worked with wildlife before, the San Diego Hanger Clinic team, who provide orthotic and prosthetic care for people, created a custom care plan for Msituni.

Ara Mirzaian from Hangar Clinic commented on the experience: “I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

“I’ve never worked with wildlife before—it’s one of those things that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Image (C) San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 

Using custom-moulded carbon graphite, the team made orthotic braces for Msituni using cast mouldings of her legs. Soon, the calf was fitted with her leg braces which also featured a giraffe pattern.

Matt Kinney DVM, senior veterinary surgeon at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said: “We are so glad to have the resources and expertise to step in and provide this young calf the opportunity for a full life.

“Without these lifesaving braces to provide support, the position of her legs would have become increasingly more painful and progressed to a point she would not have been able to overcome.”

Image (C) San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 

Msituni not only had hyperextension of the carpi, she also had abnormalities in her blood and her back legs had irregular positioning. The wildlife team treated her with intravenous antibiotics and specialised hoof extenders.

Msituni's treatment was a success, she no longer needs leg braces, has stopped receiving antibiotics and her back legs are now positioned correctly. The youngster has now been reintroduced to the rest of the herd to bond with them.

Image (C) San Diego Zoo Safari Park


 All images (C) San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 

New course to help vet professionals better understand poultry

New course to help vet professionals better understand poultry

Course offers broad insight into all aspects relating to chickens, waterfoul and game birds.

A free online course in poultry health and welfare has been launched.

The British Hen Welfare Trust has teamed up with academics at the University of Nottingham to develop the course, available from today (16 May) on the FutureLearn website.

Fronted by BHWT patron and TV presenter Kate Humble, course participants will be able to access online tutorials and videos of operations to learn more about the health and welfare of this increasingly popular pet. 

The course is aimed at veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and students, but will also be beneficial for anyone with an interest in poultry.

Kate Humble commented: “Many vets in the UK are familiar with treating more exotic species, like arachnids or lizards, as well as our regular domestic pets. But many vet practices are not familiar with treating poultry.

“Through this course, you will gain a broad insight into all aspects relating to poultry, including chickens, waterfowl, and game birds. It will enhance your understanding of the differences between the different poultry-keeping communities and give you an insight into the different approaches that may be needed with each one, whether it’s commercial rearing, show birds, or people keeping poultry as pets.”

Founder and CEO Jane Howorth added: "During the five years of training that vets receive, less than one day is dedicated to poultry whilst vet nurses don’t receive any training in this area. As pet hens become more and more popular there will be increasing numbers of keepers caring for these birds and potentially seeking advice and/or treatment from their local vet. 

“This free course is available online worldwide to increase knowledge and help to improve the lives of pet poultry. The University of Nottingham is known for its poultry courses and has experience of producing successful Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), so we’re thrilled to have partnered with them and to be working together to deliver this course to enhance knowledge of hens among veterinary professionals.”

Topics covered by the course include basic anatomy and physiology, routine husbandry, specific infectious and non-infectious diseases, common surgical procedures, the basis of infection control, parasite control, vaccines and viruses, the difference between layers and broilers, nutrition, legal aspects and whether poultry feels pain.

Dr Robert Atterbury, an associate professor in microbiology at the University of Nottingham, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with the British Hen Welfare Trust in the development and delivery of this course. My research over the past 20 years has focussed on poultry diseases and finding new ways that they can be controlled. Despite their growing importance in agriculture, and now as companion animals, poultry receive relatively little attention in veterinary education. 

“The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham is proud to launch this fantastic, free resource for people who may need to care for backyard poultry, either as professionals or hobbyists.”

For more information about the course and to register, visit bhwt.org.uk

Image (C) BHWT.

BWG launches tool to help owners choose healthy dogs

BWG launches tool to help owners choose healthy dogs

Tool will help prospective owners to avoid extreme body shape. 

The Brachycephalic Working Group (BWG) has released a new tool to help prospective dog owners choose healthy breeds when selecting their new furry friend.

Comprised of veterinary surgeons, dog breeders, welfare charities, academics, breed clubs and Defra, the BWG aims to improve and protect the health and welfare of brachycephalic dogs to improve conformation-related health issues. The group also aims to reduce the current trend of owning brachycephalic dogs. 

Named the 'innate health' tool, it highlights some of the basic bodily functions that all dogs should be expected to show including, the ability to blink fully, the ability to breathe easily and exercise without difficulty.

Also highlighted in the tool are the ability for dogs to sleep without difficulty, the ability to flex their backs and having a tail to wag. 

Chair of the BWG, Dr Dan O'Neill, explained: “Would-be owners should focus on the life that the dog will live;  the dog’s good health must be the number one priority. 

“Our new BWG innate health tool, based on decades of research, helps owners assess the body shape of different types of dogs out there and ask themselves basic but critical questions about how these body shapes could compromise the health of the dog.”

Dr O'Neill highlighted the usefulness of the tool for veterinary professionals when advising prospective owners: “During 20 years in general veterinary practice, countless owners have asked me ‘How do I pick a healthy dog?’ Well, the great news is that the new innate health tool allows owners to finally do just that. 

“Of course, once an owner had identified a type of dog with good innate health, consideration also needs to be given to the temperament and character of the dog, as well as how to responsibly source their new dog.”

Addressing potential dog owners, Dr Justine Shotton, president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said: “Breeding and hereditary defects are a top concern for vets and, as a practising vet, I often see the heartache and welfare concerns that come from health issues that are a result of the way a dog has been bred. 

“The new tool released by BWG should be useful for anyone looking to add a dog to the family. If the answer to any question is a negative, you should stop and carefully research the potential health and welfare issues that dog is likely to face and consider a healthier alternative.  

“Alongside the tool, you should also reach out to your local vet practice for advice and information about dog health and welfare and breed-related health issues. 

“Once you have considered innate health in your decision making, it is then equally important to use the free Puppy Contract to ensure you are buying a happy, healthy and well socialised puppy from a responsible breeder.”