Colne Valley News – May 2018
Although we generally have a low level of staff turnover, we do have some changes this month. As you come into the practice, you may notice Sandra, a new face behind reception so please be patient - you would be surprised just how much there is to learn when starting out as a veterinary receptionist.
Our long-term locum nurse has now joined our team of veterinary nurses on a permanent basis. We also welcome back Simone from Australia as our locum veterinary surgeon over the summer, together with a second locum vet for our busy period of the year. In September, Alexa will be returning on a part-time basis from maternity leave.
Surprisingly, grass can pose many problems to our pets. Cats and dogs like to eat grass, and my Labrador often dines out on young grass glistening with dew. That has resulted in some memorable occasions when he has needed ‘help’ to do his business - you will know what I mean if you have had to do similar! Alternatively, the grass may be vomited or regurgitated. It does mean, however, that Smudge needs to be routinely treated against lungworm on a monthly because he may be inadvertently swallowing slugs or snails, potential carriers of lungworm.
Last week, two cats separately presented to our surgery with gagging coughs. They were both generally well but seemed unable to eat despite being obviously hungry. Under general anaesthetic, it was possible to see a blade of grass caught at the back of each cat’s throat, which was successfully removed in both cases.
We are also on the lookout for the first grass awn or seed in a paw, ear or other orifice. That will mark our official start of the season for dogs licking paws, shaking heads, sneezing or simply presenting with an unusual swelling. We have removed grass awns from very unusual parts of the body. There was a Saturday a few years ago when there we had five English springer spaniels queued up to have grass awns removed from their paw.
Checking your dogs’ paws regularly, between the toes on top and underneath, is advisable. If your dog has particularly hairy paws then carefully clipping that fur away will reduce the chances of a grass awn becoming entrapped and then penetrating the skin to start tracking into the paw.
It is also worthwhile keeping an eye out for harvest mites whilst examining the paws. These are bright orange, surface-living mites which can cause irritation if your dog becomes sensitised to it. Cats often present with intense itching in response to these mites which are commonly found in front of the ears and in Henry’s pocket (a great name for the infolding ‘pocket’ near the base of their ear flap). We generally see these mites from June through to September.
With the return of the summer come the barbecues and the attendant risks for pets. Avoiding accidents is the priority so site the barbecue away from your dog’s usual running circuit round the garden, and where it will not be knocked by a wagging tail.
Please do not feed your dog barbecued food as it will likely cause a stomach upset. Likewise, keep food wrappings and scraps out of reach, and be aware of the fat trap often located under a barbecue. Kebab skewers pose a very high danger risk to dogs if swallowed. Corn cob cores are not digestible and they are the perfect size for causing obstructions in a dog’s digestive tract. This can lead to severe illness and expensive surgery. Eating outside will generally mean that your dog will have more opportunities for scavenging.
Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month
The valuable role our veterinary nurses play can be less apparent than other members of the practice team because they are busy working behind the scenes, as well as running our vet nurse clinics. We currently have eleven veterinary nurses and two nursing auxiliaries. They are involved in patient care from admission to discharge. They also run the in-house laboratory and dispensary, and have over 150 years’ nursing experience between them. We are lucky and privileged to have such a brilliant team working for our practice.