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'I thought working in industry might make me deskbound, but my job is so much more

Felicity Caddick is a senior veterinary manager at a pharmaceutical company, as well as being the proud holder of a lesser-known Guinness World Record.

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Alan Wilson of the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), for his outstanding contributions to science. He joins an exclusive group of vets to be awarded FRS and is the only member of staff from the RVC to be granted this honour in the modern era.

Wilson’s work is primarily focused on how the musculoskeletal system of athletic animals is configured and used to deliver economical and high-performance locomotion. His commitment to research has led him to build an aeroplane in his garden, obtain a pilot’s license and develop tracking collars, so that he was able to fly across Botswana to monitor cheetahs in the wild.

He qualified from Glasgow vet school before undertaking a PhD in the anatomy department at the University of Bristol, where he studied the mechanical basis of tendon injury. In 1996, he joined the RVC where...

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Vet nurse Nicola Barrigan has been appointed head of vet nursing at Southfields Veterinary Specialists, in Essex. Barrigan, who also holds a diploma in leadership and management, joined the veterinary industry after volunteering at a rescue centre while she was working as an administrator for an advertising company. Her 12-and-a-half year veterinary career began as a student vet nurse; after qualifying and becoming a registered vet nurse, she worked in a number of roles, including as a surgical/orthopaedic nurse, and head vet nurse before her latest appointment.

Away from work, she enjoys trips in her classic VW camper van, especially attending VW events and camping with friends and family. She has two dogs, a bullmastiff cross and a springer spaniel, and is learning to play the drums.

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Research grant applications open

Applications for the 2020 Veterinary Management Group (VMG) research grants are now open. Practice staff, managers, clinicians and researchers are invited to apply for an award of up to £2000 to fund a research project to support the development of best practice in any area of veterinary business, leadership and management. The deadline for applications is 28 August.

The VMG launched its research grant scheme last year, to encourage either research that enhances understanding of the contemporary veterinary sector, including strategy, people, finance and marketing, or how management and leadership theory can be applied to the sector’s everyday work. Topics being researched by the current grant holders include gender and entrepreneurship, corporatisation, and career pathways. Further information, including the call for proposals, application form, and guidance notes are available at

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Pressure group demands action on race at RVC

By Josh Loeb

A group set up to encourage young people from diverse backgrounds into the vet profession has written an open letter to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) about racial discrimination.

In the letter Animal Aspirations set out four recommendations that it would like to see the university adopt:

  • Introduce greater transparency about what is being done to encourage and support ethnic minority students.

  • Bring in effective systems to mitigate all forms of racial discrimination and to provide satisfactory resolution when incidents occur.

  • Reform the RVC’s equality and diversity committee so it ‘actively listens to the voices of students and staff and acts accordingly’.

  • Appoint an external auditor to track progress and ensure goals are met.

  • Animal Aspirations published its open letter – which was also addressed to the profession as a whole – after RVC principal Stuart Reid published some of his...

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    Greenhouse gas emissions in UK agriculture

    Following a number of critical television programmes and adverse media comment with regard to the environmental damage caused by global agriculture, it stimulated me to seek information to determine what was the extent of the problem in the UK. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) has published its latest report on greenhouse gas emissions (GGE),1 which I found particularly helpful.

    The DBEIS reported that GGE, measured in millions of tonnes of CO2 or its equivalent (MtCO2e) had fallen between the years 1990 and 2010 from 793.8 to 600.9 MtCO2e (–24.3%) and between 2010 and 2018 from 600.9 to 451.5 MtCO2e, a further –24.9 per cent. So overall since 1990, a fall of –43.2 per cent, suggesting significant progress has already been made. In this time, emissions from agriculture fell from 54.0 to 45.4 MtCO2e or –15.9 per cent (Fig 1). Interestingly, in...

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    Pets now much more likely to be fed homemade and raw foods

    By Suzanne Jarvis

    The number of pets being fed an exclusively commercial diet has dropped dramatically over the past 10 years, a new study has found.

    The research, published in Vet Record this week (doi: vetrec-2019-105828), compared the diets for pet cats and dogs in the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand between 2008 and 2018.

    It found that pets being exclusively fed what is termed a ‘conventional’ diet (commercially available, heat-processed products) dropped from 65 per cent to 13 per cent in dogs and from 85 per cent to 32 per cent in cats.

    Although the study found that in 2018 most pets were still being fed conventional diets some of the time (79 per cent of dogs, 90 per cent of cats), many more were offered other types of food.

    Homemade diets were fed to 63 per cent of dogs and 46 per...

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    'Combat structural racism in the vet profession

    By Josh Loeb

    A petition demanding that the RCVS launch an investigation into racism has garnered more than 1000 signatures, including from vets and prospective vets.

    The petition, launched on the website by Claire Burns, a campaigner from Sheerness in Kent, is addressed to RCVS president Niall Connell and calls on him to ensure that the college urgently investigates and combats ‘structural racism’ in the veterinary profession.

    It states: ‘In light of George Floyd’s recent murder, we the countersigned call upon the RCVS to take urgent action to tackle racism that is an unacceptable but real part of veterinary medicine.’

    It goes on to state that it is the profession’s ‘moral duty [to] denounce George’s death’ and stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

    We need action and not just words

    Earlier this month Connell described George Floyd’s death as a ‘terrible event’, but Burns and her...

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    Ultrasonographic measurement of adrenal gland-to-aorta ratio as a method of estimating adrenal size in dogs


    Adrenal size has been used as the principal criterion for differentiating a normal gland from adrenal hyperplasia. The objectives of this study were to establish an ultrasonographic measurement of adrenal gland-to-aorta (adrenal/Ao) ratio to estimate the adrenal size and to assess the effects of bodyweight, age and sex on the adrenal/Ao ratio in non-adrenal gland disease dogs.


    Two hundred and thirty-four dogs (120 entire females and 114 entire males) considered non-adrenal gland disease were included in this study. Dogs were allocated into three bodyweight categories (<10 kg, 10–20 kg and >20 kg), and four age groups (<1 year, 1–5 years, 5–10 years and >10 years old). Measurements of the maximal thickness of caudal pole of both adrenal glands and the aortic luminal diameter in sagittal plane were performed on the ultrasonographic images. Three different ratios were calculated for each dog.


    Sex and age did not influence on the adrenal/Ao ratio. There were differences (P<0.05) between the three dog sizes for adrenal/Ao ratio, being the highest value for small size and the lowest value for large size.


    In this study, only bodyweight influences the ultrasound measurement of the adrenal/Ao ratio in non-adrenal gland disease dogs.

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    Use of four-layer porcine small intestinal submucosa alone as a scaffold for the treatment of deep corneal defects in dogs and cats: preliminary results


    To describe the efficacy of four-layer porcine small intestinal submucosa (Vetrix BioSIS plus+) as single scaffold for the treatment of deep corneal lesions in dogs and cats.


    10 dogs and 3 cats with deep or full thickness corneal defects were treated surgically with BioSIS plus graft. Corneal transparency scores and vision were evaluated.


    Lesions in dogs were four perforations, three descemetoceles, two limbal melanocytomas and one deep corneal ulcer. In cats, there were one limbal melanocytoma and two perforations. The average length of the follow-up was 86 days. In all, 12 out of 13 eyes treated were visual at last recheck (92.3 per cent). The scars were mild eight cases (66.7 per cent), but denser in four cases (33.4 per cent). Complication were partial collagenolysis in three cases (25 per cent), which resolved with medical therapy, mild corneal pigmentation in one case (8.4 per cent) and anterior synechia in one case (8.4 per cent). One case experienced severe collagenolysis and was enucleated 21 days postoperatively.


    Four-layer porcine SIS graft was successfully used for surgical treatment of deep corneal lesions in selected corneal diseases in a small series of dogs and cats, with good results in terms of mechanic support and corneal transparency.

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    Standardisation of electrocardiographic examination in corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus)


    Corn snakes are a very common pet reptile species, yet there is an absence of evidence-based literature standardising collection of ECG or detailing ECG deflection morphology in the normal animal. The authors describe a well-tolerated, reproducible technique and detail the cardiac cycle in terms of lead 2 equivalent waveforms and intervals.


    29 adult corn snakes.

    Materials and methods

    This prospective study evaluated, under species-appropriate, standardised conditions, a technique for producing standard six-lead ECG tracings. Lead 2 equivalent cardiac cycles were described in detail and statistically analysed for sex, weight, length, heart rate and mean electrical axis.


    High-quality tracings demonstrated common ECG characteristics for this species, including no Q, S or SV waves, prolonged PR and RT intervals, rhythmic oscillation of the baseline, short TP segments, and a right displaced mean electrical axis. An influence of sex, weight or length on heart rate and mean electrical axis was not identified.


    To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to describe a standardised technique for recording ECG in significant numbers of normal corn snakes. Ranges have been provided that may be of diagnostic value or form the basis for future development of reference intervals for this species.

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    Dont waste this crisis

    The UK is entering a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Death rates and new cases are falling, and lockdown measures have begun to ease, so the economy can now start to recover. Last week, the government announced that the UK had moved to Covid-19 alert level three – the virus is considered to be ‘in general circulation’ but not rising.

    With shops opening and the hospitality sector gearing up to open next month, it feels like we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

    But just how long is the tunnel?

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which assesses economic progress and world trade, says the crisis will cast a long shadow over the world, triggering the ‘most severe recession in nearly a century’. The UK’s economy is likely to fall by 11.5 per cent in 2020, a figure higher than other European countries,...

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    Signs are that vet business is improving

    By Josh Loeb

    Vet practices are well placed to weather the coming economic storm – if they can adapt to cater for changed customer behaviour and the continuation of some social distancing measures.

    That was the message from a number of market specialists who spoke to Vet Record this week as pandemic-related restrictions were further eased and practices saw business returning.

    Vet Record understands that in the small animal sector many practices are now reporting turnover above 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. At the height of lockdown, survey data suggested that vet business was down to just 20 per cent of what it would normally have been.

    The RCVS will shortly report the findings from its latest Covid-19 survey but preliminary results point to an ‘improving picture’ (see box). Veterinary business consultant Pete Orpin, the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons’ Covid-19 lead, said: ‘We’re in a...

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    RCVS: 'Thank you for petition on racism

    A petition demanding that the RCVS urgently launch an investigation into racism has garnered more than 1200 signatures, including from vets and prospective vets.

    Launched on the website by Claire Burns, a campaigner from Sheerness in Kent, it is addressed directly to RCVS president Niall Connell.

    We are the whitest profession in the UK

    The petition says: ‘We suggest that the RCVS conduct and resource an in-depth review to investigate how racism pervades veterinary medicine and how structural disadvantage can be dismantled in veterinary organisations, businesses and vet schools. We are the whitest profession in the UK. Three per cent of veterinary professionals identify as black and minority ethnic in our industry (the national average of other ethnic workers is 14.4 per cent).’

    In response, Connell pointed to the prior existence of a diversity and inclusion group, set up to ‘break down barriers’ in the recruitment of...

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    Suspension plans prompt concerns over pay

    By Josh Loeb

    Proposed new powers that would enable the RCVS to temporarily suspend vets and vet nurses under investigation have prompted questions about who would pay the salaries of those affected.

    The interim suspensions proposal is part of a package of measures put forward by the college’s Legislation Working Party (LWP) (VR, 13/20 June 2020, vol 186, pp 580–581).

    The college believes that it needs to be able to suspend a vet professional while their case is being investigated when they have been accused of a gross misdemeanour, such as deliberately harming an animal, because such a case has the potential to damage the reputation of the profession.

    Human healthcare regulators – such as the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council – are already able to temporarily suspend members of their respective professions while they investigate them.

    However, one practical difficulty with the LWP’s proposal...

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    UK is once again free of avian influenza

    By Josh Loeb

    The UK now meets international requirements to declare itself free from avian influenza, chief vet Christine Middlemiss has said.

    However, she reiterated calls for poultry keepers to remain vigilant for signs of disease in their animals.

    Middlemiss added that it was paramount that good biosecurity be maintained in the face of a ‘real and constant threat’ from the virus, which she said could be brought into the UK by migratory birds this winter.

    Avian influenza continues to circulate in Europe, with outbreaks of a highly pathogenic subtype reported on poultry farms in parts of eastern Europe earlier this year.

    It is possible that migratory birds could carry either this strain or another highly pathogenic strain of the virus into the UK this winter. They could then indirectly infect birds on poultry farms via a number of routes (see box).

    The UK was declared free of avian...

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    Zoos struggling after Covid-19

    While visitors have been returning to some zoos following the government’s green light to re-open on 15 June, some have expressed concern for their future viability. Temporary closure during lockdown has left a hole in their finances, prompting concern for the fate of their animals.

    Zoos must now comply with recommended precautions to guard against the spread of Covid-19, such as enforcing social distancing (as seen above at London Zoo).

    But the social distancing measures mean that they can accommodate only a fraction of their normal numbers of visitors.

    Conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, has launched a new fundraising campaign supported by David Attenborough. It is aiming to raise £12million – enough to cover the feed and care of its animals for one year, giving it financial ‘breathing space’.

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    'Small abattoirs are essential for industry

    By Adele Waters

    Small abattoirs must be recognised as rural businesses and action is required to stop a ‘serious decline’ in their numbers.

    That is the conclusion from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare’s recent investigation of abattoir provision in the UK.

    The APGAW, a cross-party group of MPs and Lords, concluded that small or micro-abattoirs are essential to the UK sustaining a viable rural livestock industry.

    Its report, ‘The Future for Small Abattoirs in the UK’, finds changing consumer attitudes means there is now scope for smaller producers and processors to grow.

    There is growing recognition that low-cost meat can have long-term environmental impacts, it says, and consumers are increasingly concerned about – and prepared to pay for – high-quality, high-welfare meat. This is evidenced by the strong UK growth in farmers’ markets, meat box businesses and farm shops.

    As a result, the group found that a...

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    Competition isnt a bad thing, say farmers

    By Josh Loeb

    British farmers should be willing to compete with imported food – including American chlorine-rinsed chicken and hormone-treated beef – provided it is clearly labelled.

    That is the view of the Commercial Farmers Group (CFG), which promotes competitive and resilient UK agriculture.

    However, the group, which recently released a 22-page report about post-Brexit agricultural policy, wants clearer labelling identifying differences in production standards.

    It argues that British farmers should not necessarily be opposed to foreign agricultural competition, believing that proper labelling of products to show their provenance will help guide consumer choice.

    However, the report does not spell out how such a system would operate in the catering sector, where the origins of ingredients tends to be more opaque.

    Its report, ‘Commercial Farming: Delivering the UK’s new Agriculture Policies’, also voiced tentative approval of the use of growth hormones on some farms in America, saying there was...

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