Journal news

Attitudes of dog owners in Edinburgh towards canine blood donation

The establishment of animal blood banks following legislative changes in the UK in 2005 has led to increasing accessibility and use of animal blood products. However, the supply of animal blood is currently not meeting demand. This study aims to identify potential methods of increasing donor recruitment to meet this demand. A questionnaire was constructed, consisting of three sections designed to evaluate owner perceptions, identify incentives for donation and to obtain demographic data. Seventy-nine responses were included, 76 of which were previous non-donors. The top three reasons for not donating in this group were uncertainty over where to donate, veterinarians not expressing the need for donors and lack of awareness. Considering these results, one method of potentially increasing donor recruitment is encouraging more veterinarians to actively advertise local donor programmes. Emphasising the mandatory inclusion of a free annual health check in the donor process may also be helpful as many respondents rated this highly. It is the authors’ hope that this preliminary data may lead to increased willingness of owners to nominate their dogs for donation by guiding the provision of appropriate incentives and education to quell owner concerns as highlighted by this study.

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Characterising keratometry in different dog breeds using an automatic handheld keratometer


Keratometry is clinically important and is routinely performed as part of human ophthalmic examination. In veterinary ophthalmology, little is known about keratometry in dogs, and its practical application has been limited. The present study aimed to describe keratometry in some dog breeds popular in Japan using a handheld keratometer.


Client-owned dogs of various signalment were enrolled prospectively in the keratometry examination. Interbreed variations in mean corneal curvatures (R1R2avg) and corneal astigmatism ((R1–R2)) were evaluated statistically with respect to their bodyweight based on the data which fulfilled the predetermined inclusion criteria. P<0.05 was considered statistically significant.


On examination of 237 dogs from 16 different breeds, R1R2avg (mean±sd) ranged from 7.54±0.30 mm in Pomeranians to 9.28±0.19 mm in golden retrievers. (R1–R2) (mean±sd) ranged from 0.22±0.11 mm in miniature schnauzers to 0.57±0.30 mm in French bulldogs.


The present study successfully described keratometry in 16 dog breeds. The study revealed considerable interbreed variations in both R1R2avg and (R1–R2), which did not necessarily correlate with bodyweight. These results are useful both clinically in fitting contact lenses in the management of corneal diseases and non-clinically in optometric studies in dogs.

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People are to blame for Covid-19

There are indications that Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease but, as yet, no proof.

As researchers across the globe are busy interrogating this hypothesis in a race to find out more, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

The Covid-19 infection was declared a pandemic on 11 March by the World Health Organization (WHO) and since then has spread rapidly.

This invisible enemy has become our new obsession

This invisible enemy which is causing fear and panic, shocking levels of suffering and death as well as significant social disruption and economic damage has become our new obsession.

So what do we know so far about virus SARS-CoV2’s presence in animals and its transferability across species?

Current evidence suggests that the SARS-CoV2 virus emerged from an animal source, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health. Being a close relative of other viruses found in horseshoe bats, it is believed to...

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Covid-19 ray of hope as vets lend a hand

By Josh Loeb and Georgina Mills

Covid-19 is continuing to have a significant impact on UK vet practices, with many vets and vet nurses off sick and large numbers furloughed.

There are, however, some tentative signs of economic hope, with indications that an initial severe squeeze on practices’ revenue is starting to ease as footfall gradually increases.

On 17 April, the RCVS released data from a survey it carried out at the start of April that showed around 30 per cent of UK practices were at that point impacted by vets or vet nurses being off work (either because of confirmed Covid-19 cases or as a precaution).

The survey found that, in addition, 35 per cent of practices had been impacted by other support staff self isolating.

Over half of the 532 practices responding had seen their weekly turnover slashed since the introduction of social distancing, with the majority...

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How vets are helping

Bolstering food chain resilience

Before lockdown, Fiona McFarland was working as a small animal locum vet in Antrim, Northern Ireland. She is currently without such work so has been in training to become a backup meat inspector as part of a Covid-19 contingency scheme run by Northern Ireland’s agriculture department, DAERA. She told Vet Record: ‘At this stage there’s not necessarily any work to come out of it apart from the few days during which they’ve trained us – which we have been paid for – because at the moment the abattoirs all have their full complement of staff. However, I’d be happy to do this work if needed...Everyone should be encouraged to consider things that perhaps they’ve not considered before and to use their skills where they can.’

Boosting ventilator capacity

Keith Simpson, a vet turned electronics engineer and the managing director of the veterinary ventilator manufacturer Vetronic,...

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Business rates relief needed for practices

By Josh Loeb

Many high street vet practices may have to close unless the government grants them access to business rates relief, the BVA has warned.

The association issued an urgent call for greater financial support for practices, saying falling turnover arising from social distancing measures combined with a lack of access to rates relief meant some practices may have to shut.

BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said in the latest of her weekly webinars on 26 April that she would be raising the matter again with Defra secretary George Eustice after he wrote a letter thanking vets for the part they are playing in the national effort to fight Covid-19.

The profession had been overlooked for financial support by the government, she complained.

‘The government has repeatedly given thanks to vets for continuing to maintain animal health and welfare and public health and support the food supply chain...

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Join in with Project Pufferazi

The RSPB is asking members of the public to join its ‘Pufferazi’ project.

To get to the bottom of why the numbers of puffins have been dropping in the UK and Europe, the charity wants to see photos of puffins with food in their bills that people have taken on visits to colonies in previous years.

The photos will help scientists learn more about what puffins are feeding their chicks, and how this might have changed over time and affected the population.

The project, which previously ran in 2017 and 2019, is adapting to the Covid-19 outbreak and asking people to focus on digging through their photo albums and files at home in case they have any photos from previous visits to puffin colonies that could be of use.

Find out more about the project at

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Industry experts take an optimistic view

By Josh Loeb

The future for the animal health industry remains bright in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant global recession predicted by economists, speakers at an Animal Health Investment webinar agreed last week.

Lower economic growth is likely to prompt shifts in demand, but big animal health companies remain upbeat that their overall growth will continue, believing their industry to be more resilient than many.

Ajay Dhankhar, a senior partner at consulting firm McKinsey, said the food production sector would ‘drop the least and recover the fastest’ as it was the ‘most protected industry’ in the crisis.

The companion animal sector has taken a hit and will take two to three years to recover to what Dhankhar termed ‘the next normal’. One ‘upside’, he said, was that many delayed procedures and appointments would return as ‘pent-up demand’.

On the companion animal side, Kathy Turner, corporate vice president...

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Sniffing out Covid-19

Georgina Mills reports on how dogs are being trained to detect coronavirus

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Legal challenge launched over live exports

By Josh Loeb

An animal welfare organisation has launched a legal challenge aimed at stopping the export of unweaned calves from Scotland to Spain.

Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) has filed an application for judicial review proceedings in the Court of Session, Scotland’s highest civil court.

It aims to persuade the court to rule that the Scottish government is acting unlawfully in permitting unweaned calves to be exported to Spain.

CIWF’s legal argument rests on a derogation from EU regulations on the welfare of animals during transport that enables journey times to exceed eight hours provided certain conditions are met.

In practice, the group argues, these conditions are not being met with respect to thousands of calves exported annually from Scotland to Spain. It therefore says that such live exports are not in line with the law, which the UK remains currently bound by during the Brexit transition period.

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In other Covid-19 news

• The Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD) has published guidance on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2), the causative agent of Covid-19.

It contains a review of available scientific data regarding the role of the virus in cats and the impact of cats in the current pandemic. The ABCD emphasises that there is currently no evidence that cats can transmit SARS-CoV2 to people.

The full guidelines can be found at, and they will be regularly updated as new data are published.

• The British Small Animal Veterinary Association has produced guidance for small animal practitioners on vaccination and neutering during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The guidance, intended to support updated lockdown advice issued by the RCVS and BVA, aims to assist vet professionals when risk assessing and making professional and clinical judgements about the need for vaccination and neutering.

Two guidance documents can be found...

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Recognising achievements in the profession

By Georgina Mills

The RCVS has announced the recipients of its 2020 honours and awards, which will be presented later this year.

The RCVS’s highest honour, the Queen’s Medal, recognises vets who have had highly distinguished careers and whose outstanding achievements deserve acknowledgement.

This year’s recipient is Mary Stewart, a retired academic who spent most of her career at the University of Glasgow, where she was responsible for the development of the modern vet school.

Stewart has been one of the major influencers of ethical approaches in the vet-client-patient environment

Stewart was nominated by Royal Veterinary College principal and former dean of Glasgow vet school Stuart Reid. Describing her as one of the unsung heroes of the profession, Reid said Stewart ‘has been one of the major influencers of ethical approaches in the vet-client-patient environment and, in particular, the impact of euthanasia on both owners and attending veterinarians’.

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Free home monitoring of congestive heart failure in companion animals

A web-based app for vets and their clients has been launched to help in assessing pets with congestive heart failure.

Vetoquinol’s new app and digital tracker allows pet owners to monitor their pet’s sleeping respiratory rate (SRR) at home to give an indication of the status of its medical condition.

In most dogs and cats in which congestive heart failure is well controlled by medication, the SRR is stable. Using the app to count and record this gives clients a good indication of when to seek veterinary intervention and the necessary data to help vet professionals seeking to minimise unnecessary face-to-face contact but still provide emergency care.

SRR is a sensitive indicator of pulmonary oedema or pulmonary effusion, which can occur as a result of deterioration in the condition of a pet with heart failure. The resulting increased respiratory rate at rest is most easily detected by the owner...

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Virtual roadshow brings CPD to cattle practitioners

‘Cattle Ruminations’ is a new virtual roadshow for vets, registered cattle mobility scorers and qualified foot trimmers to help them catch up on CPD during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The series of presentations is being developed by Ceva and will include speakers from the key areas of cattle lameness, reproduction and mastitis. It will take place between 5 and 14 May.

The three speakers are Nick Bell (pictured), an independent consultant to the dairy industry; Patrick Lonergan, a professor at University College Dublin’s School of Agriculture and Food Science, and Andy Biggs, director of a first-opinion veterinary practice and commercial milk laboratory in Devon.

The full schedule is:

• Tuesday 5 May, 19.00: Lameness in heifers, by Bell (event code lameness 1).

• Wednesday 6 May, 15.00: Oocytes and endometrium, by Lonergan (event code repro 1).

• Thursday 7 May, 19.00: Mastitis – future decision-making, by Biggs (event code...

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Vaccination guidance protocols

Zoetis has created guidance and support on booster vaccination for cats and dogs during Covid-19.

The guidance notes for vets answers questions such as ‘Will cats and dogs be protected if their vaccines lapse?’, ‘What are the implications of social distancing for pets (as regards travel and boarding)’ and ‘What if the lockdown restrictions go beyond three months?’

The company says it will offer a vaccine amnesty to its customers once socialisation resumes and pet owners are able to access routine vet consultations.

It recommends that pets that are up to three months past their booster date should receive an appropriate vaccination course. In such cases, Zoetis says vets should make a risk-benefit decision on whether to boost the individual or restart the course, depending on the level of disease in the area and the individual patient.

The amnesty will be available to all patients that are overdue their...

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Sharing resources for the greater good

XLVets practice owners are sharing the Covid-19 resources they have developed with independent practice owners and managers outside the group to help them through the pandemic.

XLVets has called on its experts in people development, legal, IT and human resources, as well as its practice owners, managers and team leaders to develop the support package.

The resources include access to the company’s wellbeing initiative – Thriving in Practice – that provides guidance and best practice tips offered by XLVets members, expert guidance on the use of technology to support home workers, and much more.

Some of the content is also designed to be shared by practice managers with their team members, particularly resources focused around wellbeing and free CPD.

Chief of implementation Colm McGinn believes that rallying together in challenging times is a hallmark of the vet community. He said: ‘We’ve all benefited from sharing knowledge and it’s lifted...

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Boehringer Ingelheim’s recently launched equine inhaler Aservo Equihaler has won an international Red Dot award for product design. The product features a specially designed adaptor that fits inside the horse’s nostril, allowing it to easily inhale the medicated mist, as well as an ergonomic handle and dosing lever for ease of user handling.

Pharmaceutical specials company Bova has released a highly concentrated paracetamol paste for horses. The shortage of paracetamol due to Covid-19 has led to restrictions on the use of paracetamol in the veterinary industry. The highly concentrated product makes dosing for equine vets and their clients easier than counting out multiple tablets, the company says.

Ubrostar Red dry cow intramammary suspension will replace Ubro Red, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has announced. Although a long-standing product in the UK market, Ubro Red has suffered supply issues, the company says. ‘Ubrostar Red is a market-leading product...

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Disease surveillance in England and Wales, April 2020

APHA disease surveillance report headlines

  • Sudden death in dairy cattle following rupture of the cranial mesenteric/coeliac artery

  • Outbreaks of ovine infectious keratoconjunctivitis

  • Pneumonia due to ampicillin-resistant Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae in pigs

  • Corneal oedema in turkeys

  • Focus on negated notifiable disease investigations in pigs

  • Highlights from the scanning surveillance networkCattleRupture of the cranial mesenteric/coeliac artery in dairy cows

    Since 2003, deaths caused by rupture of the cranial mesenteric/coeliac artery have been identified by postmortem examinations of dairy cows in the UK scanning surveillance network and in Ireland,1 with a similar increasing trend also seen in North America and the Netherlands. The cows have all been Holstein-Friesians, in multiple herds and there has not been a high within-herd prevalence.

    The cause behind the development of aneurysms leading to rupture is unclear. Given the association with Holstein-Friesians, a hereditary factor has been suspected. Tests...

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    Investigation of negated notifiable disease report cases in pigs, 2017-2019

    This focus article has been prepared by Susanna Williamson, Camilla Brena, Cornelia Bidewell, Ed Fullick, Alastair George, Livio Pittalis and Lévon Stephan

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