Journal news

Coping with confidence

Confidence can be a fickle friend, waxing and waning as your career changes and life evolves. Here Ebony Escalona describes how best to deal with the periods when it deserts you.

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Keith Martin Butt

A kind, conscientious and compassionate vet with an innate charm and sense of humour. His clients benefited from his ability to make the darkest moments seem a bit brighter.

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Volunteering showed me the value of charities to equine welfare

Ben Sturgeon left private practice to join an equine charity that provides veterinary care for animals in developing countries, where a clinic session might involve seeing hundreds of animals.

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VPHA Presents First Life Membership

Jason Aldiss has been appointed the first life member of the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA). After qualifying as a vet from Massey University, New Zealand, he spent two years in practice before moving to the UK where he was appointed managing director of the newly formed company Eville and Jones. He joined the VPHA and was president from 2007 to 2010 – getting involved in steering the association and promoting its activities.

At its annual general meeting during its conference in March, the VPHA agreed that creating life memberships would be a fitting way of recognising the unwavering and selfless support of members, and that Aldiss should be the first recipient of this award. At the conference dinner, the current president Lewis Grant outlined Aldiss’ many achievements and sterling efforts before presenting him with life membership, which came as a complete surprise.


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Top poultry award for Nottingham professor

Paul Barrow, professor of veterinary infectious diseases in the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, was awarded the prestigious Robert Fraser Gordon Medal for services to poultry science at a ceremony at the World Poultry Science Association’s spring meeting in Edinburgh on 10 April. Specialising in poultry and pig diseases, he is recognised internationally for his expertise in Salmonella in poultry and has considerable experience in Campylobacter and Mycobacterium. He is also a leading expert in the use of bacteriophages. As part of his award, he was invited to deliver the 2019 Gordon Memorial Lecture, which was entitled ‘Novel biological approaches to controlling bacterial infection’.

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Valuing women in the workforce

Over recent weeks you may have seen stories in both the veterinary press and national newspapers on the gender pay gap.

If you are looking for equality, the picture is not heartening. The most recent gender pay gap report from the World Economic Forum estimated it would take 202 years for equal pay to be achieved at the current rate of progress. And that the gap had actually widened in favour of men in nearly half of the companies in the UK.

In the veterinary sector, the figures also do not look good, but it is difficult to tell if there is unequal pay in individual companies and organisations, as the figures demanded by the UK government do not compare pay for men and women doing equal work.

This is certainly the argument put forward by many companies in the veterinary sector – lower paid jobs, such as...

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'Licensing for pets and children is not the same

By Josh Loeb

A Vet who campaigns to improve welfare for exotic animals has criticised a chief veterinary officer’s comments about how licensing prospective pet owners could be seen as similar to forcing people to be licensed to have children.

The comments were made last month by Scottish chief vet Sheila Voas at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association congress (VR, 13 April 2019, vol 184, p 459).

During a panel debate, Voas said she personally favoured a licensing system – but also expressed doubts about whether the idea would be politically saleable.

‘My personal view, and it is a personal view, is it would be very good to have some sort of licensing regime for anybody wanting to get an animal,’ Voas said. ‘As part of that, they would have to pass some sort of basic test . . . where they would have to demonstrate at...

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Companies agree to sustainable food policies

By Josh Loeb

Vets Now, Vets4Pets, Goddard Veterinary Group and the RCVS are each working on creating their own individual sustainable food procurement policies.

The quartet’s pledge followed the BVA’s call – made in its recent policy paper on sustainable animal agriculture – for practices to develop their own ethically conscious policies for use when providing animal-derived food to hospitalised patients or to practice staff.

Such a policy could also be employed when selecting venues for staff meetings or appointing caterers for a workplace event.

The BVA is urging the veterinary profession to prioritise use of higher welfare and/or environmentally friendly products – for example, the association itself will only buy eggs, chicken and pork that is free range and British.

In addition, only RSPCA-assured farmed fish or Marine Stewardship Council-assured wild fish may be used when catering for BVA events. The BVA policy on food procurement...

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Social media disciplinary is a 'wake-up call

By Josh Loeb

A Decision by an RCVS disciplinary committee that a vet was guilty of serious professional misconduct in posting pictures of clients’ pets on social media without permission should serve as a wake-up call for the profession.

That is the view of Carol Gray, a doctoral researcher who specialises in informed consent and communication in veterinary settings.

Gray said the result of the disciplinary hearing involving Natalia Strokowska – highlighted last week in Vet Record (VR, 4 May 2019, vol 184, p 538) – should prompt vets and practices to take greater care about what they post on social media.

Particular care was needed, she said, when it came to posting pictures of ‘unusual’ breeds that might make third-party identification of owners easier.

Her warning came as several vets privately admitted to Vet Record they would ‘be more careful’ in future about what they posted online. ‘I...

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Cat photography competition launches for 2019

Feline charity International Cat Care (iCatCare) has started its search for the world’s best cat photographers, with the launch of its annual photography competition.

This year’s theme is ‘Cat-Human Relationships’. Amateur and professional photographers are invited to enter photographs of cats and humans together. The judges want to see a range of relationships covering an assortment of situations, locations and ages. Photographs could feature pet cats with their owners in the home, street cats with the public, and cats with those who work with them (eg, vet professionals with their patients).

The competition, which was first launched in 2013, is now open for entries and will run until 1 July 2019. Twelve winning images will be selected by the judges to feature in the charity’s 2020 calendar, with one of these being crowned the overall winner. All winners will receive a certificate, copies of the calendar and a selection...

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TB incidents down, but cattle slaughter up in Wales

By Kathryn Clark

The Welsh government is to clamp down on a minority of farmers who are flouting requirements for postmovement TB testing of cattle.

Updating the Welsh Assembly on progress with the TB eradication programme in Wales, Lesley Griffiths, minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, said last week that it was ‘disappointing’ some farmers in the low TB area of Wales were not following the rules on postmovement testing.

‘This minority risk spoiling it for everyone and must accept their responsibilities in protecting their herd and the wider area,’ Griffiths said.

‘We are tightening our enforcement protocols to take action where necessary.’

Postmovement TB testing of all cattle moved into the low TB area of Wales has been required since October 2017.

Griffiths reported that, in 2018, there were 746 new TB incidents in Wales, a 5 per cent decrease on 2017. However, 11,233 cattle were slaughtered...

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Recruitment and retention survey results are 'surprising

Almost half of all vets say they are either ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to search for a new job within the next two years – but of these fewer than 10 per cent say they want to quit the profession entirely.

That was among the findings from a survey of thousands of vets carried out by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association.

Renate Weller, BEVA’s president, called the finding ‘surprising – in a good way’, saying she had expected the proportion wanting to entirely quit veterinary work to be higher.

‘I’m not saying 10 per cent is good,’ she said in a video released by BEVA. ‘I think we should still try and reduce that, but certainly I expected it to be a higher number.’

She added: ‘We’re not doing too badly compared with, for example, a recent survey of GPs [in the...

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'Significant breakthrough in evolutionary avian genetics

Georgina Mills discusses recent research into songbirds, which looked at how they differ from other avian species

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In brief

Reports of dogs in hot cars hit three-year high

The annual ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ campaign, which is run by a number of organisations including the BVA, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the National Police Chiefs Council and the RSPCA, was launched for 2019 on 6 May.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving a dog in a car on a hot day. Temperatures inside a car can quickly rise – when it’s 22 degrees outside, within an hour the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 47 degrees.

Despite running the campaign annually, figures from the RSPCA show that 2018 was the busiest in three years for calls about dogs in cars, with over 8000 emergency calls being made. This equates to a 5 per cent increase from 2017 and a 15 per cent increase from 2016.

Figures from the BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession...

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Stop and think before offering antibiotics

A Small animal vet group has launched a new initiative aimed at reducing the use of antibiotics in its practices.

Vets4Pets and Companion Care surgeries across the UK have been provided with a STAR toolkit, which helps them to ‘stop and think, are antibiotics required’? It aims to challenge established prescribing behaviour and promote best practice for antibiotic use.

The toolkit looks at four key areas – antibiotic husbandry, antibiotic reporting and benchmarking, hand hygiene and client education.

It includes novel ideas such as relocating antibiotics to one cupboard, placing highly visible posters in key places around the practice as a reminder to challenge established prescribing practices, and benchmarking antibiotic use to compare against other practices.

Vets can alo use the toolkit to explain to pet owners why antibiotics are not always the best option. Client-facing leaflets and posters help to explain the clinical decision for not using antibiotics...

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New euthanasia product

A Highly concentrated euthanasia solution that can be used to euthanase many species has been added to the UK portfolio of Dechra Veterinary Products.

Euthasol vet contains 400 mg/ml of pentobarbital sodium. It can be used on dogs, cats, rodents, rabbits, cattle, sheep, goats, horses and mink.

The solution – a clear blue liquid – is licensed for intravenous, intracardial and intraperitoneal usage and a dose of 140 mg/kg (equivalent to 0.35 ml/kg) is considered sufficient for all licensed routes of administration. It comes in 100 ml vials and has a 28-day broached shelf life.

Dechra brand manager Claire Morgan said: ‘The intravenous route of administration should be the route of choice. Where intravenous administration is impossible, the product may be administered via the intracardiac route in all named species.’

Dechra Veterinary Products, Sansaw Business Park, Hadnall, Shrewsbury SY4 4AS, telephone 01939 211200

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Veterinary Products

Vetoquinol has launched a new supplement for arthritic dogs. Flexadin Advanced is a one-per-day palatable chew that combines undenatured type-II collagen with purified extracts of Boswellia serrata plant to support the metabolism of joints in the case of osteoarthritis in dogs.

Sure Petcare has launched a smart feeder that monitors how much and when a pet eats and sends real-time updates directly to an app on the owner’s phone. The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect features integrated scales, which enable owners to provide accurate food portions to their pet at every meal.

Royal Canin has relaunched its portfolio of diets for cats and dogs. Its three original ranges – Veterinary Care Nutrition, Veterinary Diet and Multifunction – have been consolidated into ‘one simplified range’ called Veterinary Health Nutrition.

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Benefits of keeping flies off cattle

The use of fly tags for season-long control of flies on cattle has the potential to increase growth rate and reduce handling compared with using pour-on products. This can save farmers over £30 a head, results from a recent on-farm study have shown.

The Zoetis study involved 200 dairy and dairy cross cattle. Half the group was treated once with two Flectron tags at turnout and the other half with an alpha-cypermethrin pour-on every eight weeks. Both groups were dosed with a long-acting wormer to remove any possible productivity impact from worms.

Initial results showed that tagged cattle had better growth rates, weighing on average 12.2 kg more compared with cattle treated with the pour-on over the six-month grazing period.

Handling requirements were also significantly reduced, which added to the cost saving.

Commenting on the findings, the trial farm’s vet noted that the farm was prone to high fly...

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Advisory service for managing people

A Human resource management (HRM) and employment law advisory service has been launched to help companies take a proactive approach to managing their workforce.

MS Rubric, a Bristol-based specialist law and HR company within the agricultural and veterinary sector, has announced the launch of Vantage, a service that aims ‘to support companies to help them achieve their goals and keep them out of employment tribunals.'

Melanie Davies (pictured), head of employment, says, ‘Whether a business employs five people or 500, is a start-up, or has been successfully trading for years, it is critical that it has a reliable legal advisory system in place to manage the range of challenges that arise.'

Vantage offers three levels of service to meet the needs and budgets of different-sized businesses. Fixed pricing bands are spread over monthly plans and all advice is covered by legal professional privilege. Additional support is available in the...

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