Journal news

Bone-sparing surgery for elbow dysplasia

A new surgical procedure for dogs with elbow dysplasia that can ‘dramatically reduce patient pain’ is now available.

Davies Veterinary Specialists is one of only a few centres in the UK that has invested in the new surgical equipment to treat severe canine elbow dysplasia using canine unicompartmental elbow replacement (CUE).

Despite being one of the commonest causes of chronic front leg lameness in dogs, there is no cure for elbow dysplasia, only treatment options. In severe forms, such as medial compartment diseases (MCD), cartilage wear often results in bone rubbing against bone. The prognosis is typically poor, but now CUE is providing a promising alternative surgical option, the practice says.

The surgery involves partial resurfacing of the elbow joint, providing a less invasive bone-sparing option for resurfacing the bone-on-bone medial compartment, while preserving the dog’s own ‘good’ cartilage in the lateral compartment. In most dogs, the technique significantly...

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20 years of national wildlife disease surveillance

The need for wildlife surveillance is as great now as it ever has been. Here, members of the APHA’s Diseases of Wildlife Scheme explain why their work is important.

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From farm to board

Vet Richard Killen is clinical services director of CVS. As an RCVS Practice Standards Scheme assessor, he enrolled all of the group’s practices onto the scheme as a way of improving clinical standards.

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World small animal VETERINARY association announces winner of One health award

Canadian vet and founder of an innovative community outreach charity Michelle Lem has won the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA’s) 2019 Global One Health Award. The award is made by the association’s One Health committee to ‘an individual or organisation which has promoted an aspect of One Health relevant to companion animals’ and it will be presented at the WSAVA congress, which is being held in Toronto, Canada, in July.

She set up Community Veterinary Outreach in 2003 and the charity now runs programmes in eight communities in Canada. Its veterinary volunteers care for the animals of homeless and vulnerable people, alongside human health partners who provide preventive healthcare, education and support to their owners. She said: ‘Thanks to our dedicated teams of volunteers and community health partners across Canada, we have provided accessible care to more than 4700 companion animals and 3800 pet owners, and we continue...

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Louise Clark, RCVS and EBVS European specialist in veterinary anaesthesia and analgesia and head of anaesthesia at Davies Veterinary Specialists in Hertfordshire, has been appointed president of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Pain Section for 2018/19. It is thought to be the first time the council, which comprises medical practitioners and consultants, has appointed a vet as president.

Naomi Shimizu has joined the soft tissue and orthopaedic surgery team at Southfields Veterinary Specialists, Laindon, Essex, as a senior clinician. She graduated from Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort in France, and has previously worked in Paris, Tokyo and, most recently, Belgium, where she completed a residency in small animal surgery. She won the 2015 British Small Animal Veterinary Association award for her study on sclerosis and arthritis in dog elbows and is currently working with the University of Liege on research into bladder and prostate carcinomas.

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Polite messaging will no longer cut it

The Scottish government is to be applauded for its recent advertising campaign aiming to educate people about the dangers of buying puppies online.

The ‘Buy a puppy safely’ campaign ran across social media, in cinemas and on radio at the end of last year, and is currently being evaluated for its impact.

You can watch the advert here:

Anecdotally, however, the signs are that this hard-hitting campaign has had impact.

The average length of time people spent on the campaign’s website has been 14 minutes – compared to a marketing average of around a minute, that’s very impressive. Engagement data have also shown users going on to explore suggested links, hopefully learning more about the consequences of illegal puppy farming.

One in four of puppies bought online will die before their fifth birthday

There is no question that such a campaign is needed – most...

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'Less and better is the key to sustainability

By Josh Loeb

Vets should be encouraging people to eat less meat, cheese and other animal-derived products, the BVA has suggested.

In its new position on sustainable animal agriculture, the association advocates what it calls a ‘less and better’ approach.

This desired outlook, which would entail greater consumption of plant-based foods by some individuals as alternatives to animal protein, is described in one of 13 recommendations for vets.

‘Within the context of One Health, the veterinary profession should promote the benefits of sustainable consumption and the concept of "less and better", which sees some citizens reduce consumption of animal-derived products, while maintaining proportional spend on high animal health and welfare products,’ the BVA states.

It adds: ‘It is important to recognise that fewer healthier and happier animals with better productivity have less of an impact at all levels compared to numerous animals with poorer health and welfare outcomes.


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Dog breeding inspections are 'going wrong

By Josh Loeb

The new dog breeding licensing regime is not working properly because local authority inspectors lack the competence to assess the welfare of bitches and their pups.

That was the claim made by former Dogs Trust veterinary director Chris Laurence, who now chairs the Canine and Feline Sector Group.

He told delegates at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) congress earlier this month that local authority inspectors’ duties were too broad. Many possessed insufficient expertise in the area of dog welfare and struggled to effectively implement the 38-page guidance document produced by Defra.

‘If you are a local authority inspector, the likelihood is that this morning you were inspecting a restaurant for food safety and then you’ll go and inspect a dog breeding establishment and then you’ll go and inspect a taxi firm,’ he said.

‘Expecting those people to keep up-to-date with all of that and...

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Gender pay gap in corporates deteriorates

By Josh Loeb

The gender pay gap is higher than the national average at all eight major veterinary corporates.

Topping the list in the pay comparison table (see box overleaf) is Goddard Veterinary Group (GVG) – one of the smaller corporates (with under 500 employees) – where female staff earn 50p for every £1 that male staff earn.

Second on the list is Independent Vetcare (IVC), which has more than 500 practices, and has the widest pay gap of any UK company of this size.

Analysis also shows that at some corporates the gap between average hourly earnings for men and women has widened since the first set of pay gap data was made public last year.

At Medivet, for example, the gap between what men and women earned on average (median) across the business as a whole grew from 28 per cent in 2017/18 to 38 per cent...

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'Brexit has created the opportunity for change

The veterinary medicines sector has become more collaborative and developed a more questioning approach – all as a result of Brexit.

That is the view of industry leaders, speaking at a panel session on Brexit at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) congress earlier this month.

Dawn Howard, chief executive of the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), which represents veterinary medicines companies, said: ‘I think there’s been a change in mindsets in many areas.

There’s been a change of mindset in a very positive way

‘From what we’ve seen from working with our regulator [the VMD], there’s been a change of mindset in a very positive way.

‘They’re much more open and much more questioning. They’re asking, why do we actually need to do this? Is there a legal requirement for this? Can we do this differently? I think that will be beneficial whatever happens.’


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Saving donkeys from the skin trade

Georgina Mills explains how UK vets have been helping donkeys caught up in the skin trade in Brazil.

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In brief

Clients questioning vaccinations

Almost all companion animal vets have been questioned by their clients on the need for vaccination, new figures from the BVA show.

The association’s voice of the veterinary profession survey showed that 98 per cent of vets had been asked about vaccination by clients. Of the vets that had been asked, 95 per cent said their client’s questions were influenced by their own internet research, and 90 per cent felt that clients were finding their information about vaccinations mainly from non-veterinary sources.

The figures were released ahead of World Veterinary Day on 27 April.

It is hugely concerning to consider the future for pets in this country if owners begin to move away from regularly vaccinating

BVA junior vice president Daniella Dos Santos said: ‘Vaccination is vital. Pets in the UK have been amazingly well-protected from many terrible diseases such as parvovirus, hepatitis, distemper and...

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Significant event reporting in veterinary practice

Patient safety has been defined as ‘the reduction of risk or unnecessary harm associated with healthcare to an acceptable minimum’.1 As veterinary professionals, the safety of our patients has always been a priority. However, the formal concept of patient safety has only recently filtered down from our medical colleagues.

Error and complications have always been associated with healthcare and can act as powerful motivators for learning. However, until relatively recently, specific interest in this area was limited. In order to be able to learn from errors, there needs to be accurate and timely incident reporting.2-5 Removing barriers to reporting in safety-critical industries has ensured that maximum benefit can be attained from learning from errors, thereby improving safety and quality.6

Over the past few years, attempts to improve quality and safety in the medical profession has focused on learning from and reducing...

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Blame and shame in the veterinary profession: barriers and facilitators to reporting significant events

Significant event reporting is an important concept for patient safety in human medicine, but substantial barriers to the discussion and reporting of adverse events have been identified. This study explored the factors that influence the discussion and reporting of significant events among veterinary surgeons and nurses. Purposive sampling was used to generate participants for six focus groups consisting of a range of veterinary professionals of different ages and roles (mean N per group=9). Thematic analysis of the discussions identified three main themes: the effect of culture, the influence of organisational systems and the emotional effect of error. Fear, lack of time or understanding and organisational concerns were identified as barriers, while the effect of feedback, opportunity for learning and structure of a reporting system facilitated error reporting. Professional attitudes and culture emerged as both a positive and negative influence on the discussion of error. The results were triangulated against the findings in the medical literature and highlight common themes in clinician’s concerns regarding the discussion of professional error. The results of this study have been used to inform the development of the ‘VetSafe’ tool, a web-based central error reporting system.

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Lack of efficacy of triclabendazole against Fasciola hepatica is present on sheep farms in three regions of England, and Wales

The liver fluke Fasciola hepatica is a parasitic trematode that has a major impact on livestock production and human health. Control of F hepatica is difficult and relies on anthelmintics, particularly triclabendazole, due to its efficacy against both adult and juvenile stages of the parasite. Emergence of triclabendazole-resistant F hepatica populations has been reported in a number of countries, including the UK, but the overall prevalence and distribution of triclabendazole resistance is unknown. In this study, the authors established the presence of reduced efficacy of triclabendazole in sheep flocks in England and Wales, using a validated composite faecal egg count reduction test. Seventy-four sheep farms were sampled from Wales, southwest, northwest and northeast England between Autumn 2013 and Spring 2015. F hepatica eggs were detected in samples from 42/74 farms. Evidence of a lack of efficacy of triclabendazole was detected on 21/26 farms on which the faecal egg count reduction test was completed, with faecal egg count reductions ranging from 89 per cent to 0per cent. Regression analysis suggested that both prevalence of F hepatica and lack of efficacy of triclabendazole were spatially correlated, with higher faecal egg counts and lower percentage reductions on farms located in the northwest of England, and Wales. Overall, the results show that reduced efficacy of triclabendazole is present across England and Wales, with a complete lack of therapeutic efficacy observed on 9/26 farms.

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Haematological profile in foals during the first year of life

Foals’ haematological values change constantly during their first year of life. The use of updated age-based reference intervals (RIs) is imperative for providing accurate diagnosis and optimum care for sick foals. The authors' objective was to provide updated RIs for 13 haematological values in 2, 7, 14, 30, 90, 180 and 365-day-old foals and to investigate the changes over time in each measured value. Venous blood was collected at those ages from clinically healthy foals. Thirteen haematological values were analysed. The 95% RIs were reported using a bootstrapping method. Differences over time were examined using Friedman test. RIs for each of the measured values were calculated. Results showed noticeable trends in changes over time in several values. Nevertheless, white blood cell counts significantly increased between day 2 and day 90 (P=0.011) while lymphocyte counts increased from day 2 up to day 180 (P=0.033). The mean corpuscular haemoglobin and mean corpuscular volume (P=0.011) significantly decreased between day 2 and day 90. Normal haematological values in foals not only differ from those in adult horses but also change throughout the first year of life; thus, it is critical that clinicians use age-based RIs when treating sick foals.

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Selected highlights from other journals

Reducing blood pressure in hypertensive cats

T. M. Glaus, J. Elliott, E. Herberich and others

Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (2019)

doi: 10.1111/jvim.15394

• What did the research find?

Compared to baseline, telmisartan reduced systolic arterial blood pressure (SABP) by an average of 19.2 mmHg at day 14 and 24.6 mmHg at day 28 after administration. The difference in mean SABP change between the telmisartan and placebo groups was statistically significant (P<0.001). The mean SABP reduction by telmisartan in severe and moderate hypertension (HT) was comparable and persistent over time. No adverse effects of telmisartan treatment were observed.

• How was it conducted?

Two-hundred-and-fifty-two client-owned cats with SABP between 160 mmHg and 200 mmHg were included in this study. They received a daily oral dose of either 2 mg/kg telmisartan or placebo for 28 days. The cats in the telmisartan group then continued treatment for a further 92 days....

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Tail docking and tail biting in pigs

I write to voice my concern over a recent ethics case study published in In Practice (March 2019, vol 41, pp 88-91) that outlines a particular scenario on a pig farm where tail docking of pigs is addressed.

This particular ethics case comes at a time when there is a huge amount of drive and progress being made within the pig sector to change protocols and procedures on farm to reduce the incidence of tail biting, and hence attempt to reduce the requirement for tail docking to be carried out in the first place. The elements that come together on a farm to produce tail biting are wide and varying, often with multiple potential triggers being present on any individual farm at a particular time. There are huge amounts of on-farm investigation, research and efforts from individuals, including vets, that are helping to progress the welfare of pigs on...

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James Yeates responds

The sentiments expressed by Duncan Berkshire are largely laudable and welcome. Whether they represent a response on behalf of the Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) or the pig industry, the words are good to hear.

Evidentially, efforts to date have not been sufficiently effective. The 2017 Real Welfare report1 by the pig industry – a good, honest initiative – reports that tail docking has a 70 per cent prevalence in the UK, notwithstanding the current legal situation. So there is potential for further progress.

The PVS could have an influential, progressive and impactful role here. Looking at the PVS website, I failed to see any reference to these sentiments or ambitions expressed. That suggests there is a real potential for increased visible leadership to make those words a reality. We can hopefully look forward to visible, societal leadership from PVS and real change in practice.

I would urge...

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