Journal news

Keeping snakes

In response to Warwick and colleagues (VR, 30 March 2019, vol 184, p 417), I thank them for their alternative opinion on the acceptable minimum enclosure sizes for snakes. While I appreciate that these authors, none of whom are veterinary surgeons, felt that a reminder of the veterinary oath was needed, I can assure them with a very high degree of assertion that animal welfare is very much my priority in these discussions, as I hope it is for them as well. It is refreshing that in this instance, specific regulations to improve reptile welfare are being proposed and discussed, rather than the prohibition of reptile keeping in its entirety, as these authors have historically campaigned for (which would be highly detrimental to animal welfare in my opinion), and it is nice to hear a range of opinions on this issue.

I am pleased to report that following further...

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Preventive healthcare plans under animal activity licences

Defra has recently received several queries relating to preventive healthcare plans, as outlined in the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, and what they should cover.

Most of these questions relate to licensing of cat and dog boarding and dog breeding establishments. The purpose of preventive healthcare plans is to enable the licence holder of establishments to ensure the health and welfare of animals kept at these establishments is preserved.

Preventive healthcare plans are standard practice in the farming sector as part of an animal health plan for the farm. A preventive healthcare plan should be designed individually for each establishment, accounting for a number of factors, including the animal species kept. It should be a live document that provides a framework of the ways in which a licence holder for the animal establishment can prevent or deal with key disease challenges at the establishment...

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Detecting viral infection in red squirrels

Adenovirus (ADV) infection is geographically widespread in both wild red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) populations and captive collections.1 ADV is often asymptomatic but can become pathogenic. It has been associated with significant mortality in some conservation translocation programmes, notably on the island of Anglesey, north Wales.2

To investigate whether ADV was present on Anglesey before the first captive-bred red squirrel releases in 2004, we obtained archived hair (shaft and follicles) in 2016, collected during historical microsatellite studies.3 These were 50 samples from animals live-trapped in 2002/3 and two Anglesey road casualties from the early 1980s. In addition, two pre-2003 hair samples from a mainland mid-Wales population were available. These animals were all from Welsh populations with a regional phylogeographic structure. 4

PCR amplified ADV DNA from both Anglesey road casualties, providing the earliest currently known ADV records, and from one of the...

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Death notice

Butt On 4 April 2019, Keith Martin Butt, MA, VetMB, MRCVS, of London. Mr Butt qualified from Cambridge in 1961.

doi: 10.1136/vr.l1799

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Worried about a colleague?

We’ve all had situations where we’ve worried about a colleague or have had someone worry about us. As an empathetic profession, connecting with and supporting others is part of our daily work, and that includes looking out for colleagues. Alongside concern around veterinary suicide rates, which are known to be three to four times the rate seen in the general population, we know veterinary professionals face other challenges to their wellbeing, such as workplace stress or mental health problems. Veterinary professionals often find it hard to ask for help, so how can we reach out and help when we are worried about someone?

Take any distress seriously

There can be pressure in our industry – that we place upon ourselves or that we receive from others – to keep up a facade and not show that we are struggling. If someone is showing distress, or has noticeably changed in...

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The chilled life of a mixed vet in a Highlands and Islands practice

Anne Stanley is the only vet for the islands of Coll and Tiree. She and her husband Mark run what is probably the UK’s most remote clinic.

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Diary of a parliamentary intern

As her two-year parliamentary internship comes to an end, Gabrielle Laing describes why statutory instruments are keeping her - and many others - busy, as the UK exits the EU.

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In brief

New president for BSAVA

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) has appointed Susan Paterson as its new president for 2019/20.

Paterson qualified from Cambridge in 1984 and spent some time in mixed practice in Devon before taking her certificate and both British and European diplomas in veterinary dermatology. She has been an RCVS and European specialist for more than 20 years, was recently elected as a fellow of the RCVS, is an elected member of the RCVS council and is the senior vice president of the European Society of Veterinary Dermatology.

She is veterinary director of two companies: Veterinary Dermatological, a manufacturer of a range of veterinary supplements; and Virtual Vet Derms, a veterinary telemedicine company.

Paterson took over from Philip Lhermette, who became senior vice president, and Ian Ramsey was appointed vice president.

Equine viral arteritis confirmed in Dorset

UK chief vet Christine Middlesmiss has confirmed...

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Depression and the importance of hope

‘I know exactly the moment it all became too much,’ a vet confided last week. ‘I was working as a horse vet and out on visits when I got a call from the practice receptionist asking me to see a horse. ‘They want you to go right now,’ she said. My brain just said ‘I can’t.’

This episode followed weeks of stress. After time off sick and a programme of psychotherapy and a re-evaluation of his life, today he’s not only out the other side but able to share his story with others.

Talking at an RCVS Mind Matters stream at last week’s BSAVA congress, he was joined by another vet and a doctor who also shared their accounts of how they have coped with depression and even near suicide. They were all speaking with the aim of helping vet professionals recognise and manage signs of mental distress.


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'Vet nurses need to promote their worth

By Josh Loeb

Vet nurses need to articulate their value so their contribution is more clearly understood.

That was the message from Andrea Jeffery, a member of the RCVS veterinary nurses council, to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association congress last week.

While vets should recognise nurses’ value, she said it was a ‘two-way thing’ – it was also the job of nurses to educate vets as to why they mattered.

‘We need to have confidence in our ability and we need confidence to actually use that expertise and make sure our employers are aware, and the veterinarians with whom we work are aware, of our skill set and the value we add,’ she said.

It’s our job to say, this is what you can delegate to me and this is what I’m qualified and competent to do

‘It’s our job to say, this is what you can...

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Should irresponsible pet owners be banned?

By Josh Loeb

It should be made harder for people to acquire pets, senior vets have said.

The vets, all panelists at a British Small Animal Veterinary Association congress talk, expressed tentative support for the idea of an overarching licensing or registration system to keep tabs on pet owners.

Scotland’s chief vet Sheila Voas said she favoured a licensing system for all pet owners – but she also expressed doubts about whether the idea would be politically saleable.

Asked in a question and answer session whether she thought some people should be ‘simply banned’ from owning animals, Voas replied: ‘I’m not so sure about banning people, but we could make it harder for people to get animals. It’s ridiculous how easy it is.’

She added: ‘People who have no experience whatsoever can simply go out and buy a horse and bring it home.

‘My personal view, and it is...

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Pre-purchase consultations are to be encouraged

The BVA, the Animal Welfare Foundation and the RSPCA are urging companion animal vets to promote pre-purchase consultations to encourage responsible puppy buying decisions and discuss The Puppy Contract.

The call comes as figures from the latest BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession surveys, released during National Pet Month (1 April-6 May), show that while awareness of The Puppy Contract among companion animal vets has almost doubled since 2015 (from 29 per cent to 56 per cent), most vets claim that none or only a very small number of their clients who have recently bought puppies have used the contract.

The Puppy Contract is a free, downloadable toolkit, which, once filled in, includes information regarding the puppy and owner, and a legally binding contract for sale between the breeder and owner.

BVA junior vice president Daniella Dos Santos said: ‘It’s important that we promote pre-purchase consultations to ensure prospective...

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Mixed views on animal welfare devolution

By Josh Loeb

Devolution of animal welfare has provided a really important catalyst for change across the whole of the UK

Devolution of animal welfare has led to ‘challenges’ and ‘great confusion,’ a prominent vet who helped shape influential legislation believes.

Chris Laurence, who was awarded an MBE in recognition of his work on the Animal Welfare Acts of 2006, suggested Westminster had been misguided in relinquishing powers over some veterinary matters from Whitehall to the devolved administrations at Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now make their own laws relating to animal health and welfare – powers once mostly centralised in Westminster – and have their own chief veterinary officers.

Defra, meanwhile, oversees such matters for England but administers other policies for the UK as a whole. There is also a chief vet for the UK – currently Christine Middlemiss – who also...

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UK is granted 'listed status for animal movement

The UK can continue to send meat, cheese and livestock to EU countries in any Brexit scenario after it was ‘listed’ by the bloc.

The decision means the UK will be recognised as an approved third country for exports of animal products and livestock into the EU should the UK leave the EU.

The listed status application approval is a very welcome piece of news

Consignments can therefore continue to be sent from the UK through border inspection posts in France, Belgium and the Netherlands – under any type of Brexit, even a no-deal Brexit.

The movement of equines between the UK and the EU will also now continue in a no-deal scenario. However, the agreement does not cover pet travel and the situation is still subject to change if the UK is granted a long extension and parliament continues to refuse to pass Theresa May’s deal.


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Celebrating the professions shining stars

By Georgina Mills

The veterinary profession’s top talent in animal welfare were celebrated last week at Ceva’s annual awards, which took place on the eve of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) congress.

The awards recognise the achievements of remarkable people from the veterinary, farming and charity industries who go beyond the call of duty to better the lives of animals around the world.

The Chris Laurence Vet of the Year for 2019 was Hannah Capon. This award, which was sponsored by Vet Record, recognises a vet who educates pet owners and demonstrates their commitment to the continued improvement of animal welfare.

Capon developed Canine Arthritis Management (CAM) to raise awareness of arthritis among dog owners and vets and to help create effective long-term management plans. The CAM website is an educational resource and source of support for both owners and vets, with the aim of relieving pain...

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Oral vaccines could be key to mass rabies dog vaccination

Georgina Mills reports on new work that looks into methods of vaccinating dogs in Goa

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Faster recovery through precision surgery

A high-precision surgical cutting tool is now available for surgeons.

Onemytis represents ‘a breakthrough in electrosurgery, providing unrivalled levels of precision at low temperatures, causing minimal blood loss and tissue damage and promoting faster recovery times’, the company says.

The device uses airplasma technology – passing air through a strong electromagnetic field to transform it into ionised gas that can vapourise tissue at low temperatures.

During surgery, the electrode doesn’t touch the patient, it works when it is between 1 and 2 mm away from the patient, which means the surgeon doesn’t apply any pressure when creating an incision.

Vet Julian Hoad, head of Crossways Veterinary Group in West Sussex, started using the machine last year.

He said: ‘I’ve used electrosurgery for 20 years and this is an order of magnitude better. It is more precise, more reliable and results in a much better healing surface.

‘I recently removed...

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Veterinary Products

The combination ivermectin and closantel endectocide Closamectin Pour-on Solution for Cattle from Norbrook is subject to an increased withdrawal period. The product is now subject to a withdrawal period of 58 days for meat and offal; it was previously 28 days.

Nutravet has added a smaller, introductory-size pack of nutraquin+ to its range of joint support product for dogs, cats and horses. The smaller 30 packs provide a low-cost introduction for pet owners, allowing them to test the range at a lower entry point.

Bayer has launched its flea and tick collar Seresto in China where there is an enormous increase in pet ownership and growth of urban populations. Implementation of an effective counterfeit protection CapSeal is included in the launch. Each cap seal contains a unique QR-code that the pet owner can check against a database to get immediate feedback regarding the authenticity of the code and the...

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The National Office for Animal Health (NOAH) board has approved the membership of Animalcare, a York-based company that offers a wide range of animal health products, such as microchips and pharmaceuticals, pet welfare products and veterinary practice equipment.

MSD has announced the completion of its acquisition of Antelliq Corporation from funds advised by BC Partners. The announcement positions the company as a global leader in animal health digital tracking, traceability and monitoring technology and complements the existing portfolio of vaccines and pharmaceuticals. Antelliq will be an operating unit within MSD Animal Health.

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