I love learning and always have. As vets we are
obliged to keep our knowledge up to date and rightly so. Veterinary medicine and surgery change so rapidly with research and changing techniques. No one wants to be the old duffer grumbling into his weak tea that they’ve done things the same way for 40 years with no problems so why change now!
I’ve just spent two days at the London Vet Show and thought I would share some of the take- home messages with you.
– Many owners of diabetic pets feel out of control and the disease and its treatment can have a big impact on the life of both owner and animal. If your pet’s treatment regime is so rigid it is destroying your life, talk to your vet about ways you might be able to make it more flexible. I also found out that the Royal Veterinary College has an app that any owners can download to track their pet’s treatment and responses and clinical signs. I’ve never used it but it looks really good so give it a try.
– As a technical advisor for prescription foods I spend a lot of my days talking about apparent food allergies and food trials. I qualified 20 years ago and when I did we had it drummed into us that food allergy blood tests were not to be used and were totally unreliable with false positives, false negatives and lots of cross reactions. This is still true. Don’t waste your money on food allergy blood tests. The bloods tests for other allergens like fleas, mites and plants are much better so feel free to do those! Oh, and true food allergies are way more rare than many people think.
– In my job I also spend a lot of time talking about pets with kidney disease. There are many drugs that can help make your animal feel better and they are useful to have BUT a change to a renal diet is still the ONLY thing proven to prolong life for animals with kidney disease. As a plea from me, please do not buy prescription diets online without talking to a vet. Some of the diets have characteristics that are perfect for a certain disease but can actually be quiet dangerous for some animals with other problems.
– I am fascinated by animal behaviour and the psychology behind us, them and our interactions. There were some really excellent behaviour lectures and also a really interesting but very sad look at the psychology of pet hoarding. One of the lectures looked at avoiding dog bite injuries. It’s so important people can read their dogs. Many vets are sick of seeing the ‘cute’ pictures that get circulated endlessly on social media of kids hugging dogs, children climbing all over dogs and babies being licked in the face. If you look at the dogs’ expressions in these photos they are almost always showing signs of mental distress like lip-licking, facial tension, averting their gaze and yawning. Dogs do NOT like being hugged and mauled. The vast majority of bite injuries, especially to children, could be avoided if we respected the personal space of our pets more and UNDERSTOOD their subtle signs asking you to stop what you are doing. They should not have to tolerate everything.
– The other great behaviour lecture was about common problems and how vets can approach them and also looked at the best thing for all these things; prevention. When I was writing my dog book I had some great behaviour advice and input from APBC and the Blue Cross team. They reiterated what the lecture did; socialisation and habituation of puppies and kittens is SO important. But it’s got to be tackled in the right way. Don’t think you can just get a tick list of stuff they should encounter and leg it round like a loon exposing them to all and sundry in a fortnight. They will be overwhelmed and you could actually sensitise them to things and reinforce negative emotions and fears rather than habituate them if they’re in the wrong frame of mind at the time. It’s a complicated area so if you’re getting a puppy or kitten talk to your vet beforehand about the best way to help your puppy grow into a confident and happy dog. And of course, buy the book to get your kids learning all this stuff before you get the puppy or kitten too (blatant plug!).
– The final session of the day was an update on pedigree dog health and what progress if any we’ve made. I think it’s safe to say that my blood pressure was pretty high throughout the discussion. It was the usual story of the KC passing the blame and saying it’s nothing to do with them. I won’t go into the details or why I disagree wholeheartedly with them because I am so drained by the whole thing. I’m going to be writing a book about it this year so I’ll tackle it all there.
I also learnt lots about vomiting and diarrhoea which I won’t share in case you’re eating! I hope this has given you a little insight into some of the things I’ve learnt this week. It was brilliant to catch up with friends and meet new people and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. My flight is boarding soon so I will pack away the iPad and say goodbye for now. Back soon. I hope!