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The Itchy and Scratchy Show – pet style!

It always makes me laugh when I catch myself internally chastising itchy animals which are hurting themselves by constantly scratching .“Why doesn’t it just stop scratching?!” I ask myself. Then I think of my recent situation, where, as a keen but incompetent vet student, I was excited to get to scrub into surgery – which means having sterile hands. Hands scrubbed and gloved, I developed a rather inconvenient nose-itch. When facial contortions offered no relief, I sheepishly asked an ungloved vet nurse to scratch my nose for me. A bonding experience, some would say…

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That must be the worst part of your job ……

… is something I hear all the time. People are, of course, talking about euthanasia. They imagine it must be really hard putting pets to sleep. Well, it isn’t. I see it as a kindness, a gift, the final act of love for our pets.

Only very occasionally is euthanasia hard for me and that is usually when I am forced to put an otherwise healthy animal (almost exclusively dogs) down because of behavioural problems.

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Why do dogs wag their tails?

There are few things more cheering than the sight of a wagging tail but what is your dog actually trying to tell you?  Certainly, it can indicate happiness but also a lot of other things as well!

  • A tail held high and vigorously wagged from side to side indicates its owner is happy and ready to play.
  • A tail held level with the body and wagged more slowly shows that the dog is in a situation where they are not quite sure what is going on but are interested and paying attention.
  • A tail held low and wagging only a little or twitching, is often showing that the dog is feeling threatened and you should approach and handle them with caution.
  • A tail tucked up and under the body means that the dog is frightened and showing submission.  With reassurance they may start to feel more confident but again, you should take care with them to ensure they don’t progress to growling, or even biting, to make the perceived threat retreat.
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Antibiotic resistance: should the veterinary industry be doing more to help?

Antibiotic resistance, like global warming, is a threat to our future that keeps popping up in the media. The topic moved centre-stage today, with the long awaited publication of a major report that specifies the severity of the risk, and the measures that need to be taken to avert the threat. It's a long report, at 84 pages, and it's worth reading for those with a serious interest in the subject, but here's the gist of what's being said.
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Urgent call by vet profession to stop suffering of brachycephalic dogs and cats

The Pug in the photo below may look "cute", but when you look closely, you'll see that there's a dark circle in the centre of his throat. This is a permanent tracheostomy which had to be surgically created because the unfortunate animal was unable to breathe properly through his nose and mouth. He had started to collapse, suffocating, when he went about his normal daily activities. The tracheostomy was needed to stop him from dying a frightening, choking death.
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