A vet students (non)summer – Part 1

My first day in the Small Animal Clinic

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Spikes World Wildlife Foods

Now this really is a post that I don’t know where exactly to start, I’ll apologise in advance if some details are vague however I do have to protect client confidentially for some patients. So over here in Slovakia, when it comes to summer exams you can schedule your own timetable within 2 periods (15th May-15th July and 15th August-31st August) and its your responsibility to ensure that you pass everything to be allowed to progress to the next year of study. With the fundraising I have been doing for tuition last year I’d let some of my revision slip, and did very few exams at Christmas so was left with nearly a years worth of exams to do within this period.

Now at the same time I also wanted to get as much practical experience as possible, so I decided to attempt to do an exam a week along with as many clinics as I could get into. Knowing nothing about equine I decided this would be a good start if I was ever to get over my fear of horses (they have a reputation of dying very easily) so started with equine. I was told to get some dark scrubs and then come – apparently white coats freak the poor animals out – this wasn’t easy though as nowhere in Kosice sells scrubs (I even tried the hospital) and I had to order from the UK in the end. It is about working your way up here, and for the first couple of weeks I was solely watching and handing things over. This suited me fine as I was trying to pass Anatomy at the time so gave me time to study as well.

So fast forward a couple of weeks, we had a horse arrive for some dental treatment. Basically within the horses mouth you have a large gap between the front teeth (incisors) and the (pre)molars at the side which are used for chewing. Sometimes a horse may have a small tooth in front of the molars in the top row known as the wolf tooth. Now this extra tooth which does not really have a purpose now can get in the way of the bit when riding so is usually removed. To be honest I was pretty surprised that the roots of these teeth were so small as I know the other teeth have very large roots (the entire tooth was around the size of a 5p!). The next stage of a equine dental is to make sure all the surfaces used for chewing and grinding line up properly, and that there are no sharp edges which can cause damage to the tongue and cheek – this is where the rasp comes into play! It’s really important to remember that horse teeth keep growing, and that if the surfaces wear down unevenly then the tooth will also grow unevenly. And finally once finished with the molars(cheek) teeth it is time to look at the incisors which are the teeth at the front.

Incisor overbite in equine dental examAs you can see with this horse the upper teeth protrude in front of the lower teeth which is known as a overbite which is where the incisive bone is slightly longer than the mandible (jaw bone). This causes uneven wear on the upper teeth which increases the bite and so these have to be ground down by a equine dentist or vet on average every year. The opposite which is a underbite is where the mandible is in front of the incisive bone and is most common in brachycephalic dog breeds! I was lucky to see a few dental cases over the summer, including one which had a retained part of the root after a previous fracture which made its way to surface a few months later.

During this time I was also popping in and out of small animal clinic as equine only operates during the morning unless it’s a emergency. I got thrown in the deep end here as well with a crash course in the common procedures over the first few weeks such as managing IV’s, canula’s, giving meds, doing clinical exams and more. This was where I learnt one of my three biggest lessons from the summer, never make any assumptions. Just because a patient has a history or is being treated for one problem does not mean that there is not a more immediate life threatening problem that is still undiagnosed. Definitely is a lesson that I will remember for ever, and I am taking every chance I get to examine every animal as thoroughly as I know how. Animals cannot tell us what the problem is, or where the pain is, so even when presented with a case that I have seen already I will do a complete clinical exam.

My first day in the Small Animal ClinicNow that I’ve covered my first major lesson this summer I think I will leave this diary entry here for now. Obviously trying to write about everything at once is difficult and is enough to fill a book, however in my next post I will introduce you to my first experience with a foal, some experience with artificial insemination, and some of my surgical patients!

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