The Emergency Vet…

chris-learns-emergency-and-critical-care

Accidents can and will happen, most often when you are not expecting them, and medicine is not cheap. This is especially so when it happens when your normal vet is not open, as then you are often sent to a specialist emergency vet, which is almost like an A&E department for pets. The vets here are trained to save your pets life; in addition to specialist training they have access to the important equipment and drugs necessary to do this.

Over the next 4 days I have been invited to join Vets Now one of the UK’s leading providers of Emergency Centres for Pets that have been in accidents or are seriously ill. I’m excited to learn a lot of things to help with emergencies, yet I am apprehensive about how intense it will be and how little I know.

I’ve been invited into two different centres in two different cities so I can see a range of different patients and learn from several different vets.

The first centre I am at just for the weekend, expecting to be there from 12 lunchtime until 7pm Saturday evening. Then again all day on Sunday from 8:30am until evening again with night staff taking over to continue to provide the care needed.

The second centre I am on overnights on Monday and Tuesday from around 6pm until the next morning as the normal overnight shift is 15 hours long. This centre also takes patients from the PDSA charity so is expected to be a lot busier.

During this time I’ve been allowed to tweet – so keep an eye on my twitter feed @vetschooldiary for live updates from behind the scenes as it happens.

And off course I will be blogging my experience as well (potentially once I’ve managed to catch up on sleep!).

The Cat Owner’s Guide: Drawing The Line With Your Wild Feline

Keeping your cat happy

Cats are beautiful and fascinating creatures. They have minds of their own, and, whilst this is one of the many exciting and intriguing things about them, it does mean that cats have a tendency to wander off into the outdoor world without warning. Of course, this wild attitude is fine outdoors, but there have to be rules at home. You can’t let their untamed behavior go unnoticed indoors. Dragging in dead animals, scratching, and generally making a mess are all things which you can’t let slide. Here’s the cat owner’s guide to drawing the line with your wild feline at home.

House-train your cat.
It is possible to house-train your cat, no matter what the myths may say about cats being independent and free spirits who bow to no owner. First of all, cats can go to the toilet. You don’t have to just accept that they’re going to urinate everywhere; train them to understand the rules of the house. Think of a place that suits you; a litter box or perhaps the outside the world. Then, the next time your cat needs the toilet, take them to that place to go.

Make sure you praise your cat for doing a good job, as they’ll associate this affection with going to the toilet in the right place. Obviously, reinforcing good behavior goes for all forms of house training, such as getting them come home every time you call them from your garden or front porch. It’s all about your cat making mental associations to reinforce their good habits and diminish their bad ones.

Regular visits to the vet.
Your feline friend likely has mixed thoughts about the vet, but it’s important that you put your foot down and manage to get your cat to the vet regularly for check-ups on their health; they may like to venture off into the outdoor world to freely explore and do their own thing, but that’s all the more reason to get them checked out for infections, illnesses, and injuries. You’ll want to look out for cat worming because this is a pretty nasty intestinal parasite. Of course, even the small cuts and scratches, which are wounds your cat will pick up a lot in its outdoor excursions, are things you should check out; you don’t want a small cut to become infected and make your furry buddy sick.

Simple toys for cats

Keep them entertained.
Cats are wonderful pets when it comes to entertainment. A simple ball of string or a toy mouse can keep them happy for hours, but it is important that you give them toys. Animals are like humans; they become restless when they’re bored. A restless cat is sure to make you restless and cause a fuss around the house, so giving them forms of entertainment is a great way to ensure that they’re not going out of their mind and they’re not making you go out of your mind either. A happy household leads to a happy cat.

Over the rainbow bridge…

Euthanasia - Crossing the rainbow bridge

As the vet reaches for the cats leg to give the final injection the cat lies alone on the table. She has had trauma and is not in good way, and her parents cannot stand to see her in this way. I reach out to do nothing more than stroke her as she starts her onward journey over the rainbow bridge.

As the injection goes in I see her laboured breathing stop, she looks calm and relaxed as I stroke her and wish her a safe onward journey. The injection is in and the vet removes the needle before reaching out and stroking her as well briefly before they listen for a heartbeat. I’m sure she’s gone but it is important to check, sometimes it can be difficult to tell with all the noises that occur after death so sometimes can feel like you are listening a long time.

I’m sad this cat I knew only for a short while at what is probably the worst point in her life couldn’t be saved, yet I take comfort in the fact she now gets to run free. We gently remove her IV cannula to go to the clinical waste, clean her, and then wrap her in her blanket to go home with her parents for burial.

She is not the first, and will not be the last; however she did not go alone. Even for those few minutes she took a piece of my heart with her, and she went on her final journey across the rainbow bridge loved and cared for. This is something her parents never saw and something maybe one day they will wonder about, however they should not worry. They have the memories of her running around the house not struggling to breathe unable to lift her head.

I will never judge a parent that cannot be there at the end, it’s one of those choices that is so difficult to make. There is rarely a right answer, and sometimes there is not even any time to even think about it properly. Yet these parents may say their goodbyes when it is time to bury her, I will never know. It is a choice that can only be made by you. Sometimes after trauma we will explain to parents what to expect to see as sometimes injuries look much worse after being shaved and cleaned so that the parent can make a choice.

Personally I believe saying goodbye is important, some vet practices even have rooms just for this so we can give as much time as parents need. Sometimes in a busy practice we do not have enough of these rooms so we make do with what we have. We will explain what will happen to you, and tell you what we are doing. We’ll never try to rush you, we’ll try to keep noise outside to the minimum, and we will all feel your pain.

EDIT
If you have lost a pet and are struggling with the loss then please do call the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Helpline – 0800 096 6606 (UK Only) – or visit their website for more information at  https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-loss. It is a traumatic experience, and there are people that have experienced it themselves who want to listen to you.