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!).

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.

The Best Marketing Tips for Veterinary Practices

Woman writing and planning business strategy

Just like any business, a veterinary practice lives and dies by the customers it has. If you are not attracting enough clients to your practice, it could be because you aren’t marketing your clinic the right way. With that in mind, read on to discover the best ways to advertise your veterinary practice.

  • Focus on SEO – Search engine optimization is a must for all businesses today, veterinary practices included. Veterinary SEO involves using an array of different techniques to move your website up the search engine rankings. This is imperative in today’s digital age, giving your website plenty of exposure, and ensuring your business is at the top of the results whenever someone looks for a vet clinic in your area. After all, whenever people need to find a business today, they usually turn to the Internet!
  • Profile your team – When setting up your veterinary clinic, you may not have a big team of staff, but this does not matter, you should still create a profile for each member – it does not matter whether you are a team of two or ten. This is because people like to know who is going to be looking after their animals. By highlighting the accomplishments and talents of your individual staff members, people will feel more comfortable about leaving their pets in your hands.
  • Offer a reward for customer referrals – Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools today. You can give your customers a push to recommend your clinic by offering a reward if they do so. For example, for every new client that signs up through an existing customer, you could give the existing customer a 10% discount off his or her next vet bill.
  • Start a blog – Having a website is one thing, but you can take it to the next level by adding a blog. This is the way to show your veterinary expertise, setting yourself apart in the industry. You can share posts about veterinary news, customer stories, pet care tips, and anything else related to pet care and health. Create original, interesting, and engaging posts, which people will want to read. Not only does this show you as an expert in the industry, but it will benefit your SEO strategy too.
  • Get customer testimonials – Ask your satisfied clients if they will provide you with a testimonial. You will find that most will be more than happy to do so. You can use these testimonials in a number of different ways – from including them in magazine ads and brochures to social media and websites.
  • Be active on social media – This leads onto the last point perfectly; make sure you are active on social media. This gives people the opportunity to get closer to your practice than ever before, which harvests loyal customer relationships. Don’t simply post a string of promotional messages – engage with your customers and post interesting messages about the industry in general. You could also run a competition for increased exposure, with winners getting a pet basket, a bag of pet treats, or something else for their pet.