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The weekly rundown of veterinary news for the time-poor vet, presented by VetX International.

US Emergency Practices Experiencing Unprecedented Surge in Cases

Many ERs in America are taking the hit of the pandemic. They are seeing a huge increase in cases that would usually be dealt with in a general practice, of which have been closed or are not offering their full service.

Max Rinaldi, DVM, medical director at AAHA-accredited Emergency Veterinary Hospital in Springfield, Oregon, calls their caseload “unprecedented. I’ve been doing this for eight years and I’ve never seen it like this.” He estimates their caseload is up 40% over this time last year, and he credits the boom in overflow to general practices: “As they become more stretched, things that aren’t necessarily huge emergencies, but still need to be seen within a reasonable period of time, end up coming to our door.” 

A lot of cases consist of dermatology, hot spots, flea infestations, and general dentistry.

“We can get [patients] started, but we don’t carry a lot of the products that general practices do,” Rinaldi says. When a client shows up with a dog who has a hot spot, “We tell them, ‘We’re going to see you and we’re going to do X, Y, and Z; then you need to schedule an appointment with your regular veterinarian. They can pick up where we leave off and design a longer-term treatment plan because they have the supplies and they’re able to do that follow up in a way we can’t.’”

“It stretches our capabilities quite a bit,” he says.

UK Vets Urged to Support Student Vets and Veterinary Nurses

The RCVS, Veterinary Schools Council, BVA, SPVS and AVS have urged practices not to neglect extramural studies placements for veterinary students, and to recognise the invaluable contributions of veterinary nurses.

Associations hope that, as lockdown measures ease, practices would begin to consider whether they could start to offer face-to-face EMS placements for veterinary students, and training and employment placements for SVNs once again.

According to Vet Times UK, this “could present greater challenges in some practice environments than others.” Indeed, this could place increased pressure on practices, “it is hoped those practices that are able to offer such placements safely would consider doing so as soon as possible, to once again provide the support that is so crucial to the development of the UK’s future veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.”

Canadian Pet Owners Face Tough Realities

Costly animal healthcare in British Columbia has been put under the spotlight, especially in the midst of the pandemic and rising rates of unemployment. Many people in British Columbia have had to dip into their savings to look after their beloved companions, sometimes choosing between putting food on the table or treating their pet.

British Columbian pet owners spent an average of $1,159 on the health of their animals in 2019, when the national average was just $872, according to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). A single emergency surgery can be upwards of $10,000.

“It causes stress for a lot of veterinarians …. We like to make sure the pet gets the best care possible but, sometimes, for economic reasons, you kind of have to water it down a little bit and focus on quality of life,” said Okanagan veterinarian Dr. Marco Veenis, who sits on the board of the Society of B.C. Veterinarians.

Australian Vets See a 50% Spike in Pet Injuries

Pets in Australia, particularly dogs, have been visiting the vets twice as much during the pandemic. 

Dr Sam Jones from My Local Vet in Alexandra Hills in Brisbane’s south east said: “Personally, I have my own theory: people have been working from home and they have more time with their pet, so they’re probably more inclined to exercise and be outdoors because there is a bit more flexibility.”

Veterinarians have seen increasing cases of musculoskeletal injuries such as torn cruciate ligaments in dogs, and trauma to dogs’ nails and paw pads, consistent with over-exercising.

“We saw a huge demand for rescue pets and people going out and buying more pets [during the pandemic] because people felt they could have one and give them the time they deserve while they were working from home,” Dr Jones said.

While exercise is important for pets, Dr Jones warned owners to be wary of the side effects of potential over-exercising.

The Struggles of US Veterinarians Enforcing Covid-19 Restrictions

Staff at Friendship Hospital for Animals, Washington DC, have acknowledged their struggles with enforcing coronavirus restrictions. The pandemic has placed increased pressure, stress and worry on both veterinarians’ and pet owners’ shoulders, which makes client communication trickier to navigate.

Dr Christine Kilppen said: “Pet owners aren’t allowed inside the hospital because of COVID-19 so they have to wait outside in the heat. The hospital had to postpone many appointments when the pandemic began so they now have a backlog and longer wait times. Plus, folks may be stressed because of the virus.”

This has made pet owners more anxious and frustrated when visiting the practice, and veterinarians end up feeling guilty that they cannot offer the full scope of services whilst under Covid-19 restrictions. 

Dr Klippen calls for mutual understanding: “We’re all going through this right now. We all are on edge.” Communication between vets and clients is more important now than ever, but it also has the potential to be more strained, as anxieties run high.

Disgrace Over Veterinary Cover-up in Nanjing

A cover-up over a giraffe’s death and the cause has recently come to light. In May 2019, a young giraffe was trampled on, leaving them with a fractured leg. The Animal Medical Centre of Nanjing’s Hexi area operated on the giraffe, however, it has now emerged that the giraffe died from a postoperative infection around a week after the surgery.

Shockingly, a core journal of the industry, “Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine”, published a false article claiming the giraffe could stand on the affected limb just 2 days after the operation, that their condition was continuing to improve 5 months later and they were “recovering well”.

The giraffe that died was about 2 years old at the time, a male with a fractured metatarsal bone in his left hind leg.

When asked, the Animal Hospital admitted there has been some ‘impreciseness’ in the article.

Study Shows we are More Optimistic than we Think!

A study by researchers at Michigan State University, recently published in the Journal of Research in Personality, surveyed 75,000 American, German and Dutch people between the ages of 16 and 101 to measure optimism and their outlook about the future.

“We found that optimism continued to increase throughout young adulthood, seemed to steadily plateau and then decline into older adulthood,” said William Chopik, MSU assistant professor of psychology and lead author. “Even people with fairly bad circumstances, who have had tough things happen in their lives, look to their futures and life ahead and felt optimistic.”

“Counterintuitively — and most surprising — we found that really hard things like deaths and divorce really didn’t change a person’s outlook to the future,” Chopik said. “Part of that has to do with experiencing success both in work and life. You find a job, you meet your significant other, you achieve your goals and so on. You become more autonomous and you are somewhat in control of your future; so, you tend to expect things to turn out well.”

“We often think that the really sad or tragic things that happen in life completely alter us as people, but that’s not really the case,” Chopik said. “You don’t fundamentally change as a result of terrible things; people diagnosed with an illness or those who go through another crisis still felt positive about the future and what life had ahead for them on the other side.”

Therefore, we are not only more optimistic than you may have imagined, but are more resilient. What’s more, optimism and resilience are intimately linked. 

How do you channel your optimism? How do you increase your resilience as a veterinarian?

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