Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Woofs With.... A Veterinary Surgeon

Time for another Woofs With.... interview, and this time we got chatting to Emma, who is the director of our local veterinary practice, Greensands Vets in Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire!  We wanted to find out what it is like being a veterinary surgeon so we asked a few questions.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

So Emma, how and why did you become a vet?

I qualified as a vet 19 years ago, after graduating from the Royal Veterinary College, London University. I wanted to be a vet for as long a I can remember, influenced no doubt by James Herriot as well as my love of horses.

I love all the looking after that pets require and used to enjoy mucking out and grooming my horse just as much as the hacking out and weekly gymkhanas. I was also fascinated by biology and my mum was regularly horrified to find me at the kitchen table dissecting livers, kidneys, hearts and eyeballs that I obtained from the local butcher! I think being a vet was just inevitable.

Tell us about your own pets

As a child I had a whole menagerie of pets including dogs, cats, horses, various small furries, and two very mischievous goats called William and Katy (a good 20 years before the royal couple got together). Nowadays we just have one black cat, called Bean, who was an RSPCA case who came into my last practice soon after I joined. She's now an extremely sprightly 15 year old who's adapted to her new life in a flat extremely well.

Emma, and her 15 year old cat, Bean

After graduating, how did you get started in practice?

I started out with plans to become an equine vet but I discovered I enjoyed the small animal side even more.  My first job was in Birmingham at a small practice much like the one I now own with my partner Derek, who is also a vet. After 4 years there with fantastic and encouraging bosses I wanted to perform more surgery and diagnostics and moved to a busy hospital practice in Wolverhampton, working with a large team of vets and nurses. It was there that I met Derek, who ran one of the branch surgeries. Wolverhampton gets a bad press and although the city centre itself has yet to embrace cafe culture, there are some beautiful areas close by. I must have liked it as I stayed for 14 years!

For the last few years we've considered buying our own practice but they don't come on the market often and when they do the big corporate practices jump in and snap them up. Greensands Vets in Woburn Sands was ideal as we loved the location and it was small enough to be manageable. We've been here now for nearly 8 months and life is great, if busy!

What's a typical day like for you?

My day involves a nice mix of consultations and surgery as well as investigations using blood tests, X-rays and ultrasound scanning. I get to meet pets and their owners much more here than in my previous job and this has revived my love of veterinary work as you can become a little detached in a hospital, where I would rarely get to follow up on my own cases.

What are the best and worst things of your job?

Seeing the pets well again and happily back home really is what motivates me. As far as the worst part of the job, strangely it isn't euthanasia, although that is obviously a difficult task but one I feel privileged to perform to relieve suffering. Early on in my career I struggled with the change from the seemingly limitless funds and state of the art diagnostics available within the university hospital but I have come to understand that every situation is different and that many factors impose constraints on treatment and it is my job to help the owners to reach decisions, working together as a team.

Thank you so much Emma - it was very interesting talking to you.  And thank you for being a fab doggy doctor!  We will see you soon for my annual health check and booster shots!!  

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Thornit Canker Ear Powder Q & A

We recently posted a picture on our Facebook page of Lottie enjoying a lovely ear rub after her routine application of Thornit Canker Powder. This prompted a lot of questions, so we thought to answer all those questions, we would do a blog post about it.

What is it?

Thornit Canker Ear Powder

Thornit powder is simply an old remedy containing iodoform, which is used as a canker ear powder for dogs, cats and rabbits, by vets, breeders, owners and showers to improve and maintain their dogs ear health, since at least 1920. It is not a medicine, but is a very effective remedy for keeping ears clean and sweet smelling, particularly in those breeds of dogs that have long floppy ears, where air circulation is not great and can lead to a warm, moist environment.

It can be used for ear health maintenance every few weeks, or it can be used more intensively to clean out waxy build up, ear mites, and to relieve sore, itchy ears. It does have a rather clinical smell (we had someone say it smells like a dentists waiting room!), but if you are an oddball like the Hooman, you may actually like it! There are no antibiotics in Thornit, and it is very safe to use.

How do you use it?

We use it once every 2-4 weeks, to maintain Lottie's ears (and touch wood, we have had no problems with them, even though spaniels are prone to them). If your dog is suffering with mites, indicated by dark brown waxy scabs, or by an offensive smell with pus globules, along with scratching, head shaking and rubbing ears on the floor, then you can use it more intensively, for example twice a day for 3-5 days, and then gradually revert to a "maintenance use", once the wax starts to come away / itchiness starts to subside.

Application can be a bit tricky the first time you try it, but this is the method we use, with pictures!

What do you need:
  1. Thornit Canker Powder
  2. Cotton wool balls (if required - see below)
  3. A teaspoon
  4. A dog
The dog and teaspoon are not included

  • Open the Thornit, and using the non-business end of the teaspoon, especially if the first time, give it a good stir (it can clump up a little).
  • If the inside of the ears are moist, it can help to gently swab them with a cotton wool ball to absorb excess moisture
  • Scoop out a small amount of Thornit (a pinch or two) onto the end of the teaspoon. This is how much we use.
A good pinch of Thornit per ear

  • Lifting up the dogs ear, dust it around (try not to aim directly in) the dogs ear canal.
Dust it around (but not in) the ear canal

  • Drop the ear, and commence vigorous ear rubbing - normally much appreciated this end, and accompanied by low moany noises and crossed eyes. From the dog.
The best bit.  Ear rubs!
  • Repeat the other side!

If your dog has hairy inner ears, you can also use it to gently strip out the hair around the ear canal - apply some Thornit around the hair, leave it for ten minutes, and then gently pull out. Keeping the ear canals hair free is also important to keeping ears clean and healthy.

Other uses!

For itchy paws, put a pinch of Thornit powder in a small plastic bag and hold it closed over the dogs paw. Work it into the paw, between the toes and pads and a little way up the leg.

For an itchy bum, put a little cream on the end of your finger and dip into the Thornit, and then dab onto the affected area

Any other itchy areas, just apply a light dusting of Thornit to the skin (separate the hair on a long haired dog to get to the skin). Remember, a little of this powder goes a long way.

I want to try it - where can I get it from?

We hope you have found this interesting and useful - we have located a few suppliers for you, depending on your location:

UK, Europe and USA 

For more information, this is an interesting read:

Disclaimer: I am NOT a vet and Thornit is NOT a medication. If symptoms do not improve, please consult your veterinarian.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A dog and her owner: #PetplanCares

I was delighted recently to be invited to write a post for Petplan's new campaign, #PetplanCares, a new campaign focussing on their core values: the happiness and wellbeing of pets.  The request was simple enough - write a post about the special relationship between you and your dog. Easy peasy I thought, I could write for hours about mine and Lottie's relationship.

Except…. It is not that easy to put feelings into words. The more I started thinking about it, the more difficult I found it to put my thoughts on the matter into writing. So this could end up a jumbled mess, or hopefully, something altogether more coherent!

Me and my girl

I waited a very long time to get Lottie - 29 years in fact. I grew up with animals (my mother was an artist who specialised in paintings of cats) and my parents had a bichon frise in my teenage years. But they were never "mine". When I was seven years old, I fell in love with a school friends little golden cocker spaniel called Lucy (you can see where this is going!), and vowed that one day I would have my very own, never thinking it would take so long! Roll on many years of living in London, with gardenless flats and expensive living, until I was relocated in 2012 to Milton Keynes.

Within a few months of moving to a rural village, I was contacting KC Assured Breeders left, right and centre to find my own little golden girl. It had to be. And the first time I picked up Lottie, a little smooshy bean bag of a pup at 3 weeks old, I was head over heels.

Making herself comfortable...

But what has this little girlie brought into my life? Dogs are amazing creatures - I love the fact that I can be gone for three minutes, or three hours, and she is always so excited and thrilled to see me, that she can't even keep her furry little bottom on the floor in excitement, until I give her the okay to jump on my lap to give a proper hello. Lottie is the perfect size to sit on my knee with her paws around my neck, while she gives my ears a thorough washing. It is enough to make any owner smile, particularly at the end of a long day at work. In fact, just her sheer exuberance at life makes me smile. I read a quote once: "Dogs don't wait for the perfect moment, they make the moment perfect", and that is so true. Everything is lived as it is NOW, without worrying about the future, the past, what-ifs, what-if-not's. They are just happy to be in the moment. Watching her sproing across a field (I know "sproing" isn't a real word, but it captures her so well!) to chase a bird or a butterfly never, ever fails to cheer me.

Ever the picture of innocence...

And then we have those close, cuddly owner-dog moments. The evenings where she tramples all over me, then gives a huge moany sigh and flops down, before tucking herself into me as close as possible. When she cuddles up under my arm, twitching and giving little woofs in her sleep as she relives those birds and butterflies from earlier. And yes, even when she, a diminutive cocker spaniel at 9.5kg, manages to kick me to the edge of the king size bed when she decides she has had enough of her own bed at six am, and the only place to sleep is in the small of my back, all four legs stretched out as far as possible.

Christmas Day snooze!

Moving to a new area, she has been a great socialiser too. Little did I think as I carried her in arms as a pup around the village every day, that those dogwalkers who stopped to say hello and pet her would become familiar faces to me, some of whom I am now privileged to call friends. Although it seems a common trait amongst dog owners that you know the names of the dogs but not their humans!

I kinda feel I've been spoilt too - she was such an easy pup from the beginning (when she came home at ten weeks old, she didn't have a single accident for the whole first week!), that I feel the next pup (and there will be one) will be a shock to the system!

The look of love....

And yet… these words all seem inadequate somehow. There is so much more. That look she gives me as if to say "I understand". The way she seems to know we are going for a walk before I have even stirred from my seat, bringing me her collar or a toy. The way she nuzzles into me with a contented sigh. The way she is there as a constant companion (yes, even when I am in the bath!). I do not necessarily think that dogs are surrogate children, but that doesn't mean that the relationship we have with them is not fulfilling and filled with joy. Every day, I am grateful for this happy little soul in my life - I can't imagine or remember what life was like without her in it.

We must say a big thank you to Petplan, for allowing us to contribute to their #PetplanCares campaign. It can be so important nowadays with veterinary bills ever increasing, to have good pet insurance coverage - Petplan are one of the UK's leading pet insurers, insuring thousands of dogs every year, with an award winning range of policies. Additionally, Petplan works with more animal rehoming charities than any other pet insurance providers, working with more than 1,200 charities. In 1994, Petplan formed the Petplan Charitable Trust which has so far raised more than a staggering £7million toward a better, healthier world for animals.  You can find details of Petplan's policies for dogs here.

We must also thank them for the lovely hamper that they sent to us for participating. Lottie has particularly enjoyed her new Mutts & Hounds bed!  Here's a few pics of her with her hamper of goodies - we were truly spoilt with all the lovely things! 

All for me?!

So many fabulous goodies!

Loving the Mutts & Hounds bed!

How has having a dog affected you and your life? What special moments define the relationship between you? We would love to hear your comments below!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

A Spaniel's Tail Happy New Year

We just wanted to wish all our readers a very Happy New Yesr and a wonderful 2015! This blog has much more growing to do, and we already have something tremendously exciting on the horizon (but sshhhhhh, we can't tell you yet!).

So thank you for all your support, comments and kind words so far - here is to a fabulous bloggy 2015!

With much love and wags,

Lottie and her Hooman, Amanda