Friday, 14 August 2009

ACE- Shimongwe Vet Program - 2 Weeks

In the middle of my time in South Africa; have been having an amazing time.
Heres a write up of the things I have done so far...

  • Day 1 - Tuesday: Arrive in Jo'Burg and driven to Bundox to settle in and meet the other volunteers.
  • Day 2- Wednesday: Early start-5.30am. I help to move the impala from the bomas onto the trucks and witness the injections being done (wormer- dectomax). Once this is done we are off to the golf course to dart impala and nyala for a client. The general method is - locate, dart and relocate (if drug is effective the head is up, bend in back and swaying occurs), catch (blindfold, inject with reversal and wormer is necessary) and load. I injected the nyala and impala that needed it and practising checking that I hadnt hit a vein. We stayed at the golf course until after dark using the lamp catching the number of nyala and impala the client ordered. Went back to camp - freezing but full of adrenalin and ready for dinner of pumpkin soup and rolls.
  • Day 3- Thursday: Should be going to Hoedspruit soon to catch rhino but theres been a problem with the permits. So we spent the day playing cards and kyakaing (but the water was freezing! although we still jumped in :) Meet Bundox resident cheetahs : Cockeye who is just like a big house cat and phineas who is still pretty wild! ) Had a dinner of spag bol and yorkshires around the fire.
  • Day 4-Friday : Still no luck with the permits (Rhino permits are now hard to get as a few months ago a man illegally moved to rhinos and the truck overturned and they escaped so now all game capture teams must go through a long process to get permits and cannot write their own anymore. This shows how lack of communication between the capture teams and conservation africa has affected the day to day running of the game capture team. For the rest of the day we played cards and then went jet-skiing followed by a traditional braii. Hopefully of to Hoedspruit tomorrow if all goes well with the permits!
  • Day 5- Saturday: Played cards and watched the cheetahs being fed - witnessed phineas' stalking behaviour (crouching, growling etc). Left for Hoedspruit today - although still no permits... Its a 4 hour drive through rolling hills and lovely lakes. Hope we get the permits soon!
  • Day 6- Sunday: Up at 5 to go to Kreuger National park. I saw 4 of the big 5 (Lion, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo.) I havent seen a leopard in the wild yet! Also saw zebra, hippo, giraffe, impala, nyala, crocodile, bushbuck, ostrich, cudu, warthog, baboon, velevt monkeys and wilderbeast! We also visited the elephant museum today- it was so interesting! The size of the heart is amazing - Am now realising how so much came out of the elephant on C4 program filmed at the RVC! Got back at 7pm. Have 2 rhino permits but need 4 to be able to catch the rhinos!
  • Day 7- Monday: Spent the day at a cheetah conservation project.We watched a film on the work of the project, how it has progressed etc. We went on a drive around the project and was edcutaed on all the animalos and their upkeep. We heard stories of; a rhino which was killed by poachers when they broke in, an elephant which was abandonned by the group and is now a working elephant and atiger resuced from a cage bareely the size of itself with woren and burnt away paws.
  • Day 8- Tuesday: Up at 5.30 to help set up the bomas for the mass capture of impayla. We caught around 4 as we couldn't catch before due to the heat and the wind (if the wind is in the wrong direction the impayla can smell the humans.)
  • Day 9-Wesneday: Set up boma for giraffe capture. We caught 5 giraffe; 2 adults and 3 calfs (one was released as we only needed 4 - it was a lovely sight to see the young giraffe run off into the bush). I asked to move to a different project tonight so I could hopefully see more veterinary work than I had been. Luckily there is 1 place avaliable in the whole of S.A just down the road :)
  • Day 10-Thursday: Started this morning with Dr Rogers and a new group of volunteerrs at the nearby clinic. The first case was a rhino which had its head caught in wire - it was darted and the wire removed. We used Amphoprim (antibiotic), M99 (potent respiratory depressent- etorphine hydro-chloride) HR = 100---> 40 , Stresnil (azceperone), hyalase (enzyme that improves pentration of injection and speeds up rate at which drug is absorbed), Naltrxone (antidote to stop the rhino recyling the M99), M5050 (to reverse the M99). The 2nd case was a routine cat spay - the cat was prone to fits so no pre-med was given as it lowers their seizure threshold. In a pre-med there is normally ACP (sedative and Temgesic (pain releif). The 3rd case was a dog spay . The 4th was a daushand presenting signs: anorexia, weakness, sickness etc. At 1st they though it was a diaphragmatic hernia due to the abormal breathing and a previous car accident but when they opened him up there was no diagphram atall and the vet could put her hand straight onto the dogs heart. The dog was euthansised- it was likely to be congential. 5th Case: A jack russel with suspected hyena bites. He was given 2 antibitocs and put on a drip as he wasnt stong enopugh for an anesthetic yet. The next morning the anesthetic went ahread but on investiagtio the neck was an issue with suspected nerve and tendon damage - euthansiased. 6th Case: I was lucky enought the witness a PM on a cheetah which had just been euthanised. He had a thickening of the phylorus which had prevented any food getting thought as the lumen was so small - It was likely to be congential.
  • Diagpagmatic Hernia: Often caused by an automobile accident- sudden increase in pressure results in a tear in the diagrham. Through the stethoscope intestinal sounds could be heard.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

SA Vets

I just spent 4 days at a small animal vets locally.

The general layout of the day was; morning = surgery/ actions and afternoon = consults.

20th July

  • Cat Spay
  • Mammary Tumour Removal in a bitch (I asked about the importance of removing both the nipples and it was explained to me that they shared a blood vessel and so the tumour could easily spread.
  • Cat Groom
  • Dog Castrate
  • Cat TSE (Cleaning of teeth and extraction)


  • Dog Vaccinations ( Vaccinations against Distemper, Hepatitis, Canine Para influenza, Leptospirosis and increasingly Kennel Cough)
  • Rabbit with myxomatosis - the rabbit was displaying the normal signs of eye discharge and eye / nose swellings - Prognosis was poor and the rabbit was euthanized. This reinforced the importance of a correct vaccination programme.
  • Dog with a heart murmur. I was able to compare the sounds I heard from this dog and the sound I heard from a healthy dog; there was a distinct difference - A swishing sound is heard on the dog with a heart mummer.
  • Dog with inflamed and itchy skin - diagnosis was flea problem and skin sensitivity. The dog was given a steroid injection and flea treatment was advised.
  • Labrador with a incision on its paw. The wound was cleaned out and bandaged and antibiotics were given.
  • Nail cut for a dog... Complaint that the dog had bumped its eye previously, dye was inserted to check for scratches but no problems were found.

21st July:


  • Rabbit castration (I saw how this is more difficult for the vet to perform just due to the size of the animals!)
  • Dog Spay
  • Dog Castrate
  • Lump removal on Westie - previously cells from the lump were looked at and they were suspicious and so the lump was to be removed. Another lump about 10 cm away was also removed although it was likely to be just a wart.


  • Kennel Cough in a Rottweiler
  • Dog Vaccinations
  • Cat Vaccinations (Recommend vaccinations for a cat are FIE, Cat Flu, FeLV , Feline chlamydophilosis, Feline Calcivirus and Feline Chlamydia. However these vary between practices)
  • Alopecia in a dog on its rump also arthritis. Steroid injection given and flea treatment recommend.
  • Cat which had a sore leg- possible hairline fracture. The cat presented a swollen leg which wasn't weight bearing. To be brought back if no improvement.

22nd July:


  • Cat spay
  • Early evening an un-spayed bitch was brought in presenting symptoms of increased drinking but not eating and not being its usual self. A scan of the uterus was done and Pyometra was diagnosed. Emergency surgery was undertaken - it was a typical spay op - but the uterus is much bigger and easier to find! The vet showed me how the uterus was full of pus by injecting into it and withdrawing pus... This is yet another reason for spaying ones animals.


  • Cat Vaccinations
  • Dog with grass seed injury on paw - the grass seed had come out but the dog had continued to lick the injury and it had remained open and bleeding. It was bandaged and to be left on for approx 5 days.
  • Post Op Check up
  • Itching of back end and scooting along the floor were the symptoms presented by a dog - this suggested that the anal glands may be full - they were emptied and the dog was also treated for fleas.
  • Vaccination against kennel cough - which isn't injected it goes through the nose

23rd July


  • TSE dog (shows need for dental hygiene)
  • TSE Cat
  • Cat Spay
  • Pregnancy scan of a King Charles at 6 weeks.


  • Dog Vaccinations
  • Cat Vaccinations
  • Post op Checkup

Vetsim 2009

Unfortunatley I couldnt attend the event due to suspected swine flu which is a real shame as I really enjoyed the VetMedlink Conference :( But hopefully will be doing the 2010 VetSim!


I undertook work experience on the 26th and 27th May at the VLA lab in Bury St Edmund's.
The work experience I undertook here was very different to what I was used to and was successful in showing me a completely different side to the veterinary profession but obviously hugely important part of it.

I watched diagnostic tests done in the lab and was lucky enough to undertake some of these myself. I was able to use Agar plates and broth solutions to grow bacteria from a supplied sample and to see if any problems were present; E-Coli, Respiratory Issues and Mastitis were all found.

I was also able to watch a Ewe and Lamb post mortem from a very close proximity - enough to smell everything anyway! I watched the way that the ewe was dissected and how each piece of information provided the investigator with a way of finding out how the ewe died. The initial conclusion was asphyxiation. The lamb was suspected of dieing from lack of colostrum which it was explained to me is essential as it contains energy, protein, antibodies, minerals, vitamins and water. I was able to make slides from the ewes organs that would be used in further tests to confirm the cause of death of the ewe.

I spent a little time in the administration part of the VLA and was able to see how vital effective communication is between clients and the lab aswell as between labs. This is mirrored in how good communication is a vital part of being a vet.

I really enjoyed my time at the VLA and this has opened up a part of the proffesion I didn't know much about and spured me on into learning and finding out all about the different things I saw while at the VLA.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Week at RDA

I spent a week with the RDA at easter.
I spent my time mucking out, riding the horses, dealing with customers, admin and helping where I was needed.

Week at an Equine Clinic

April 6th-9th 2009
I spent a week working with 2 vets within a successful equine practice in Norfolk.
I spent minimal time actually at the practice and most of my time out meeting the clients and their equines and watching the vets work with them.
Some of the cases I witnessed were:
  • Routine vaccinations and their importance. The vets explained that much of their time was spent on these vaccinations and other preventitative measures such as checking teeth. The vaccines admistered were: Tetanus and Influenza.
  • Several equine castrations done at the clients own premises and the vets explained the desisions they must make and how they make them such as when to castrate, whether the horse should be brought into the clinic, if there are likely to be post-surgery issues (i.e- a very hairy horse --> more chance of infection), the age to castrate, any problems with the surgery etc
  • A horse who had a consistent cough even when not in work and watery discharge from the nostrils. The vet showed me how you could see the horse in trouble while breathing as you could see an increase in movement of the ribcage. She also let me listen to the horses breathing where I could distinctively hear a wheeze during inspiration and see the nostrils flaring. The horse was diagnosed as having COPD, and the treatment was to come of hay and go onto haylage and also to have the horse living out to see if that helped.
  • A horse owner who had decided that euthanasia was the option for her horse and I saw how the vet dealed with the lady in an empathic yet proffesional way.
  • A horse where a twitch had been left on for too long causing the horse to fall severely in its stable and damage nerves. I saw the horse 3 weeks after the accident when the owners where still contemplating euthansia.
  • I went to a suspect colic of a pony who was restless, not eating their food and kept laying down. The vet showed me how the gums often change colour for colic from pink to grey/purple.
  • A horse with a puncture wound to the hoof (sole of hoof - foot). A nail had penetrating through but had missed the frog. The vet removed the shoe as this was caused pain to the horse and poulticed the foot.
  • A horse with lice
  • A mare 6 hours after giving birth. The vet layed out the placenta out and talked to me about the importance of ensuring its all completely out otherwise a serious infection can follow quickly. She said how the placenta looks like a Y shape
  • Horses that had been tied up on land without any water. Water was provided and the horses were checked over to ensure they were well. This showed me the importance of working together as for this case vets, an equine sanctuary, ILPH and the RSPCA were all involved. Communication was key
  • Sedating a large group of RSPCA horses for the farrier.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my work experience with the 2 vets aswell as talking to me about each case they gave me a real insight into the job with the goodpoints and the bad. They also said they would welcome me back if I wanted to do more (I am calling nearer christmas to get some more W.E)