Debrecen Airport for Kosice Slovakia (Day 203)

Debrecen Airport World War Bomber Station

Today’s Diary Entry is Sponsored by Find Pet Boarding

Well today was an early start as I travelled back to the UK to spend a couple of days in Cambridge before moving up to Birmingham on Wednesday. Generally the way that people travel back and forth between the UK and the UVM Kosice here is by Budapest. This used to be good with flights into Birmingham however these stopped in January this year šŸ™

Anyways Budapest is around 3 – 4 hours away from Kosice by taxi, or there are two trains a day which takes around the same plus travel from the train station to the airport. Recently there has been a new route added from a place called Debrecen which has just one flight a day, but is around an hour closer to Kosice by road. At the time I booked flights were a fraction of the cost here and so I decided that I would try flying from Debrecen. Now arriving into Debrecen and driving along the airport it felt like we were driving onto a military airport with hangers with massive blast doors and grass over them like bunkers.

Debrecen Airport World War Bomber Station
Grassed covered hangers…

Looking into this further I’ve found that in World War II it was the base for a Hungarian Bombing squadron. After the world war it was then taken over by the Soviet air force who remained until May 1991 when they handed it back to the Hungarian state. The flight was on time, however it is the smallest airport that I have ever flown from so far – though because of the past use of bombers it has an extremely long runway.

Debrecen Airport in Hungary travelling to KosiceDefinately an alternative route to getting to the UVM Kosice from the UK!

Off to BSAVA Congress… (Day 202)

Today’s Diary Entry is Sponsored by Pets Bureau

Well those that have been following me on twitter will be aware that at the start of 2013 I became the first ever BSAVA Student Rep at a veterinary school outside of the UK. Next week is BSAVA Congress and I am flying over to engage in a wonderful learning opportunity whilst also catching up with my sponsors – and hopefully securing some additional sponsors. This past week has been extremely busy with work on my book (finally the end is in sight – so much more work than I first expected!), three days of classes and then working on my revision strategy for the next week…

Some of the lectures I will be attending include feline oral trauma, managing chronic kidney diseases, imaging in rabbits and reptiles. I am also going to a lecture on using ultrasound to look at the liver as well as a lecture on understanding and recognising pain in animals and a special lecture on controlling pain in reptiles. This is something that I personally feel is often overlooked as animals cannot tell us they are in pain so it is up to us to be aware off and recognise the symptoms of pain. In addition I am also going to a free lunch and learn from Supreme Petfoods on rabbit nutrition with Molly Varga which I am looking forward to!

Something I am particularly looking forward to are a set of lectures on forensic veterinary medicine which is something that I don’t think has made its way onto the veterinary curriculum yet at any vet schools. Basically this is how to deal with abuse cases to ensure that a successful prosecution can be brought which is something I am passionate about. Until recently there has not been any formal learning at all in this topic leaving vets to fend for themselves in the confusing chain of custody and how to produce reports.

Though I do not start surgery until next year I am planning to try and pick up some basic tips with a few surgery lectures and a couple in emergency medicine as well! Anyways my flight is in around 12 hours time, and I want to grab a few hours sleep before I leave. Tomorrow I will be flying from Debrecen airport in Hungary instead of Budapest as its closer to Kosice, and also as its not so well known the flights were considerably cheaper. My next diary entry will come to you after I land in the UK!

Standing in solidarity against animal abuse (Day 191)

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Scampers Pet Shop

This is a special diary entry as instead of looking at my classes today I will be talking about a video I have been involved in this evening. You can view the video below, the text is in Czech/Slovak however it does not include any talking…

[youtube_sc url=”8iV4Zj5vCzw” title=”Students%20UVLF%20Kosice:%20%22Our%20hearts%20beat%20for%20animals%22%20(A%20companion%20for%20life)” rel=”0″]

This video was filmed this evening by a 5th year vet student from Brno vet school which is across the border in the Czech Republic who is trying to promote the welfare of animals within shelters within Eastern Europe. Obviously animal welfare is something that I feel extremely strongly about and so welcomed the opportunity to get involved! The video shows a stray dog being rescued, before then moving to vet students showing support for the cause (I’m top right corner if you can spot me :p).

I took a little time afterwards to discuss the project, and was suprised to learn just how different eastern europe is to the UK. For example in the Czech Republic microchipping dogs is already compulsory, and will be so in Slovakia from this year. Also euthanising healthy dogs in shelters is actually not allowed in the Czech Republic either. Something that did come up was the difference in laws in terms of dealing with stray dogs on the street as only a dog warden can take a dog from the streets in the Czech Republic.

I know this is a big issue in some countries at the moment as councils are forcing vets to send all dogs to the council pound whether or not the owner has been identified – with big fines for the vet if they don’t! This then means the owner will be charged rather substantial release fee’s from the pound and it is believed this is simply a money raising scheme by the councils – though they insist its to stop the dog escaping again… What do you guys think?

Talking testes, the histology of the male reproductive tract (Day 190)

Testis before and after puberty

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Hooligans Working With Animals Series

Ok so I’ve decided that instead of speaking about everything everyday I’ve decided that I am going try and focus on one topic each day to keep it easier to read about and so I can go into the detail it deserves rather than just skimming over stuff.

One of the most fascinating things about the reproductive system I find is that it continues developing months if not years after the animal is born. When you think that a mouse reaches puberty at an average of 35 days whilst a rhesus monkey reaches puberty at around 3 years, humpback whales at 4-7 years and elephants around 12-14 years. I’m on a mission to find out which animal has the oldest age of puberty though so stay tuned! Anyways talking puberty, most people are aware of the external changes, however looking inside the testes this is the chance that happens at puberty…

Testis before and after puberty
The change in testis at puberty

So we can see that instead of closed follicles we have larger follicles which have a lumen (space) in the center which is starting to be filled with spermatogonia cells which will eventually become sperm.

Development of sperm in the testisI will talk more about the penis on Wednesday with anatomy, however hopefully this has given you a little more understanding of the Testes and the changes with puberty.

5 ways you are failing at Twitter (Day 189)

"Thank you for following" FAIL

When it comes to Twitter I find that many small businesses, and even some larger companies make simple mistakes that drive customers away. I am a really big fan of twitter, it gives you the opportunity to get great attention to a cause from thousands of people. Today I want to go over a few mistakes that I’ve seen recently to try to help you get the most out of Twitter. So now in reverse order the biggest mistakes on twitter…

5. Not replying to tweets at you

Ok, so it can be forgiven if you are still learning how twitter works, however if someone sends a tweet with a question at you then not replying is just rude. If you wouldn’t ignore them in person why would you do it online?

4. Automatic Direct Messages without following back

A really big pet hate for me is companies that have it set up to automatically send a direct message to a person that follows them (usually broadcasting so see #1 below). Sure it works but then there are those companies that do it without following the person back so they cannot reply to the message. In this case especially if you are doing it right an asking a question the person cannot reply… Its kinda like walking up to someone in a shop, asking what they are looking for and walking away before they can answer.

3. TrueTwit

Ok, so I hate TrueTwit, it’s that thing that sends you spam messages when you follow someone telling you to “validate”. It does not actually stop spam as people can still send you tweets, instead it makes you appear like you are too good for them. Just imagine asking every person that tried to speak to you for their passport. (You can remove TrueTwit by revoking access in the Settings – Applications page here:

2. Copy and paste “Thank You for following” replies

When a new person @mentions (messages) me on twitter the first thing I do is click-through to look at the profile, this also lists the most recent tweets. Seeing something like this sends me straight away…

"Thank you for following" FAILThis shows 1 of 3 things
1. That you have nothing interesting to say.
2. That you have not looked at the persons profile so don’t even know who you are tweeting
3. That you are using automatic software to send a generic reply to people

Obviously it can be great to thank and welcome new followers, however you should do it by name, and try to start a conversation with it as well!

1. Broadcasting

The biggest mistake that people make is not getting into a social mindset when starting to work with social media! In the past marketing was all about broadcasting a message out to people with a call to action via a static advert. Social media marketing is different to this as instead of just broadcasting you can actually engage, when using twitter people have the ability to respond to you. Simple ways to start are by asking questions, retweeting posts from others sharing interesting and useful things, and by @mentioning others to get a convo going!

Hopefully you now have some idea of how to make twitter work better for you, feel free to follow my on twitter @vetschooldiary

Lessons from Slovakia in unemployment and workfare… (Day 188)

Snow in Kosice 2013

I may be studying abroad however I try to keep abreast of what is happening in the UK and world around me. Politics was something I was never really interested in until my final year of university in the UK when I realised that it only took one person to bring about change. Though I try to keep my diary veterinary related sometimes when I see tweets on my twitter feed I just have a moment where I have to share.

The last I knew in the UK to get unemployment (jobseekers allowance) you simply have to be looking for work. I remember reading about how the government introduced something called workfare where in order to continue getting benefits claiments are forced into unpaid work within for-profit companies and corporations. The principal of for profit minimum wage paying large national and multinational companies getting free labour is in my mind close to slavery. They argue that valuable skills are being taught, however I for one have to question what valuable skills is someone learning from being forced to stack shelves for a month?

When I first planned to move to Slovakia to study I knew I was in for a different culture, and it really excited me to have the opportunity to see a different way of living. Whilst there are some things that I do not like here, one of the things that has impressed me is how clean, well maintained and tidy the city is. Especially during the periods of heavy snow we have had I have been impressed with how well the city kept running, buses and trams still ran on time and shops stayed open.

Snow in Kosice 2013I set out to look into this further, and discovered that those that were claiming unemployment were responsible for this. Instead of working for profit making companies the unemployed were tasked with working for the community. There is a list of people who are called up in rotation when needed – such as in heavy snow to work making sure paths are cleared and gritted. After the snow is gone they are then responsible for clearing the grit from the streets to be used again when needed. What I found best about it was that they could learn skills, they could work on road crews learning construction skills, in the parks learning about gardening and nature.

I leave you with a thought, multinational and national companies give very little back to you as a taxpayer, instead lets look at workfare being about the community. After all I did hear that the UK ground to halt with the snow again this year…

Looking at crude fat (ether extract)… (Day 187)

Animal Nutrition Ether Extract Continuous Extraction of Crude Fat

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Spikes World Wildlife Food

Another Friday, this one marking the end of week 5, its amazing how fast time is going and how little it feels I have achieved. Every spare moment I get is going into finishing Emergency First Aid for Animals, when I sat down and started this I had no clue how big the task would actually be. I am a perfectionist however I also realise that sometimes it’s is a case of balancing perfection with getting things done – in this instance however I am taking the route of caution to make sure that I can back up everything in the book with solid medical fact to ensure the best outcome for cases that follow it.

Anyways onto today, we spent nutrition today looking at the crude fat portion of feed, this is commonly thought of as the fat portion of the sample. This however is a gross simplification as in fact this portion contains organic acids (Essential Fatty Acids), oils, alcohols and the important fat soluble vitamins. Fats are important within the body as they act as electron carriers, substrate carriers in enzymatic reactions, components of biological membranes and as stores of energy.

In fact in obese animals around 97% of adipose tissue is composed of fat storing energy, lipids also help give structure to muscle and have an impact on cholesterol.

Animal Nutrition Ether Extract Continuous Extraction of Crude FatNow the fat potion of the sample is solvent soluble, so the sample is continuously extracted using diethyl ether which dissolves the fat in the sample. Using the apparatus in the image above the ether is in the bottom beaker (which is weighed when it is empty) which is heated, it then evaporates as gas before the condenser (at the top) cools it and it collects as liquid in the middle sample chamber. It stays in the sample chamber (in the middle with the paper sample filter) until it reaches a critical level it then it is returned to the bottom beaker. This process is repeated for around 6 hours or overnight to ensure all the fat is dissolved in the solvent. Once this is done the sample chamber is removed and the ether collected to be reused and removed by distillation – when a miniscule amount remains the bottom beaker is then dried in a vacuum oven and cooled in a desiccator. The bottom beaker is then weighed and the difference in the new weight – the starting weight is the amount of crude fat in the sample.

Visiting a cattle (cow) farm to look at animal hygiene… (Day 186)

Cow in the drying off period

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Vet School Success

Today was our first visit out to a working farm as part of our animal hygiene module, basically to let us put everything that we have covered in the module so far into practice. I am going share some photo’s and videos today as they were very enthusiastic with us taking them as to paraphrase they have nothing to hide as they exceed all the legal standards! I absolutely love this philosophy and the level of care and welfare shown to these animals exceeds some UK farms!!!

Cow in the drying off period

It is a large farm split over several different sites producing milk, sheep and beef. The site we visited today was their main one which has around 500 cows and 1600 sheep. Whilst it may seem like a large number of cows, the use of a management system where cows had free access to internal and external areas in groups of no more than 20. The door’s between the inside and outside areas have coverings to help prevent draughts and are even fitted with brushes for the cows to use (yes I had to get a video)!

[youtube_sc url=”CecI0vI5q0M” title=”Cows%20using%20brush%20to%20clean%20themselves%20on%20the%20farm…%20-%20Vet%20School%20Diary” rel=”0″]

Something I would like to talk about here is animal behaviour – whilst the intent of the brush is for cows to be able to clean themselves it is by no means what the cows are doing. When talking about animal behaviour it is important to record the action without interpretation as unless you can speak animal you can never be sure what the intention is. A very recent example would be a friend whose dog would grab their shoes, they had always thought it because the dog liked shoes. However when it was suggested that they try taking the dog for a walk when he did this they realised it was because the dog needed toilet, and associated shoes with going outside.

Vet student diary vising a sheep farmAnyways back on topic, in addition the cows and milk production there were also sheep located in a separate area of the farm. Lambing had finished already in February so there was a lot of lambs around, however here the magic number (lambs to ewe ratio) was 1.2 which from my experience in with UK farms was a little low. When I say low here I mean in terms of production economics for the producers, however a lower number is generally better for the ewe as it means that there are less twins and triplets. During the visit the farm cat popped into say hi, I just had to get this on video as it was so cute!

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All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience as back in the UK there are so many horror stories of farms in Europe so it was a great experience to have this myth dispelled!

Looking for a farm placement? Check out the vet work experience guide from Vet School Success!

What is an vet school anatomy test like, the Kidneys, and riding (Day 185)

Model showing the anatomy of the kidney in vet school

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Best Pet Hair Remover

I’ve had a request on twitter for an anatomy past paper so someone could see what a vet school anatomy was like here at UVM Kosice. The weekly credit tests (and the final exam) both are mainly oral exams to test your knowledge and so I will talk through today’s exam to give you some idea of what is expected in the anatomy credit test. On entering the anatomy lab I was told to find the cecum in this:

Click to show Image
WARNING: This image is from a dissection and shows week old equine intestines

Vet School Diary Anatomy of the Equine Digestive Tract

This image was taken after I had sorted the pile of intestines and the cecum is the part that is descending towards the bottom of the photo. The next question was to name the different parts of the cecum – it has basis ceci where it connects to the ileum and colon, corpus ceci forms the body of the cecum, and apex ceci is the end of the cecum. The cecum is divided in sacculations haustra ceci by teniae ceci with the ileum entering through ostium ileale and the entrance to the colon ostium cecocolicum.

The next question was then to describe the intestine, in the horse this is in three parts the ascending colon (colon crassum), the colon transversum and the colon tenue. The colon crassum is then again broken down as it forms two u-shaped loops… The colon ventrale dextrum leading to flexura sternalis then coming back by colon ventrale sinistrum before flexura pelvina leads to colon dorsale sinistrumĀ to flexura diaphragmaticus and finally colon dorsale dextrum. It then enters the colon transversum before then entering the colon tenue and the rectum. After describing this I was then asked to identify which animal a liver came from, in this case it was a ruminant liver as the lobes were undivided. I then was asked what the differences were with a pig liver – a pig liver does not have processes pappilaris. From knowing this I got a B today.

Anyways onto the main lecture which was looking at the kidney and urinary system. The kidneys are a complex organ which differ greatly between species both in their structure and the way that they function. The kidneys are responsible for controlling how much water is excreted from the body in urine as well as elimination of waste from the blood so as you can see below there is a very large blood supply going to them. The orange tube is the ureter that then leads to the bladder where urine is then stored for release later.

Model showing the anatomy of the kidney in vet school

On the way to horse riding this we rescued a dog from playing chicken with cars on a main road, had a collar so definitely has an owner we just have to find them. Horse riding was at the university riding centre this week which is on the edge of town, it’s somewhere I’ve visited before (check my diary entry on it) so I ended up leading the group. This session ended up being another session working with tack and saddling up. To be honest it’s helped my confidence loads as being perfect at the basics means that I have the knowledge and practical experience to advise clients in the future.

The start of clinical diseases of bee’s and fish (Day 184)

Diseases of Honeybees - American Foulbrood

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Supreme Pet Foods

This was a very special day for me, when I started studying years ago I started on the path to following my dream, then last June I got accepted into vet school, and on September 13th 2012 I started vet school. Today I started clinical topics; in vet school you have the theory or pre-clinical stuff, and then you have the clinical stuff when you start looking at treating patients. Diseases of Bee’s today was looking at diagnosing and treating different diseases in bee’s, and in diseases of fish today we looked at common problems of fish and how to do a clinical exam. I’ve got just 7 semesters of vet school left now before I am released onto the animal population.

Onto talking about diseases of bee’s, as bee’s are so small its difficult to carry out a clinical exam – or in fact notice problems – whilst they are alive so we are taught to look at the hives and any dead bee’s. Bee’s are very clean with the drones and worker bee’s cleaning out the dead from the hive, hence why you may find a pile of dead bee’s in front of the entrance to a hive. Several of these diseases are notifible (government or state has to be notified) and often the only treatment is the destruction of diseased colonies. One of the diseases we looked at today was American foulbrood which affects the brood and is extremely contagious with the bacteria forming spores which can live for years. The larvae become infected by swallowing these spores and basically rot in the cell before they reach the next life stage leaving behind a glue-like substance which the other bee’s cannot clean away. This is commonly diagnosed by looking at the cells for sunken concave caps on the cells often with holes in them (image below), and then using a matchstick to test for the gluey substance, if found a sample is then sent to a laboratory for cultivation to confirm the diagnosis.

Diseases of Honeybees - American Foulbrood
Concave, perforated wax caps indicative of american foulbrood

Following this in diseases of fish today we started looking at common problems and how to clinically exam a fish for disease. Depending on the species this can be easy or difficult with the size of the fish, and starts with observing the fish in its natural environment of water. Problems with fish vary from not being able to swim straight, swimming upside down, parasites, or even things like cancer with growths. Surprisingly there are quite a few owners that have opted for surgery on their fish to have lumps and bumps removed which is pretty cool. Next week we will be looking at fish anatomy with dissections to look at the different organ systems and the swim bladder.