Arriving in France…

Arriving in Montpellier for Royal Canin

Well today i finished my journey around 3pm, over 24 hours after i originally set out. I am here to attend a Royal Canin Student Ambassador meeting and my flights and expenses are being covered by them during the time I am here. I will however as always continue writing uninfluenced by this and will be as factual and honest as I can. Without the support of Royal Canin to do this I would never be able to afford to do this myself and so I thank them for the opportunity!

There will be nearly 50 vet students from vet schools around the world (including Taiwan, Malaysia, most of Europe and South Africa) which is pretty cool and I am excited to meet so many new people. Royal Canin is one of the big brands of companion animal nutritional, yet I have no understanding at all of their products or company. The first day of the meeting will be consisting of lectures on different aspects of clinical nutrition before looking at the Royal Canin philosophy. This will be very interesting for me as so far in my studies as a vet student I have only done around 5 hours focused on dogs and cats!

This will be followed by a trip to the beach (it is the Mediterranean after all) which I am extremely excited about. It’s been a long time since I have been to a beach, and even longer since I have swam in the sea! Evening dinner will be a great chance to network and find out more about the world, and then on Wednesday we will be visiting the Royal Canin headquarters in Aimargues. We’re going behind the scenes through the research labs and the complete food production process (sadly for industrial security I cannot get photo’s of this) and also meeting the cats and dogs that help develop the food!

I will try and blog stuff from this as I get time! Its a very jam packed few days and I see myself very exhausted when it comes time to leave…

A flying visit to France… (Day 655)

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Supreme Petfoods

So today I am just a little excited, but full of dread too. Today is the start of my first ever visit to France, it is one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit but never got round to as I keep getting busy with other things. Since I started my studies though it has been one of the those places I can’t afford to visit (I’ve not had a proper holiday in nearly 8 years now).

Luckily on this occasion Royal Canin are getting the bill in return for my participation as a Royal Canin Ambassador, and though the program is pretty packed they have been nice enough to include a afternoon on the beach (if the weather is nice that is)! Hence the excitement…

However my flight to France is from Vienna early tomorrow morning and there is just no public transport connections I can get that will make it in time, or without a big massive wait. So I’ve found a coach that gets me there for 6:30 this evening and my flight will be nearly 13 hours later… Ideas wanted to entertain oneself in an airport please!!!!

Apart from the dreaded journey I am really excited, Royal Canin have their world headquarters in Aimargues, South France. This is where I – along with 38 other vet students from around the world (I think the furthest is Japan!) are going. This not only has their research and development centre, but also one of their factories which I will be visiting.

These 3 days will hopefully be packed full of useful things I can come back and share! I will update you as soon as I get a chance

What they really mean when they say vet school is tough… (Day 628)

Becoming a second year vet student photo

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Best Rabbit Food

Vet school has always been called tough, maybe its because so few get in from the thousands that apply each year. Or maybe because its so much to learn. Personally I think it is the emotional rollercoaster that does it.

I study. Sometimes it is a mountain of books, sometimes it is more complex, at the moment I have to memorise the name, location, function and path of every single blood vessel in animals… Not just one species, but all the differences between them. The way that blood vessels differ between an animal with just 1 toe, to an animal with 2 toes, or maybe 4 or 5 toes. Sometimes I can sit for days on end just studying, reading stuff, making notes, eating, sleeping, reading. Sometimes I feel guilty for sleeping or eating, sometimes no matter how much I read there is always more.

I like to think I am a responsible student; I drink very rarely, I like to celebrate passing my exams by seeing practice – it is what gives me energy… Knowing that the hours I have spent reading and studying is taking me one step closer to being able to do something I love. It sounds corny saying you want to help animals, to be honest I enjoy solving the problem, pushing my limits and coming up with a solution to give something defencless a chance.

Sometimes animals die, sometimes you have to euthanise them… Sometimes you may spend hours or days or weeks or even months treating an animal – you spend more time with them than the owner, than the dr’s, than anyone else. You push your limits, you study more, things you do not know, plugging gaps in your knowledge as you go, sometimes pushing a new idea from a research paper just published. And then the animal dies. Each time a patient dies I try to learn something, that patient could not be saved then but maybe if we see it again it will be different.

Vet school is a emotional rollercoaster, sometimes it doesn’t go well but the ones you can save, the patients where you make a difference give you your energy to keep going. You are not dealing with just an animal, its someones friend, a companion, its got a name. Sometimes you get to see the them again, know that they are still there because of you, its an amazing feeling.

For me I have around 700 days of vet school left until I am released onto the world, a new graduate, I get given a license to learn, but more scarily I am responsible. Them 700 days are going be spent learning, so that when they are up I am the best vet I can be…

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Passing Pharmacology and my thoughts on memorising stuff… (Day 637)

Veterinary Pharmacology Revision Tips

Todays Diary Entry is sponsored by Online Pet Education

So today I sat my veterinary pharmacology final exam, this is one of those subjects where you can choose whether to memorize loads of stuff, or understand some. In my case I choose to learn from wise people, and I believe it was Einstein that said “Never memorize something that you can look up.”. So in my case I chose to understand, because when you understand something you can use it to your advantage.

Now when it comes to pharmacology it is a massive rapidly evolving field, there is always research into what dose of a drug is best, or even what drug to use. However there are some static variables – for example the drug receptor sites within the body, and the action that occurs from these sites. This was something that was only touched on briefly during the course with the types of receptors – it did not include where they were which is something additional that I chose to memorize. By doing this I know that if a drug binds to x receptor than it will cause y to happen to the digestive tract, but that it also affects the eyes, or the brain, or the heart or lungs. This is something I considered useful.

Also I know that sometimes it is not possible to look up drug dosages as you simply won’t have time such as in emergencies… These are drugs that I memorised the emergency dosages for in the patients that I work with. But even this is not always necessary for things like anaesthesia as most vets will also calculate the dosages for emergency drugs before they start the procedure.

So today I passed pharmacology with an E (around 57%) as I chose not to memorize every drug under the sun (after all I will learn the most common ones as I use them). I don’t think this makes me a bad vet student, I think by understanding I will be a better student, and so I am happy to take my E, and next time I need to know a drug I don’t know, to look up the latest information on it!

Meeting my first Tiger! (Day 633)

Tiger immobilisation and anaesthesia

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Spikes World Wild Things

Somedays are amazing and today was certainly right up there in the best days of my life! I got to do something that very few people do and survive, I got on the wrong side of the fence of a tiger enclosure at the zoo…

Inside the fence of the tigers enclosureOk ok, so it was planned but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. Today I got invited to join a training workshop on wild animal immobilization for veterinary emergency response here in Slovakia. The aim of the training is to equip vets to deal with emergency situations with large and dangerous animals, and theres no better preparation than practice.

The local zoo supports this, and will try to schedule elective procedures so that the training vets can run the anaesthesia whilst the procedure is carried out. Today we were supposed to see 3 patients, however because of the high temperature the risks for complications were extremely high so it was decided that only the tiger would have his procedure today. This tiger was rescued from a private owner in the Czech Republic around 7-8 years ago, and so there has been discussion around whether or not it is a hybrid (a mix of two species) or what the lineage is so to determine whether it is genetically suitable for breeding samples were needed for DNA analysis.

When it comes to taking samples from animals it is always important to consider the safety of both the animal and the person collecting the sample. In this case as the tiger has not been trained, has big sharp claws and very strong mouth muscles with massive teeth the only way to do it is through anesthetizing the tiger. Now as it was in the zoo there is a back house that is not open to the public which allows the tiger to be contained and anesthetized with either a dart gun, or in this a case a blow pipe because the distance allowed this.

Preparing to dart the tigerI have written about distance immobilization in the past (read it here) and today like then we used special forms of the anaesthetic drugs which give a high concentration (action) for a small amount of the liquid. So to reduce the risk of accidents the total drug amount was spread out over two darts, one of these darts did not work initially so another dart was prepared and fired – something I learnt here is that tigers will hiss at vets just like small cats.

Darting the tiger insideOnce the tiger was very fast asleep it was moved outside where its head was covered both to protect the eyes and to reduce any stimulation. A pulse oximeter was attached to the tongue to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood and the sample collection took place.

Anaesthetised tiger moved outside and monitoredAfter the samples were collected the tiger was moved back inside, leaving just enough time to grab a photo with my first ever tiger and today’s hero zoo vet Dr Sos! Hopefully someone I will be working with (and learning a lot from) again!!!

Tiger immobilisation and anaesthesiaCheck out the video from the entire day….

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