How to cook a dog – hot car recipes…

So today we are going learn how to cook a dog, this is a seasonal dish for car owners easiest to prepare during the summer period and can be done in as little as 10 minutes during the sun’s peak hours.

Now the entire goal of the cooking process is to overwhelm the internal regulation of the dogs temperature which is controlled in the brain so we need to raise the temperature to above 41 degrees Celsius. The best way to do this is by parking the car in direct sunlight, and limiting the sources of ventilation – simply leave the window open a slit which will ensure fresh oxygen whilst not lowering the temperature of the car.

You can tell when this is starting to occur with heat cramps and heat exhaustion where the dogs’ activity decreases and they cannot walk without pain. At this stage you are well on your way to cooking your dog and have successfully overcome many of the dogs protective response systems…

  • The behaviour mechanism is overwhelmed as the dog cannot move to a cool area…
  • The blood flow to organs decreases and flow to the skin increases…
  • There is no evaporative cooling as the air exchange is not high enough because we leave just a slit of the window open… and then this only really works when the tongue is wet.
  • Radiation and convection (movement of heat from hot to cold) do not work as all the extra heat has nowhere to go, the environment is all hot…

So just keep going, it’s only going take a little while longer until your dog is cooked. The dogs’ body still isn’t ready to give up though, and a big response from the cells will try to protect the tissue for the injury that is coming.

Now we are here, the bodies organs start to shut down, the temperature causes the cells inside these organs to die. Here the enzymes start not working so cell energy production changes to not use oxygen anymore, we need to be careful here as the pH will change to acidosis.

The brain cells start to die as well now, there is also big swelling, and now maybe you will see some seizures or coma.

The cells from the lining inside the stomach and intestines die, and break off into the gut causing loads of bleeding. The same with the kidneys with cells from the kidney dying and breaking off. Most important here is making the liver is properly cooked, this is where the cells for blood clotting are made so if we get rid of this then we can get rid of all the blood from the body by uncontrollable bleeding.

If you are here your dog is pretty cooked. How long did that take? 15 minutes? 30 minutes?

If you suspect a dog is suffering from heatstroke you need to get them cooled and to a vet

The best way is to transport them on the backseat of a car sprayed with cold water and with both windows open to help the cooling process. DO NOT USE WET TOWELS – this is a myth and will in fact trap the heat inside the body.

If you have to go somewhere not allowing dogs,, it may be kinder to leave them in the shade at home.

The exams are here…

vet student exam study

It has been a very long sleep deprived. This past week I have done two of my end of year exams. Monday was pathological physiology and today was epizootiology (infectious diseases). Next week on Wednesday I have pathological anatomy so whilst I have done 2 in a single week, there is no time to celebrate and the study must go on.

Pathological physiology is the study of functional problems in the body, so why the body goes wrong and the processes involved in this. One of my questions here was about anemia – a lack of red blood cells. This is pretty simple right? Not so as the question started with the different classifications for anemia, then there are the different causes, and then finally there are the compensation mechanisms to help the body survive the anemia. All of these processes are intricately linked together and to other body systems – for example the kidneys are involved to increase blood volume to increase blood pressure.

Then it was followed up by ruminal alkalosis in cows, and then disorders of the parathyroid gland which is responsible for the balance of calcium and phosphorus in the body.

Epizootiology is the study of diseases – bacteria and viruses – their spread and the diagnosis. Today my questions were based on picornaviruses (the cause of foot and mouth disease), bovine herpesvirus, and the causes of Mastitis.

Sometimes there is just so much to take in that I just do not know where to begin. Now I am going sleep so I am fresh to start study for pathological anatomy tomorrow.

The doubts of being a vet student….

vet student exam study

Sometimes I really wonder if I am good enough to be here. Sure sometimes I can make a good call or get to do cool stuff, but at the end of the day its whether my exams are passed and I can memorise tables and tables of diseases and parasites.

That is what I have been doing the past few days I have been studying for my exams and so have been living, sleeping and breathing books. However for everything that goes in it feels like 10 things are forgotten. Looking at what I need to memorise I feel that it is an impossible task.

Though I want to specialise in surgery I still need to qualify as a vet to get there, and was reminded of this fact by a very good friend the other day. The problem with being a vet student is there is so much to learn, and though each time I step into surgery I learn something it tends to be random with no structure. However surgery is easy to learn as everything makes sense, and I can see it within my head so can see what needs to happen and how. Sadly this is not always the case as with diseases and parasites you need to memorise stuff you may, or may not see at some point in practice. So until my exams are complete I am stepping out of surgery unless there is something really special or I get called in on an emergency.

I guess the only thing I can do here is to spend as much time as I can studying, and then hope that when I get to the exam I actually remember something. I am nervous, stressed and scared that I won’t pass, I really don’t want to fail. So now I am going back to study. I’ve got just over 30 hours until the first exam.

Where does that “old” saying come from?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & Sold to the tannery…….if you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor”
But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot……they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” & were the lowest of the low
The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell . …… . Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof… Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive… So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

Randomly found and shared for entertainment…

Heading into the bleeding abdomen…

A beautiful evening going into surgery

My Friday night plans of studying with a film in the background after visiting the balloon festival vanished a few hours ago with a single phone call asking me to assist in an emergency surgery for a dog bleeding into the abdomen.  14 minutes later I arrived at the surgery to help prep the operating theatre and patient.

Now a bleeding abdomen is an emergency, as if untreated the animal can lose all its blood into the abdomen and die from blood loss (even though the blood is still insider the body). Generally this occurs from trauma, however there are circumstances where it occurs for other reasons such as the rupture of a tumour or complications after a surgery.

Generally our goal is to control the bleeding, and so anything we have that can tell us where the bleeding is coming from is good. Before I arrived the doctor had already done a ultrasound exam to confirm that there was indeed fluid in the abdomen, and was just finishing in x-ray, which is our case showed changes on the spleen so we were pretty certain this was where the bleeding was located.

Usually in a bleeding abdomen once you open it is a race against the clock to find and stop the bleeding. This is not easy when the entire abdomen is filled with blood and you cannot see much at all so have to rely on feel and knowledge of anatomy. In our case because we had localised it to the spleen this made surgery easier, as when you open the abdomen the spleen is one of the first things that you can see.

The blood vessels supplying the spleen were ligated (tied) and the spleen was removed from the body. The blood that had leaked into the abdomen was removed by suction and then we proceeded to flush the abdomen with sterile saline.

Sadly however there are only a couple of reasons for rupture of a tumour of the spleen, and here we still do not know which we are looking at. Proceeding to stabilise the patient post-surgery, we knew they were still alive because of us, and were given the best chance. However looking forward we do not know for how long as if the tumour is malignant then 2 month survival time is very low.

When pigeons need surgery too…

Pigeon intramedullary pin fracture fixation surgery

Being a vet student brings great diversity in my daily patients which is one of the reasons I love it so much, today I assisted in surgery on a pigeon. Now this is one of those things that is not always taught in vet school – there simply is not enough time with everything else that we must learn.

A lot of my knowledge on the less common animals come from a lot of self study (if you are interested in pigeons check out the BSAVA Pigeon Manual here) when really I should probably be learning about the common things on dogs and cats… However sometimes like today the extra study pays off.

Now birds are different to other animals because they need to extremely light to be able to fly. One of the main weight savings is made by the bones being pneumatised – this means that they are hollow and join the lungs in the respiratory system in helping the bird breathe. This also helps the birds respiratory system be more efficient than in other animals – it is one of the reasons they can fly at such heights where other animals would suffer from a lack of oxygen.

Another important difference for when we consider surgery is that bird bones are a lot more mineralised than in other animals. This means that they are more likely to splinter than to “break” – an important thing to remember.

Before we started the surgery we did radiography, one of the goals is to return function and this allows us to check that the important ligaments of the wing are intact. It also allows us to see the damage and plan the surgery – in this case because the fracture was near the end of the bone where there was muscle attachment we needed to fix this into the proper position before we could then insert a intramedullary pin into the bone to fix it.

I am extremely lucky here that I have some very talented vets to learn from, and I was allowed to assist in this procedure. For me it was the most delicate orthopaedic surgery that I have assisted on so far, and in this case I was amazed at just how we could work with bones barely wider than a matchstick. However the surgery went very well, we fixed the end of the bone into the correct position and then inserted a long pin through the middle cavity of the bone to fix the two pieces together. Now something important to remember is that this long pin would act like a hinge for the two pieces of bone to rotate around so we inserted a second pin into the bone and the other end so we could fix them together to prevent rotation.

Hopefully this pigeon will make a full recovery, and be the first of many different species that I will be able to help when I finally qualify!

10,000 hours to surgery specialisation

A vet students surgery reading list

So the other night I read an article (click here to read the original) where it claimed that to become a specialist surgeon you need 10,000 hours of doing surgery. Before we go any further let’s look at what 10,000 hours is…

416.67 days…
13.7 months
1 year, 1 month and 20 days

So that’s somewhere around 1 year, 1 month and 20 days just stood in an OR doing surgery and nothing else.

With a normal persons average working week Monday – Friday working 9 – 5 which is 2088 hours each year this would take nearly 5 years. And that’s only if the entire day was spent in surgery doing nothing else without and holidays or days off. In normal veterinary practice though sometimes a vet may have just 1 surgery day a week, or may spend 3-4 hours each afternoon doing surgery (around 783 hours in a year). This would take the time needed up over 10 years.

Now I want to specialise in surgery, so far my surgical hours stand at around 50 hours scrubbed in assisting or operating… Just 0.5% of what I actually need, so guess that makes me 0.5% of a surgeon. I want to specialise in surgery, it’s the biggest buzz ever knowing that in a few hours a problem can be fixed, and a life can be improved. Yet it’s a learning curve, every day I am learning loads of new things. Especially when it comes to practical experience, the amount of force required to separate connective tissue can be rather considerable for example.

The study required however is immense, todays photo shows just some of the surgery books that I am reading to support just what I am seeing currently. Let alone the additional reading that I must do for my normal subjects.

I disagree with the sentiment of the original article that to become a specialist surgeon is all about the number of hours you spend operating. I think being a specialist surgeon is about the passion and dedication to the immense learning required to be able to effectively and efficiently improve life within the operating theatre. This may take as many hours as necessary, and for each person may vary, but each and every one of them hours will teach you something new.

My first ever castration on a cat…

Vet student in surgery

Yesterday morning I picked up the scalpel blade, tensed the skin and made my first cut into the scrotum of a cat… or at least that was my intention. Not enough pressure on the brand new scalpel blade and the skin remained pretty intact. It was my first time performing any surgery on a cat; sure I’ve assisted a lot, but actually taking the role of the surgeon and performing a procedure alone… This was my first time making the skin incision. I knew what I was doing, yet the skin was a lot tougher than I expected.

Yet it is not just about me here, it is about the patient on the table who I am operating on. This cat never asked for the surgery, that was the decision of the owners looking out for the cats best interest. With male cats castration reduces roaming, fighting and urine spraying (marking) in over 90% of cats neutered. With the number of cats that I’ve seen over the past few months with infected abscesses from fighting being able to reduce the likelihood of this to me is a good thing. Plus urine marking is not something us humans appreciate, so removing this behaviour means happier humans and less stress in the home.

Now the actual surgical procedure is one of the simplest in veterinary medicine, a small incision into the skin of the scrotum, opening the sack containing the testicles. Ligation (tying) of the blood vessels and spermatic cord and then cutting these to remove the testicle. The second testicle is then taken through the middle inside wall of the scrotum so there is only one incision through the skin. The skin incision is so small it does not need to be sutured close as it will heal itself rapidly in the few days after the surgery.

So passing the scalpel blade across the skin again it parted, and I saw the sack containing the testicles which I opened with just the tip of the blade as it is really thin. I don’t want to damage the testicle as one of the most important rules in surgery is good haemostasis (aka controlling and minimizing bleeding). I am holding the testicle, and separate it from the attachment to the containing sack. I expose the cord to ligate it, placing two ligatures with several “throws” on my knot, and then pass the scalpel blade across it detaching it from the body. I am checking for bleeding to make sure my ligatures are good, there is none so that is the first testicle removed. I repeat the process for the second testicle, with a little more speed now I have finished the first, I check for bleeding and finding none let the cord retract back into the scrotum.

Surgery complete I pass into the role of anaesthetist and monitor the patients recovery until they are ready to go home…