The secret life of vets

The secret lifes of vets in shelter rescues

This week I’ve seen my Facebook full of people complaining about vet’s being uncaring and just in it for the money. Usually I just ignore it as vets are pretty used to people thinking they are stinking rich (actually a London tube driver gets paid more than vets for less work…) however decided to share some of the stuff that doesn’t really get spoken about today.

Unfortunately stray animals are a big problem in most countries, and the shelters try to do as much as they can however often they need veterinary help. Most of this “help” is given free or at a very low cost usually resulting in a loss of money through materials. That’s right materials from drugs, to suture materials, instrument sterilization materials, to the surgical drapes, gloves, mask, cap and gown. For what these are, they really are not cheap and can soon add up.

Surgery is never going be a cheap endeavour – at least not if it is done properly – and this week for example there are now 2 rescue kittens that have a chance at surviving because of a vet.

Luky is around 3 months old, and had been hit by a car – our initial xrays showed fractures in the humerus (bone between the shoulder and elbow) and the pelvis. Because the kitten was so small and weak we decided that 2 surgeries were needed on separate days to repair the arm and then the pelvis. I assisted in the surgeries and we spent maybe 4 hours operating over the two days to fix these fractures. This was all before the clinic officially opened with surgery starting early. Then there is the aftercare, the hours spent monitoring the kitten during prep and in recovery. A lot invested in such a little kitten, could also be called an expensive kitten – drugs, specialist plates, screws, rods, fluids and more.

Our second kitten is around 2 – 3 months as well, and had been attacked by a dog. The front leg was hanging off by just a couple of muscles and a tiny bit of skin. There was no stimulation from the nerves on this foot. Our only option was to amputate and we went straight into surgery with the hope that we could get rid of the leg and clean up the wound before the infection spread through the body. Our first surgery went ok and we removed the leg and cleaned the wound closing it with a drain with kitten to come back Friday for a check. So this afternoon when kitten returned the abdomen was very swollen, we went into xray and found that the bladder was very large and maybe leaking into the abdomen. A quick ultrasound confirmed the fluid surrounding the organs in the abdomen and so we went straight into emergency surgery to clean the abdomen and repair the bladder. So we’ve stayed past closing two days this week for this kitten, spent maybe 3 hours in surgery and now when I left the vet was taking the kitten with them to another clinic in the city with a working lab to check for peritonitis.

It is rarely people get to see this side unless they work within shelters, however this week we have spent hours, a lot of expense, and given 2 innocent kittens a chance at life.

Why do vets want to give jabs yearly?

What is vaccination

Jabs are yearly because of the way the immune system works. There are two levels of response, the passive (protection by skin), and the active (which is where the body makes the antibodies).

If you think of it like a army, the passive is like a border with sentry towers, and the active would be the battilions within the fort protecting the capital. When the sentry spots an enemy it sends a message to the fort asking for reinforcements (antibodies), but this takes a few day for them to arrive as they have to be trained and equipped first. In this time the enemy overwhelms the sentry’s and invades the country.

Now what a jab does is to “present” some enemy to this sentry so that it sends the message to the fort to ask for reinforcements. But with the jab their is no risk of invasion so the body has time to create the reinforcements (antibodies). Now these antibodies are there and sit in the fort trained and equiped ready to respond, instead of taking a few days to arrive to back up the sentry, they arrive much faster so the enemy is destroyed sooner.

However just like in a human army, without training they would get bored, desert, quit so that over time the number waiting to respond falls to a level where they would not be able to defeat the enemy. This is why yearly jabs are given to “train” this response and keep it at a effective level.

The drug companies have done research counting the number of antibodies over time and the effective number and based on this calculated the time the jab needs to be given. It is possible for a vet to do a titer-count to check an animals number of antibodies to see if the vaccine is needed – BUT this test costs more than the vaccine and if it is low the vaccine still needs to be given.

What happens when a dead animal bloats?

Zebra exploded by Leopard

So today in a quick break from revision I wanted to share this video that was sent to me earlier today as a bit of cheer.

When an animal dies, and is left in the sun the decomposition causes the release of gas within the body – especially from food that remains in the digestive tract. This can cause the body to swell whch is known as bloat.

I’ve seen it happen personally with a horse, it was very entertaining to see a friend get covered in crap but this video is from a zebra. And for it to be a hungry leopard that causes the explosion when it finds a zebra carcass in the Djuma Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

It was caught on camera too, so if you have the stomach to watch (it is bloody!) check it out here:

[youtube_sc url=”rAVKp_T8hH8″ title=”Leopard%20explodes%20a%20zebra”]

For anyone more curious, it takes a good few bites because the abdomen is pretty tough, there is a layer of skin, then muscle, then the peritonium as well. Muscles tend to solidify and get really touch on death because of rigor mortis. Also where the leopard was biting is around where the bladder is located so the jet could also be urine.