5 minute demonstration of how training helps you

So today I saw someone post for help about how to clip their nails as their dog would scream when they touched its feet. Then I saw the replies of people saying to use a towel and squash to dog tight, to give it drugs to sedate it, to give it to someone else to do….

This made me sad, first of all for the poor dogs that are being traumatised, and second for the poor owners that feel bad for making their dogs feel bad. An all-round bad experience simply because of an lack of knowledge.

Now I am no expert dog trainer – however this is so easy to easy understand – if it is a positive experience the dog will enjoy it. If you feed the dog treats whilst you touch its feet then it will associate it with pleasure not the “nasty clipping”.

Anyways – Dr Sophia Yin explains and demonstrates it so much better than I ever could so please watch it here:



The vanishing year… And the state exams…

Vet student on the farm

It is Easter, for me that mean I have a couple of extra days in surgery as there are no classes on the schedule. However it is Easter so that means no scheduled surgeries so I am hoping for some emergencies – bad for the animal and owners – however providing much needed experience and practice for me.

In fact every single patient I see teaches me something new, this in turn will hopefully make me a better vet when I graduate in 15 months’ time. That is something that now it is so close I am very aware off. Seeing patients allows me to identify the gaps in my knowledge, plus for me seeing something outside of a textbook lets me understand something a whole lot easier.

Something else I am aware of is that I will soon be starting my state exams – these are oral exams in front of a panel and open to the public. There are six total, I have two this semester, and then four starting next January. These exams are the ones that count – and will qualify me to become a veterinary surgeon.

These exams are generally done on a species by species basis, with topics including exotics, ruminants, pigs, swine, small animals and horses. There is also a relatively random one with contagious diseases, legislation and protection of the environment.

My first state exam will be on the 13th June with the focus on birds, exotics, and wildlife.

The second state exam for me will be on 6th July with the focus on contagious diseases, protection of the environment and veterinary legislation.

I am a little nervous for these two exams, there is so much to know and it is just over 2 months until my first one. The first one is clinical medicine – so I am not too stressed about this exam, my clinical knowledge is pretty good and a lot of it is logical.

The second one however is stressing me more as it is basically a test of memory – and I absolutely hate (and henceforth suck at) memorising lists. Albert Einstein famously said “Never memorize something that you can look up.” –being honest I kind of agree. The stuff that is common in clinical practice is remembered over time from repetition – however this test is all about what I can remember.

Now however I am starting my preparation for these exams with a topic a day. With my lapse in keeping my diary updated (it takes so much longer than you’d think to write a diary post!) I’ve decided I will use this to reinforce my study for that day by writing a summary of that topic for you all.

Food prep, nutrition and the secret of omelettes

A golden omelette

Something I really hate is that even though we get taught nutrition, is that it is difficult to put it into practice when at vet school. So often it is easier to just grab stuff from the vending machine or sandwiches or crisps when running between patients.

It is ironical to me that I know this yet still suffer from this and so this week I decided that it was enough when I saw my weight on the scales… This week I tried to do food prep and eat better especially as I knew I’d have a few days off later in the week because of easter.

Loads of Tupperware which was on special offer in Tesco made this easier for me – a weeks’ worth of salads and lunches made my week more enjoyable… And I feel better.

Something I’ve always been bad at is omelettes, however it is good protein and relatively healthy for breakfast so I was determined to get them right this time. Especially as it only takes 10 minutes to cook them.

This week however I finally think I cracked the secret – I am generally impatient and have electric plates to cook on so never let these really get warm. I normally just tried to do it as quick as possible. However I think this was the start of my problems….

So my first tip in getting the perfect omelette is to warm up the plate – if you are lucky enough to have a gas hob this is not necessary.

My second tip is to use more oil than you would think you used – I hate cooking with oil and normally just tried to use butter. However I have some olive oil so tried this instead – the first couple of times it stuck – however on my later attempts I used a lot more oil and it worked better.

And my final tip is to let the oil get hot before adding the batter.

Following these steps has resulted in going from charcoal to golden omelettes like mine in this picture….

Dehorning and holes into the skull…

Dehorning cows - a hole into the skull

Friday again, another morning spent on the farm working with the dairy herd in diseases of ruminants. With Easter so close a lot of people have travelled home and so today’s group is really small. Last time was reproduction work so today is orthopaedics and other surgery unrelated to the reproductive tract including today dehorning.

Cows are generally gentle loving animals, however their heads are one of their primary weapons, and with horns they are actually quite formidable. This endangers workers, plus also the other animals in the herd. Most of time the tissue that grows the horn is removed when they are calves so that the horns do not grow, however if there is a problem with this then the horn can still grow.

These horns are basically made keratin which is the same as your finger nails – however in cows after they reach about 2 months the horn “bud” attaches to the skull underneath and the sinus cavity inside the skull will expand into the horn as it grows. This is where the photo is from – it is the hole that is left after the horn has been removed looking into the frontal sinus.

The horn has a nerve going to it (the cornual nerve) which goes from behind the eye so before we do anything this is blocked by using procaine as a local anaesthesia which means that there is no feeling anywhere around the horn.

After the horn bud attaches to the skull at around 8 weeks only a vet is allowed to remove it – farmers can only remove the tip of the horn so that it is not sharp. Removing the tip however doesn’t remove the danger as it can cause significant bruising and damage to others. So at this stage it is still beneficial to remove the horn, this is done by a surgical wire saw and usually takes under a minute to do (the record here is apparently 17 seconds). Once the horn is removed any bleeding from the blood vessels is controlled by ligation and antibiotic spray applied to the site.

Unfortunately this is the only way to remove the horn, and there is not enough loose skin in this area to close over this so it is left open. It takes around 4 weeks for a scab to form over this opening – and then a further few weeks for it to form a proper scar.

This does not cause as many side effects as may be expected – having a patch over the hole with a bandage is generally not liked by cows and they tend to remove it within hours. And from the studies I have read having a patch does not reduce the healing time. The only recommendation here is to keep the cows that have been dehorned separate to the rest – this is good from a management point of view as it is easier to check that nothing is going on with them.

The rest of the morning went do checking on some patients post digit amputation. One of these had a large abscess higher up the leg which was removed. This lead to some bleeding and I was allowed to ligate the bleeding vessels here. Today was my first suturing ruminants and it was pretty different for me with how thick and tough the skin is so I was pleased to get the practice. However even after ligation of the main bleeding vessels there was still significant capillary bleeding and so we applied a tourniquet to the leg to reduce the blood flow and allow clot formation before we released the cow back to the herd.

We were pretty disgusting when we finished, however went straight into lectures for contagious disease… The joys of vet school.

Comment when you see the problem…

Sometimes you see really cool things, this is one of those times. A dog presented to a vet clinic in America after trauma and the doctors there shared these scans in a private group – I think they are so cool I asked permission to share them with you… (answer at the bottom if you scroll down)

Comment when you spot the problem…

Lateral viewdog-lateral-xray

Dorsal view

dog-dv-xrayP.S. The dog is doing fine.










The is a part of the intestines in the area around the dogs knee. This is because there was a traumatic abdominal wall rupture with herniation of the intestines into the space under the skin around the leg. In surgery the rupture was found to be in the left abdominal gutter. The “doll” like bone between the back legs here is the penile bone as it is a male dog.

Deep and personal with some cows…

Cow reproductive management

Fridays is either a day of lectures, or more often a morning spent on the farm working with the ruminant vets on cow health. Since the start of the semester this has included foot trimming, a digit amputation, a downed cow, and this week reproductive management.

Being a dairy unit to ensure constant production of milk the cows are managed so that there are always fresh calvers. This provides us with the opportunity to practice routine reproductive management work – checking cows post parturition is important to ensure their health.

Dealing with cows after calving it starts with a general clinical exam, and then the focus switches to the reproductive organs. This mainly composes the uterus, and the ovaries. The examination of these organs includes a visual examination of the external openings and then an internal examination rectally or via the vagina.

Though I have previously examined the vagina using a speculum – in cows this can be also be completed using palpation. Today I did my first internal exam of the uterus – you see in a cow that has just given birth it is possible to insert your arm through the vagina and into the uterus. This allows you to feel for any damage caused by the birth process, and to examine the uterus content – if this is contaminated or infected. What surprised me most as I’ve seen the cervix normally is just how wide it opens – even with my fingers spread I could not touch both sides of the opening at the same time. To confirm that it was actually the cervix I followed the ring of more muscular tissue all the way around.

It also gave me a new appreciation of just how difficult fetotomy could be. Having to reach in far enough to get the saw wires in place will be a challenge just in terms of the length of the uterus from the opening.

During this practical we examined 10 cows, and being able to see the different types of discharge – and in one case the removal of mummified fetus from within the uterus was very interesting. This is one of the things I like about being here – being able to see so much and get this practical experience.

I really love what I do, especially when you start to see the personalities of the different cows…

Cow reproductive management