Posts Tagged ‘Glasgow University’

In final year we have rotations in different aspect of veterinary, but they had removed any practical rotations with dentistry. I think that dentistry is going to be a large part of veterinary practice when we qualify so booked myself a week with Norman Johnston which was the lecturer who taught us dentistry forth year.


Norman Johnston had over the years created a specialist referral hospital for Dentistry up in North Berwick, Scotland. It was about a 2 hour drive from Glasgow and I was very lucky to come across Brenda & Frank at the Richmont cottage, who let me stay with them for my week for a very good price.
babirusa norman

Norman had seen dentistry with a lot of different species including, polar bears, sun bears, Asiatic black (moon) Bears, Chengu du, Lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, cheetah, African wild dogs, gorilla, chimpanzees and may smaller monkeys such as L´hoest, squirrel monkey and lemur.  He’s also treated pygme hippo, red panda and babirusa so you can say hes seem quite the variety of patients. Norman used to teach the dentistry final years at Glasgow, so I think I was very lucky to find him.

RedPandapolar 1tiger

My first day I was thought the importance of the Dental chart, which is a chart that vets can use to systematically look at each tooth and grade how much gingivitis or calculus there is on a tooth. This could allow the vet to compare the mouth hygiene of a dog/cat from one polish to the next, and can also show the owners the importance of tooth brushing in animals. Norman used this in some dogs where they located where the owner were missing to brush on the teeth so that the owner could correct this for the next time.

dental chart

I saw a lot of different things, but the major difference I noticed with a referral dental clinic is that they have 2-3 patients a day, so everything is a lot less stressful and Norman also has the time to properly explain everything to the owners. He takes before and after pictures to make reports both to the vets and to the owner to better explain things, which I thought was an excellent idea.  There was a dog which had fractures its canine down to the pulp, which then had to be toot canaled. There was a cat which had been in a car accident that they had previously placed a wire to connect the mandible symphysis, the wire was removed and its fractures upper canines was removed.

rootcanal root 2final root


One little dog had mandibular disoclusion (overshot bite 2mm) and lingual displacement of the lower canines occluding into the hard palate. This created wounds in the hard palate. This is an inheritable condition.

DSC08402 DSC08408

I also experienced removal of an epulis over upper incisors that had proliferated from the peridonal ligament (fibrous amilioblastoma) & incisor tumour growth.

Dental vets also showed me how to position dental xrays to cover the tooth & root of the tooth you are investigating as well as developmental settings for the radiographic equipment.

My dog Tasha had fractured here decidious canine whilst playing with here brother and under further examination I concluded that the pulp was exposed. Norman was kind enough to let me fit Tasha in between the other clients on the last day. Because here canines were lingually displaced as well, we concluded to remove both here decidious whilst she was under anesthesia anyways to allow the permanent canines to have the full potential to develop naturally. The operation went fine, and she recovered great without pawing at here stitches too much.


It was a great week, so hope to come back to see north berwick again. Its really a shame we don’t see dentistry practically at the vet school, but I at least feel a bit more equipped to deal with it when Im a new graduate now!



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Willows veterinary centre

These two weeks I’m placed at Willows referral hospital, which is located in Solihull, West Midlands near Birmingham. Willows offer EMS to final year students, and seeing I passed all my exams my first stop before starting rotations started here.

specialist-homepage-image1 specialist-homepage-image2

Willows is a first class hospital for animals that offers: orthopaedics, ophthalmology, anaesthesia & analgesia, internal medicine, soft tissue surgery, neurology and diagnostic imaging as well as having a first opinion small animal clinic. During the 2 week placement I get to follow different cases in all the different disciplines to get a taster of what the specialist field is like. Each patient often receives care from several different teams. I honestly think that these animal hospitals are set up better than many of the human hospitals. I would join the vet of a certain discipline for consults in the morning until around midday. If the patient required surgery, it would be scheduled to undergo diagnostic imaging and then surgery the same day and under the same anaesthetic and either be sent home the same evening or the next day, depending on if the patient had recovered properly.

Treatment room

Treatment room

If a patient required special attention the hospital had an ICU ward, where the patients received one to one nursing and checks. The nurses that work at willows knew a lot. There were specific nurses for the different allocated areas, weather it was the dog ward/ cat ward, pharmacy, MRI/ CT nurses, prep room nurses or operating nurses, just like for human hospitals. These nurses had all undergone special training. It seemed to make the hospital run more smoothly.



If a patient came from consultations and was now scheduled for a surgery, the patient would get a willows collar with its name written on it (kind of like a hospital wrist band), if the veterinary surgeon was ready to see it in the operating theatre at that point, he would be clipped, the nurse would place an IV Catheter, there would be an anaesthetist vet to write up the drugs it was to get, in the case that it had any special considerations for the anaesthesia e.g: heart murmur, airway problems, geriatric, obese, kidney problems etc. If the animal required x rays for the surgery, the nurses would then take it to the radiography room where they positioned the animals and took the x rays for the vet to have a look at right before surgery. The animal would already be induced by this point, and they had anaesthetic trolleys that they transported the patient to the prep room for the operation.

Prep Room

Prep Room

Having these trolleys would prevent the animal being carried, each of the trolleys had isoflurane anaesthesia attached, a breathing system and oxygen so that the patient could be transported sleeping.  Once in the prep room all the nursing staff had to wear blue coloured scrubs (vs green for the rest of the hospital) and head caps. The animal was then either induced (if it hadn’t had images taken beforehand) or just prepared, where the surgical site would be cleaned. Once the animal was in the operating theatre the surgical site would be cleaned by a trained nurse again before the site would be draped. All the veterinary surgeons would have to scrub in and put on gowns before operating to ensure that this was as sterile an environment as possible. A nurse would sit and monitor the anaesthesia for the patient throughout the operation and keep records of heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen etc.

Treatment room

Treatment room

Once the operation was done the animal would be taken out to the treatment room where they would be closely monitored before waking up, given their pain relief and any other medications given before being placed in the kennels. There was a kennel staff who would take patients out for walks as well as making sure the kennels were clean at all times.

My first two days I got to work with Orthopaedics. IToby Gemmill and Stephen Kalff, was lucky to work with Toby Gemmill and Stephen Kalff consulting on initial referrals or post operative care patients. In the afternoon each day they did TPLO’s which is the abbreviation for tibial plateau levelling osteotomy which is a surgical procedure used to treat cranial crucuate ligament rupture in the knee joints of (often large) dogs. This involved changing the angle of the top of the shin bone (the tibial plateau) by cutting the bone, rotating it, and TPLOstabilising it in a new position with a plate and screws. Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common causes of hind limb lameness in dogs so these surgeons did a lot of this type of surgery.

Wednesday I moved onto Ophthalmology with Mike Rhodes and Carolin Chiwitt.opth Here I got to see Cataract surgery, keratectomy and cherry eye surgery. Cataracts are an opacity or clouding in the lens in the eye. The lens is normally crystal clear but looks black because the darkness inside the eye. The lens is there to focus light on the sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina). Cataracts often form in both eyes and often get worse. It’s more common in older dogs and can be inherited.



The only treatment is surgery (but some cataracts are not operable). The surgery is under full general anaesthetic and with a muscle relaxant and then preformed under an operating microscope with tiny instruments. Two small cuts are made in the window of the eye (cornea) and the iris. The eye is filled with a viscoelastic gel to inflate the eye and protect the structures inside.  The cataract is then removed though the hole in the capsule using phacoemulsification which is an ultrasound procedure which is also used on human cataracts. After the surgery a special artificial lens is placed where the old lens was, permanent buried deep inside the eye. The surgery wounds are closed with tiny dissolving stitches. Most dogs will actually see on the day after surgery.

Cherry eye is a condition where the third eyelid gland has prolapsed. Dogs have a third eyelid which sweeps back and forth across the surface of the eye protecting and spreading tear film (also called nictitating membrane) which produced 60% of the tear production of the eye. When it prolapses it becomes visible as a pink mass (lump) near the inner corner of the eye. This condition often affects dogs than cats and young animals between 6 to 12mo.

Cherry eye & Pocket technique

Cherry eye & Pocket technique

Some dogs are predisposed as well: bulldogs, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes and Mastiffs. It can be quite painful and make the eye dry so surgery is recommended, but not to remove it. Pocket technique was carried out at willows where a little pocket is made and the gland is put into it and stitched closed. It sounds like simple thing to do, but this is also done under a microscope with tiny instruments. Ophthalmology is definatly something for the steady handed surgeons.

Friday was Anaesthesia and Analgesia day where I worked with Alessandra Mathis & Anna Bryla. Most of the procedures at Willows will need some kind of sedation, even X rays, Ultrasound scanning or surgery. There are many different types of anaesthetic drugs and many different conditions which require precautions or use of other drugs. Its therefore important to have a good knowledge about patients with often several problems at once, can and cannot get, to prevent drug interactions and other complications.


New week started and I was placed with Soft Tissue surgery with Chris Shales and Stephen Baines. Here I saw surgeries like Tie backs with Laryngeal Paralysis, Porto systemic (liver) shunt surgery and Linear Foreign body removal. Laryngeal paralysis is when there if a functional failure of the larynx opening the vocal cords during inspiration (breathing in). Most cases are older larger breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Weimeraners, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Danes etc. Dogs will typically present with a noise when breathing in, coughing, weight loss, reduced exercise tolerance, collapse, reduced tolerance for temperatures, altered phonation (Bark), problems swallowing food/ water, and sudden respiratory distress. A patient doesn’t have to show all of these symptoms. The condition is caused by a dysfunction of one or both the recurrent laryngeal nerves which supply the muscles holding the vocal cords open during breathing. Treatment which is most effective is surgery “Tieback” also called Unilateral Arythenoid Lateralisation (UAL). Which is basically permanently fixing one of the patient’s vocal cords in an open position. 90-95% who have this procedure will improve significantly, but there are some minor complications which can occur as well.


A portal systemic shunt is a blood vessel anomaly that results in the blood from the abdominal organs (small bowel, large bowel, stomach etc) being diverted to the heart or bypassing the liver. This can be a birth defect (congenital port systemic shunt) or acquired if there is a chronic disease. The problem with having a shunt is that nutrients and toxins that should be cleared from the circulation now bypasses the normal portal blood flow to the liver and results in a small liver and build up toxins in the bloodstream which can cause nervous symptoms. The patients often lack necessary substances to give a good supply of energy and therefore have a stunted growth. The surgery I saw was a puppy only 5 mo old. The patients can present with poor muscle development, behavioural abnormalities (walking in circles, disoriented, unresponsive, quiet, staring into space, pressing head into surfaces) and seizures. A portovenogram was done during surgery which is an x ray examination which allows the liver shunt to be accurately visualised during surgery. A vein draining the small bowel is injected with dye which contrasts on the x ray showing the abnormal liver shunt. Surgery is very complex and dangerous for the animal, which involved locating the shunting vessel and closing it to re direct blood through the liver. This might have to be done gradually by placing a cellophane band around the vessel which causes gradual closure over 4 to 6 weeks, giving the liver time to develop without producing an excessively high blood pressure.

internal meds

Wednesday and Thursday I was on Internal Medicine with Kirsty Roe, Isuru Gajanayake and Amy Lam. Cases with pancreatitis, hypoglycaemic puppies and thrombocytopenia was seen.  Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed (tender and swollen). It occurs mostly in middle ages to older dogs, breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Terrier breeds. Symptoms ranged from mild signs (reduced appetite) to very severe illness (multiple organ failure). Most commonly it causes lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. It’s diagnosed with the history along with abdominal pain on examination, but because so much else can cause these symptoms a blood test and ultrasound scan of the abdomen is needed to rule out other conditions.



Today was unfortunately my last day here at Willows. I was placed with Neurology and Raquel Trevail who had done here residence in Glasgow when I started vet school. We had some follow up cases and also had a patient with Traumatic disc extrusion – slip disc which is when a small fragment of material from the centre of the disc suddenly breaks free and travel through the outer ring of the disc and collides with the delicate spinal cord. Diagnosing this was done with an MRI scan of the animal which I find quite amazing. Willows had a special Diagnostic team who works with Ultrasound, CT and MRI for all the cases that need imaging. Paul Mahoney, Andrew Parry, Lizza Baines and Andrew Tanner are all specialist in Diagnostic imaging to make the best diagnosis and make each sequencing required specially for that animal and that current problem. These two weeks have gone very quickly and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with so many great vets & not to forget the nurses. I hope I’ll come back here sometime in the future.

All the best


photo (3)

Ps: Pictures are from Willows facebook or their website www.willows.uk.net




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I finished my last day here in South Africa treating a rhino for an abscess on her hindquarters. She was darted from a helicopter, when running with 2 other grown rhinos and a calf about 8 months old. I was on the ground leading the “buckie” (truck) to where the helicopter instructed me to go when the animal was darted, and saw the rhinos running over the open grass field. I can’t explain the feeling of awe that went over me looking at these magnificent creatures. They got as close as just 20m away from me; full grown rhinos with horns! Unfortunately, it’s not often you see them with horns anymore. The reason for this is poaching.

Facts about rhinos killed in southern Africa is shocking. In 2009, 122 were killed; in 2010, 333 were killed; in 2011 448 were killed, including 19 critically endangered black rhinos. 200 were shot by pseudo hunters, 28 poached in Zimbabwe, 27 poached in Kenya and two poached in Swaziland reaching a shocking 705. In 2012, 281 had been killed by the end of July and it’s expected that this number will reach 595 by the end of this year. Numbers are increasing almost daily (facts from Getaway Sept 2012).

There has not been any medical proof found by traditional medicine that the popular myth that rhino horns (ground to powder) is an aphrodisiac is true. A politician in Vietnam ran a television campaign about how rhino horn cured his cancer, which caused an increase in demand. Other than that it’s believed that it reduced inflammation, fever and hangovers. In Yemen, the horns are used as a handle for daggers that men own. The fact that rhino horn is illegal and so rare causes the black market prices to rocket. A 2 kg rhino horn can go for 2 million South African rand. Seeing as minimum wage is so low in South Africa, poaching is therefore an alternative some choose to supplement their income. If successful they can earn a lot. A grown rhino can have horns up to 6 kg. Another problem is speculators who hedging against rhino extinction.

There are a lot of corrupt people in the anti rhino poaching industry as well. At the moment there is a trial going where a game farmer and two vets are charged with killing more than 39 rhinos and selling their horns on the black market. The cost of a rhino is a fraction of what you can get for its horn, so some game farmers might be tempted to hunt their own rhinos for their horns. I asked a farmer who said that the cost of a rhino could be around 240 000 R, whilst its horn several million. I find it horrible that vets, who are there to look out for the welfare of such animals, could be in on this. It doesn’t help the public’s trust in the vets that actually do good.

Poachers don’t always know how to properly kill the rhinos when they shoot them. They therefore often leave them hurt to the point that they die a slow death. The poachers won’t hesitate to start dehorning the animal whilst it’s still alive. I heard that poachers will shot the calf as well if there is one. The calves do not have horns, but because they often stay with their mums, the poachers are often afraid of them. Therefore rangers can end up finding both the female and calf rhino dead. I was told that the vet I worked with was called out once when the female rhino had been poached. The calf was found next to her alive, but soon after the calf got really sick. When the vet came, he found
that the calf had been shot too, but at a place that wasn’t very visible. The shot had penetrated the chest cavity right next to the right front shoulder, which penetrated the lung and diaphragm on the right side. This unfortunately caused the calf to die a few days later.

So I’ll try and write about some of the good the vets do to prevent poaching, from my experience the past weeks. Some farmers choose to dehorn their rhinos to prevent the animals being killed by poachers. If they don’t have any horns, there won’t be a reason for them to shoot the rhinos. The vet would dart the animal from a helicopter, then monitor its anesthetics safely, whilst using a chain saw to cut off the two horns. Care has to be taken not to cut too deeply, because this can cause blood loss. The process is documented with photos and a person from the government wildlife conservative has to be present. The vet also has to apply for a permit to do the procedure, which last
a month at the time. After the horn is cut, diesel is poured on the horns and they are burned to ash, which is documented again. A problem with the application to get a permit is that this process is very slow and by the time the vet gets his licensed for the needed rhino, it might have been poached in the meantime. Another problem with dehorning the rhino is that the female rhino uses its horn to defend her calf from the male rhinos, which can cause the calf to die if the mother can’t protect it.

Another approach is to microchip the horns. Another farmer we visited didn’t want his rhinos to live without their horns. They lose their pride and beauty if you take away their horn. So in this case the rhinos are darted. Then a small hole is drilled in each of the two horns and a micro chip is inserted into the horn. The drilled out bit is placed in jars, along with blood samples and some pieces of hair. This is all sent to a lab to be DNA profiled. If a rhino poacher is caught and some form of DNA is found with the poacher it can be traced back to that killed rhino and the person can be trialed. The problem with this again is that it won’t prevent the poacher from killing the rhinos in the first place. A person who has a permit to keep a rhino horn, will have to have a microchip in the horn, there are then people who come and check yearly that the person has not sold that horn on the black marked.

It is horrifying to think that these magnificent animals might become extinct in my lifetime!

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This year 2012 is the 150th anniversary of the Glasgow University School of veterinary Medicine was founded by James McCall in 1862.

The 5to 7th of October we had a “New Horizons Research Symposium” providing both history and current perspectives on veterinary research at Glasgow. It was amazing to see how big a contribution Glasgow vet school is making to the research in its field and made as all very proud to be a Glasgow vet student. The final James McCall Memorial lecture was delivered by out former dean Professor Stuart Reid, who is not the principal of the Royal Veterinary College in London.  All the student came for the Friday lectures. But all in all there were over 400 alumni that came from all over the world for the weekend events.

I also bought a book that has been published: The Glasgow veterinary school 1862-2012). If anyone else wants to buy it. I can be bough online www.universityofglasgowshops.com or at amazon.

James Herriot books has always been a great pride of the Glasgow vets. Alf Wight – pen name James Herriot graduated from Glasgow. For the 150year anniversary his son Jim Wight came and had a talk to all the student: very inspirational as a vet student.  His also given an interview you can watch here:

Jim Wight Interview

James McCall founded the Glasgow Veterinary College in 1862, one hundred years after the establishment of the first Veterinary School in Europe. The first class had 10 students enrolled and lectures lasted three hours a day. The fees at the time for the three year veterinary course were 16 pounds for the first year, 18 pounds for the second and 20 pounds for the third. The student numbers continued to increase and one hundred and forty-three student had enrolled by 1894.

Glasgow Vet 150 years

Today the university of Glasgow veterinary school is pre- eminent in teaching, research and clinical provision. They have researchers, clinicians and students from around the world providing an expert referral institution for Small animals at the Small Animal Hospital, Horses at the Weipers centre for Equine Welfar and Farm animals at the Scottish  centre for production animal health and welfare.  Glasgow also keeps getting awards for its research not only in Scotland but around the UK as well.  The school is also accredited with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The north American veterinary licensing education (NAVLE) pass rate is up to 87% for 2011. We also became associated with SCAVMA(Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association ) last year as the first UK vet school, in addition to our Accreditation with, RCVS (Royal collage of veterinary Surgons), BVA (British veterinary Association) and BSAVA (British Small animal Veterinary association) plus a few more =)

Glasgow school of veterinary medicine is located on 80 hectare on the northwest boundary of Glasgow city, about 30 minutes from the main university at Gilmorehill. The school has 190 hectars commercial farm and research centre at Cochno, 15 minutes from the Garscube campus. There is about 179 staff: academic, research and support with additional 65 postgraduate research students and 30 post graduate clinical scholars and 500 undergraduate students here.

The university of Glasgow is constantly pushing their students to the limit academically and clinically. They emphasise that being a student is not only in the classroom but in the veterinary community as a whole. Being a good veterinarian isn’t just about small animals or large animals, it’s about incorporating veterinary medicine into our lives and giving back to the community, wether that’s is here in Scotland, Africa, India, Scandinavia or America. They focus on producing well rounded veterinarians that have the ability to flourish once they graduate and enter the great big world.

Me and Professor Stuart Reid

Me and our old Anatomy Professor Jack Boyd

All in all I can say that I’m proud to be a 4th year vet student here at Glasgow. I’m lucky to have the chance to be a part of their family. Cos that’s that we are here at Glasgow- one big Family

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Hi Again

I’m really sorry its taking me this long to write anything. To be honest I’ve not had the greatest time in the past 6 months, so kinda not had the energy to write. Anyways its the start of the summer so I thought I would start again. Maybe summaries some of the things that have happened the past year as well..

The past month has been hell. 8am to 8 pm reading at the main Library Every day!! Fingerscrossed its enough to pass my exams for 3rd year.

Glasgow University Library & Main University in the sunshine

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All classes, exams and courses at the University of Glasgow – including the campus in Dumfries – are cancelled today,with very strong winds expected from 12 noon onwards, the University has decided to close with immediate effect. All staff and students are encouraged to return home as soon as possible.

This was the message we got this morning after staying up almost all night reading for pathology. Last year some of the exams were cancelled because of the snow, but this year its wind. it is getting up to 90mph and its said to reach 100mpg.

The only problem is that the exam we have left now is the one i havent read that much for, and its also not cancelled. Its tomorrow and Glasgow University kicked everyone out from the library. Its hard to read at home- better get on with it i guess… sigh…


Hundreds of schools are closed in Scotland today as Britain is battered by winds at over 100mph.

Snow is expected as far south as Birmingham as Arctic conditions sweep in across the country. London will experience gusts of up to 55mph, forecasters said.

High winds: The coast at Saltcoats in Ayrshire, Scotland, is battered by seawater as the coast is hit by gusts of up to 90mph today


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You’re just too good to be true.
Can’t take my eyes off you.
You’d be like Heaven to touch.
I wanna hold you so much.
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I’m alive.
You’re just too good to be true.
Can’t take my eyes off you.



Naa na, Naa na, Naa na na-na na
Naa na, Naa na, Naa na na-na na
Naa na, Naa na, Naa na na-na na
Naa na, Naa na, Naaaaaaaaaaaa

I love you Glasgow
And if its quite alright
I need you Glasgow
To warm the lonely Night
Oh pretty Glasgow
Trust in me when I say…..

Don’t go to Bristol
Just ‘cos they’re on TV
Don’t go to Edinburgh
‘Cos you’ll get HIV
Just come to Glasgow baby
Come to Glasgow….

Don’t go to London
Because its way to far
Don’t go to Liverpool
Cause they’ll steal you car
Just come to Glasgow baby
Come to Glasgow….

Don’t go to Dublin
Unless your on the piss
Don’t go to Cambridge
cause they all talk like this
Just come to Glasgow baby
Come to Glasgow….

Don’t come to Nottingham
Because soon you’ll see
They’re fucking useless
And it’s a fake degree
Just come to Glasgow baby
Come to Glasgow


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