Easter – it’s the season of new life

EASTER is always a busy time and while no two years are ever the same, there are common themes.

This year has brought additional challenges and the weather is the culprit. It’s been pretty grim for Easter bunnies and anything that prefers to be outdoors.

Our farm animal vets are spending a lot of time with lambing and calving. This year’s lambing has been the most challenging for farmers than many can remember.

While many lowland lambs are born indoors, they are often turned outside after a few days. The benefits are that the ewes should have spring grass to eat and that diseases such as pneumonia and enteritis spread far less readily than inside where stocking densities are higher.

This year, farmers have a difficult decision to make – do they risk turning their lambs outside in freezing temperatures, or keep them indoors, but risk the higher chance of costly respiratory and enteric bugs?

The poor summer last year meant that ewes had less to eat so lambs are also being born a bit smaller – normally good news because ewes need less help when giving birth. Unfortunately, small lambs have even less protection against the elements. Our farmers have more reason than most to be praying for warmer weather.

Spring is a time for new life and we do tend to see more puppies born around now. It seems that more and more are in need of help during whelping (giving birth). There are some breeds where this is pretty much guaranteed, British bulldogs and chihuahuas being prime examples. Pretty much all of them will require a Caesarean section because they have small pelvises and their puppies have large heads. Our operating theatres (and in most cases our on-call vets and night nurses) have seen nearly one dog caesarean a day over the past week or so.

Thankfully, due to diligent owners and skilled surgeons, all are doing well.

Probably the most gratifying case of the past week was a middle-aged Labrador who suddenly collapsed at home. He was very pale and was found to have what was probably a large tumour in his abdomen. We were keen to do everything possible so he was admitted to the Whorral Bank hospital where an ultrasound scan showed that the tumour appeared to be confined to his spleen.

This always comes as a relief because spleens can often be successfully removed and dogs (like people) can manage very well without a spleen. And so it was in this case. He was taken to theatre, where a football-sized splenic tumour was identified and removed.

Histopathology will tell us whether the tumour was benign, but so far he’s made an amazingly rapid recovery.

CHRIS GREEN

Director and Senior Vet