No time for chocolate in a vet’s Easter shift

Well, I’ve got the garden back under control, planted billions of sweet peas, chitted the potatoes and taught myself how to make a shed base. And my husband has seen me for more than 30 minutes. How different from the Easter weekend. I knew that I was in for a busy weekend, but those of us manning the fort have only just come up for air!

This time of year is always a favourite of those of us that enjoy farm work as it’s lambing time. The cute bundles of wool that you see frolicking in the fields may look sweet and innocent, but often give farmer and vet a run for their money.

The cute bundles of wool that you see frolicking in the fields may look sweet and innocent, but often give farmer and vet a run for their money.

Lambs are well known for wanting to enter the world at sunset or sunrise. Twins and triplets will often try to deliver themselves simultaneously, giving rise to an incredible tangle, and sometimes either the lamb is too big or the door isn’t open and a Caesarean is necessary. So I saw some lovely sunrises, untangled several heads and feet, and performed more Caesareans than I had hot dinners, most encounters having a happy ending.

Cattle also kept us on our toes, either delivering calves that were reluctant to enter the world or pushing things back into orifices that had been too keen and prolapsed themselves inappropriately.

It has been one of our busiest lambing and calving seasons, probably because last summer was so good and the mothers are ‘too fit’, a polite way of saying they are carrying too much flesh.

It wasn’t just the farm work that kept us busy. A good proportion of emergencies involved cats and dogs unable to relieve themselves in the bladder department. This is a potentially life-threatening situation and requires early intervention.

It can be due to stress, diet or physical obstruction by bladder stones. We had all three and all were resolved, but some required more surgical intervention than others. There were the usual foreign body culprits, seaweed and fish hooks, and the pets are still recovering. No sooner had one emergency been sorted than another presented. What did surprise us was that no pet presented for accidental chocolate (theobromine) ingestion.

The infinite variety of cases is what I really enjoy about general practice. With the advances in veterinary medicine, it is becoming increasingly difficult for more recent graduates to resist the call to specialise at least in species, if not in a specific body system. Hopefully, for now though there will still be a need for an enthusiastic GP.

By JANE BARWICK-NESBIT,

Director