Sidney’s owner shells out to get him plastered!

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THIS week saw our exotic pet specialists at Robson & Prescott treating an extremely unusual patient. We are widely known for our expertise in treating exotic animals of all kinds, but Sidney is more unusual than most.

Sidney is a giant African land snail who had the misfortune to break his shell after a fall. With a bit of ingenuity and some careful plaster sculpting, he is now back in one piece.

Meanwhile, last month Robson & Prescott welcomed Brydie Reay, our newest-qualified veterinary nurse, to our expanding team. She joined our 11 existing qualified nurses after three years of hard study and training mainly within the practice. Veterinary nurses play a key role in the practice by providing skilled supportive care and treatment for our patients, as well as giving advice on all aspects of caring for your family pets and horses.

Some days present more challenges than others though. Our equine nurses are frequently out and about undertaking x-rays on stable yards, but last week presented the much more unusual challenge of x-raying the feet of a one-ton bull suspected of having laminitis.

The poor chap is not known to be the most co-operative soul at the best of times, but his condition meant that his feet were very sore indeed. Fortunately, with skilled handling by the farmer and superb quality pictures taken by our nurses, we now have a diagnosis. We are pleased to report that treatment is now under way, so we hope that 1000kg of Northumberland’s finest will soon be back plying his trade with a few dozen bovine ladies.

Our practice nurses are most obviously seen when admitting or discharging patients after surgery or hospital stays, giving advice in clinics or on reception, but their biggest role is behind the scenes. So what do they get up to?

The majority of our nurses spend their time exactly as you may imagine, caring for our in-patients and seeing to their every need whether it be feeding, walking, changing beds, administering medications or just giving a few cuddles. Our theatre nurses are responsible for supervising the aseptic preparation of animals for operations (not an easy task with all that fur!) as well as assisting the vet in surgery.

Unlike their counterparts in human hospitals, veterinary nurses are also trained in anaesthetic monitoring and so are vital in helping to ensure that our patients don’t wake up at the wrong moment.

Veterinary nurses are skilled radiographers - possibly the least favourite job on the rota involves spending most of the day shut in a small room with the lights out, carefully positioning (and then re-positioning) animals for x-rays. We also rely on our nurses to run our comprehensive in-house laboratory – a job that can involve anything from running blood samples to the delightful job of preparing small piles of horse dung and then sitting for what seems like hours on end counting worm eggs and larvae under a microscope.

In a busy practice all this is of course far too much work for 12 people. Our qualified nurses are assisted by trainees and, perhaps the real unsung heroes of the practice, auxiliary nurses.

If you ask them what they do, the reply is (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it is everything that nobody else wants to do. Theirs is an important job, and the first step in becoming a qualified nurse.

Our senior nurses all started their careers here as auxiliaries.

Nurse clinics are held throughout the day at Robson & Prescott. Many of their services are free-of-charge, for example post-surgery check-ups, dental checks and weight clinics. They also offer micro-chipping and nail clipping.

By Chris Green, Director and Senior Vet