Vets keeping up to date: podcast from Pete the Vet on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show

To listen to this week’s podcast, click on the link at the foot of this page.

The job of a vet involves a lifetime of learning.

  • It starts at school: if you don’t get straight “A’s” in your Leaving, you’re unlikely to get a place on the veterinary course at university. So you need to study hard as a school student.
  • When you get to college, you’re committed to a full time schedule of lectures, tutorials and practicals, five days a week for five years. There’s a lot of information to remember: newly qualified vets have to know how to treat every species of animal, small and large, feathered, furry and scaley.
  • You might expect that when you qualify as a vet, you can relax but the truth is quite different.

Veterinary professionals are legally obliged to attend continuing education every year

  • All vets are legally obliged by the Veterinary Council to complete a minimum of twenty hours of in-contact learning time every year, for their entire career.  You are not allowed to continue to work as a vet if you do not complete these twenty hours (your annual registration will not be renewed)
  • Vet nurses are also obliged to continue to study: the minimum is 12 hours a year
  • This compulsory learning should reassure pet owners that their local veterinary team is fully up to date with the latest changes and improvements in animal diagnosis and treatment
  • Some of this education can be done at home, through completing distance courses or online webinars, but most often, vets need to travel to attend teaching courses. This can be achieved in various ways, including one-off lectures (lunch-times or evenings), specific courses (e.g. learning a new surgical technique over a weekend)
  • One of the most popular ways of gathering education hours is by attending conferences. Typically, a vet might need to spend four days at educational conferences every year to get their full allocation of education in one swoop. People sometimes scoff at folk heading to conferences: “Oh yes, another junket? Hope you have fun at the bar!” In reality, while there is obviously a social element to any gathering of people, the learning aspect of veterinary conferences is taken seriously.
  • There are a number of annual veterinary pet vet conferences here in Ireland, organised by various groups. They tend to have one or two specific themes, with an audience of just one or two hundred vets. These do offer excellent continuing education for vets, but sometimes the range of topics can be narrow.
  • Later this week, I’ll be going to one of the biggest dedicated pet vet conferences in the world, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress, which is held in Birmingham every April.
  • Around 7,000 delegates from around the world will gather to attend a four day programme with over a dozen simultaneous streams of over 450 lectures and practical sessions from the world’s leading veterinary speakers
  • To follow what I’m up to at the conference, visit my Facebook Page.

Questions from listeners about pets

The following questions were asked on air: to find out the answers, listen to the podcast.

  • We have a rehomed dog, came to us when he was about 6, that was 2 yrs ago. Lovely guy. But, when outside in the garden he paces the wall, has a path worn. If you distract him he stops for a bit then picks it up again. It’s like he starts and then can’t stop himself. There is a farm and dog next door so he starts by listening or watching out for them but soon seems to hit a “zone” and just can’t stop. He also plagues people to throw sticks for him. We’ve bought him a dog frisbee which is the only thing we throw for him so he now knows not to plague us until we take it out, but if we’re on a walk and he sees a stranger, or if someone calls to the house, he’s gone to plague them. It’s natural to throw a stick when an expectant dog places one at your feet but every time someone does that he regresses back to that behavior for a good while. The worry is he would go off and follow anyone who might indulge him and would get lost. He’s fine inside and is a sweet dog in general and gets in grand with our other dog. How can we break the pacing? Emma, Kildare
  • My 11 year old boxer has torn ligaments on rear right leg, she had bloods and X-ray done Tuesday to confirm, liver disease showed up in blood, currently on months liver supplement to try help, she also has other boxer issues – what’s your advice re sugery (ligaments) and liver recovery? Thank you, Patricia
  • I have a 2 year old jack russell, he cries when he begs for food. As in he gets tears, and his eyes go wet. Is that normal?
  • I have an 8 year old golden retriever who has developed hair loss and some small sores on the outer ear lobes. No other signs or symptoms The vet gave me antibiotics and a wash but it is getting worse
  • Our pet dog, a Jack Russell/pug keeps barking at the the tv. She goes berserk when two particular ads come on, the Eir ad with sheep and Dennis and a car ad with goats. She literally tries to jump up to the t.v. when they come on. She’s almost two years old now and is getting worse at this behaviour.
  • Our cat is taking 0.5ml of thyronorm twice daily for hyperthyroidism. It’s difficult to get her to take orally with syringe. Can I put it in a small amount of wet food instead. Have tried and she licks it all up.
  • My beagle pup just recovering from meningitis, and he very lethargic, and he was terribly sick. Can you tell us more about this?

To listen to the podcast, click on the link below.

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