Friday, June 25, 2010

Sophie: The Horses Arch-Nemesis

One of our dogs, named Sophie, has an obsession with tearing apart flakes of hay! We found it  funny at first but she has now become a nuisance to the horses. One of Sophie's favorite times of the day is when the horses get their feed. She has an amazing ability to attack a flake of hay and shake it apart just before it hits the ground. It is strewn about in pieces by the time the horses get to it.

She is a very agile dog, being a mix of Queensland and Australian Shepherd. The combination of high energy and extreme intensity in her personality make it hard to keep her from going after the horse's feed. Amazingly, Sophie has managed to avoid several close calls with a horse's kick. We have semi-broken her habit of tearing apart the flakes. When she is not allowed to attack the hay, she instead takes it out on the wheelbarrow carrying the hay. She has started nipping at the wheelbarrow, naturally, as it is the next closest thing to the flakes of hay!  Here is a clip of Sophie in action.........she has a love-hate relationship with the horses! :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cows Get Cancer Too

This week the farm vet had to perform a surgery in order to remove cancerous growths around the eye of a cow. Unfortunately, he had removed one of this cow's eyes several years ago and the other eye now has a tumor. This is a procedure the farm vet will carry out as they arise every once and a while on farms. He uses a sedative and then a local anaesthetic to numb the area that will be worked on. The whole eye was removed last time due to a particularly aggressive "cancer-eye".

In this particular case we were able to save the remaining eye by surgically removing the growths and "freezing" the cancerous area with liquid nitrogen so the cow could keep her eye and vision!
Some cows are more susceptible to this type of cancer than others. It generally occurs more in older, white-faced cattle. The affects of the sun are more harsh on the cattle with light colored faces. It is beneficial for the farmers to have this procedure done to improve the health and well-being of the animals. This particular cow doubled her milk production after the farm vet removed the first cancerous eye! She was definitely feeling better! Hopefully the latest cryosurgery/freezing will prove to be successful and she will improve even more.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Reality of Life and Death

This week the farm vet had to euthanize two cows and a horse. The owners of these animals made the decision to have this done because these animals no longer had a good quality of life. It is a powerful thing to watch an animal be 'put to sleep.' This post is not meant to be morbid but more informational for those that do not raise farm animals.

One of the reasons we started this blog was to show the reality of being a large animal veterinarian and working with farm animals. The reality is that life and death happen on farms. In some cases, the animal owners have to make difficult decisions as to when an animal no longer has a good quality of life. This is not easy and is not taken lightly. Many times, this is when the farm vet will lend some advice and a helping hand. Trust me, no one likes this part of the job but rather accepts the fact that it has to be done.

There are times when the animal owners put the animals down themselves as the vet cannot get there soon enough or there may not be enough vets in the area to cover all of the work. It is not uncommon for farm animal owners to do this and it doesn't go without saying that many really struggle with it. The veterinarians can use a gunshot or an injectable barbiturate solution which they have a license to carry. Farm owners on the other hand, are not licensed to have this injectable solution so they will use gunshot or a captive bolt device. As approved by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, a properly placed gunshot can cause immediate insensibility and humane death. For people that are not used to this, it may seem barbaric but it is the fastest way to euthanize the animal humanely.

This is definitely not one of the fun parts of the job but it is a reality. There's something to be said for the people that have to carry out euthanasia's. There has to be a certain level of confidence that all feasible treatment options have been exhausted and it is for the betterment of the animal. It can be interpreted here in the Veterinarian's Oath:
"Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering..."