Last week, with May being Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, we talked about the role of the Registered Veterinary Nurse during surgery and in keeping your pets safe. This week, we’re taking you behind the scenes again to show you the vital part nurses play in assessing in-patient’s health post surgery and in keeping admits as comfortable as we can.
If your pet has been in for surgery, you’ll know that we chat with you in advance to find out about any likes and dislikes your pet make have, such as whether they drink from a plastic, metal or porcelain bowl at home, if their food bowls are normally raised, if cats have a preference for a certain type of litter or if dogs will only wee on grass, if your pet likes or don’t like being petted a certain way – even if they have a special teddy they would like to bring in. This helps us to make your pet’s experience here as stress-free as we can. We’ll also ask about your pet’s behaviour so we know what’s normal and can respond appropriately to what’s not.
Observation is a really important part of veterinary nursing. One of the observational assessments we carry out when pets are first admitted is pain scoring against a chart. We’ll also assess your pet’s demeanor – whether they are naturally chilled or maybe look a bit unsettled or anxious. This helps us to better assess how a pet is feeling post surgery. A relaxed pet that seems unsettled post-op is more likely to be experiencing discomfort so we can respond accordingly. Pain scores are repeated as a matter of course post-op, and a nurse may also palpate around the wound site and abdomen to ensure your pet receives the right care and pain relief to remain comfortable. Nurses also check a pet’s temperature post-op as the combination of anaesthesia and immobility can cause body temperature to drop. If body temperature falls below a certain level, one of our nurses will put the patient back onto one of our Bair Huggers® (an inflatable forced air warming system) to keep them cosy, and temperature checks are then taken every 20 minutes. Gum colour is another good indicator of pet health and recovery. Whilst potentially slightly paler post surgery, this should ‘pink up’ and return to normal relatively quickly during recovery. Should our nurses have any concerns about your pet’s recovery when they carry out any of their observations, a vet is immediately called to assess.
The photo above is of a different, non-surgical admit that still requires lots of observation by our nursing team! Newly diagnosed diabetic patients (or those needs a meds review) come in to stay with us over a period of 8 hours or so for glucose curve monitoring to check their insulin dosage is correct. One of our nurses takes hourly readings, testing blood glucose levels with a glucometer, and results determine ongoing case treatment. Needless to say in addition to lots of observation, our nurses administer lots of cuddles too!