This week's vet column...

IT DOESN’T seem very long ago that I was writing my last piece.

Days, weeks and months merge into one.

I still hope everyone is coping in these stressful times.

The guidelines and advice change a little but we all need to keep all the basics going that we’ve learned to live with.

I’m looking forward to my father’s 86th birthday and being able to see him and have a socially distanced party in the garden.

Here’s hoping for good weather.

Veterinary practice still remains very different.

Dunedin Vets is now working from its Tranent and Dunbar surgeries, though only for three and a half days a week for now at Dunbar.

Medications and prescriptions can be collected from the Tranent or Dunbar surgeries or posted or delivered via courier, as we have been doing.

In all veterinary practices, we are now seeing more and more cases physically at the surgeries.

We are only doing the catch-up boosters and minor cases at Dunbar.

At Tranent, we are seeing more cases and performing some essential surgical procedures.

Clients are allowed into surgery waiting areas if they have an appointment with the vet, and must wear face coverings.

We have safety shields on reception desks, distancing stickers and hazard tape on the floor.

Staff wear masks and visors, and there is a limit to the number of clients allowed in the surgery at any time.

Most of our staff returned to work on July 1 and we hope to have our North Berwick and Prestonpans branches open before the end of July.

We continue to do everything we can to keep everyone and every creature safe.

Remember, our reception staff are extremely busy and consequently sometimes the telephone system is overwhelmed.

You can of course leave a message, send an email or contact websites.

The reception team are doing a wonderful job, as of course they are at all veterinary practices.

They are our frontline heroes who deserve special applause.

Please be patient – someone will return your call as soon as possible.

Banging on the door will not get a quicker response; patience is a virtue in these times.

As I have said previously, we have continued to see unusual and emergency cases throughout lockdown.

We have had dogs eating things they should not have, requiring surgical removal.

Many animals seem to have had all sorts of foreign objects lodged in places you would not imagine, all making interesting work for us.

One such interesting case is that of Prince Arthur, a very regal-looking large tabby and white cat, belonging to Rosie Murray.

They normally attend our Dunbar surgery but Mrs Murray called Tranent, worried that Prince Arthur had returned home with blood coming from his mouth and a very sore ear.

He hadn’t drunk nor eaten, which was unusual for him.

After a telephone triage call, Prince Arthur was seen by vet Jonny Hundal.

He soon discovered that Prince Arthur had been attacked by another creature, probably a very large cat.

Prince Arthur is no lightweight, tipping the scales at more than 7kg.

Prince Arthur was admitted to Tranent, where he underwent an anaesthetic to determine the extent of his injuries and treat them appropriately.

Firstly, he had a severe laceration along his tongue, causing major damage.

He also had what appeared to be puncture wounds underneath his tongue, looking like bite wounds – altogether very unusual injuries.

He had a deep scratch-like wound down the whole length of his ear.

He also had scratches all over his head.

It appeared he had been in a very intense fight with another cat.

These injuries made it impossible for Prince Arthur to eat and drink by himself.

His tongue was unable to function and it was extremely painful for him.

The vets therefore decided to insert a feeding tube, which ran from the side of his neck to his stomach to allow him to be fed without having to take anything by mouth.

His wounds were cleaned and sutured and his feed tube stitched in place.

He was given painkillers and antibiotics and remained hospitalised for two days.

During this time, our nursing staff fed him liquidised food through his tube and tended his wounds.

The injury to his tongue was very severe and part of his tongue could not be saved but it healed well.

After two days, Mrs Murray felt ready to tube feed him at home, so Prince Arthur returned home for lots of TLC.

He soon started to lick small amounts unaided and, after one week, he returned to the surgery to have his feed tube removed.

He continued to improve and eat more comfortably unaided.

He returned once more to the surgery to have the stitches removed from his ear.

All his wounds had healed well and, although he has a strange-shaped tongue, he is able to eat perfectly normally now.

We will never know how a cat managed to scratch or bite Prince Arthur in the mouth and we have no idea what happened to the other cat involved.

Prince Arthur has returned to being his regal self, none the worse for his very traumatic incident.

So veterinary life carries on, caring as best we can for pets in need of help.

Hopefully we are getting a bit closer to where normal practice can resume, but we take each stage very slowly. Take care and stay safe.