One of our nurses, Charlie, has a couple of sheep and we were asked to look at the sore eye one of the lambs had. We are a specialised small animal practice, but after a bit of research, we decided we had the equipment and drugs needed and so treated the eye.
When the practice was first taken over by Michael in 1990, although still a small animal practice, we had a small selection of larger pets we looked after, including some goats, 2 pigs, (named after beer brands if I remember correctly!), pet sheep and some donkeys. Over the years we have become totally small animal. It was enjoyable to treat these other species but it has become harder to be a true ‘mixed practice’ as treatments and tests become ever more specialised. Even in mixed practices, vets tend to deal with one species predominantly.
All vets have to leave university being competent in basic techniques for all species and, as their careers develop, they usually go into one form of practice or another. But we always have in the back of our minds all the species medicine we were taught. Obviously without practice and keeping up to date, it would not be safe to treat animals we are not familiar with. I remember one of my lecturers saying ‘We don’t teach you everything you need but we teach you where to go to find everything you need’.