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Articles categorized as ‘University of Sydney Veterinary School’

Monday, April 24th, 2017

University of Sydney veterinary students enjoy exchange in Indonesia

Story by Sydney Veterinary School student

In February 2017, three students, Lidya, Jonathon and myself spent one month at the University Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta Indonesia as a part of our final year veterinary intern rotations. This counted towards the public health component of our final year. It was interesting to be able to see the different diseases and different approaches employed in Indonesia. It was also great to be able to travel and see the sights during our down time.

We were greeted at the airport by our student buddies Stella, Nendis and Adretta who took us to our accommodation on campus, and continued to show us around and take care of us throughout the month.

University of Sydney veterinary students enjoy exchange in Indonesia

Sydney vet students’ exchange in Indonesia (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

Our first week was spent in the reproductive unit on campus, where we were involved in activities such as ultrasound of small animals, rectal palpation of small holder cattle farmer animals, and a visit to the AI cattle semen collection and processing laboratory.

Our second week involved internal medicine, where we learned about public health concerns in Indonesia such as rabies and anthrax. We also accompanied students in treating small animals in the clinic, had classes on reptile handling and visited the local zoo for a behind the scenes tour of the facility, quarantine and clinic area as well as exhibits.

After this we spent a few days at the government lab responsible for investigating disease outbreaks. We visited farms where sudden deaths had occurred such as a quail farm with suspected avian influenza, a goat farm where the goats had died from herbicide poisoning in the grass, and a calf rearing farm where the calves suffered from poor growth and sporadic deaths, likely due to poor nutrition and parasite burden. We also toured the lab and saw the facilities where virology, microbiology and chemical testing occurs.

After this we visited Lombok island where we saw the wet market and poultry farms and slaughter. This was very different to meat slaughter and distribution in Australia. We also volunteered with Lombok animal rescue where we assisted in castration of stray dogs.

In our final week we were involved in the parasitology and pathology laboratories, working with students in performing post mortems, blood smears, blood tests, and microscopic parasite identification. We also assisted in testing mosquito resistance to different pesticides.

Alongside the official activities, in our time off we visited some great tourist attractions including Borobudur temple, Taman Sari Water Castle, Pindul cave, the volcano Mt Merapi, scuba diving in the Gili islands and Marioboro shopping street. Before my placement commence I also spent a week in Bali and a week in Kalimantan at Tanjung Puting national park, observing orangutans in the wild at Camp Leakey.

Indonesia has so much variety to offer, and this has proved to be one of the most varied placements I have had, and has allowed many interesting learning opportunities, not only about veterinary medicine, but about Indonesia and international public health.

This exchange program was led by Prof Agung Budiyanto at University Gadjah Mada and A/Prof Jenny-Ann Toribio at the University of Sydney. Accommodation was kindly provided at the Faculty Guest House by UGM Dean Joko Prastowo.

Veterinary Medicine at the University of Sydney

The Sydney DVM program encourages enrolment of students from diverse backgrounds and aims to help them achieve their goals to become veterinary medical professionals in the global community. Teaching is research-driven to ensure students learn from the latest developments and advances in evidence-based practice, veterinary science research, animal behaviour and welfare science and veterinary public health.

Year 4 is a capstone experience combining intramural (in University Veterinary Teaching Hospitals) and extramural (in industry and private veterinary practices) placements. These extramural placements may be taken at any approved Australian or international industry or private veterinary practice. These placements enable students to gain workplace experience in a broad range of small animal, large animal and industry situations in preparation for introduction to the workforce following graduation.

Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Program duration: 4 years
Application deadline: TBA. For the 2017 intake, the deadline was September 14, 2016.

Apply to the Sydney Veterinary School!

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Discover more about Sydney Veterinary School. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Sydney School of Veterinary Science warns cats at risk from deadly virus outbreak

Pet owners and vets are being warned against complacency after the resurgence of a deadly feline panleukopenia virus (FPV)—almost eradicated 40 years ago by vaccinations—was confirmed by Australian tests recently.

The once vanquished viral disease feline panleukopenia has caused the death of scores of cats in Sydney in recent weeks, investigations into the outbreak by researchers from the University of Sydney show. The symptoms are fever, lethargy and loss of appetite, followed by vomiting and diarrhea. In severe infections cats can die suddenly with no signs.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science warns cats at risk from deadly virus outbreak

Owners are encouraged to get their pets vaccinated

Sydney veterinarian Dr Tanya Stephens, owner of Haberfield Veterinary clinic, said she had not diagnosed a case for 40 years. That was until her practice diagnosed the disease in four rescued stray kittens. The kittens died after a short illness.

The disease has also struck three animal shelters in western Sydney, resulting in the deaths of more than 50 cats. Affected cats were mostly kittens that had not yet been vaccinated, or were not fully vaccinated.

DNA sequencing by University of Sydney Professor Vanessa Barrs has confirmed that the strain of virus causing the outbreak in Australia is feline panleukopenia virus (FBV). It coincides with several large outbreaks of parvovirus in dogs in NSW, around the Shoalhaven area as well as the Riverina region and Tamworth.

“The message for pet owners is make sure your dogs and cats are vaccinated against these deadly infections,” said Professor Barrs, from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science and Marie Bashir Institute. “Disease in cats is caused by parvoviruses, small DNA viruses. The main one is feline panleukopenia virus but parvoviruses that infect dogs can also cause the disease in cats.”

However, there is no risk for humans as the disease cannot be passed on to them.

Feline panleukopenia virus, also known as feline enteritis, is a deadly viral infection of cats that was first discovered more than 100 years ago. With the uptake of vaccinations, disease virtually disappeared from Australia in the mid-1970s.

The current outbreak is particularly dangerous because it occurs in the middle of summer, when there are larger numbers of kittens around, which are most susceptible to the disease.

The research by Professor Barrs and her colleagues indicates that current vaccines should be effective.

“The current outbreak seems to be caused by a lack of mass vaccination, especially in shelter-housed cats,” Professor Barrs said.

“The disease had previously re-emerged in Melbourne cat shelters a few years ago but despite warnings, cats have not been vaccinated in many shelters because their risk of disease was perceived to be lower than in dogs, when in reality the risk to cats is high.

“When less than 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated, there is a perfect storm for the emergence of a disease epidemic. The current outbreak is a timely reminder that maintaining immunity in populations of animals where effective vaccines are available is essential.”

Sydney School of Veterinary Science

The Sydney School of Veterinary Science is the nation’s premier place to receive training in veterinary medicine. Ranked first in Australia and 9th in the world for veterinary science in the 2016 QS World University Rankings, Sydney has also been given a maximum score of 5 in the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) federal government scheme for the veterinary sciences field of research.

In the Sydney DVM, teaching is research-driven to ensure students will learn from the latest developments and advances in evidence-based practice, veterinary science research, animal behaviour and welfare science and veterinary public health. Students will benefit from a fully integrated learning curriculum with clinical exposure, clinical skills training and animal handling commencing in the first semester and throughout the course.

Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Program duration: 4 years
Application deadline: TBA. for the 2017 intake, the application deadline was September 14, 2016.

Apply to the Sydney Veterinary School!

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Discover more about your study options at Sydney Veterinary School! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information.

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

University of Sydney is closing the veterinary void

The University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Sydney is supporting homeless and disadvantaged Sydneysiders to access quality veterinary care for their beloved pets.

University of Sydney is closing the veterinary void

Study veterinary medicine!

There is a crisis of care for some of Sydney’s most vulnerable pets. Homeless and disadvantaged owners are unable to fund even the most essential of treatments to improve the well-being of their treasured animals.

That’s why the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Sydney is helping to provide assistance to some of Sydney’s most disadvantaged pet-owners by partnering with BaptistCare to establish the HopeStreet pop-up pet clinic, which operates once a month in Woolloomooloo.

Staffed by volunteers, clinicians, veterinary nurses and students from the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science, the animal welfare outreach initiative is helping the most vulnerable pets of Sydney.

The outreach initiative at HopeStreet is run by clinicians, veterinary nurses and students from the University of Sydney. According to veterinarian Dr Jess Talbot, there is a great need for this service.

“In our last visit to HopeStreet, we saw 27 pets in two-and-a-half hours. There are so many animals needing care. We don’t have the funds to keep pace with demand and treat the variety of problems we see.

“We would love to be able to do even more for these beloved pets and their owners.”

Sydneysiders are invited to help these beloved pets by making a donation to fund essential treatments including vaccinations, tick and flea protection, and medications to ease the effect of conditions like arthritis and chronic skin disease.

Veterinary Medicine at the University of Sydney

The Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science veterinary teaching hospitals provide world-class clinical services and have the latest technology for the care of companion animals, wildlife, livestock and horses. These facilities allows the university to train the next generation of veterinary practitioners and specialists.

The Sydney DVM program encourages enrolment of students from diverse backgrounds and aims to help them achieve their goals to become veterinary medical professionals in the global community. Teaching is research-driven to ensure students learn from the latest developments and advances in evidence-based practice, veterinary science research, animal behaviour and welfare science and veterinary public health.

Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Program duration: 4 years
Application deadline: TBA. For the 2017 intake, the deadline was September 14, 2016.

Apply to the Sydney Veterinary School!

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Are you wondering about Sydney Veterinary School? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston: shannon@oztrekk.com.

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Sydney veterinary research: Is your dog happy?

Dogs aren’t as easy to read as you might think.

Dogs generally seem to be cheerful, happy-go-lucky characters, so you might expect that most would have an optimistic outlook on life. In fact some dogs are distinctly more pessimistic than others.

Sydney vet research: Is your dog happy?

Who’s a happy boy?

“This research is exciting because it measures positive and negative emotional states in dogs objectively and non-invasively. It offers researchers and dog owners an insight into the outlook of dogs and how that changes,” said Dr Melissa Starling, from the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science.

“Finding out as accurately as possible whether a particular dog is optimistic or pessimistic is particularly helpful in the context of working and service dogs and has important implications for animal welfare.”

Dogs were taught to associate two different sounds (two octaves apart) with whether they would get the preferred reward of milk or instead get the same amount of water. Once the dogs have learnt the discrimination task, they are presented with ambiguous tones.

If dogs respond after ambiguous tones, it shows that they expect good things will happen to them, and they are called optimistic. They can show how optimistic they are by which tones they respond to. A very optimistic dog may even respond to tones that sound more like those played before water is offered.

However, it does mean that both individuals and institutions (kennels, dog minders) can have a much more accurate insight into the emotional make-up of their dogs.

According to the research a dog with an optimistic personality expects more good things to happen, and fewer bad things. She will take risks and gain access to rewards. She is a dog that picks herself up when things don’t go her way, and tries again. Minor setbacks don’t bother her.

If your dog has a pessimistic personality, he expects fewer good things to happen and more bad things. This may make him cautious and risk averse. He may readily give up when things don’t go his way, because minor setbacks distress him. He may not be unhappy per se, but he is likely to be most content with the status quo and need some encouragement to try new things.

“Pessimistic dogs appeared to be much more stressed by failing a task than optimistic dogs. They would whine and pace and avoid repeating the task while the optimistic dogs would appear unfazed and continue,” said Dr Starling.

“This research could help working dog trainers select dogs best suited to working roles. If we knew how optimistic or pessimistic the best candidates for a working role are, we could test dogs’ optimism early and identify good candidates for training for that role. A pessimistic dog that avoids risks would be better as a guide dog while an optimistic, persistent dog would be more suited to detecting drugs or explosives.”

Dr Starling has been working with Assistance Dogs Australia, a charity organisation that provides service and companion dogs to people with disabilities, to investigate whether an optimism measure could aid in selecting suitable candidates for training.

The research not only suggests how personality may affect the way dogs see the world and how they behave but how positive or negative their current mood is.

“If we know how optimistic or pessimistic an animal usually is, it’s possible to track changes in that optimism that will indicate when it is in a more positive or negative emotional state than usual,” said Dr Starling.

“The remarkable power of this is the opportunity to essentially ask a dog ‘How are you feeling?’ and get an answer. It could be used to monitor their welfare in any environment, to assess how effective enrichment activities might be in improving welfare, and pinpoint exactly what a dog finds emotionally distressing.”

Sydney Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

The Sydney Veterinary School’s DVM program encourages enrolment of students from diverse backgrounds and aims to help them achieve their goals to become veterinary medical professionals in the global community. Teaching is research-driven to ensure Sydney veterinary students will learn from the latest developments and advances in evidence-based practice, veterinary science research, animal behaviour and welfare science and veterinary public health.

Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Program duration: 4 years

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If you have questions about Sydney Veterinary School, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com. We’re here to help!

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

University of Sydney Veterinary School Information Sessions in Canada

Did you know you can study veterinary medicine in Australia and practice in Canada?

Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science Dean Professor Rosanne Taylor will be visiting university campuses across Canada from October 11 – 14 to answer any questions you may have about studying at Sydney Veterinary School.

Everyone is welcome to join Prof Taylor to learn about the faculty and the DVM program:

  • Admission requirements
  • DVM program structure
  • Sydney Veterinary School
  • Teaching hospitals
  • Accreditation and coming back to Canada to practice
  • Life at the University of Sydney
  • …and much more!

The Sydney DVM program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Students graduating from an AVMA accredited school have their degree recognized in North America and are entitled to sit the NAVLE.

University of Sydney Veterinary School Information Sessions

University of Sydney Veterinary School Information Sessions

Register for the upcoming Sydney Vet info sessions!

University of British Columbia
Date: Oct. 11, 2016

University of Victoria
Date: Oct. 11, 2016

University of Alberta
Date: Oct. 12, 2016

University of Saskatchewan
Date: Oct. 12, 2016

University of Guelph
Date: Oct. 13, 2016

University of Prince Edward Island
Date: Oct. 14, 2016

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Do you have questions about Sydney Veterinary School or the info sessions? Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com. We’re here to help!

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

The truth about cats, dogs (and horses!)

Australia’s first national pet surveillance scheme VetCompass has been launched.

Initially set up in the United Kingdom by Sydney Veterinary School Professor Paul McGreevy, VetCompass has now launched in Australia—in a collaboration between all veterinary schools—to bring the benefits of big data and epidemiology expertise to pets, with potential impacts on human health and the environment.

The truth about cats, dogs (and horses!)

Cat at the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

Some of the most common ailments and causes of premature death in companion animals are easily preventable—that’s a key finding of VetCompass in the United Kingdom, which is now spawning its Australian counterpart.

The not-for-profit project is a collaboration including the Royal Veterinary College in the UK, the University of Sydney and now all veterinary schools in Australia, investigating companion animal health problems and identifying risk factors for common disorders in our favourite pets.

VetCompass is an innovative global collaborative project bringing big-data surveillance to provide a better understanding of disease risk factors for common disorders and enable the assessment of welfare impacts to prioritise disease-prevention strategies. VetCompass was launched overseas by University of Sydney Professor Paul McGreevy and colleagues from the Royal Veterinary College, London, in 2007.

Now Australians have a chance to compare their pets to their UK counterparts: “The Australian data may reveal different patterns of diseases and different breed predispositions because, to some extent, we have a separate gene pool to dogs and cats in the UK,” said Professor McGreevy.

Initially looking only at the most popular pets—cats and dogs—as well as horses for which little data exist, it is envisaged VetCompass will eventually expand to all companion animals in Australia.

The success of VetCompass in the UK has involved more than 450 clinics, with researchers being able to study more than 11 million episodes of care, representing four million unique animals.

Research projects in the UK have targeted numerous disorders that affect pets, including kidney disease, epilepsy, pyoderma (skin infection) and cancer.

VetCompass recently launched in Australia in partnership with all seven veterinary schools at the University of Sydney, University of Adelaide, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, Murdoch University, Charles Sturt University and James Cook University. The consortium of veterinary schools secured Australian Research Council funding to establish VetCompass and will oversee the development and management of the resource for the improvement of companion animal health, with potential impacts on human health and the environment.

“Funding for dog and cat research is notoriously scarce and that’s why the case for a sustainable system that monitors the welfare, health and treatment of the nation’s pets is truly compelling,” Professor McGreevy said.

“Vets are collecting this information level anyway and once VetCompass has its first one hundred Australian practice signatories, data from the system will be representative and provide researchers with access to a wealth of information.”

Professor McGreevy said VetCompass would enable non-invasive big-data analysis and epidemiology expertise to highlight what is happening in the companion animal population, when and where.

“It’s great news for pets, but we’re also excited about learning more about how our relationship with companion animals can affect and inform human health.”

Veterinary Medicine at the University of Sydney

The Sydney Veterinary School’s DVM program aims to produce career ready graduates with excellent fundamental knowledge and skills in managing animal health and disease; and in protecting and advancing animal, human and environmental health and welfare locally and globally.

The program encourages enrolment of students from diverse backgrounds and aims to help them achieve their goals to become veterinary medical professionals in the global community. Teaching is research-driven to ensure students learn from the latest developments and advances in evidence-based practice, veterinary science research, animal behaviour and welfare science and veterinary public health.

Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Program duration: 4 years

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Learn more about the #1 vet school in Australia, Sydney Veterinary School! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Why should you consider Sydney Veterinary School?

Did you know Sydney Veterinary School is the #1 veterinary school in Australia? It’s true! According to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016, the University of Sydney tops the list!

Why should you consider Sydney Veterinary School?

Study veterinary medicine at the #1 vet school in Australia!

So why should you consider studying at Sydney Uni? Let us count the reasons:

1. Innovative, Student-Focused Teaching
The DVM embraces the latest in student-focused teaching methodologies, recognising your experience and maturity as a graduate learner. From small group, case-based scenarios to online modules and laboratory sessions, you will realise your potential while studying in a small faculty offering a high level of individual interaction between staff and students.

2. Practical and Professional Skills
Practical and professional skills development takes place in multiple hands-on settings, from the laboratory to the hospital to the farm, both on-campus and in industry placements. You will have the opportunity to develop and practice your skills in new, state-of-the-art clinical skills facility as well as during professional placements and on university farms.

3. Student Experience
Participate in the vibrant, diverse and unique social life at Sydney at both faculty and university-wide levels. Sydney’s active student societies, including VetSoc and the Camden Farms Society ensure you will have a rich and rewarding experience, both in and out of the classroom.

4. Location and Facilities
Enjoy the inner-city convenience of the Camperdown campus, and the relaxed rural beauty of our Camden campus. The faculty maintains teaching hospitals at both campuses, providing small-animal, large-animal, equine and livestock services as well as a dedicated avian, reptile and exotic pet hospital.

5. Leading Researchers
Sydney Veterinary School internationally recognised and passionate staff include some of the world’s best veterinary and animal science researchers. The quality of their research programs has been recognised by a top ranking of five out of five for veterinary sciences research in the latest Excellence in Research for Australia rankings. As a Sydney DVM student, you will be exposed to emerging discoveries in veterinary medicine and have the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research.

6. International Perspective
Study global veterinary medicine in a one health framework—the Sydney DVM places you at the intersection of animal, human and ecosystem health. You will develop the skills to pursue expanding career opportunities arising from global concerns about food security, biosecurity and emerging diseases.

7. Leadership and Careers
The final-year mentoring program supports professional and personal development, and provides you with access to both University of Sydney and off-campus professionals. Sydney has a strong global alumni network providing you with excellent employment opportunities in the veterinary, public health and agriculture sectors!

You still have time to apply!

Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Program duration: 4 years
Application deadline: September 14, 2016

Apply to the Sydney Veterinary School!

*

If you have questions about Sydney Veterinary School, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com. We’re here to help!

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science experts help Indira the tiger

A team of experts at the University of Sydney Veterinary Teaching Hospital were recently visited by “Indira” the famous tiger to prepare for an operation to arrest her deteriorating eyesight.

“Indira,” who has appeared in numerous movies and TV series such as George of the Jungle and Anaconda, is in the care of Zambi Wildlife Retreat, which among other things provides a home for retired animals from the entertainment industry.

Anaesthesia specialist Dr Alastair Mair and radiologist Dr Mariano Makara at the University of Sydney’s veterinary teaching hospital collaborated with Taronga Zoo chief veterinarian Dr Larry Vogelnest and affiliate veterinary ophthalmologist Dr Cameron Whittaker to anaesthetise the tiger. Diagnostic imaging work including ultrasound, MRI and computerised tomographic CT/CAT scan took longer than exptected, so Indira will return for surgery in a few weeks’ time.

The hospital’s veterinary director, Professor Vanessa Barrs from the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science, said the multi-specialist team ensured the exotic animal received the best possible treatment.

“This is the first time in more than a decade that we have had a tiger in our facility,” Professor Barrs said.

Zambi director Donna Wilson said the 15-year-old Bengal tiger had been born at the Bullen’s Animal World facility and as a cub underwent cataract surgery with good results.

“Indira is a very quiet, happy girl who is exceptionally well behaved and easy to handle, but unfortunately her eyesight has deteriorated over the years to the point that she now walks into objects, falls into open ditches and at times has trouble finding her food,” Ms Wilson said.

Veterinary Science

The Sydney DVM aims to produce career ready graduates with excellent fundamental knowledge and skills in managing animal health and disease; and in protecting and advancing animal, human and environmental health and welfare locally and globally.

The program encourages enrolment of students from diverse backgrounds and aims to help them achieve their goals to become veterinary medical professionals in the global community. Teaching is research-driven to ensure students learn from the latest developments and advances in evidence-based practice, veterinary science research, animal behaviour and welfare science and veterinary public health.

Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Program duration: 4 years
Application deadline: September 14, 2016

Apply to the Sydney Veterinary School!

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Wildlife Health

The Master of Wildlife Health and Population Management is an innovative program offered by the University of Sydney that provides holistic training in wildlife population management. Students will be taught by experts from academia, industry, and government in one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse settings in the world yet will only be a short distance from the cosmopolitan and vibrant city of Sydney.

Program: Master of Wildlife Health and Population Management
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March and July
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: January 31 for the March intake; June 30 for the July intake. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible, as offers are made on a rolling basis and places are limited.

Apply to the University of Sydney!

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Discover more about studying wildlife health or veterinary science! Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Giving horses a voice on painful nosebands

The first study to confirm stress responses when horses are prevented from moving their jaws has brought the spotlight on increasingly popular nosebands, with estimates that one in two horses competing in dressage, show-jumping and eventing cannot open their mouths because of tight-fitting nosebands.

University of Sydney veterinary School

Learn more about Sydney Veterinary School

A serious animal welfare issue for horses in equestrian events has been highlighted by new research from the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science.

This is the first study to show physiological stress responses when horses are prevented from moving their jaws.

The use of restrictive nosebands to bind together the jaws of sport horses is increasingly popular, with some estimates suggesting that half of the horses competing in dressage, show-jumping and eventing cannot open their mouths at all.

The study’s senior author, Professor Paul McGreevy, said the research shows how restrictive nosebands compromise natural behaviours and trigger a significant stress response in horses, which may violate the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) rule that nosebands are “never as tightly fixed so as to harm the horse.”

“In light of the current results, horse sport administrators may need to decide which oral behaviours they can afford to see eliminated in the name of sport,” the Sydney Veterinary School professor said.

“Tight nosebands can mask unacceptably rough riding. While wearing a bitted bridle, horses are highly motivated to open their mouths to find comfort, but in dressage competitions, this response attracts penalties.”

To avoid such penalties, many riders now crank the jaws together with a system of leather pulleys (a crank noseband). This device is permitted under noseband rules, written before cranking was conceived, even though it increases pain and discomfort from the bits. This increase in aversive pressure boosts the rider’s control of the horse, which is why such nosebands appeal not only to dressage riders but also to many show-jumpers and eventers.

Pressure from nosebands has been likened to pressure from a tourniquet and often exceeds levels associated in humans with tissue and nerve damage. Crank nosebands are padded to avoid cutting into the surface of the skin, but inside the mouth, they force the cheeks against naturally sharp molars and are associated with lacerations and ulcers.

“The horse’s challenge when managing discomfort from a single bit is magnified if it is required to accommodate two bits, as is common at the elite level in dressage,” said Professor McGreevy.

“For example, every dressage horse at Olympic level must compete with a double bridle which means there are two metal bits in its mouth, one of which is a lever that tightens a metal chain under the chin. The incentive for riders to bind these horses’ jaws together to prevent displays of resistance increases accordingly.”

The team from the University of Sydney has been studying the effects of noseband tightening on horses’ behaviour, cardiac responses and eye temperature (a proxy for physiological stress).

In a paper published recently in PLOS ONE, the team reports that tight nosebands profoundly reduce yawning, licking, chewing and, perhaps worst of all, swallowing in horses wearing a double bridle.

The unique study is also the first to show that when the nosebands are removed and yawning, chewing, licking and swallowing are no longer prevented, horses show more of these behaviours.

”This so-called post-inhibitory rebound reveals the fundamental importance of these oral comfort behaviours,” Professor McGreevy said.

Many manuals and older rule books propose two fingers be used as a spacer to guard against over-tightening but some fail to specify where these should be placed or the size of the fingers.

In light of the prevalence of noseband tightening, the International Society for Equitation Science has called for a limit on noseband tightening and for the routine use of a standardised taper gauge, proposing this would be good for horse welfare and the sustainability of the sports themselves.

Sydney Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

The Sydney Veterinary School’s DVM program encourages enrolment of students from diverse backgrounds and aims to help them achieve their goals to become veterinary medical professionals in the global community. Teaching is research-driven to ensure Sydney veterinary students will learn from the latest developments and advances in evidence-based practice, veterinary science research, animal behaviour and welfare science and veterinary public health.

Program title: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Program duration: 4 years

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Would you like more information about Sydney Veterinary School? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Indigenous Sydney veterinary student helping animals in the outback

“A connection with animals and land is deeply ingrained in my personality and who I am,” University of Sydney student Simone Armstrong explained. “As a child, we had a rottweiler. Animals were my family.”

Now in the second year of a Bachelor of Veterinary Biology /Doctor of Veterinary Medicine double degree, Armstrong’s passion is set to become her profession—although she’s in no hurry to leave the university, just yet.

Indigenous Sydney veterinary student helping animals in the outback

Simone took the time out of the busy program to recharge with regular puppy cuddles (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

The big discovery of veterinary science and Armstrong’s decision to make animals the focus of her career began in year 10.

“During subject selections I was flicking through a booklet and thinking what can I do,” she said.

It was her career adviser who urged her to pursue her animal aspirations.

“I still remember exactly where I was sitting when I was talking with my career adviser. He was amazing. He knew every single student by their first name. He was hugely influential. I’ll never forget him.”

Looking back, Armstrong says it was an impulsive but instinctive decision that has helped shape her future ever since.

“I took really strategic steps from there to ensure it was a good decision, and I’ve not ever regretted it.

“I feel like I’ve really tasted it [veterinary sciences] and discovered so many avenues of where this could potentially go.”

One of those avenues involved a trip to the Northern Territory in February this year.

With the support of her academic adviser and mentor, Associate Professor and Sub Dean of Indigenous Education at the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science Jaime Gongora, Armstrong participated in an animal management program with the group Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities (AMRRIC). The program stretched across three outback communities: Nyirripi, Yuelamu and Yuendumu.

AMRRIC is a not-for-profit charity that coordinates veterinary and education programs in Indigenous communities.

The organisation’s approach recognises the inextricable links between human, animal and environmental health and well-being.

The group’s team of staff, partners and volunteers made more than 250 visits to communities and numerous outstations over the past year, desexing more than 3,440 dogs, treating 12,150 dogs for parasites, and visiting more than 1,720 homes to consult with pet owners.

“Unlike previous animal management protocols, these programs respectfully treat animals,” Armstrong explained

“They build trust and strong connections, which is far more efficient in creating a healthier and happier environment for members of the community and the animals themselves.

“I was able to treat a large number of pets and pests while on my trip, and make some meaningful relationships which changed my life.”

Armstrong says it was both challenging and rewarding.

“I learned so much during this trip. Being accepted and invited into such a rich cultural community is inexpiable and something I will deeply miss—until next time.”

Back on campus, ‘intensely competitive’ are the words Armstrong used to describe getting into veterinary sciences at Sydney, a course which is ranked number one in Australia and nine globally in the 2016 QS Subject Rankings.

Indigenous student realises dreams helping animals in outback

Vet student Simone Armstrong desexes a dog in Northern Territory rural aboriginal community (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

Outside of the classroom, Armstrong makes time each week for one shift at Sydney Animal Hospitals.

“It’s really good for me because if I have anything tricky at uni, I can rack the vets’ brains.”

Armstrong says she finds working with fellow student nurses and talented vets immensely rewarding and inspiring.

So what’s the most surprising thing about uni?

“Maybe the fact that I’m happy to stay here for ages,” Armstrong candidly shared. “I want to stay at uni forever! Uni provides a platform where I can explore all my interests and passions.”

Aside from furry friends, Armstrong’s passions include rural Australia and indigenous education—which she has been able to explore at the university through both the AMRRIC program and in her role as a Student Ambassador.

The infectious animal lover has set her sights high and aims on studying a PhD after her double degree, doing “some sort of research.”

Eventually Armstrong wants a career in which she can combine her research aspirations with a clinical veterinary doctor position, but for now she’s quite comfortable right where she is.

Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

The Bachelor of Veterinary Biology /Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is a 6-year program and allows students to enter into the veterinary program directly from high school. As it encompasses the biological sciences aspect of studies prior to the DVM portion, it is perfectly designed for recently graduated high school students who are high achieving and ready to become knowledgeable and successful veterinarians.

Program: Bachelor of Veterinary Biology /Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Program duration: 6 years
Application deadline: It is recommended that students apply a minimum of three months prior to the program start date.

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Find out more about veterinary sciences at Sydney. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.