"A bone has so many
prominences and holes and I need to know and identify
the various aspects," the first-year veterinary student
was trying to tell Mum what he had been studying in
Australia. Mum had managed to get him away from
his girlfriend to have dinner with the family. She
simply said to the boy who wanted to stay trim and slim
and was careful of his intake of calories, "A bone is
just a bone. Eat the last pork rib." Obviously, the
boy's mother was not a bit interested in veterinary
anatomy studies can be a very boring subject
to the first-year veterinary undergraduate. But it is a
matter of life, death and sound reputation to a
practising veterinarian as you can see from an encounter
week (Oct 2007), I was vaccinating puppies at a Pet Shop
in River Valley Road. For want of some common topics to
converse with the young pet shop girl, I asked her
whether she would refer her clients' dogs for spays to
me. I seldom solicit from pet shop people as they have
their own choice of vets to refer their clients to and
they know I was doing discounted vaccination hoping to
catch their new puppy owners' business.
The recent law that Singapore dogs caught with
unlicensed dogs would be fined $5,000 had led to an
increase in spay operations for vets. A sterilised dog's
annual licence fee is $14.00 compared to $70.00.
I sound a bit desperate by soliciting from the pet shop?
Or is it part of a good business practice?
The pet shop girl arched her eyebrows and frowned, "I
never recommend any of my customers to a vet for spay.
One of my customers was so angry recently. She kept
complaining to me that the veterinarian had cut a very
long wound on her female dog. She said that it was an
MRT (subway) line! So, I don't refer any customers to
At least I know her position and policy. I must work
harder to build my practice on my own merits.
"Sometimes, a very long incision into the skin may be
necessary. There may be bleeding or some complications
of surgery and a long skin incision is needed to locate
the bleeder. If not, the dog bleeds to death after the
spay." I replied. Every vet would encounter this
situation once in his career.
pet shop owner had her reputation to protect, "This
customer was still angry yesterday, at the extremely
long incision on her poor dog---an MRT line. Kept
moaning about it.
"By the way, how long an incision you cut during spay?"
she asked me.
I replied, "Usually 1.5 to 2 cm long if there are no
complications like bleeding. I usually advise 3 months
after the end of heat so that the ovaries and womb are
not fragile and bleed easily. It is much safer."
The pet shop girl was not convinced about my experiences
or lack of. I could not convince her.
"Is there a portfolio of spay done?" Vets usually do
provide portfolios of work done like models or plastic
said, "Maybe you can see some pictures at my website,
www.toapayohvets.com." She was surprised I had one.
I was there for the vaccination and microchipping of
puppies and some free consultations. Nowadays, I seldom
provide such services as they are time-consuming. But it
is good to get out of the surgery to feel the
the pet market place.
Veterinary anatomy is a very boring and difficult
subject for the first-year student because they don't
see the relevance and the lecturers don't know how to
present this topic interactively due to the shortage of
dogs and cats for real life demonstrations.
I remember vividly an ancient-looking thin lady lecturer
during my 2nd year veterinary anatomy year in Glasgow
University in 1970.
The lecture was so boring and there was no internet to
refer to. I bought the anatomy of the dog book to see
the illustrations. The lecturer showed a few frozen
specimens where nerves and blood vessels and muscles
were to be presented.
Most of my classmates and myself were falling asleep
during the veterinary anatomy lectures. I did not attend
any spay or neuter practices in Glasgow University
during my 4th year as I was supposed to see practice
with the private vets.
knowledge of veterinary anatomy is essential as the
veterinarian is also a surgeon.
I hope this article will make veterinary anatomy alive
to first-year vet students. I have
included my pictures of the anatomical positions to spay a
big Golden Retriever and the follow-up in 2007.
I spayed the
above-mentioned dog in 2007. Now that boy
whose mum asked him to eat the last pork rib
should be in the 4th year veterinary studies in
Australia and would be doing spay and neuter
surgeries around July. I have included a 2010 case
for him and all students so that they can learn
more about veterinary anatomy in spaying dogs by
seeing real life cases and pictures.
Anatomy is much more important in practice than
you will ever imagine. If your knowledge is not up
to par, you could injure or kill the dog or any
animal by cutting into the wrong locations,
injuring nerves and causing paralysis or severing
arteries causing massive bleeding!