Award-winning approach to treating shock in dogs

November 15, 2012

A student from Murdoch University’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences has won top prize at the world’s largest veterinary emergency and critical care conference.

Dr Duana McBride received the Resident Small Animal Abstract Award at the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Symposium for research into treating dogs in shock.

Her work is an important advance for animal health, as a large percentage of the 12,000 cases a year seen by the Murdoch Pet Emergency Centre involves dogs suffering from trauma and bleeding, often resulting from an accident or injury.

“Shock occurs when cells in the body can’t get enough oxygen. It can result from internal or external bleeding and is a significant cause of death for animals following accidents,” Dr McBride said.

“Basically the body tries to compensate for bleeding by increasing the heart rate to keep blood pressure from falling, while at the same time, blood vessels constrict to conserve blood for vital organs. Unfortunately, if the shock is severe, it will lead to organ dysfunction and death.”

Dr McBride found that administering a fluid product containing hydroxyethyl starch brought oxygen delivery back to pre-shock baseline levels.

While there was initial concern the product could have side effects such as causing bleeding disorders, her study showed this was not the case, suggesting it is safe and effective.

“Our findings will contribute to future investigations into the use of hydroxyethyl starch in dogs as a means of managing shock,” Dr McBride said.

“It was a great honour to be recognised by international experts in my field for the hard work my supervisors and I have put in for the past three years.”

Professor Ian Robertson said the win proved the quality of veterinary training and research at Murdoch.

“Residents from top veterinary schools all over the world compete for this award, so it is a very prestigious win. It is great for our veterinary school and shows we are producing quality research that is being recognised worldwide. It also shows that our post-graduate programs produce results for students,” Dr Robertson said.

Dr Robertson added Dr McBride’s award was one of several won by the school’s residents this year. Dr Rachel Peacock, also from Emergency and Critical Care, and Dr Anne Fraser from Small Animal Surgery both garnered Young Speaker Awards at the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists annual conference recently.

“These are some of the first students from our new clinically based Research Masters with Training program, so it’s great to see the first ‘crop’ winning so many awards,” Professor Robertson said.

Dr McBride, who was the only applicant to have multiple abstracts accepted, presented at the symposium in San Antonio, Texas.

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