Vet Ivan Crotaz and registered veterinary nurse Jo Hinde recently set up a veterinary CPD company, Lagolearn, that focuses purely on rabbits.
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What is Lagolearn?
It's rabbit CPD! Having been involved in clinical work and clinical teaching for many years, we want to make rabbit CPD mainstream. We want to equip practices with the knowledge to treat rabbits to the same standard as they already do for dogs and cats. Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK and are being treated by vets with increasing frequency, yet they are often still thought of as an exotic pet.
What are the company's aims?
In the UK, dedicated companion animal vets in general practice are skilled in treating dogs and cats. We feel that it is an easy step to apply these skills to other species – our aim is to supply that essential knowledge. We see the position of pet rabbit medicine now as feline medicine was 30 years ago, struggling to be seen as a discipline in its own right and worthy of study.
How do you present CPD?
We will concentrate on face-to-face CPD events. Many of the skills that we teach are practical, needing hands-on tuition. We believe that delegates can concentrate better in a whole day event when they are not distracted by the pressures of work and family life. Our venues are chosen specially so that delegates will have an enjoyable day out, as well as quality CPD.
Where did your interest in rabbits start?
Ivan: I was running a small two-vet branch practice when a local rescue centre opened nearby. I agreed to take on its rabbit work, even though I had little experience beyond a couple of days of university training. The rescue grew until we were seeing up to 30 cases per day. Some of the rabbits were being presented with horrendous dental disease and various disorders caused by poor husbandry. I realised that I enjoyed the fact that rabbit medicine was an emerging subject, with completely new information being presented all the time by clinicians at conferences.
I then joined Docsinnovent – the company that developed the v-gel airway system. I ran the clinical side of the research and development programme to develop the v-gel for rabbits as well as for other species, and published the results. I still enjoy the challenge of working with rabbits and I love the fact that you can be working from general practice and still develop new techniques and treatments.
Jo: I had always kept rabbits and, when I started my veterinary nursing career, I could see that they weren't being treated in a species-specific way. Many staff members dreaded rabbit anaesthetics and would avoid them when they could. This was purely due to a lack of confidence; ultimately, they needed training and experience. From then on, I made it my mission to improve rabbit welfare in both the veterinary and public sector. I believe that knowledge is the key to improving overall welfare standards for rabbits and targeted CPD helps to bridge that knowledge gap. You do not have to be a recognised RCVS specialist to be good at treating rabbits – you just need to understand their specific needs and treat accordingly.
Why is rabbit CPD important?
Rabbits are no longer a child's pet, kept in a small box at the end of the garden. Rabbit owners – like other pet owners – range from those who want a full workup for their pet to those who are looking for the cheapest euthanasia. However, more and more owners are coming to expect an equivalent level of treatment for their rabbits as for their dogs and cats. With appropriate training, this is completely achievable.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to see rabbit medicine developing along the same lines as feline medicine. We aim to grow our small regional events into larger national and international conferences, with new information being provided by clinicians and university researchers, all brought together in one place.
Where can people find out more?
We use Facebook and Twitter to share top tips and relevant industry information about rabbits, as well as advertising upcoming events. We also have a delegate-only online forum where attendees can continue the discussions following the events they have attended.
Supreme Petfoods sponsor us and help us promote our courses. People can also ask to be added to our mailing list by e-mailing: