Cleanliness is next to Godliness, so they say. Although I don’t know the theology surrounding sanitation, I can say that keeping a veterinary clinic clean is an important part of providing a healthy environment to keep the animals feeling well. Because of the risk of nosocomial infections (infections picked up while at a hospital) to our patients, both large and small, we take the time to scrub up between patients and also do generalized cleaning. The goal is by decreasing the opportunity for bacteria to infect our patients, we can use less antibiotics and keep pets and livestock healthy.
A big first step in keeping the clinic clean is removing manure. In case you were not aware of this, cattle make a lot of manure. They make quite a bit in the winter, but when they are grazing green grass in the spring they make copious quantities of runny, green poop. And because they kick their feces out right under their tail, when they swish their tail it makes manure fly in all sorts of directions. Manure ends up on the walls, on the ceiling and if you talk too much it ends up in your mouth.
Because of this, we wash the cattle working area between each client’s livestock. This prevents animals from one farm being worked on in a chute that has manure on it from animals from another farm. But we don’t get a good scrubbing done of every corner of the barn until we get a little down time.
Since it has finally slowed down for the summer, Carolyn and I grabbed pails, brushes and soap and went to work. Perched atop a ladder, we scrubbed the little bits of fly poop or cow manure off the ceilings and walls. Of course, when you’re working off a ladder, you have a tendency to try an move farther and farther out with your arms to reach another spot. I didn’t fall, but got wobbly once or twice before I wised up and just moved the stupid ladder.
Cleaning for the small animal side of the clinic is quite different than cleaning up after the cattle. After every pet, the exam table gets cleaned with a disinfectant. The floors are mopped weekly or more frequently if a pet makes a mess on the floor. The kennels are also disinfected between pets as well.
In the kennels, we use fresh newspaper as a moisture absorbing layer in case a pet makes a mess in the kennel. This means that if you are lucky enough to be featured in the Tyndall Tribune, there is a chance wet dog feet have walked on your picture. Sorry.
In addition to the environment, we also clean the tools we use on the animals. Instruments used for surgery are scrubbed clean and sterilized between patients. Other items are cleaned and sprayed with disinfectant.
Keeping things clean may be a lot of work, but it is an important practice for us. We want to provide the best environment possible for our patients, so they don’t get sick and so that we can use less antibiotics. With these goals in mind, the cleaning is worth the effort.