Shaggy creatures with tails. The best Moscow veterinarian tells about her work

Shaggy creatures with tails. The best Moscow veterinarian tells about her work
Фото: Максим Денисов
Anna Barkova, the winner of the 'Moscow Experts' competition among veterinarians told mos.ru about animals, her patients, and their owners.

In 2016, she graduated with honours from the Skryabin Moscow State Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology.  In 2019, she was awarded the title of the best Moscow veterinarian. It goes about Anna Barkova, the doctor of Kalininskaya district veterinarian hospital. The girl has been working as a doctor for three years only, but she already has regular patients taken to her across the whole city.

Anna Barkova told mos.ru about cases doctors encounter, why medical check-up is so important for our pets and how her career choice has been influenced by her parents, veterinarians, too.

Why did you decide to take part in the 'Moscow Experts' contest?

I wanted to prove myself, as soon as I had gotten such an opportunity. It was the first time I participated in the competition, but I had not prepared for it.

Competition had three rounds. The first round checked our theoretical knowledge, the second one included theoretical and practical tasks, during third round we were assigned to conduct a clinical examination of a rabbit, to diagnose, interpret its electrocardiogram and arrange temporary system for drip infusion. During final round, which took place in the Moscow State Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology, we participated in a quiz arranged in Jeopardy! TV show format (Russian analogue is 'My Own Game'). Questions had been divided into categories: we were checked the knowledge of regulatory veterinary documents, veterinary and medical, health promoting work. Depending on the complexity of a question, we were granted various number of points.

Tasks related to veterinary and medical examination were somewhat difficult to me, as it is in not my specialty. Both veterinarians that inspect products of animal origin, and physicians took part in the competition. For the first ones, it was not easy to answer questions related to a medical specialty.

How did you choose this profession?

My parents are veterinarians, but they are not practicing doctors, since they have been totally engaged in scientific and administrative work. I realised that I wanted to treat animals at a fairly adult age, studying in the 9th form, when I was fully aware of the responsibility it entails and how important this profession is. My parents did not insist me to become an animal doctor, I was allowed to choose any occupation to my liking. They supported me and respected my decision.

I had studied at the Academy for five years, and sometimes it was difficult, but I graduated with honours. At first, I studied and worked as an assistant in the Kalinin district veterinary hospital, where I spent almost all my spare time. After graduating from the Academy, for two years I worked as a veterinarian in Odintsovo veterinary hospital, but since last year, I have been working as a veterinarian in Kalinin district veterinary hospital. I was lucky to have an opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills at each place of work thanks to experienced professionals. I am very grateful to them.

Фото: Максим Денисов

What pets people commonly bring to the hospital?

Dogs and cats, mostly. We have some regular patients. Each pet has its own temper, but the most difficult thing is to communicate with their owners.

It is necessary to establish contact both with an animal and its owner. Each doctor owns his or her own magic and tricks of the trade, but there are general principles we adhere to during patient's visit. First of all, your pet must feel safe, some animals need some more time to get used to strange surroundings. It is important to avoid sharp movements and loud sounds, do everything in calm and smooth way.

What diseases are the most frequent ones?

I specialise in surgery and oncology, since I chose these fields during my studies. Animals are prone to have malignant tumours. To identify them at an early stage, it is necessary to pass at least common medical check-up. At least once a year, bring your pet for medical examination, it will have its blood test taken and, if necessary, ultrasound and x-rays check-up done. Never delay a visit to a veterinarian, if you have detected a lump on your pet's body.

What cases have you encountered during your practice?

Sometimes people bring their pets to the clinic for euthanasia, without any objective reasons. It may be pet's behaviour that dissatisfies its owner, as, you see, a cute puppy, never properly disciplined and trained, has grown up to become an adult dog with bad habits, moreover, you have to walk it twice a day, regardless of the weather conditions and other circumstances! Or the owner is just bored with his pet, or it has become a burden. You have to explain people that they are wrong. Although we understand that due to the improper licensing of veterinary activities, they can address charlatans who are vying to offer provision of veterinary services at home or on the Internet, or go to some unauthorised private vet clinic to fix their ‘problem’. We are helpless to resist it. We keep on telling that a pet will find a new owner or move to a shelter, but it is in vain.

Volunteers or just kind-hearted people occasionally bring us kittens or puppies run down by a car or those who fell out of a window. We treat them and later they find their owners.

There are some patients difficult to make a contact with, so that all hospital employees help to deal with them. And it is not only big dogs that may be  aggressive, but some spoiled little Yorkies and even small cats, too. They can bite and scratch both the veterinarian, and their owner.

Once, a woman came to us with her dog to be vaccinated. The pet has been living in a family for a long time, but it knows nothing about a leash or collar. As soon as we approached the dog, it attacked its owner. This was not for the faint of heart. We cannot predict animal's behaviour. Perhaps it suffers from some behavioural and psychological traumas. Such animals need proper care, provided preferably by expert dog handlers.

We have plenty of cases when foreign objects get swallowed by a pet, from jewellery and children's toys to branches of palm trees and pieces of tires. Some bring exotic animals and fish, and we further send them to visit single-skilled experts. Once, a man entered our hospital, with a package full of water with a goldfish in. He said: "Please, check it, it has become somewhat sad."

Tell us about the most popular clinical procedures.

After an overhaul, Kalinin veterinary hospital has new equipment now, ultrasound and X-ray appliances with instant digital image processing. They are more convenient to work with, as they boast high quality and resolution, and much more functions. Today, Moscow state veterinary hospitals carry out a campaign offering ultrasound check-up for free. People take this opportunity to bring their pets. Last month, we had a free chipping campaign.

Pet owners arrange a visit to a doctor through mos.ru portal now. It is very convenient. Some come to have a check-up conducted, for primary appointment or re-appointment, and some register for a surgery. Therefore, we engage in many various things in the hospital, from routine vaccinations to surgeries that can take up the whole day.

What can you advise to pet owners?

Vaccinate your pet regularly, even if it is kept at home and you do not walk it. Proper nutrition (discuss it with a veterinarian), timely castration and sterilisation are also very important.

Unfortunately, pet owners do not want to provide timely vaccination or fail to bring their animal for regular check-ups. I think it is due to availability of information on the Internet. Read and treat, that is our sad reality today. But I strongly advise you: if something goes wrong with your pet, do not just stay home and wait, but visit a veterinary specialist at once.