Dr Rachel Nugent graduated from Bristol University in 1999 and has been a vet with Pet Medical since it began, nine years ago.
Whilst juggling her family and own animals, Rachel works two days a week at our Pet Medical Muswellbrook clinic and also teaches veterinary nursing – small animal and equine at TAFE NSW, Scone campus.
Rachel completed her postgraduate foundation course in feline medicine in 2014. Not satisfied with this alone, she has just gained Feline Medicine Membership through the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists. This has involved rigorous study through postgraduate level examination.
“Given that this is one of the only globally recognised colleges of feline medicine, I studied with vets from all around the world. It has significantly expanded not only my knowledge, but my connections in terms of feline research, resources and world best practices.” Dr Rachel Nugent, Pet Medical vet
Q It is clear from your feline study that you have a special interest in cats. Can you tell us about this?
Our feline expertise is unique for country practices. Many country practices specialise more in canine expertise due to the focus on the role dogs play on farms, cattle and sheep properties and stations, and generally in country life. Pet Medical provides cares for all small animals and we felt there was an opening for a specialist feline focus.
Thankfully, the perception of cats in country areas is changing. People in country areas are now valuing cats more and through our Snip Kitten Rescue program, we are also working to reduce the number of unwanted kittens and cats by offering desexing twice a year at a reduced cost. We also offer a re-homing program.
Pet Medical is a Gold Level Accredited Cat Friendly Clinic – accredited through the International Society of Feline Medicine. Cats are notorious for hating vet visits. We are all about creating a welcoming space for them and so this is a wonderful environment for me to work in and for our cat clients.
Q – What sort of things do you do to welcome your cat clients?
Cats don’t like dog smells so we have a separate waiting room for our cat visitors. We even spray their area with comforting pheromones to help them to feel comfortable. We want them to be as comfortable as they can. It is more pleasant for them and it is certainly easier for us when we are examining them.
Q – What is it that led you to such a keen interest in dental veterinary medicine? And how does Pet Medical lead the way in veterinary dental procedures?
“A couple of years ago, Pet Medical introduced an x-ray machine for teeth and other small x-rays. This revolutionalised our dental treatments and we are the only practice in the area with this equipment. It is essential for accurate dental diagnoses. You can look in an animal’s mouth and all looks fine. As soon as you see the x-ray, you can identify the problem. For instance, raw lesions will be apparent below the gum line.
The Pet Medical veterinary hospital at Muswellbrook also has a machine to help perform molar extractions. According to Rachel, “It’s the gold standard of veterinary dental equipment and makes the operations much quicker and efficient with less bruising.
“Understanding and treating dental problems is also about knowing the symptoms. There are subtle symptoms such as animals putting their head down while they’re being patted or swallowing their food whole instead of chewing. Many of these symptoms can go on for a long time before the obvious symptoms of pain become apparent.