Dr. Peter Wedderburn is a veterinary surgeon who is quite passionate about communicating his love for his profession through writing, radio, television and the internet.
He is a partner at BrayVet, a modern veterinary clinic. His books on pet care tips published in the UK, USA, Ireland, and France, have been very well received, after his experience in studying and working with animals for over thirty years.
He has been appearing on a TV show in Ireland every Wednesday for the past eleven years and is now moving on to do more shows in the UK. Dr. Pete has also had his share of action in a couple of television adverts as well. Additionally, he writes for newspaper columns for national papers in Ireland and the UK.
He’s been very generous with his time and has kindly agreed to answer some of our questions. Read on for our exclusive interview with this rising star and to see what advice he has for pet owners.
Q1. To start with, could you please tell our readers a little about yourself and your day job?
I’m a companion animal veterinarian, running my own four-veterinarian clinic near Dublin in Ireland for the past twenty years. I have always had an interest in using the media to spread the message about good care of animals, and in the past decade, my day job has changed. I now just spend three hours a day in my clinic, seeing animals and people. The rest of my time is spent working in the media, including television, radio, print and online. I write six newspaper columns every week, for national papers both in Ireland and the UK (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/pete-wedderburn)
02. You use your website ‘Pete the Vet‘ to discuss your work and write about topics pertaining to animal welfare and health. Can you tell us a bit about how that got started?
Around five years ago, the rise in importance of “online media” became clear. I found that my media work elsewhere (tv, radio, print) was available afterward online, but it was not always easy for people to find it. So I set up my “Pete the Vet” blog primarily as a place to provide easy access to all of my other media work by posting links to the various outlets. I also use the blog to post interesting case studies from practice. I believe that my job is fascinating, and I know that many people like to find out more about the daily job of a vet: my blog allows me to provide that information. In recent times, my “Pete the Vet” Facebook page has become an important part of my daily work: all of my blog posts are reposted here, and it’s a great place to discuss and share issues with the online public. I also have a “Pete the Vet” Twitter page: I love how social media makes the world a small and highly communicative place.
Q3. You have also appeared on television and in the media on several occasions. Can you share some of your ‘career highlights’?
I have done a weekly breakfast live tv vet spot for the past fifteen years, and there have been many highlights over that period. The cases that stand out are the times when things went mildly wrong, mostly due to the unpredictability of my animal companions on set. Like the time when a St Bernard dog decided to get up and walk away during the middle of the interview. He was just too big to stop and I had to just let him go. Or the time when I had a hen on set, and after I handed her to the female presenter for a “cuddle”, she decided to pass some droppings, right onto the presenter’s designer dress. A certain amount of randomness tends to accompany my tv spots and I think the station and viewers almost expect it as “normal” at this stage.
More serious highlights include the specific advances in animal welfare that activists here in Ireland have managed to achieve, through lobbying in the media and general campaigning: the number of stray dogs euthanased annually has reduced from nearly 30000 to just over 4000 in the past twenty years, and compulsory microchipping, being introduced next year, will help to make even greater inroads towards tackling the issue of stray/abandoned dogs.
Q4. What are some of the most common problems you encounter pertaining to pet health?
Mostly problems due to ignorance, which is why I am so motivated to spread the word about good animal care as widely as possible. Examples include dogs with appalling dental problems that owners have not noticed, overweight and obese animals that owners see as “normal”, and many animals that are not given adequate daily husbandry because owners don’t know about what to do (eg rabbits on poor diets, guinea pigs without vitamin C, exotic pets in unheated vivariums, dogs that are never taken for walks, and cats that are never given routine preventive wormers).
Q5. If you had to give one piece of advice to pet owners, what would that be?
Take your pet to your local veterinarian for a checkup at least once a year. Nearly every animal has at least two or three small issues that can be easily corrected once they’ve been identified – from dental problems to body weight to small benign tumors.
Q6. And finally, do you have any pets currently yourself?
I am blessed to be married to a woman who is as animal-besotted as myself. We currently have two dogs, three cats and a scattering of birds – 5 hens, 3 ducks, and an aviary full of canaries and budgerigars.