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Friday, November 11, 2011

If it aint broke...FIX IT ANYWAY!

There are some things I can forgive. I understand that not everyone has studied animals as long as I have or are in the business to have to know certain things. But there are some things I CANT forgive.

Common sense is sadly, not that common. And too many people dont care or refuse to learn how to care for their pets properly.

Here's a little guide:

Un-neutered male dog/cat + un-spayed female dog/cat WILL eventually = BABIES!  Babies are expensive no matter what species it is. Of course thats only if you want to do things right. Unfortunately many people do the bare minimum IF that.  Most places have low or no cost spay/neuter clinics. And if not, suck it up and spend the money. If you cant afford it, you shouldnt have gotten a pet. There is no excuse to have an unaltered cat or dog unless you are ACTIVELY showing them in conformation shows. And no cat or dog should be bred unless it has been titled in shows, and passed any and all health certifications. No this does NOT mean "my vet says she's healthy". That means Certifying hips with OFA, ruling out genetic issues like heart defects, or any other defect prevalent in that breed. This costs money. Quite a bit. REAL breeders do it to further the breed...they rarely make much, if any, profit.
Not fixing your dog leads to a host of problems, both health and behavioral. Intact males will break through doors to get to a female in heat, which they can smell for up to a mile away! They will run away, get hit by cars, etc..   They will also be much more likely to mark or spray.  Intact females will bleed for @ 10 days twice a year. Cats can go into heat much more often and in fact, can go into heat and not come out. 

Good info: http://www.almosthomerescue.org/spayneuter/spayneuter.htm  

Medically..if you dont know what testicular cancer, mammary cancer or pyometra look like..check it out. Do you really want to put your animal through this torture??



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Plastic surgery

Do you know what these are? No, not jelly beans...Neuticles. Fake testicles for dogs. No I'm not making it up.  People actually spend money so their neutered dog still LOOKS like he has testicles.

Not even the big "macho" breeds. I've seen little white fluffballs like bichons with fake testicles.

What is the point to this you ask? THERE IS NONE. Its all in the heads of the owners who need their pets to look a certain way to satisfy some innate insecurity.

And it isnt the only thing. People are tattooing their pets. With actual TATTOOS...not just ID tats. Pictures and tribal tattoos. There are people out their piercing their pets.

While many of these things are illegal in places, since ID tats are legal there is a gray area. But morally...COME ON! Sorry, but there is nothing that is ok about causing your pet pain for vanitys'  sake. And for the record, yes I am opposed to ear cropping, tail docking, declawing, etc...also.


They are not your dolls to play with. They are living breathing creatures who shouldnt be subjected to these things which have ZERO health benefits. No your Sphynx cat does NOT need a tattoo of an Egyptian necklace.

They dont care. Let them be animals. If you like tattoos and piercings and plastic surgery...feel free to get it yourself.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feeding the beasts

Pet nutrition is very important. Its also a bit subjective. You could ask 10 people what food is best and you will get 10 different answers. This is my opinion. It is based on 20 years of research and experience, but it still just my opinion.

First of all..and this may sound odd, but your vet isnt always the best person to ask what to feed your pet. I've worked with MANY vets who knew nothing about nutrition and the little they did know was from the 2 or 3 classes they took on it in school. Classes that are argued by many, are bought and paid for by the big 3 of prescription pet food. (Purina, Science Diet and Royal Canin).

Just like every person has different dietary needs, so do dogs and cats. What is perfect for one may be extremely unhealthy for another.  To put it in human terms...I have several friends who have done the Atkins diet with great results. I couldn't do it without putting my health at great risk because I was born with pancreatitis and have to keep my protein and fat intake to a minimum. All that meat on the Atkins diet would put me in the hospital writhing in pain! But they lost weight and felt great. Same with dogs and cats. There is no one perfect food.

Having said that...do your research. Pretty much any dog or cat food that you can buy at the supermarket is garbage. It is the nutritional equivalent of you eating nothing but McDonalds all day every day your entire life. Yes you could live and some people may actually stay healthy against the odds...but it certainly isn't recommended.

Personally, I feed my dog Blue Buffalo. It is a grain free diet that is great for his coat and health. I've had dogs with serious allergies (one that would claw himself bloody even on meds) and a few weeks on BB and the itching was down by @85%!! So I am a big fan. And it isnt very expensive! I pay @ $18 for a bag of dry and $2-$2.50 a can. My 13 pound dog will eat 1/4 can a day and the smallest bag of dry(which is the $18 one I get) lasts well over a month. I dont give him canned every day...about 4x a week. So 1 can lasts him a week. So less then $26 feeds my boy with high quality food for a month!

I feed my cats Science Diet original dry. I'd love for them to eat Blue Buffalo as well but my female will not under any circumstances eat anything BUT SD original dry. She is 10 years old and unlikely to change. I've tried many times. She flat out refuses to eat (and while a dog will eat on its own eventually, it can be very dangerous to let a cat go on refusing to eat as they will be stubborn enough to starve themselves right into kidney failure) and runs back and forth over our heads all night to show her displeasure.  So SD it is! A smaller sized bag is @ $19 and lasts me (feeding my 3 cats and occasionally a stray) almost a month. And my cats can EAT! I give my boys some canned once in awhile, but not every night and my girl refuses to eat canned. (yes she's a diva and yes she rules the house!)

They are all as healthy as can be!

Birds are the opposite of cats and dogs in that the more healthy people food they get the better. Mine get a bowl of seeds & pellets to nibble all day, but also get plates of people food. They love organic spring mix salad mix. They also get some of whatever I make that day that's good for them...veggies, fruits, grains...tonight they will get some mashed potatoes and broccoli. They had some cereal for breakfast and a big plate of salad for lunch. The phrase "eating like a bird" was obviously made up by someone who had never had to feed the little piggies!

So the bottom line is...do your research and get the best food you can. Lots of the problems we see in the vets office (allergies, kidney and liver failure, dental problems, etc...) could have been helped immensely or even avoided all together by feeding the right diet from the beginning!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thanks to the internet, everyone's a Dr

Before I begin..I am NOT saying not to do your research. The more informed our clients are, the easier our jobs are. Research everything to death. Get second opinions if you feel the need...get third opinions. No vet worth their license will be insulted by this.

BUT....do NOT think that you have everything all figured out because you did one of the following:

1) found some info on a random website
2) asked some strangers on a message board what they think is wrong with your pet
3) asked your Aunt Joan what's wrong with your pet.


More and more lately,  I and/or the Dr walk into the exam room just to have an owner give us their diagnosis of their pet immediately. Some have even gone so far as to say "I dont need an exam...I know what's wrong and these are the meds I want"

Yeah. That wont fly at a human Dr. and it wont fly with a vet either. Especially considering that at least 75% of these people are dead wrong as to the diagnosis. If you haven't gone to school to study veterinary medicine, you are not qualified to diagnose your pet. Neither are random strangers on the internet or your Aunt Joan who has worked at McDonalds for the past 30 years.

The Dr needs to examine your pet. Depending on what that exam turns up, we may need to do tests to determine the problem and proper course of treatment. To not do this would be a gross injustice to you and your pet, and may very well cost the vet his license. Yes, you have to pay for all this. WebMD is lovely and I have used it myself. It was never meant to replace an actual doctors exam. And it is also meant for HUMANS.

While I am on this particular rant...I need to say this. VERY IMPORTANT!!

DO NOT GIVE YOUR PET HUMAN MEDICATION. EVER. NEVER EVER EVER.  Esp if a licensed veterinarian has not explicitly told you to.

Yes, there are a few human meds that are safe for pets.(and no I will not tell you which ones.I will not give medical advice over the internet) Others..like Tylenol, Advil and Aleve....can KILL them in less then an hr. I dont care if your parents always did it and it was always ok. There's a guy that travels around the country eating nails for money. If I did that, I'd be in the hospital real quick. And if I told them that he ALWAYS does it and he's ALWAYS ok, I would be laughed at. And rightly so.

So PLEASE!! If you have the urge to give your pet human medication...at LEAST call your vet and ask if it is ok before you do it. It will probably save you the cost of an emergency vet visit and a lot of heartache in the likelyhood that your pet does not survive.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How much do we need?

For those that may be wondering...

When your vet asks you to bring in a fecal sample,unless otherwise specified,  we need about a fingernail sized amount. Preferably as fresh as possible.

Please dont bring in a quart sized Ziploc baggie full of every pile you found in your yard. We dont need or want that much poo!

If you are directed to bring in a urine sample, this is where bringing as much as you get comes in handy. Since we may (depending on the reason you were asked to bring it in) need to run multiple tests and/or send it to an outside lab...go ahead and bring in a big ol' cup full!

As for blood, this also depends on what we need it for. We may need just a drop, we may need 10 cc's. And depending on how much your pet and their veins want to co-operate, this takes time. So sorry, but we cant tell you when we take him in the back exactly how long it will be til we bring him back out. Could be a minute, could be longer. Could be that several people need to try several veins before we get enough blood out of them. The probability of this increases if your pet is older, sick or uncooperative.

Just a little FYI! :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

No social butterflies!

Waiting sucks. I get that. We ALL get that. I bring a book to the Dr's office because I know there's a chance I'll have to wait.

We do everything in our power to get you in and out as fast as possible. But especially being a full service hospital, as opposed to just a Dr's office, things happen. The person before you who said they were bringing their cat in "just for a check up" brought in a half dead animal we now have to scramble to try and diagnose and save. Maybe someone ran through the door not long before you with a dog that had been hit by a car. Maybe the Dr. is having one of "those" days and we have to pry him away from Angry Birds to see clients.

Whatever the issue is...it probably isnt the fault of either the receptionist or the tech that things are running late. So please dont take it out on us.

And stay where you are put! Sitting in the exam room for a length of time may be boring, but when you wander around the hospital so when it IS your turn we now have to hunt you down...yeah now the person after you has to wait longer. Which pushes everything back. So please...don't wander. Don't visit the cute puppy in the room next door. If you need to run your dog out to pee, tell us.

We will get to you as fast as we possibly can. I promise!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

AM ER

I am not a morning person. By that I mean I get physically ill if I have to get out of bed before noon. I usually wake up about an hour before I have to be at work...even though I work 5 minutes from home and getting ready takes me about another 5 minutes. This may seem like a contradiction...but it takes that long for the nausea to pass and for my brain to switch to the ON position so I can actually drive to work.

Normally I get to the hospital around 8am. For someone like me, for whom mornings are the devil...everyone is generally lucky I'm wearing pants at that ungodly hour of the day. Anyone who has worked with me for any length of time learns to not bitch and complain to me for the first hour or so I'm there. Just let me have my coffee and do my morning routine (set up the exam rooms for the day, turn on the x ray machine to warm up, make sure there are enough packs sterilized for the surgeries scheduled, etc...etc...) and dont bug me.

That said.  Should an emergency come through the doors bright and early, my adrenaline kicks in, the clouds lift from my brain and it's GO TIME!

If you bring in your dog cradled in a blanket covered in blood, crying and pleading for us to save her...I will jump to attention IMMEDIATELY and do everything in my power to stabilize her and save her.

BUT. If, when I ask how and especially WHEN this tragedy happened....expecting you to say something to the tune of "about 15 minutes ago...she ran out the door when I was leaving for work"..and you tell me it happened EIGHT EFFING HOURS AGO and you were just too cheap to take her to the vet ER...don't expect me to be very nice.

The ER is expensive. I know that. I've taken my own pets there several times over the past 20 years. You figure it out. Put a cpl dollars from each paycheck away in an emergency fund.Beg and borrow from friends and family. Sell something. Max out your credit cards. YOU took on the responsibility for this animals life....she depends on you and you alone. And when it comes down to a life or death emergency...and you decide to save a few bucks by letting her suffer all night long(like the owner who's dogs eye FELL OUT and was hanging by a thread on its cheek ALL NIGHT)...don't get offended when I point out that you are a moron who may very well have just cost your pet who you claim to love like a child, her life.

I already explained...I'm cranky in the morning.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saying goodbye

Today at work a family brought in their 16 year old dog to be put to sleep. He couldnt get up on his own anymore and overall...it was time. Of course that doesnt matter..the family was still heartbroken.

People have asked me many times over the years how I handle this part of the job. There is no simple answer to that.  It is, by a large percentage, the hardest part of the job. Even if, like today, I have never met you or your pet before this last, heart wrenching day...a tiny part of me dies too.

Sometimes it is made a bit emotionally easier by the animal being so aggressive they are trying to kill us the entire time.  Sometimes the animal is almost gone by the time they come in and the injection is almost a formality.

Not today.

I do not question the family's decision. The dog was old and clearly he had given them all the signs that he was ready to go. But he was still alert. And still loving.  To the point where he was licking my face til the very end.

Most of the family opted to be with their dog for the entire process(their teenage son could not and waited in the lobby while the final injection was given). Many people do not. I understand that it is difficult. Possibly the most difficult thing you have ever done. Definitely the most difficult thing your PET has ever done. So please...if you can, choose to be there with them. As much as we can hold them and pet them and talk to them...nobody can truly comfort them til the end like their family. They deserve that.

Afterward you can grieve for your lost friend. I know I will. I always do.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Leave the hugs to the pros please

In most vet exam rooms there are signs that say something to the tune of: "For your safety and that of your pet, please allow them to be restrained by our trained staff"

It is there for a reason.

I know you think you are the best person to hold and comfort your pet...and you are. At home. Not at the hospital.

When pets come to the vet, esp when it comes time to actually do things to them they don't like (like shots, rectal exams, etc..) they are not in the same mind-space they are every other minute of the day. They are scared, freaked, stressed and possibly aggressive. Animals often become complete opposites of their usual selves when at the vet. Fear and adrenaline can make the most loving dog into Cujo or the cat even the owner can't touch into a submissive blob.

If your pet freaks out and struggles or becomes aggressive...the staff is trained to handle it. You are not. If your pet suddenly lashes out...it will not know who or what it is biting at. It just wants to get away and make the bad scary thing stop happening. It has no idea why these strange people in this place that smells weird are sticking things in his butt, poking him with needles and hurting him. Most don't understand that we are trying to help. They only know that strangers are hurting them.

So yes, Pookie may very well bite out of pure fear. And if you are the closest thing to him...you are the one that will get bitten. And Pookie will then attempt to dive off the exam table and potentially hurt himself worse then whatever you brought him in for in the first place.

So please. For everyone's sake. Let us hold your baby for just these few minutes. We'll give him back, we promise.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Oh poo!

Occasionally (ok a lot), animals pee and/or poo in the vets office. It's ok. We are used to it. If we are lucky, they go on the floor and not directly on us!

If your pet does this, please act normally. By that I mean, apologize but not profusely. Offer to clean it up, but accept it when we (most likely) say not to worry and we will be happy to do it for you.

When you act like it's the worst thing to ever happen, it stresses out your already freaked out pet.  Who probably pee'd and/or poo'd BECAUSE they are stressed. Don't make it worse! And please....if your pet DOES pee ON me, don't grab paper towels and try to scrub off my clothes while I am wearing them. I assure you, I'm used to it and I have a change of scrubs in the car. You rubbing the urine into my skin through my scrubs is not helping!

Conversely...don't act like an entitled biatch while you watch us scrub up your pets mess in silence.  Poopsmith is not my job title. I don't mind helping...but it IS YOUR pets mess. An OFFER to help clean it up is appreciated. Unless I am excessively busy, I likely will politely turn your offer down and do it myself. But the offer is still appreciated.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Surgery is still SURGERY. Even if its Fifi or Fluffy.

Those of you that have had the misfortune of having to have had surgery in your life....did you just show up at a hospital in the middle of the day at random and announce your readiness to be sliced open?

No?

Guess what? You cant do that with your pet either! Surgery for animals involves the same things as humans...anesthesia, an iv, pre-surgical bloodwork, sedation, the requirement that there be no food or water after midnight the night before, etc...etc...

Not to mention that veterinarians are DOCTORS who have APPOINTMENTS and dont have that magic locket that turns back time from Harry Potter so they can somehow see 7 people at 2pm on Tuesday.

So please....dont randomly show up at your vets office and announce that you want Fifi spayed RIGHT EFFING NOW while you wait. Cause you know what? No.

In fact...dont randomly show up at your vets office and announce you want ANYTHING right effing now unless it is genuinely an emergency. And no...the fact that you have an hr for lunch and it didnt dawn on you until today that you are taking Fluffy to the groomer tomorrow morning and they require her to be up to date on vaccines is NOT an emergency. Blood pouring out, bones poking through skin, seizures...THESE are emergencies. Getting you to your spa appt on time doesnt count. Bite me. :)

First post!

A little info on me. I am a veterinary technician. For those of you not in or acquainted with the industry, this is comparable to a nurse. But with a much smaller paycheck!  I am the one who you see in the exam room first. Who takes your pets temp., weighs them, draws blood and/or takes other samples as needed and asks you about their history and why they are at the hospital that day.


You will be amazed at the level of insanity we in the veterinary industry deal with on a daily basis! From crazy owners to bites to heartbreak...I will share it all with you.

So for anyone who thinks we all just cuddle puppies and kittens all day at work (though we do that too! One of the best perks of this job!)....stay tuned!!