Category Archives: veterinarian

What Does It Take to Be a Veterinarian?

By Ruthie Bently

Have you ever looked at the framed certificates on your veterinarian’s wall? Do you know what it takes to become a vet? Anyone interested in becoming a vet should have a love of animals and be able to deal with the emotions of their owners or caretakers. You need to be good at math, psychology, English, physiology and anatomy of many species and understand numerous medications (both capabilities and side effects) and when to prescribe the right one. You need to like school, taking tests and studying a lot.

For vets in rural areas there can be emergency calls on nights, weekends and holidays. Imagine a call in the middle of a cold winter night for a farm animal with a breech birth in an unheated barn. You need to be able to perform surgery, both routine and emergency; blood and needle phobics need not apply. One vet, when queried about the hardest part of practicing veterinary medicine mentioned euthanasia; whether an animal was too ill and it was the kindest thing or because there were no loving homes for them. The same vet said the most rewarding part of their job is working with animals and seeing the happy faces of pets and owners.

High school students interested in becoming a veterinarian should concentrate on getting good grades. You need to have a great head for memorizing facts. Vet school selection committees require good grades in science, biology and math, and look at your background situation and previous experience with animals. To be considered for admission to a vet college, a student must complete pre-vet medical course work as an undergraduate. This takes three to four years of college study; courses required include physics, English composition, chemistry, math and biology. While a Bachelor’s degree may not be required, a large percentage of students entering vet school have them. Many students with an eye on vet school select an undergraduate major in agriculture, biology or animal science, as the courses overlap vet school requirements. If you’re interested in specializing in a more exotic species (e.g., lions, dolphins, elephants) you will need to take courses in marine biology or zoo medicine.

Each vet school’s admission requirements are different, and contacting the college closest to you is suggested. Before entry to vet school, each applicant is required to take the (GRE) Graduate Record Examination. Evaluation letters from people you’ve worked with help the school evaluate your work ethic and character. A vet hospital work history and letter from a veterinarian documenting this can assist you and may be required. Some vet colleges are affiliated with the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) and require this form from an applicant as well. The deadline for the VMCAS is almost a year in advance of when you start the vet program.

There are 28 accredited schools of veterinary medicine in the United States. They receive their accreditation from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). These are the only schools recognized where a veterinary medical degree can be attained in the U.S. The vet schools are usually located at state colleges, and preference is given to applicants of the state, though some accept a limited number of non-resident applicants. Veterinary students take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) in their final year of school. If they pass the NAVLE, meet state license requirements and finish their veterinary degree program successfully, a student becomes a licensed vet eligible to practice veterinary medicine in the U.S.

A vet school teaches many subjects and a graduating veterinarian can go into many fields. The majority of veterinarians go into private practice, but there are also openings in teaching and research (at vet schools); regulatory medicine (the elimination or control of animal diseases that can affect humans, testing animal vaccines, as food inspectors for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service; public health (help control and prevent diseases that affect both humans and animals, FDA employees testing food additives and medicines, the Environmental Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service); United States Military (biomedical research and development, care of government-owned animals, food safety and public health officers), private industry (biomedical and pharmaceutical research).

Vets never stop learning, as the needs of their patients are constantly changing. They need to keep current on new medications and drug therapies, new treatments and techniques, as well as diseases and infections that can affect our pets and possibly us. Vets take continuing education courses to keep their knowledge up to date, and some of these are required to keep their license current. Most vets read several medical magazines and books every month, not just veterinary ones. Some vets may go on to study for a specialty (behavior, orthopedics, geriatrics, cardiology, dermatology, nutrition) and there are exams to qualify for these as well. Many vets pass on their knowledge to other vets by speaking at conferences after they have been certified in their given specialty.

I have been blessed with most of the vets that have taken care of my animal companions over the years. A few had a lousy bedside manner, “dumbed down” their conversations with me, and had a “do as I say” attitude. They didn’t last long. A good vet will listen to all your concerns and discuss them with you. They will explain any procedure that needs to be performed and why. Any time you need to speak with them about an issue with your pet they will talk with you in a language you can understand. And their care and compassion for your animal will be evident.

CANIDAE “Ask a Veterinarian” Page

Do you have a question you’d like to ask a vet about your pet’s diet, nutrition or health? Visit the “Ask a Veterinarian” page on the CANIDAE website to read articles written by a specialized team of veterinary consultants. If you don’t see your question listed, you can submit it. The most popular questions and their answers will be posted.

CANIDAE 2010 Scholarship Recipients

CANIDAE has awarded their 2010 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Scholarships which supports applicants that have chosen to pursue a career path and life dedicated to the health and welfare of our pets. The program winners are Rebecca Tanaka Reader (Tufts Cummings School), Stephanie Heilman (Ohio State University), Kendra Creighton (University of Michigan at Ann Arbor) and Richard Boisvert (University of Calgary, Canada). Each winner received $2,500 from the $10,000 program.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Tips for Stress-Free Vet Visits

By Ruthie Bently

I’ve been a dog owner since 1981, and have been blessed with my dogs. My breed of choice is the American Staffordshire Terrier; while they are not the breed for everyone, they are a great fit for me. I got two of my dogs as puppies, and as a responsible pet owner I took the time to teach them a few things before we headed off to the vet’s office for the first time.

I began handling my dogs at an early age to get them used to it. Whether you show a dog in confirmation events or just want a family pet, they all need to get used to being handled. You want to handle them all over, touch their head, check inside the ears, open their mouth and look inside, check their gums, their feet, between toes, toenails, even their tail. Make it fun – using dog treats makes the job easier if you have a wiggler. Until a puppy gets used to being handled, it’s easier to do this after romping or just before you put them to bed for the night.

It is also important to teach your dog the basics of leash walking. When you go to the vets, use a regular six foot lead. It will give you more control than a retractable lead in the confines of the vet’s office where you may encounter other dogs. Get your dog used to riding in the car by going for short rides. Take your dog to the pet shop, a dog park or a beach, or other places they have fun.

Make sure to socialize them well and allow them to meet other dogs; this helps prepare them for encounters with multiple dogs at the vets. It also helps them to be less stressful, as they don’t just go in the car to the vet’s office. Schedule a trial run at the vet’s office at a time when the veterinary personnel can greet your dog and offer a treat. This lowers stress levels and puts a different spin on going to the vet. If your dog tends to get carsick, don’t feed them before going to the vet and keep this in mind when making your appointments. Make your appointments for early morning and feed your dog after you get home.

What do you do when you adopt an adult dog and don’t know the dog’s temperament at the vet’s office? If you adopt your dog from a shelter, ask to speak with the person who took them to the vet, or if the vet came to the shelter ask how the dog behaved there. How is the dog around other dogs? Do they ignore them, are they friendly or are they aggressive? Do they have a fear of noises? By finding out as much information about your new dog as possible, you will have an idea of what you need to work on.

If your dog acts anxious in the vet’s waiting room, don’t pet or comfort them. This only reinforces the behavior. Distract them with a treat or job to do that will bring praise. I have taught Skye the command “pay attention.” She knows that I expect her undivided attention and her eyes don’t leave my face. For example, if there’s another dog making a fuss at the vets, I say “pay attention” and Skye ignores the other dog. The vet’s waiting area is large enough for me to work Skye, so sometimes we bone up on basic commands while we wait. You can also just keep your dog on a down/stay next to you until it’s your turn to be seen. Don’t let your dog wander, because the other pets that are there may be ill and you should not allow your dog to approach them. They may not be as socialized as your dog, and illness makes pets cranky.

Depending on your vet’s situation, you may be asked to assist by holding your dog and keep them calm during the examination. This may be required when the vet draws blood, takes your dog’s temperature or gives your dog a shot. Put one hand on your dog’s neck and keep the other on their collar to help steady them. Be generous with your praise, as this will distract your dog from the procedure being performed. The calmer you are, the more comfortable your dog will be.

Skye has to visit the vet every six months for blood tests. I don’t worry about her though, since she loves the vet and enters (and leaves) with her head high and her tail wagging vigorously.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Top 10 Reasons Pets Go To The Vet

Did you take your pet to the vet last year? If so, you are in good company. More than 75% of pet owning households take their pets to the vet every year. About 1/4 of pet-owning households go to the vet four or more times per year. Routine veterinary checkups and vaccinations are the most common reason that pets go to the vet each year.
I have 3 dogs – Frog, Hank and Sophie. I was curious about the most common reasons that pets go to the vet so I did some checking and what I found was pretty interesting.
According to the Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, their policyholders visited the vet in 2008 for various reasons. They made a top ten list for dogs and cats, not including routine veterinary care. The top reason for dogs was ear infections and the top reason for cats was lower urinary tract diseases.
So, how did my own dogs fare according to the veterinary top ten? Well, one of my three dogs did have an ear infection, number 1 on the list. I did not fare so well with numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7 on the list: 4. gastritis/vomiting, 5. enteritis/diarrhea, 6. urinary tract infections and 7. benign skin tumors.
My old lady Beagle, Frog, was the queen of 4, 6 and 7. She had to be treated for persistent vomiting (caused by number 6, urinary tract infection) and also had a benign skin tumor removed from her leg.
My big yellow Lab Hank was treated for 4 & 5 due to consumption of the stuffing from his bed. Oops!
The newest addition, our stray Lab mix Sophie did the best. She did have to get her vaccinations and get spayed, but (knock on wood) , has not been treated for any illness since she came to live with us.
Check out the full top ten lists for dogs and cats on VPI’s website.
Top Canine Claims Top Feline Claims
1.  Ear Infections 1.  Lower Urinary Tract Disease
2.  Skin Allergies 2.  Gastritis/Stomach Upsets
3.  Pyoderma/Hot Spots 3.  Chronic Renal Failure
4.  Gastritis/Vomiting 4.  Enteritis/Diarrhea
5.  Enteritis/Diarrhea 5.  Diabetes Mellitus
6.  Urinary Tract Infections 6.  Skin Allergies
7.  Benign Skin Tumors 7.  Hyperthyroidism
8.  Osteoarthritis 8.  Ear Infections
9.  Eye Inflammation 9.  Upper Respiratory Virus
10. Hypothyroidism 10. Eye Inflammation


The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Find a Veterinarian

Do you know how to find a reputable veterinarian for your four-legged friend? Think of it as if you are looking for a pediatrician for your human child. The same ideas apply; you are just looking for a veterinarian. A good place to start is to ask family, friends and coworkers. Do they like their vet? What kind of impression does their vet give? If you don’t have friends or family who live close by and you go shopping for a vet on your own do you know the questions to ask? Here’s some help.
Call a veterinarian in the area and make an appointment. Are they willing to see you without your pet first? If they are a good vet, they will understand. You want to meet the vet first alone to see if you get along and will be willing to trust your pet with them. Also ask them if they are willing to give you a tour of the practice.
Arrive at the vet’s about fifteen minutes before your appointment time, this will give you a chance to visit with some of the other clients in the waiting room, and see how the vet interacts with not only them but their pet as well. It also gives you a chance to look around.
How does the staff treat the patients waiting to see the vet? Are the office and staff neat and clean, or dirty and dingy? Does it smell clean or like urine and feces? Is the staff friendly and informative or standoffish and un-talkative? Are the vet’s credentials prominently displayed? Do they sell your brand of pet food? If not, do they have access to your food and are they willing to order it for you?
Questions to ask the vet:
  • Does the vet make house calls if you have a skittish animal or can’t get into the office?
  • If you’re in a rural area and have larger animals or birds, will the vet be able to take care of them too?
  • If money is an issue, will the vet work with you by allowing you to make payments on your outstanding bill?
  • Something else that is important, does the vet talk to you and explain things, or does he talk at you and expect you to follow his orders? You want a veterinarian who will work with you, not against you when dealing with your pet’s health issues. After all, your pet is still a member of the family and your veterinarian is just as important as any other doctor that a family member may see.
Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.