Category Archives: veterinary care

How Do You Know if Your Vet is a Keeper?

By Julia Williams

Of all the things we can do to help our pets live long and happy lives, finding a great veterinarian is definitely near the top of the list. Because we rely on their expertise for basic pet care as well as emergencies, it’s vital to find a vet that both you and your pet are comfortable with, and one that you’re confident will help you make the best decisions for your pet. It can be a challenge, though – just as it can be to find the right doctor for your own healthcare needs. There are many factors that determine whether your pet’s vet is a keeper. Here are some:

Bedside Manner

The way your vet interacts and communicates with you is an important aspect of the relationship. Visits to the vet are often stressful because we are worried about our pet’s health. A good vet will be compassionate and will try to make you feel at ease. They also need to have excellent communication skills, and be able to clearly explain treatment options, test results, medications, at-home procedures and other things relating to your pet’s care. Your vet should also have a good bedside manner with your pet; you should feel as though they really care about your pet.

Willing to Explain

A vet who rushes through the exam as though their primary concern is adhering to a predetermined time limit for the visit, regardless of what might ail your pet, is definitely NOT a keeper. You may be ushered out before you feel your concerns were really heard or before you have a thorough understanding of your pet’s health or care. If any veterinarian makes you feel that way, walk out and never go back.

A good vet takes the time to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about different treatment options. They explain what the risks or side effects are, what a particular procedure entails and what they feel is the best course of action for your situation.

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A Quick History of Veterinary Medicine

vet history bainbridgeBy Linda Cole

Modern day veterinarians have an essential role in the health and welfare of our pets, as well as livestock and wildlife. Vets are well-versed in the science of animal health, and they promote public health by identifying and combating infectious zoonotic diseases that can be passed from animals to humans. Advances in medical science have provided veterinary professionals with sophisticated equipment, tests, procedures and medicines to treat our pets. However, the history of veterinary science dates back much further than you may realize.

The first known people to dabble in the field of veterinary medicine began around 9000 BC in Middle East countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Iraq. Sheepherders had a crude understanding of medical skills which were used to treat their dogs and other animals. From 4000 to 3000 BC, Egyptians took earlier medical skills and made further advancements. Historical records and Egyptian hieroglyphs record how they used herbs to treat and promote good health in domesticated animals.

Vedic literature, which was written around 1500 BC, refers to four sacred texts from India written in the Sanskrit language that forms the basis of the Hindu religion. The Kahun Papyrus from Egypt dates back to 1900 BC. Both texts are likely the first written accounts of veterinary medicine. One of the sacred texts documents India’s first Buddhist king, Asoka, who ensured there were two kinds of medicine: one for humans and one for animals. If he discovered there was no medicine available for one or the other, he ordered healing herbs to be bought and planted where they were needed.

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What is Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?

By Langley Cornwell

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) is an unusual medical condition that affects the brain and causes some very strange symptoms in cats. It can affect felines of all ages, but it is most common in adult cats and the cause is still somewhat of a mystery. Some of the experts suspect that this condition could be caused by seizures, a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder or a type of brain disorder.

Veterinarians describe the condition as a rippling motion that starts at the shoulders of the cat and runs all the way down to its tail, which explains why it’s sometimes called “rippling skin syndrome” or “twitchy cat syndrome.” Hyperesthesia is the word used to describe a heightened sensitivity that affects the senses and in this case, it’s the skin. You can actually see the skin moving in some cats but it can be hard to see in others, depending on the thickness and length of the cat’s fur.

Symptoms of the condition may occur in any breed or sex of cat. Even so, Abyssinians, Siamese, Burmese and Himalayan purebred cats seem to be predisposed to develop hyperesthesia.

FHS symptoms are occasional, so cats may act normally for long periods of time, eating their nutritious CANIDAE cat food and drinking plenty of water, but then an owner will notice some of the following symptoms.

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What is White Shaker Syndrome?

By Langley Cornwell

White Shaker Syndrome is a condition that’s known scientifically as idiopathic cerebellitis; it’s a disorder that causes a dog’s entire body to shake uncontrollably. The word idiopathic means the condition or disease is of unknown origin, and may or may not arise spontaneously. The word cerebellitis lets you know the condition is located in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that regulates voluntary muscle movement (like shrugging your shoulders when you don’t know something or crooking your finger repeatedly when you want someone to come to you). The cerebellum is also responsible for common coordination. So cerebellitis means that an important part of your dog’s brain is inflamed.

The condition has taken on the nickname White Shaker Syndrome because, while pets of any color can be affected, it appears that dogs with a white coat are more likely to suffer from the condition. Medical literature has determined that white West Highland terriers and Maltese dogs seem to be predisposed.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that one of our dogs is tremendously shy and fearful. When we were first introduced to her, she shook so badly that her legs buckled and she fell to the floor.

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Being a Responsibly Informed Pet Owner

By Julia Williams

We live in interesting times. It’s true that every generation has it decidedly different than the one before, but the disparity seems to get wider with every decade. One reason for this is the internet. I used to get answers to all my burning questions by phoning the library reference desk. If the librarian didn’t know the answer, she always knew where to find it… in those archaic things called books. Remember those? LOL. Now, I can find the answers online in less time than it takes to pick up the phone.

It’s easier than ever to be an informed pet owner nowadays, provided you know how to tell the difference between reputable websites providing accurate information, and sites looking to make a quick buck with keyword-stuffed content. Just because you see the same info on many websites doesn’t mean it’s correct; online information tends to multiply like rabbits, and the “daddy” site that everyone else copied from could be erroneous.

So I always approach my online research with a healthy dose of caution, especially if it concerns my pets’ health or my own. I also do not attempt to self diagnose, and I never substitute the opinion of my trusted vet with information gleaned from a website. That being said, the internet can complement veterinary care because it allows you to ask your vet more questions and gives you the opportunity to learn and become a more informed pet owner.

I always thoroughly research anything my own doctor recommends or prescribes for me, and I do the same for my cats. I have a wonderful vet; she doesn’t roll her eyes when she seems me getting out my “list” of symptoms or things I want to ask her about. (I can’t say the same about my M.D.). My vet always takes the time to discuss all medications, treatments and options with me so I’m confident in the decisions we make together about my cats’ care. I trust her expertise completely, but I still believe a responsible pet owner has a duty to be as informed as possible about the various options.

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Helping Animals in Third World Countries

An Unforgettable Trip to Nicaragua   

Suturing post surgery with the supervision of Dr. Carvajal

Hello! My name is Jaimie Spitz, and I’m a fourth year animal science major at California Polytechnic State University. With the help of CANIDAE Natural Pet Food Company, I was rewarded a sponsorship that granted me the opportunity to work with the Volunteers for Intercultural and Definitive Adventures (VIDA) and travel to Nicaragua, one of the poorest nations in Central America. I participated in a volunteer program that established a temporary veterinary clinic, assisting over 200 malnourished animals in a two week span.

VIDA is a nonprofit organization that sends groups of students to third world countries in Central America. The participants are comprised of mainly pre-vet, med, and dental students who are given the rare opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience while aiding the disadvantaged communities of people and the overpopulation of stray animals that inhabit the area. The majority of these people are living in poverty, making less than $2 a day, and don’t have the necessary knowledge or resources to care for their pets or children, let alone themselves.

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

With the kind help of CANIDAE, I was able to join a team of 40 pre-vet, med, and dental students from the University of Madison, Wisconsin. Our mission was to learn and help as many animals and people as possible in the duration of our two week program. With a group of 7 pre-veterinary students, a translator and a lead veterinarian, our team set up a makeshift veterinary clinic in a local elementary school on the beautiful Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. Our supplies were limited by donations, so we had to work with what we had. The clinic consisted of three intake tables covered with large plastic bags, a pharmaceutical table, a surgery prep corner, a surgery table centered in the location with the most access to direct sunlight, and a recovery area identified by laid out newspaper and used towels.

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