The field of study in veterinary medicine is wide open these days for people who love animals and want to pursue a career working with household pets, wildlife, farm animals or other animals. Advances in technology are helping pets live longer, and changes in the way animals are viewed have created a need for more specialized studies. Veterinary medicine is no longer just about caring for pets in an office. There’s even a field of study that helps protect our food supply. There are some surprising opportunities available for someone with a degree in veterinary medicine besides working as a veterinarian or vet technician.
The American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation is open for veterinarians from around the world to get an advanced degree in the science of sports medicine. Its main focus is on the structural, physiological, medical and surgical needs of working and athletic animals. Currently there’s two fields of study: Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (Canine) and Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (Equine).
Vets who care for shelter animals deal with the health and welfare of pets in a unique environment. In an effort to improve quality of life for pets that have been abused, neglected, homeless or given up because of medical issues or age, shelter medicine is an important and necessary field of study which also promotes the bond we share with pets, and improves the treatment of animals.
We like to take our dogs out in the woods to let them run and play off-leash. There is a secluded area near our house that’s perfect for this kind of activity, and we try to get out there so they can romp around at least twice a week, weather permitting. The fresh air and sunshine is good for all of us. We’ve been doing this for years and consider it quality family time.
Recently on one such outing, Frosty came back limping. We checked her pads carefully to make sure there wasn’t a thorn or cut causing the limp. Everything looked fine, but she wouldn’t put her left rear leg down so we called our vet and went straight over.
When we walked in, he took one look at her and said “I hope it’s not what it looks like, but I’m pretty sure it is.” They took her to the back to get x-rays and then confirmed what he suspected. Our dog had a rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). She had torn her CCL, which is similar to a human’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
A dog’s CCL (and a human’s ACL) is the ligament responsible for stabilizing the knee joint.
When a dog twists on her hind leg or makes an abrupt turn while running full speed, she can tear her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). The twisting motion puts sudden, extreme tension on the ligament which can cause it to tear. Sudden CCL tears most commonly happen when a dog slides on a wet surface, makes a sharp turn when she’s running, or gets hit from the side by a car.
Some CCL tears happen over time. Obese dogs have a higher likelihood of developing this problem than healthy weight dogs. Excess weight puts undue stress on a dog’s knees and the cranial cruciate ligament becomes so weak that it slowly begins to degenerate until it ruptures, sometimes without any extraneous activity.
There are several surgical options for repairing a ruptured CCL. Our vet opted for a procedure that involves using artificial suture fibers (he likened it to fishing line) to reconstruct her ligament. He used this synthetic material to weave between the lower outside part of our dog’s femur (the bone above the knee) and the upper inside part of her tibia (the bone below the knee), creating a manmade cranial cruciate ligament.
The other surgical options are called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and a tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA).
There are cases where surgery is not an option. If a dog is elderly, has a condition that inhibits healing, or is afflicted with another complicating factor, then a combination of medical treatment, restricted activity and physical therapy may be the best route.
For an overweight dog, it’s important to take steps to reduce his body weight. Feed a high quality dog food like CANIDAE, and make sure your pet gets plenty of age-appropriate exercise.
This is where things get tricky, especially if you have more than one dog in your home. After a dog undergoes any of the surgical options for a torn CCL, she must stay completely inactive for a minimum of two weeks. She can only go outside to relieve herself. At around the two week mark, most dogs will do what our vet calls “toe touching,” which means the dog will tap the toe of the hurt leg to the ground and slowly begin putting a bit of weight on it. Our dog isn’t quite there yet. She will occasionally tap her toe to the ground, but most of the time she just hops around on three legs. She’s become amazingly adept at this.
We were told to restrict Frosty to short leash walks for six more weeks to allow complete healing. Because Frosty and our other dog Al are active and like to wrestle, it’s been difficult to keep them from playing around – but we were strictly warned. Limited activity is important in order to avoid damaging the surgical correction.
Our vet thinks Frosty’s prognosis is good if we constrain her activity. We will also continue to massage her knee and perform gentle rehabilitation exercises.
A ruptured cranial cruciate ligament is a serious issue and requires a lot from the pet owners and the pet. However, if you follow your vet’s advice to the letter, your furry friend should be back on all fours in due time. Wish us luck!
When we adopted our most recent family dog, Al, he had been stuck in the system for a long time; he’d been transported to several different animal shelters in the hopes of finding him a good home. I applaud the local shelters for recognizing that he had potential despite some behavioral problems. Even so, he was on borrowed time, and when my husband and I met him, we agreed that we were ready for the job.
To help his transition, we started Al in behavioral training classes immediately. We still have a very long way to go with this dog, but he’s part of our family and we’ve pledged to give him a safe, loving and comfortable home for the rest of his life.
As it turns out, Al’s behavioral problems are only half of the picture. Once the adoption was finalized, we took him straight to our veterinarian. His examination revealed that Al was heartworm positive and had a collapsed trachea. The heartworm condition has been corrected, but we have to take special precautions not to aggravate his tracheal collapse.
There is a lot of information circulating about acute and chronic feline illnesses, which is helpful when you need details about a particular situation or condition. However, there are a handful of common injuries that befall cats on a fairly regular basis, and some of these injuries can be treated at home. A responsible pet owner would do well to have a standard working knowledge of common cat health issues and know what steps to take to help their feline friend. In other words, it’s important to know when you need to make a mad dash to the emergency veterinary clinic versus when you can calmly assess the problem and either treat it yourself or make a convenient appointment with your regular veterinarian.
Here are some of the most common cat injuries.
Animal Bites and Puncture Wounds
Among the most common injuries with cats are puncture/bite wounds, usually the result of a cat fight. With a bite wound or a puncture wound from a sharp, pointed object, you must clean the area thoroughly and try to flush out the wound so you can inspect it. A note of caution: be careful when inspecting your cat’s injury; a wounded animal can be unpredictable and aggressive.
If the wound looks superficial, after cleaning the area apply an antibiotic ointment and keep a close watch on it for signs of infection. Continue to keep the area clean and dressed with the ointment as it heals. Deeper wounds may require stitches and oral antibiotics, so it’s best to head to the veterinarian’s office. Also, cat-on-cat fights can be especially harmful because the bite from another cat can easily abscess. If you know that the puncture wound is a cat bite, go see your veterinarian. A snake bite is an entirely different thing; go straight to the nearest animal hospital.
Veterinarians have their own coded language that pet owners may have to try to decipher. “Vetspeak” can be confusing, but if we don’t comprehend everything a vet tells us, it’s up to us to ask questions so we can understand what’s wrong with our pet and follow the directions for medication and care. Some of the more common terminology you might hear at the vet or read on a prescription label is listed below.
ADR – This is an acronym that means “ain’t doing right.” When seen on a report or heard, it’s an indication that a pet isn’t doing as well as they could be or not as well as a vet expected. The phrase describes a pet with symptoms that have yet to be diagnosed. You might take your dog or cat in for a checkup if you’ve noticed he isn’t eating like he usually does or isn’t acting like himself. Everything may be alright, but it’s always a good idea to have a pet checked out anytime he isn’t acting like normal. It could be a serious problem that’s just beginning.
BDLD – You may see this abbreviation if your dog had a run in with another dog. It means “big dog/little dog” and indicates the severity and type of injuries a smaller dog may have from an encounter with a bigger dog.
BID – This is actually three Latin words – “bis in die” – that mean if your pet requires medication it’s to be given twice daily. TID means three times a day, and QID means four times daily.
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:
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.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.