Category Archives: veterinary care

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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Tips to Help Avoid Costly Vet Visits

By Langley Cornwell

If you have a pet, you already know how costly it can be to go to the veterinarian’s office or worse, the emergency animal hospital. The best possible scenario is one in which you keep your dog or cat perfectly healthy and out of harm’s way, and only go to the vet for regular checkups. If only it was that easy.

Having lived with multiple animals my entire adult life, I could write volumes about all of the middle-of-the-night emergency vet visits I’ve taken. If I could have avoided some of those visits I might be driving a more reliable car, too – but that’s another story.

So what can you do to avoid some of those costly visits? I’ve compiled a list from a variety of resources as well as my personal observations and experiences. While most of these tips are common sense, it helps to have a reminder once in a while.

Socialize your dog at a young age. Dogs that are comfortable around strangers and other dogs are less likely to show aggression toward humans and they get into fewer dog fights.

Get your dog or cat used to simple grooming. Start this early too. Pets that have been acclimated to simple grooming tasks at a young age allow their owners to trim their nails, brush their teeth and clean their ears so you don’t have to pay groomers or the vet to do these things.

Take basic obedience classes. As with socialization, a dog that is good with basic commands is generally better-behaved. If your dog listens to you and obeys you, you are better able to protect them. Once I was playing fetch with my dog in the back yard. Something caught her attention and she became fixated on an object in the grass, which was unusual because she loved to play ball. I issued the ‘leave it’ command as I was running over to see what was in the grass. Upon my command, she backed away from a copperhead snake.

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How to Know if Your Pet is in Pain

By Langley Cornwell

Years ago I was away on a business trip and had a pet sitter stay at my house to help with my two dogs. When I got home, one of my dogs was acting funny. Her energy was low, she wouldn’t eat, and her breathing was labored. Even though there were no visible signs of an injury, I knew immediately that she was in pain. The problem was, I had no idea why (or for how long, the pet sitter hadn’t noticed). Because it was after-hours, we went straight to the overnight emergency clinic. The veterinarian agreed she was in distress but couldn’t make an immediate diagnosis. Because she was also dehydrated, my sweet Lab was put on fluids and pain meds. I was frantic with worry but did take comfort in knowing that she wasn’t in acute pain any longer.  

As hard as this is to imagine, there was a time when veterinarians thought pain was good for animals if they were hurt. The logic was that the pain kept the animal still and quiet, which helped expedite the natural healing process. Fortunately, that belief is antiquated and, as in the case with my dog, vets now practice the opposite.

Pain management for animals is an important issue in veterinary medicine. An animal’s pain is now managed until the pain is believed to be completely gone. The American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners both support the theory that pain management improves an animal’s recovery process in all cases including injury, illness and surgery. Moreover, since pain management reduces the stress an animal feels and increases their sense of well-being, it may help a pet live a longer, more comfortable life.          

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Debunking Common Pet Health Misconceptions

By Langley Cornwell

Statistics point to an alarming trend in pet health care: even though the population of pet owners has increased, the number of dogs and cats that are getting formal veterinary care has sharply decreased. The study, commissioned by Bayer HealthCare LLC, Animal Health Division and conducted by Brakke Consulting in collaboration with the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, was comprehensive and well documented. It included two phases, answers from pet owners and consultations from veterinarians. The study indicates that the decline in veterinary visits may be due to misconceptions people have about their pet’s health. These misconceptions can stem from a combination of factors including the glut of information – some accurate and some not—available on the internet, and economic drivers enticing people to independently diagnose their pet’s health problem and explore home remedies.

While it’s not necessary to run to the vet every time your dog has hiccups, there are times when proper veterinary care is the right choice. Here are some common pet health myths and accompanying facts to help you determine the best course of action for your animal companion:

Are annual wellness exams really necessary? Nothing is ever wrong with my pet.
95 percent of veterinarian involved in the study strongly suggested that both dogs and cats need at least one veterinary wellness exam annually. Conversely, a lot of pet owners believe the only time their pet needs to go to the vet is for shots or vaccinations. Routine checkups are important because that’s when the vet examines your pet’s eyes, ears, heart and lungs. Additionally, the vet may take x-rays and do a blood workup. These examinations require specialized tools and techniques. If your pet is examined on a yearly basis, the veterinarian can catch problems or conditions before they become serious and costly.

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When Should You Rush Your Pet to the Vet?

By Linda Cole

It’s not always easy trying to determine if a pet’s injury or condition needs a vet’s attention. If it’s after hours, you don’t want to waste your vet’s time with a minor problem that can wait until the office is open, but you also don’t want to not call just in case your pet needs professional help now. Emergencies happen and most vet clinics have numbers where they can be reached after hours and on holidays. Every pet owner should have that number written down and kept in a convenient place. Not all injuries or conditions require rushing your pet to the vet; however, there are warning signs and symptoms that can help you decide if it’s a true emergency.

Minor injuries and some medical conditions can be taken care at home, but many pet owners haven’t the foggiest idea what to do. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s why we have a trusted vet. Nevertheless, as responsible pet owners we should have a general idea of how to care for minor problems at home. An emergency trip to the vet is more expensive than an office call. One of the best ways to know if you need to call your vet is to know your cat or dog well. If your pet isn’t acting like themselves, that’s cause for concern and warrants a watchful eye from you.

Understanding how the weather can affect a pet is important because when it’s hot outside, pets may not have their normal appetite. As long as they are drinking plenty of fresh water, skipping a meal now and then or not eating as much isn’t a problem. But if they refuse to eat after missing one or two meals, that is a reason to be concerned. Hyperthermia (too hot) and hypothermia (too cold) are weather related conditions that can turn into an emergency.

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Questions You Might be Asked by Your Vet

By Julia Williams

When our four legged friends get sick or injured, we rely on the expertise of our veterinarian to help them get well, and most do an excellent job. However, there are times when we, as the pet’s guardian, can either help or hinder the vet’s ability to do their job and make an accurate diagnosis. Of course we want to help them because we want a healthy pet, but we might unknowingly hinder them by not being as prepared as we possibly can.

Many times, in order to know what’s wrong with our pet, the vet will need to ask us a lot of questions. How we answer – or don’t answer – can make all the difference. When it comes to my pet’s health, I like to think of that well known saying, “There is no such thing as being too prepared.”

Before your pet needs to see the vet, it’s a good idea to write down the answers to possible questions they might ask. You may know some of the answers by heart, but writing them down makes the vet visit less stressful because you know there’s no chance you’ll forget. And it allows you to review them before the vet visit so you can be prepared.

Questions You Might Be Asked

How old is your pet? (Write down their exact birth date if you know it).

How long have you had your pet, and where did you get them?

Have there been any recent changes in your pet’s diet and/or eating habits?

Has your pet been vaccinated? If so, which vaccines and when did they receive them?

Does your pet receive flea treatment? What kind, and how often?

Has your pet ever experienced an illness/injury similar to this one?

Is your pet currently under treatment for an illness or injury?

Are they on any medication? What are they taking, and what is it for?

What brand of pet food are you feeding them? How much, and how many meals per day?

How much water does your pet typically drink every day? Have there been any recent changes in that amount?

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