Category Archives: veterinary care

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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How to Make Vet Visits Less Stressful

By Julia Williams

As responsible pet owners, we know how important veterinary exams are for keeping our dogs and cats healthy. However, just because we know it’s for their own good doesn’t mean our pets will enjoy the vet visit. In fact, most pets don’t like going to the vet, which makes sense when you consider how stressful it must be for them. Aside from the fear of being in an unfamiliar environment, they encounter peculiar smells and sounds, other animals, and strangers in white coats touching, prodding and poking them. What’s to like about that? Nevertheless, there are things you can do to help your pet tolerate vet visits and keep their stress level down, which will help you stay calm too.

Car Rides

If the only time your pet rides in a car is on the way to the vet, it’s only natural they’ll become agitated. For dog owners, the solution is to bring them along when you run short errands (just don’t leave them in the car in the summer!), take them to a dog park often or to places that allow dogs such as pet stores. This can help curb their anxiety on trips to the vet. I’m not sure the same holds true for cats, aka notorious haters of cars in motion. I haven’t tried “practice rides” with my cats, mostly because subjecting myself to more of the heart-wrenching wails they make in the car doesn’t seem wise. 

Keep Your Emotions in Check

As you’ve probably noticed, our pets are very much in tune with our emotions. If you are stressed and anxious about going to the vet, your pet will pick up on that – so try to stay as calm as you can before you set off, during the car ride and while you’re waiting to see the vet. Speaking words of encouragement in a soothing voice can help your pet to relax in the strange environment. 

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Justice for Bow a Huge Success on Facebook!

By Suzanne Alicie

Everyone who uses social networks like Facebook and Twitter is aware of the possibilities of increasing awareness and receiving donations for worthy causes from the caring communities. Fellow RPO blog contributor Linda Cole has written about this phenomenon in her post “How Facebook Helps Pets in Need.” Today I’ll tell you how Facebook has been a huge success story for a special kitty.

A few months ago I saw that a friend of mine had “liked” a page called Justice for Bow; the notification had a picture of a cat so I went to check it out. I was horrified when I saw the pictures of Bow and read the story of what had happened to him.

Poor Kitty

Neighbors near Burton and US131 in Grand Rapids, Michigan often saw and fed a stray cat living in the area. When a few days went by without seeing the kitty, the concerned citizens began to worry. On May 10, 2011 the cat, which has now been named Bow, was found with an arrow through his face. Someone had shot the defenseless cat and left him to suffer or die all alone. The arrow had entered Bow’s left cheek, pierced his esophagus and exited near his right shoulder.

Saving Grace

The wonderful woman who found Bow took him to Michigan Veterinary Specialists, but she only had $200 to put towards his care. The caring staff at MVS removed the arrow and donated the antibiotics and IV fluids to keep Bow alive. Amy Smith Velthouse, a veterinary technician at MVS, also volunteered at Carol’s Ferals, which was the first place she turned for assistance for Bow. Carol Manos of Carol’s Ferals arranged for Bow to be transferred to the Animal Hospital of Lowell where Dr. Bruce Langlois took over his medical care.

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