Four things pet parents do at vet appointments that drive the staff nuts

The staff at your vet’s surgery is trained to expertly assist both you and your pet, even when things get tough. But there’s a chance you might be accidentally making their jobs more difficult in several different ways. From not being upfront about your pet’s behaviour to getting too involved during the diagnostic process, many pet parents are completely oblivious about best practices in the exam room.

Are you driving the staff at your local vet nuts? Try to avoid the following “vet peeves” if you want to be a dream client.

Putting the staff in danger

Many dogs don’t like the unusual handling that’s part of veterinary exams, but some animal responses to clinical handling are extreme enough to cause actual harm to pet professionals. Not being honest about your pet’s reactivity puts your veterinary technician and vet in danger and can impact the diagnostic process. It’s important to be realistic about your pet’s anxiety so the staff can strategise a treatment plan to minimize canine stress.

Often, that plan might include a dog muzzle for reactive dogs, which can be unnerving for both patient and pet parent if they haven’t had exposure to one before. But muzzling keeps your practitioner safe. Dr. Holly Brooks, a veterinarian at Quakertown Vet Clinic, says, “One bite can ruin my career. Ten minutes in a muzzle will not ruin your dog’s life.”

Being on your mobile phone

Mobile phones have invaded the examination room, to the dismay of pet health professionals. And many vets blame the growing influence of social media for causing clients to second-guess their vet’s treatment plans.

Dr. Google and your pet’s breeder are not medically trained!  “Listen and be receptive to your vet’s opinion. Isn’t that why you brought your pet in to be seen in the first pllace?”

Veterinarian health care is a team effort, and your pet’s well-being is dependent on you understanding the suggested treatment plans and medication instructions. In the future, keep your phone in your pocket and tune in to your veterinarian instead.

Coddling your pet

It’s understandable to want to be there for your pet during a health examination but doing so can make the experience worse for your dog. Vets don’t want to cause undue pain or stress during exams.

In fact, their job is easier if both the pet parent and patient are relaxed during the procedure, so attempting to help by standing front and centre as your vet conducts the exam, or squealing if your pet whines, will likely ramp up the tension in the room.

It’s often easier if pet parents step out of the room if they’re unable to remain calm during the exam. “Sometimes a pet is exceptionally better behaved away from their owner “. Sometimes a pet is trying to protect his or her owner or is feeding off their anxiety, and once their parent leave the room, vets can work with them much more easily.”

It might feel counterintuitive to leave your pet during a tense moment, but if your pet professional suggests it, it’s likely the procedure will be quicker and easier for all parties.

Showing a Lack of Respect

Vet go through years of school at great expense to add the letters “DVM” after their name, but some pet owners seem to forget that fact their vet’s youthful appearance works against him or her in her practice, and clients frequently question if she’s “really” a vet or will comment that she looks too young to be a vet. In a similar show of disrespect, some clients are guilty of calling their vets by their first name during examinations.

If you’ve sought treatment for your pet at an accredited practice under the care of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, you should treat your practitioner with the respect they deserve. Refraining from making comments about your vet’s appearance and using the appropriate title are simple and obvious ways to stay on your vet’s good side.

How to make your vet love you: Client Best Practices

  • training your pet for examinations in advance of actual vet appointments will help your dog feel more at ease with clinical handling
  • “It can be as simple as getting them used to being comfortable with their face, feet and other body parts being touched or held”
  • getting your reactive dog to happily wear a basket muzzle at home and then take the muzzle with you to the appointment. This can help to minimise stress on both sides of the examination table.
  • decrease you dog’s anxiety by giving your dog a few drops of Rescue Remedy to calm him or her down.

To summarise, during the examination, be straightforward about your pet’s behaviour so that your health care team can plan for the best treatment process possible. Hang up your phone and be fully present while you’re at the appointment. Answer questions honestly, whether they come from the front desk staff, veterinary technician or vet, and trust that everyone wants to help your pet be well.

Why is chocolate bad for pets?

What to do if your pet eats chocolate

Why is chocolate bad for pets?  

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Dog eating chocolate

It’s a well-known fact that chocolate isn’t good for dogs. This is because chocolate contains caffeine and the chemical compound ‘theobromine’, both of which are toxic to dogs; because dogs’ digestive systems can’t break these chemicals down in the same way as humans can. The chemicals build up and can cause organ disease and failure if not treated properly.

What symptoms will I see?

Symptoms will occur from four to 24 hours after your dog has eaten chocolate and they will vary depending on the amount of chocolate your dog has eaten.

Theobromine mainly affects the heart, central nervous system, and kidneys and is a toxin that can be linked to hyperactivity. Affected pets can have:

  • tremors
  • seizure
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • ingestion can be fatal

If your pet eats chocolate, take them to your vet immediately.

Other symptoms include

  • rapid breathing
  • muscle tension
  • coordination loss
  • increased heart rate
  • blood in vomit

How much chocolate is too much?

Ideally, you should never give any chocolate to your dog, though sometimes dogs can obtain chocolate without your knowledge. Some chocolates contain more theobromine than others depending on the manufacture and colour. Generally speaking, the darker the chocolate and the more theobromine. Here’s a pretty good guide to which chocolate types contain the most theobromine in order of most to least:

  • baking chocolate (worst)
  • dark chocolate
  • milk chocolate
  • white chocolate (least)

What to do if your pet eats chocolate

Take them to your vet immediately. Unfortunately, there is no antidote for theobromine poisoning. In most cases, your vet will induce your dog to vomit. If there has been a delay in getting to your vet he or she may wash out your dog’s stomach followed by feeding Fido with activated charcoal, which will absorb any theobromine left in your dog’s intestines.

Other treatments will depend on the signs and symptoms your dog is showing. They may need intravenous fluids (a drip), or medication to control heart rate, blood pressure, and seizure activity.

There is also the possibility that it might not just be theobromine that’s causing issues. ‘There are a bunch of other ingredients in chocolate your dog could be reacting to, and these could affect allergies or genetic differences. However, with prompt intervention and treatment, even in dogs who have eaten large amounts of chocolate, the prognosis for a poisoned dog is usually pretty good.

If you are concerned that your pet may have consumed chocolate, contact your nearest Vet for immediate treatment.

The Truth About Heartworm

Veterinarians and pharmaceutical companies have teamed up in a marketing campaign to frighten pet guardians into giving year-round heartworm preventatives to both dogs and cats. They say they’re doing this to improve protection for individual pets, but the facts say they have other motives.

Except for the warmest parts of the U.S., heartworms are a completely seasonal problem. There is no reason to give heartworm medicine to most pets year-round (except to make money for those who make and sell it!).

Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Heartworm larvae, called microfilaria, live in the blood and are sucked up by the bug. Once inside the mosquito, they must further develop before they can infect another dog. For that to occur, outside temperatures must remain above 57 degrees F. day, and night, for a certain period of time. The warmer the temperature, the faster the larvae will mature. If the temperature drops below critical level, larval development will stop; but the larvae don’t die – development will re-start at the same point when the weather warms back up. Larvae reach their infective stage in 8 to 30 days (the latter being the entire lifespan of the average mosquito).

In many areas of the country (northern and mountain states, for instance), such warm temperatures simply don’t exist for most of the year and sustained warm temperatures don’t occur until at least June. In fact, only in Florida and south Texas is year-round heartworm transmission possible. Within 150 miles of the Gulf Coast, heartworm risk exists 9 months out of the year. In the rest of the country, heartworm transmission is possible between 3 and 7 months out of the year. Hawaii and Alaska have each had a few cases of canine heartworm, but the incidence in those states is very low.

It should be obvious that during seasons where there are no mosquitoes, there is no risk of heartworm. Evidently that little fact escaped the attention of the veterinarian who prescribed heartworm protection – in December – for a puppy living high in the Colorado mountains. At that altitude, temperatures are never warm enough for heartworms!

When an infected mosquito bites a dog or cat, the microfilaria is deposited on the skin, where they crawl into the bite wound and enter the bloodstream. Inside the body, they grow and progress through other larval forms. In dogs, the heartworm’s natural host, larvae migrate to the heart and eventually develop into adult worms, reproduce, fill the blood with microfilaria, and pass it on to the next mosquito.

Heartworm preventative drugs do not kill adult heartworms, but they do kill microfilaria up to a certain stage of development. Currently it is believed that larvae under 6 weeks old are affected. This means that to prevent heartworms from reaching adulthood, the preventative can be given up to 6 weeks after the mosquito bite and still work. The recommendation is to give the drugs every 30 days, purportedly because once-a-month dosing is easier for most people to remember (and, coincidentally, it also sells more drugs). Preventatives should be given starting 4-6 weeks after the earliest possible infection date and continue 4-6 weeks after the last possible infection date. In most states, protection should be continued through November or December. In southern Texas and Florida, year-round preventatives may be needed. Local conditions may vary from year to year.

The most common preventative drugs for heartworm are ivermectin (Heargard®) and selamectin (Revolution®). While these drugs are generally safe and effective, there are always exceptions. Toxicity associated with ivermectin include depression, ataxia (balance problems or unsteady walk), and blindness, but these are uncommon at the doses used in heartworm preventatives. Selamectin is also used to treat ear mites and some worms; adverse reactions include hair loss at the site of application, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle tremors, anorexia, lethargy, salivation, rapid breathing, and contact allergy.

Update 7/15/2010: The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recently reported that mounting evidence suggests that preventatives may be susceptible to a very serious problem: resistance. This is similar to the situation with antibiotics, where massive and unnecessary over-use has caused many bacteria to develop resistance to one or more drugs, creating super-infections, and making many antibiotics useless. The CAPC report states: “There is a growing body of anecdotal reports and experimental evidence that currently available heartworm preventives (macrocyclic lactones) may not be completely efficacious in preventing heartworm infection in dogs. Reports of resistance for dogs in the region [south-central U.S.] have resulted in confusion about how best to prevent infection in veterinary patients.” If ivermectin and related drugs lose their effectiveness, that will be trouble indeed, since these drugs are also used in the treatment of heartworm infections.

Only Natural Pet HW Protect Herbal Formula is a natural product intended for use as a preventative to be used during mosquito season as part of a comprehensive heartworm control program. The formula was designed with two objectives, using herbs that work together to reduce the likelihood of mosquito bites to lower your pet’s risk of becoming infected, and to help eliminate existing larvae-stage parasites in the bloodstream. This tincture was developed to help prevent heartworm infestation using extracts of herbs well known for their mosquito repelling properties, and others well known for their anti-parasitic properties.

Reference:

News from Dr. Jean Hofve, Holistic Vet, Only Natural Pet

 

 

A week fostering a dog

‘Our “pet-free” lives have been shattered – with the appearance of a rescue dog. We became foster parents and took in a little hound. We took her from a life of hell in the summer heat to a new home with doting “dog people”….and during that week, we became members of the “dog people” club.’

I really enjoyed this blog post from Andrew Forbes on Andalucia Diary and I wanted to share it with others. Click this link to read the original post.

Keeping Pets Safe in the Home

Few things fill our hearts with joy like pets, but there is a flipside to this – we worry about the furry members of our family just as much as we do our own children.

There are certain things that should always be taking into consideration when animals share a house, and this guide will discuss how you can ensure your home is devoid of danger.

General Guidance

If you’re bringing a pet into your home, or moving to a new family dwelling, you’ll need to ensure that no ill fortune will befall them. Here is some generic advice on how you can keep every member of your family safe, whether they stand on two legs or four.

  • American Humane are dedicated to the safety of animals, and they have some great advice on how to keep inquisitive animals – including puppies and kittens – from getting themselves into trouble in the home.
  • Family Handyman is a blog that’s packed with hints and tips for keeping a home safe for animals.
  • Petful have bags of advice on keeping a home safe for a new, non-human arrival.
  • Animal World go into some detail on all the hazards – be they in plain sight of hidden – that any pet will be able to locate in the home, while the The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has collated a list of all poisonous chemicals that can be found in the home.
  • OVO Energy is a UK-based electrical supplier, but the advice they on keeping pets safe from electrical hazards in the home is truly universal.
  • The American Red Cross provides essential information on how to help your pets if there’s a fire in your home. PETA, meanwhile, offer guidance to how you can keep your pet safe during a natural disaster.
  • Finally, Good Housekeeping magazine summarizes the ways that pets can place risks upon humans.

You can find out more about keeping pets safe in the home by visiting the following link: https://householdquotes.co.uk/keeping-pets-safe/

The grieving process of losing a beloved pet

Pet Loss Help
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France

Pet Loss Grieving

Why do we feel this way when our pets die?

This post isn’t so much about telling you how to grieve. It’s more about sharing my experience of grieving for my sweet, loving little Poppie and to say that you don’t have to feel crushed by loss to honor your pet who has passed.

Grief is a natural response when a pet dies.

When a pet who has shared a large part of our life dies, we experience grief, which is one of the strongest of human emotions. Grief is a natural response to bereavement, but the emotions we feel can leave us feeling distraught and devastated.

How we understand and handle our emotions will determine whether the loss of our beloved companion will completely overwhelm us, or whether we will somehow find the ability to cope.

I found there were several steps in my grieving process, encompassing many emotional, mental and physical states. At times I thought I was going crazy with grief.

Some people struggle terribly whilst others are more accepting, particularly those among us who have nursed ill pets prior to their deaths.

Sadly, grief is not just a temporary state of mind – it is an entire process that has many variations, some of us recover quite quickly others among us done, in fact many people take the pain with them to their graves.

Here’s a list of some of the steps I encountered along the way of coming to terms with losing my best friend Poppie.

Shock and disbelief

Poppie had been a happy little dog when I dropped her off at our groomer’s salon and when I called to fetch her I was told she had had a bit of a turn and they had taken her to the vet.

Dogs healing at The Meadows waiting to go to Rainbow Bridge.

Shock was my first reaction to the news of her death. When the vet told me she had died of a heart murmur I felt my knees buckle underneath me in total disbelief. When I look back on that very sad day I don’t know how I found the strength to drive home and in particular having to tell my dear old Mum that Poppie had gone to the Meadows and was waiting for us to cross the Bridge.

The Meadows and Rainbow Bridge are part of a mythical story of what happens to our pets when they die. The Meadows is where the sick and old dogs go to be healed. It is a warm cosy place for them to wait for us until we pass and then we cross the Bridge together.

It’s okay to cry!

At this point, we were unable to hold in the intense emotion that our darling Poppie had passed. We spent the rest of the day crying and nursing her.

Poppie

Later in the early evening we buried her in our garden looking out over the water as she loved to do. Crying is normal; it is a perfectly natural release emotion and it happens to everyone – it’s okay to feel emotionally devastated.

When a pet passes away almost everyone feels an intense sense of loss and separation due to the fact that our loved one is no longer alive. Memories of the pleasure and friendship that we shared with our pet tend to pre-occupy our minds and nothing seems to give us comfort or solace.

Often people fear that they may be going “crazy” with grief, but again this is normal and all part of the healing and recovery process. Now is the time to reach out to our friends and family, it might not be easy but is important to keep trying.

Helplessness

When a pet passes away almost everyone feels an intense sense of loss and separation due to the fact that our loved one is no longer alive. Memories of the pleasure and friendship that we shared with our pet tend to pre-occupy our minds and nothing seems to give us comfort or solace.

Often people fear that they may be going “crazy” with grief, but again this is normal and all part of the healing and recovery process. Now is the time to reach out to our friends and family, it might not be easy but is important to keep trying.

Feeling lonely

Feeling low and lonely is all part of the grieving process.

These are particularly common symptoms with older people when their pet has been their sole companion for many years. However, many younger people leading busy lives still experience feeling low and lonely even when they have the support of family and friends.

A sense of guilt

Coping with the loss of a pet

When we have just lost our best friend, we often take on the blame for what has happened even when it was completely out of our control. I know because I did it when Poppie died of a sudden heart attack while being groomed.

She was actually running up and down the stairs and playing only minutes before I checked her in with the groomer – so many more self blaming thoughts which I still think of most days such as:

  • Why did I take her to a professional groomer instead of doing her myself?
  • If I only had been there! If I had stayed at the groomers with her would she still be alive today?
  • If I had taken her to the vet more often would he have picked up her heart murmur was getting worse? Despite the fact that last time we saw our vet he said Poppie’s murmur was one she would die with, not because of.

Physical symptoms

The pressures of coping with bereavement whilst still coping with our daily lives may sometimes show up in our bodies as:

  • tension
  • headaches
  • general aches and pains
  • lack of energy or lethargy

Relief

Many of us closely involved with a pet that was ill for some time before its passing feel a sense of relief that their loved one is no longer suffering and in pain.

I remember this feeling vividly when Khan, our very old Shih Tzu (who my Mum and I used to affectionately call our “Old Man”) was so ill with cancer that our vet recommended his time had come to pass over.

After Khan passed our vet sent us a sympathy card with a poem which we found enormously comforting it is called The Last Battle. My mum and I still read this poem to find peace and solace when we think of Khan and Poppie and whenever one of our friends losses a pet we always share it – I hope you will too.

Recovering

Dogs leave paw prints on our hearts

As with losing a human family member it does help if we can share our memories with others by talking about the wonderful memories our pet leaves with us.

Some of us like to keep our pets close by and burry them our gardens and plant a pretty flower or shrub in their memory.

Others choose to have their pets cremated and their ashes put in an attractive urn to display and honour their pets.

How do our other pets cope?

It is important to remember that our other family pets may be affected too. Not only by the fact they too are missing their best friend but also, because our pets are incredibly sensitive at picking up on their family’s emotions.

With our support they too will recover and we need to be mindful of some of the signs and symptoms to look for which will tell us our other pets are grieving:

  • they may seek out and stay in the favourite spot of their missing friend, patiently waiting for their return
  • some animals search for days trying to find their friend
  • they may become confused
  • loss of appetite
  • they may become lethargic or listless

Helping our family and friends through the grieving process

Many of us find it difficult to grieve in today’s busy society, but we can grow as human beings if we are able to grieve fully.

Pet Loss Grieving

As supportive friends we can help our friends and family members start picking up the threads of enjoying life again by being:

  • patient and non-judgmental
  • aware that our friend or family member is gradually working their way through the normal grieving process
  • caring, even if we don’t see it as such, our friend or family member has suffered a deep loss
  • ready to listen when our friend or family member repeats the same old stories about their pet over and over again this is such a vital step towards their grieving recovery

When you’re ready, do consider welcoming another dog into your heart. There are so many wonderful but sad dogs sitting in shelters that are in need of homes.

Though it may not feel like it to begin with, there is room in your heart for a new canine love, and welcoming a new dog into your household in no way diminishes your love for your departed friend, in fact, I think it’s a rather wonderful tribute.

Loss of a pet poems

Loss of pet poems

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies who has been especially close to someone here, that pet
goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special
friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and
sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor those
who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember
them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and
content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to
them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and
into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body quivers.
Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his
legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you
cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses
rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look
more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but
never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together

Author unknown

The Last Battle

The last battle poem - dog grieving Poem

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep
will you do what must be done
For this — the last battle — can’t be won

You will be sad I understand
But don’t let grief then stay your hand
For on this day, more than the rest
Your love and friendship must stand the test

We have had so many happy years
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so
When the time comes, please, let me go
Take me to where to my needs they’ll tend

Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see

I know in time you will agree It is a kindness you do to me Although my tail its last has waved From pain and suffering I have been saved

Don’t grieve that it must be you 
has to decide this thing to do
We’ve been so close — we two — these years
Don’t let your heart hold any tears

Author Unknown

Treasured Friend

 I only wanted you -dog grieving poem

I lost a treasured friend today
The little dog who used to lay
Her gentle head upon my knee
And shared her silent thoughts with me

She’ll come no longer to my call
Retrieve no more her favourite ball
A voice far greater than my own
Has called her to his golden throne

Although my eyes are filled with tears
I thank him for the happy years
He let her spend down here with me
And for her love and loyalty

When it is time for me to go 
And join her there, this much I know
I shall not fear the transient dark
For she will greet me with a bark

Author unknown

I only wanted you

They say memories are golden
well maybe that is true
I never wanted memories
I only wanted you

A million times I needed you
a million times I cried
If love alone could have saved you
you never would have died

In life I loved you dearly
In death I love you still
In my heart you hold a place
no one could ever fill

If tears could build a stairway
and heartache make a lane
I’d walk the path to heaven
and bring you back again

Our family chain is broken
and nothing seems the same
But as God calls us one by one
the chain will link again

Author – Vicky Holder

Please feel free to post memorials for your own pets or tips to cope with grieving in the comments below.

This article and information forms part of the Carole’s Doggie World Holistic Library and is presented for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local vet. Instead, the content offers the reader information researched and written by Carole Curtis for www.carolesdoggieworld.com