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Friday, June 26, 2009

The veterinary consultation starts here:

While veterinary consultations typically involve physical ailments and diseases, normal mental or psychological health is just as important in our canine companions. These things can and should be addressed by the veterinarian as soon as the client is greeted in the waiting or consultation room.
I feel this involves greeting the client and taking a brief period of time taking a history, while virtually ignoring the dog. The vet should deliberate approach the dog, while still ignoring it. This allows the dog to not feel like the focus of attention, reducing its anxiety and allowing it to remain calm. Should the dog cower behind the owner or stand up begging to be picked up, the owner should gently correct the dog and have it sit beside or just in front of him/her. Constant whining or attempts to get the owner's attention should be gently corrected. I feel that these steps are mandatory to ensure a successful and relatively pleasant visit to the veterinarian, and should be applied to every situation in which a pet is stressed or anxiety-laden when going somewhere (groomer, vet, boarding facility, etc.).
Small dogs are over-represented here not because they're "prone" to anxiety or fear, but because their owners think that this is the case. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, they are easier to correct physically (and I'm not deathly afraid of getting mauled by them), making them great candidates to work on during their visit. Like Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, I like to "train" the pet owners as well and I find them so wonderfully open to it!
I'll leave it up to professionals to deal with large, aggressive dogs, as I impart much importance to my fingers and other body parts. With these rarely-seen patients, we do the best we can.
Enjoy your next trip to the vet!

Does it get any better than this?!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Long days... and loving it.

After nearly three weeks at my new full-time position, I continue to look forward to going in to work, to working long days, to a fantastic, talented, and industrious group of employees, to a friendly and down-to-earth clientele, to a plethora of challenging cases, to learning, to sharing my knowledge, and to invest in this position.

Though my hours are long, my schedule allows for plenty of days off during the week, allowing me to enjoy all of my personal activities.


Malassezia (yeast) infections: something extremely common in cats and dogs, especially during allergy season. These little buggers can cause nasty ear infections, and if you look for them properly, can be found anywhere on the skin.
Incidentally, our microscope in the clinic is suberb, but not an electron microscope (as what has taken this image).

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Antibiotics do not suppress the immune system

If somebody asks me one more time, "Aren't antibiotics bad for the immune system?", I'm going to blow a gasket.
As a veterinarian trained in the West, I've been trained to use antibiotics for bacterial infections, not homeopathic remedies, nothing freshly grown and picked from the earth.
I believe I am diligent about the prescription of antibiotics... a pill-pusher I am not, unless of course pills need to be pushed.
If a dog, cat, or human being, has a bacterial infection (pneumonia, for example), the infection itself stimulates the body's immune system (because the bacteria are antigens - unrecognized by the body's immune system), while the stress of the entire infection on the body can eventually weaken the immune system. Immunity does not always deal with an infection by itself, especially with serious infections. Antibiotics, when properly prescribed, will kill bacteria, render them unable to multiply, or make them more susceptible to the body's natural immune defenses. Antibiotics are nothing but synergistic allies with the body's immune system. This doesn't mean that physicians should have carte-blanche when faced with treating infections in patients. Pros and cons need to be heavily weighed so that 1) the patient has the greatest chance of recovering and 2) the greatest care is given so that drug resistance does not occur (too late for many types of infections, unfortunately).
If an overwhelming bacterial infection kills the organism, well then, there's no immune system left now, is there?

Pneumonia-causing bacteria.

When used judiciously, these will deal with those above.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cats don't normally....

... consume much carbohydrate. Felis catus, like the larger Felidae, are strict carnivores. The only carbs the large cats consume come from the gut contents of their prey (herbivores). Felines typically don't eat bread, grains, seeds, pasta, rice, couscous... you get the point. Not to say that they won't eat these things, right? Cats, though much more discriminate than dogs, also enjoy food!
So I came home to find my cat chowing down on a zucchini-carrot muffin, which he stole from the bottom of my gym bag. Especially for a diabetic cat, muffins are really not the way to go!
He's voracious all right.

Things he'd eat in a second. How 'bout your cat?

Air France crash

Apparently, a member of a royal Brazilian family, a dancer from the famed "Riverdance" group, and a couple of CEOs from some big company, were amongst the 228 killed in the Air France crash.
Everyone on that plane was someone's "royal," someone's dancer, someone's boss or employee, someone's love.
They were all human and every death caused as much devastation to a family as the next. Who cares what the ---- they did for a living or how popular they were in society... all mattered equally to somebody.
My thoughts are with the grieving families.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Humane Society Woes

Many years ago, soon after I moved to Toronto, I visited the Toronto Humane Society. I told them that I recently graduated as a vet, and management took me on a personal tour of the facilities, which had impressed me greatly at the time. Granted, there were exponentially less cats there at that time than today, but the wards were spotless, the dogs appeared clean and friendly, their runs were well-kept, and the cats lazily purred away while their owners-to-be agonized over which ones to choose. Upon questioning the manager about the THS's long and altruistic history, she reached for her bookcase and provided me with a copy of the THS Calendar, published in 1887, explaining and beautifully illustrating the Society's raison d'être.
Now we read in the Globe and Mail about the Globe's investigation into allegations that the THS has been ignoring the pleas of employees and volunteers to provide them with the necessary means to prevent suffering of their animals.
There appears to be compelling evidence thus far, even after reading just two articles on the subject. Witnesses seem to be coming out of the woodwork to expose their rather shocking personal experiences, while citations from THS management reminded me of the wind gushing from the mouths of yet unelected politicians (or managers who don't know what the ---- is going on in their businesses or institutions). I would have lent far less credence to the nauseatingly lefty writings of the Toronto Star (see last week's coverage regarding dog getting shot by cop - of course let's blame the man) - glad to be reading about this in the Globe.
Whatever occurs, the reputation of the THS must be restored so that its modus operandi not be eschewed for petty politics. Its mandate: to help alleviate the pain and suffering of (people and) animals.

Detail from an image in a previous post, from the Calendar of the Toronto Humane Society, 1887.
Update: OSPCA executes search warrants at Toronto Humane Society. Read here.