Dr. Llera Answers Edie the Pug & You

Dr. Llera Answers Edie the Pug & You

Last week, I got the chance to interview the up and coming famous Edie the Pug (read it here).  Did you happen to catch her on “Animal House Calls” last night?  We learned a lot about pug life and her views on some things in the veterinary world last week.  This week I get in the hot seat and she asks the questions.

What’s your favourite part of being a vet?

I just removed this huge bladder stone

I just removed this huge bladder stone

Excellent question.  I really love surgery!!  A chance to cut is a chance to cure.  Whether it’s spaying/neutering, removing bladder stones, or saving a life because a silly pet ate something it shouldn’t have, I love it all!  In an almost too close to call second, I derive immense satisfaction from healing pets and reuniting them with their families.  Seeing the happiness on people’s faces when their beloved pets are sent home is a feeling I will never get tired of.

Do you (secretly) like giving us needles and taking our temperature?

Oh gosh no!  I hate needles myself!!  I always use the smallest needle possible and appropriate for each patient and whatever is being given (some medications are really thick!).  I do this for their comfort but also to try and make a visit to the vet less fearful.  As an added bonus, if somebody moves and I get poked too, the needle doesn’t hurt as much!  About the whole temperature thing, I’d like to say “let’s not go there” but it’s a necessary evil.  If there was a reliable safer way, I’d be all for it.

What about that scale – are you sure it’s set correctly?

I certainly hope so….I weigh myself on it!  Oftentimes, we’ll put one of the larger bags of food on it to see how accurate it is and usually it might only be off by 0.1 kg either way.  What I do suggest for smaller dogs and cats, is that your veterinarian get a baby scale which will be more accurate for lower weight pets.

horses at winterHow many pets do you have?

Currently living in our house we have 5 pets.  The two dogs are Charlie the border collie mix and Taylor the English Springer Spaniel.  The three cats Gremlin, Asia, & Louie all get along with each other for the most part and love snuggling the dogs as well.  We also have two horses, Willie a pony cross and Gus, our Hanoverian stallion that was part of my wedding gift to my wife – but they don’t live in our home!  I also have an iguana named Guida who is almost 24 and still lives with my mom in Florida.

If you weren’t a veterinarian, what would you be?

Wow…where to begin?  Being an astronaut would be cool but I’m not much of a risk taker….something about sitting on an explosive amount of fuel is unsettling let alone being isolated in outer space; they are truly braver than I am.  I always felt that I would probably enter into some kind of teaching field.  This pairs naturally with being a veterinarian and trying to help inform pet owners.  When all is said and done though, I don’t think I could be anything but a veterinarian because it’s the best job in the world!!

Why do you make me leave my humom to go into the “back room”?puppy patient

Oh it’s not such a scary place…it’s where keep the biggest treat jar!  But to answer your question, the treatment room is often where we do a lot of our work.  Taking blood, nail trims, and ear cleanings are some of the things we do there.  Oftentimes, we can also get second opinions from our colleagues who aren’t usually able to also come into the same exam room.  One of the main reasons we take pets to this room is to be able to safely get work done.  Pet parents really do love their fur-kids and we understand that but their well meaning attention to the patient sometimes gets in the way.  People have clutched on to their pets too tight and we can’t adequately examine them.  Another facet is that if the humom or hudad is anxious about things, the pet will often pick up on that and the visit will be more stressful for everyone.  Lastly, we have trained staff that are able to safely hold onto the patients and well intentioned parents can get bit if they try to hold their own pets.

Why do I have sit on the tall stainless steel table to be examined?

For small dogs like yourself, and cats, being up on the table is primarily to help the veterinarian out.  When a lot of patients are on the floor, they tend to move around and wiggle too much.  This can be a problem with larger dogs too but not as often.  Also, when you’re seeing 15-20 patients a day, your back can really hurt if you’re bending over all the time to do a thorough exam.  I’m in talks with our own practice manager at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic about trying to remove some of the fear from the vet visits and part of that will include covering up the cold steel tables.

Be honest – who is a better patient – dogs! Or those cats? LOL

Ah, trick question!  I love them both equally.  If I had to give preference, it would be to whoever doesn’t bite or scratch!


Well that’s all the time we have for this week.  Thank you Edie for some intriguing questions!  *paw shake*  And thank you everyone for joining us.  You can check Edie out on her blog.  Be sure to visit next time as we delve into the world of pet foods & labels…what do they really mean??

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion (excluding Edie’s answers) and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest! Also on the right side here you can subscribe to my blogs so you always get the latest post delivered to you!

Edie the Pug Woofs the Truth

Edie the Pug Woofs the Truth – An InterviewEdie side profile

Lately I’ve had a few serious posts here.  This week we lighten things up by getting up close and personal with Miss Edie the Pug.  As I don’t have my own late night television show, she joins me on the figurative couch as she lets all of us in on the answers to questions that maybe you or your own pet have had as well as some things I’ve always wondered.   She’s a busy pug so let’s begin…

Thank you for joining me Edie.  What’s it like living with 2 cats?

It’s great to be here.  Well Dr. Llera, when they are not sleeping in my bed or taking my humans attention away from me they’re okay.  They have a box in the basement I sometimes try to clean out for them but I get in trouble for that.  I also like it when they don’t clean their food dishes out. *licks lips*  They have lived with me all my life, so I would be lost without them – but don’t tells anyone I woofed that.

I’m not sure if you watch Westminster, but when not cheering on your fellow pugs, who do you really hope wins the big dog shows?

Oh that’s a difficult question.  I have a furfriend that is a Border Collie and one that is a Newfoundlander, but my humom and I have a soft spot for Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.

Okay, onto something a little more serious…  What’s the worst part of going to the vet? (Is it the scale, the thermometer, needles, or something else?)

Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes ;)

Actually, I don’t mind going to visit my vet, everyone is very nice to me and I get lots of attention and cuddles – BUT, I have a real problem with that thermometer, do you think you could warm it up at least?  And I don’t like having my nails trimmed – I have sensitive toes.  But the scariest part is when they have to take me into the “back room” away from my humom!

*chuckling* I’ll have to see about getting those thermometers warmed up.  So what would you like to tell other pet owners about a vet visit?  What’s the best part?

I would tell other pet parents that stopping by my vets office when it’s not for a visit that includes needles or when I’m unwell helps to make the visit fun and not a scary place.

Sometimes I go with my humom for the drive (I do love a car ride!) and we just stop in to pick up food, or to step on the scales to keep a check on my weight.  That way I associate it with fun and cuddles!  And yes, the treat jar is a great perk ;)

What would you tell veterinarians that would make a visit better?

Great question Dr. Llera!  I’m fortunate to have wonderful vets and the staff is always friendly and makes me feel comfortable.  I think it’s our humans that need to be comforted more.  If they are relaxed and feel like everything is going to be ok, then us pets will be relaxed too.  Maybe there should be a treat jar for the humans!

Awesome idea, I would love a treat jar for owners but I might use it myself…not good for my waistline.  What is your favorite toy and why?

Edie with her Telus Critters

Edie with her Telus Critters

Do I have to pick just one?  When I watch TV, yes I watch TV, especially commercials with animals in them I would go crazy!  When a Telus commercial comes on with the critters in it I would actually cry (you’re not going to print that part are you?) because I wanted them to come out of that box and play with me!  So I was a very lucky pug and the nice humans at Telus sent me my very own critter to play with.  My critter is never out of my sight.

Do you have your own bed or does humom & hudad let you share theirs?

I have had my own bed since I choose my humans 4 years ago.  As much as I would love to cuddle in the bed with them I like my own space to stretch out and I don’t have to fight for the blankets.  Besides, no one snores in my bed ;)

You’re a lucky dog Edie.  What’s the hardest part of being a pug? 

Wow, that’s a difficult question!  The hardest part of being a pug is we can never have enough love and attention from our humans.  Oh, and we can never have enough treats ;)

How did you get started on having your own Twitter, Facebook, etc.?

Because I’m a very social pug, and I have so much to woof about, my humom helped me set up my own Twitter account just after my 2nd barkday.  And of course what’s a pug without a blog, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest account?

You certainly have a good heart and definitely help lots of people & animals.  Aside from helping out with the OSPCA, what else do you want to share with pets & people to make their lives better?

I don’t know that I can make pets or human’s lives better, but if I can make someone smile than that’s all that really matters.

Do you have other goals you hope to accomplish?

Edie,Royal Canin Canada ambassador

Edie,Royal Canin Canada ambassador

-Finding a way to get the treats from the top of the fridge

-More car rides – preferably to the pet store to get more toys

-Meeting and making new friends

-Having my pug face on the Royal Canin food bag

-Becoming the first Telus pug critter

Those are some great goals; I hope you reach them!  Thank you for joining me Edie!  I certainly learned a lot and I hope so did my readers.  Thanks for joining us everyone.  Be sure to visit back next week when Edie turns the tables and puts me in the hot seat with some questions of her own!  In the meantime, check out Edie’s blog and see how awesome the world is from her viewpoint.

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion (excluding Edie’s answers) and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest! Also on the right side here you can subscribe to my blogs so you always get the latest post delivered to you!


Euthanasia – A Gift for Animals but Not People

I don’t always stick to strictly animal topics.  Today, we look at a recent topic in the news from the human side.  Don’t worry, next week we’ll get back to animals and something fun; I promise.

Euthanasia – A Gift for Animals but Not People

Recently, the Canadian Supreme Court reached a landmark decision to reverse a law allowing people to have access to physician assisted death in specific cases.  The current law will become invalid in 1 year.  A few places around the world such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the states of Oregon, Montana, & New Jersey (to name a few) already have laws in place to allow such end of life decisions for people. Belgium even allows for euthanasia of a person.

Coming to such a decision to humanely euthanize a pet has been a gift for people and the affected animal for many years.  I have unfortunately been witness to pets being carried along for too long with owners living in denial.  I remember one cat from 6-7 years ago (from my time in Florida) that I diagnosed with end stage liver failure.  This sweet cat would come in 1-2 times a week to have fluid removed from his belly just to help him feel comfortable and be able to breathe.  The owner was unwilling or unable to afford more intense or beneficial therapy but she refused to euthanize her sweet boy.  Some people might say I should have refused to do anything but that hardly seems humane.  Despite all my efforts to discuss the quality of life with this owner, they refused euthanasia and sadly this cat passed away one day on his way to the hospital from trouble breathing.


I’ve seen how perceptive animals are.  If the tables were turned, I think they would make the decisions to let us go if they felt our suffering was too great.  Personally, both of my grandfathers lay helplessly in their hospital beds in their final days.  Yes, surrounded by family who loved them but all of us being powerless to ease their pain.  Hopefully the recent decision by the courts here will allow people to decide the same for terminally ill human patients as we do for our pets.  I encourage everyone reading this to contact your member of Parliament (or your Representative/Senator if you’re in the USA) and ask them to support new laws showing this kindness towards people.  Some of you may not agree, but I see myself in the unique position as a veterinarian that I know what a blessing it can be to relieve suffering in my patients so I feel my position is warranted.  Whether you agree or not, I’m open to civil discussion in the comments below.

For more information, in Canada, you can visit the organization Dying With Dignity Canada on their webpage or Facebook.

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest! Also on the right side here you can subscribe to my blogs so you always get the latest post delivered to you!  And as I mentioned earlier, next week we’ll be back to animals and something more fun & light-hearted!

The Eyes Have It

The Eyes Have It

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” – Martin Buber

I know this from experience when I look into those big brown eyes of my dog Charlie.  Whether your pet’s eyes are brown, green, blue, or yellow, they all show you that they love you.  But what about those pets that have two different colored eyes??  Sure, they still look at you with unending devotion but what else does it mean.

Photo courtesy @AlexandraLSmit2

Photo courtesy @AlexandraLSmit2

Eyes of different colors are technically called heterochromia irides.  Color is determined by the amount of pigment in the iris and the iris color can be either single or have multi-colored sections.  In many cases, this is a congenital condition but in some cases it can be a sign of disease.

Congenital heterochromia is inherited and is common in both cats and dog.  Specific cat breeds that predominate in this category are white Persians, Turkish Angoras, and Japanese Bobtails.  In most cases, there is no problem with vision and no treatment is necessary.  If one iris is affected (meaning it has two or more colors), certain developmental or growth defects can be present and may or may not require intervention.  Acquired heterochromia is a change that will happen later in life and may sometimes be related to a medical problem.  Some of these problems include inflammation or even cancer and it should be evaluated by your veterinarian.

pic from Wikipedia

pic from Wikipedia

With some animals, there are certain genetic makeups that associate a coat or eye color with deafness as well.  The most common of these is white cats with blue eyes.  Some cats that have blue eyes may not be deaf however as in Siamese cats and this is because the genes for coat color and eye color in that breed are separate unlike in pure white cats.  Other cases typically include coat colors that are merles, dapples (usually with dachshunds), harlequins (often Great Danes), and dogs with a piebald coloring.

When it boils down, most of these cases do not cause a significant problem.  Animals are very adaptable when it comes to deafness and in most cases heterochromia does not lead to or indicate a problem.  If your pet is older and this condition develops, get them checked out with your veterinarian.  Otherwise, if they are born that way, celebrate their uniqueness and love them as you normally would.

Acknowledgments:  This post was suggested by Twitter followers @MacBarksBack and @AlexandraLSmit2 (that’s her cat!).  Information from the Veterinary Information Network was used to help write this post.

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!

Declawing Cats – Why I’m Stopping

Declawing Cats – Why I’m Stopping

It is highly unlikely that there is a more controversial or debated topic amongst animal lovers even in the veterinary community.  I personally had not given it much thought until I met my colleague at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Jaime Buchanan.  She mentioned that I should watch “The Paw Project” (which is readily available on Netflix).  I watched it this past weekend and here’s my thoughts on onychectomy (the proper name for declawing).

my sweet cat Gremlin

my sweet cat Gremlin

I’ve been in practice as a veterinarian for almost 9 years now and I’ve declawed a number of cats.  I’ll admit, I even had my own cat, Gremlin, declawed almost 14 years ago.  Like many other people, I didn’t give it a second thought at the time as I had a waterbed and lived in a rented apartment where my roommates dog had already torn out a chunk of carpet.  Also like many other people, I didn’t really know what declawing was when I was a young first time cat owner who had not gone to veterinary school.  In actuality, it is the amputation of the third phalange of each digit (toe) – basically from the tip of your finger to the first joint.


Paw Project movie poster

Watching “The Paw Project”, I was baffled why anyone, let alone who, would declaw a lion, panther, or other wild cats.  There were visible physical deformities that when watching, I attributed to a very poorly done surgery.  Namely, nails regrowing which is often the result of incomplete amputation of the bone the nail grows from.  Then they turned to domestic house cats as the focus.  This is not to say that house cats do not have any problems after a declawing surgery.  Undoubtedly, there is always a risk for complications such as open wounds, infections, remainders of bone left behind, damage to paw pads, or residual pain despite analgesics (pain meds).

pic from www.gopixpic.com

pic from www.gopixpic.com

What about the psychological or behavioral implications?  Well, this is part of the major dilemma.  Cats are typically declawed to avoid unwanted behaviors, namely furniture destruction.  Declawing a cat doesn’t remove that behavior…I see Gremlin making the same motions on a step stool all the time.  Opponents of declawing argue that declawed cats have more instances of biting and can be more instances of inappropriate elimination. Personally, I can agree with the biting aspect but find difficulty accepting the inappropriate elimination aspect as I see that almost daily in non-declawed cats and find the causes are infections, stress, or bladder crystals.  Yes, there are studies out there that discuss this but they are primarily retrospective studies involving asking pet owners.  Several of these are cited on pawproject.org under the FAQs.

Now Gremlin does not harbor any ill-will toward me because I had her declawed; she is bonded to me and very rarely is social with other people.  But for many people and their cats, the relationship may change.  That relationship is what leads owners to elect for a declaw procedure in the first place.  They think that by removing the cat’s ability to destroy furniture or scratch people that all will be good in the house.  Unfortunately, some cats who do begin to bite more as a way of defending themselves or communicating are very likely to end up outside, in a shelter, or euthanized.  Outside, they are even more helpless against other animals.

Plenty of color choices! pic from Wenn.com

Plenty of color choices! pic from Wenn.com

Nowadays, there are alternatives to declawing aside from nail trims though trimming a cat’s nails is much easier than black nails of a dog.  I always recommend to new pet owners to start playing with their kittens feet to get them used to being handled and also to start trimming every couple of weeks while they are young.  Soft Paws are plastic coated nail covers which can be applied with an adhesive and will last for several weeks.  The old standby is scratching posts.  Cats can be taught to go after the scratching post instead of your furniture by rubbing catnip into the material.  It’s best to let your cat choose the post, so give them a few options – carpet covered, rope, cardboard, etc.  Another product I became aware of is called Sticky Paws which is a double sided adhesive that can be stuck on objects you don’t want scratched and when the cat goes after that object the material will be unsatisfying to them and they can be taught to avoid it.

Let’s briefly look at the other pets in the house – dogs.  Dogs have been known to rip up carpets, chew couches, scratch up doorways but nobody ever considers taking off the dogs toes or removing all their teeth.  So why have we gotten into this acceptance of declawing for cats?  When I think about it this way, it becomes clear to me.

We have to start to make a change somewhere.  As of today, I am declaring that I will cease to do elective declaws on cats (this includes another type of procedure called a tenotomy).  The only situation that I would still do such a procedure would be if a medical reason for the cat to have a toe amputated was given (such as a tumor).  Next time you’re in to your veterinarian, maybe ask them how they feel and maybe it will make them step back and think.  As of 2014, declawing was banned in at least 30 countries and at least 8 US cities all in California (per The Paw Project).  The State of New York is also currently considering a law to join in the ban.  Someday maybe this procedure will be illegal elsewhere but until then, inform yourself and bond with your cat.

paw project bumper sticker

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!

« Older posts