Category: General (page 2 of 10)

Vet Techs – My Heroes

vet techs heroes superheroes

from Retroland.com

Everybody needs a hero.  For the kids of the world, it might be one of the Avengers, an athlete, or a beloved book character (Harry Potter anyone?).  For the adults, maybe it’s a friend, the President, or your parents.  As a veterinarian, most people would think that my hero would be James Herriot.  While he holds a special place in many people’s hearts, he’s not the first person I think of first when I choose my veterinary hero.  In actuality, I can’t pick just one person.  I have to admit I go with a collective.

The ones I look up to and admire are veterinary technicians.  Many pet owners and the general public don’t realize the full extent of what they do. It’s all the little things (and big ones) that they do that makes me appreciate and respect them.  While often times it’s the veterinarian that gets the credit for helping our animal patients, it’s really a team effort but the technicians are the ones doing a large portion of the work.

multiple Pinterest boards

multiple Pinterest boards

Vet techs aren’t just awesome at cuddling puppies & kittens, though it is a perk of the job sometimes!  They can often be found restraining an animal for a catheter, collecting blood or urine samples, and recovering a patient from anesthesia.  They get exposed to radiation for x-rays though we make it as safe as possible.  Oftentimes they are the first ones to note a problem or pain in a patient when it is brought back for triage during an emergency while the doctor is being tracked down.  And they’re amazing mathematicians being precise so as to avoid accidental over dosages with medications.  There’s so many other facets to the job as well.

To put it bluntly, I can’t live without my veterinary technicians! They have been a mainstay in my life for the past 18 years.  From John at Shores Animal Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, then Dalila my right arm & the rockstar night crew at Hollywood Animal Hospital, and to my current crew of Jackie, Kayla, Mandy, & Melissa at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic (and everyone in between), they have all taught me so much that has made be a better veterinarian AND a better person.  These are the heroes of veterinary medicine and they deserve respect, admiration, and appreciation.  If you know a veterinary technician, consider yourself a lucky person.  Who is your hero?

Dear veterinary technicians,

Keep being awesome.  And thank you for doing what you do!

Sincerely,

Dr. Llera

4 More Veterinary Visit Tips

Admit it, taking your pet to the veterinarian is probably not one of your favorite things to do.  Obviously, there are those times when your fur-baby is sick and that’s understandable you’re dreading the visit especially when the outcome is unknown.  Maybe it’s the cost of things that is frustrating.  Perhaps it’s the time you spend there or the interaction with the clinic staff that have you dreading the visit.  Fear not!  You can help make those trips to your veterinary clinic be more productive, safer, and efficient so we can cooperatively get your pet treated and make the experience less exasperating.  Think of these tips as some of the secrets we think but don’t say out loud.

broken leg puppyIf the presenting complaint is pain, we have to localize the pain – I know what you may be thinking…why do you have to make my pet hurt during the exam?  Yes, it’s true that during an exam we may palpate an area and it may hurt, but we have to know what is ailing your pet.  Afterwards (and before any x-rays), we’ll be more than happy to give your pet pain medication or a sedative to help them relax.  If we can’t find the painful area, then a diagnosis may escape us and your pet might not get the proper treatment.

from Trupanion.com

from Trupanion.com

Why can’t we complete our exam? – One of the things I find to take the most time (thus extending a visit length) is not being able to adequately complete our exam.  Why is this?  Two things….chairs & leashes.  Unfortunately, many pets are still afraid of the veterinary clinic.  When this happens, they tend to climb into a small or covered space in hopes of not being noticed or to make themselves more difficult to be touched.  This often means climbing under a chair.  I don’t mind helping coax Fluffy or Spot (with bribery from treats) out from under a chair but we may feel awkward if you are still sitting on said chair….let’s call it a personal space bubble that we don’t want to pop.

This is where you can help and where the leash comes into play (for dogs at least).  Drop the leash, hold the collar or place your hands on your pet.  Leashes also create prime tripping hazards with a big, happy dog.  If your pet holds still, we can do our jobs better and give you better service.  If a staff member is able to help in an exam room (not always possible), please trust them to handle your baby as if he or she were their own.

aggressive dogNot every pet who comes to the vet clinic is happy or a sweetheart – Admittedly, I will give every patient the benefit of the doubt if they seem leary or if they snap, we will likely want to put a muzzle on them.  I’ve heard people say that veterinarians should not be afraid of animals.  The truth is, we respect them and know what some of them can do.  I’ve known too many colleagues who have been unable to continue working like their accustomed due to a nasty animal related injury.  Animals are also perceptive and if they sense they the staff is uneasy, it may send the wrong signals of being dominant.  Simply put, if your pet has a history of misbehaving, allow us to take proper safety precautions so that nobody gets hurt.  Alternatively, for routine visits, we can often prescribe something ahead of time to help take the edge off and make your pet more relaxed so that their visit may not be such a bad experience.  Many veterinarians are become FearFree certified.

from justcuteanimals.com

from justcuteanimals.com

All we all need is just a little patience – Time spent at the vet clinic can be discouraging.  Whether it is before or after your appointment may make it more so.  A veterinary visit is compromised of multiple parts and interactions, from the client services up front to the veterinary technician to veterinarian and back up to client services.  Wow!  That can be a long time depending on the reason for the visit.  If you show up early, we can make sure your contact info is up to date so that further follow up can be done once you are done with the appointment.  And if we’re able to, we’ll see you early to give you some extra time or try to get you home just a little bit earlier.  On the same token, walking into the clinic with a true emergency (hit by car, active bleeding, trouble breathing, seizuring to name a few) is understandable but we ask that you at least call us before hand so we can prepare and if needed, we can notify our scheduled appointments and give them a chance to reschedule.  If you’re walking in and it’s not an emergency, we will do our best to squeeze you in but there may also be the need to schedule you for a later appointment.

So there you have it…a few more tips to try and help ease the trip to the vet clinic.  A few more tips you say??  Yes, check out part 1 of tips for your vet clinic visit!  And please keep in mind that we are always trying our best for all of our patients so let’s all be courteous to our fellow pet lovers and the clinic staff!  If there’s another piece of advice you have, please share with us in the comments!  Thank you!

Disclaimer:  All blog posts may contain opinions which do not reflect those of my current or any former employers.

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Spaying Saves Lives & Families

The following are true stories.  *Names have been changed to protect the furry and innocent.

hugging dogThe past few months have brought up a few emotional challenges as a veterinarian.  But none more difficult than those cases and patients whose problems could have been avoided.  On more than one occasion, technicians that I work with and myself have surrounded a patient as we said goodbye and more than a few tears were shed.  It’s not only the situation that was disheartening, but also the circumstances of how we got there.

Maggie* was middle to older aged shepherd cross who was brought in to the clinic for vaginal discharge.  The next question is always the crucial one…is she spayed?  In her case, the answer was “no” and the diagnosis became much more suspicious for a pyometra (uterine infection).  She was an otherwise healthy dog.  The blood tests further heightened my suspicion and this is where we ran into problems.  Financial costs were a concern for Maggie’s family.  Further diagnostics were not an option, but more importantly, neither was treatment.  Treatment which would have involved surgery including hospitalization, IV fluids, antibiotics, and pain medications can be quite expensive.  Every attempt was made to find a financial solution that would work.  Even a payment plan was offered of which the terms of could not be met by her family.  Re-homing her was not desired by her family and sadly, euthanasia was elected.

spaying could have prevented this ovarian tumorGertie* was another patient who presented with vaginal discharge that looked like pus.  She was a middle aged English Bulldog who had previously had a C-section.  She was not feeling well for a few days prior to her examination and her family had to decide what to do for her as well as figure out finances.  They agreed to go to surgery where I came across a most unusual finding….a gigantic ovary.  The ovary was closely attached to the kidney on that side of the body and had extremely enlarged blood vessels.  I was able to remove it, explore the rest of her abdomen, and finish the surgery.

Gertie took an incredibly long time to wake up, much longer than it normally takes.  We began to worry and started looking into causes to explain what was happening.  Ultimately, we went back into surgery only to discover an abdomen full of blood & blood clots.  Calmly checking everything, my colleague & I noted that all 6 ligatures were intact and in place and we could not find the cause of the bleeding.  Given the appearance of the ovary earlier, we were suspicious of a malignant tumor which may have weakened tissues or spread to other organs.  With the constant flow of blood and no way to stop it, in addition to her poor recovery thus far, her family made the decision to let her go.  I felt a sickness and surge of emotion as her heart stopped and the monitors went silent.

Two dogs and two different situations.  In both cases, pets’ lives ended and the bond with their family broken prematurely.  And patients like Maggie and Gertie are not the only ones; this happens almost daily within the veterinary profession and with cats as well.  Myself and the rest of the veterinary team hate this part of our jobs.  The knowledge that we can save lives and help animals, but in some circumstances fail to achieve that goal, is gut wrenching.  A simple  ovariohysterectomy (spay) surgery years earlier could have avoided both of these incidents.  Month after month, we end up euthanizing patients for potentially preventable issues.  I understand that costs can be an issue but many areas have programs or clinics that can help.  Alternatively, I strongly recommend either looking into pet insurance or make a savings account for your pet.  Every time you get paid, just put away a little bit for Fluffy or Rover in case of those larger expenses or unexpected emergencies.  Talk with your veterinarian if you have concerns and maybe get a plan in place.  So if you are reading this, please listen to your veterinarian when it comes to preventative care.  It can save your pet and allow the bond you have to remain strong for as many years as it should rather than be ending too soon.

Disclaimer: All blog posts may contain opinions which are my own and may not reflect those of any current or former employers.

An alternate version of this post was published on Dr. Andy Roark’s site to more directly address the veterinary teams working with your pets.  You can check it out here.   Thanks for reading and don’t forget you can subscribe on the right side to get new posts directly to your email!  And I’m now on Instagram @drryanllera and as always on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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