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A Promise to Patients

My New Promise to Patients

I graduated from veterinary school in 2006.  Wow – that wasn’t that long ago, or was it?  It’s only been 12 years but since then veterinary medicine has changed.  Medically, we have made more advances to provide better top-notch care.  However, socially and perception-wise, veterinary medicine has been tarnished due to the evolution of the internet and social media.  It has driven a number of my colleagues out of the profession, into a depressive state, or in the worst cases – suicide.  I’m doing fine and am constantly evolving to provide the best care that I can.  As a result, this is my promise to patients: Continue reading

Spay & Neuter – A Revised Point of View

The times they are a changing.  Every now and then in the course of medicine, we get new research that guides us to change our ways of thinking and how we practice.  And we live in exciting times because now is one of those moments.  New research has been presented regarding potentially more appropriate age of spay or neuter surgery for your dog, most notably larger dogs.  Don’t worry, I’ll also discuss cats.

age of spay or neuter can affect many heath factors

No, I haven’t changed my stance that the procedure should still be done.  But I agree and am glad to see some changes in the timing of when we as veterinarians recommend the surgery happen.  Let’s explore this and try make sense of the differences.

The first thing you have to look at is what breed, or at least size, of dog you have.  The next thing you have to consider is what are your goals you’re trying to achieve with your pet’s health – joint development & health, cancer risks, behavior, etc.  Lastly, we need to consider their lifestyle.  Much of the research focused on some common breeds (Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers , Rottweilers, Viszlas) but we can try to extrapolate from this data.  So let’s discuss…. Continue reading

The Harsh Reality of Vet Med

As I look back over the past few months, I am reminded of so many happy, successful moments that involved my patients and their families.  From giving good news that a tumor was benign, to helping a lost pet get back home due to the simple power of a microchip, and treating a little miracle kitty who ate a string and lost 70% of her intestine getting to go home and live a happy life.  These are the moments and the days I treasure and live for in my career as a veterinarian.

But sadly, the job isn’t always puppies and kittens or success stories.  It’s challenging at times to not become emotionally invested in our patients especially the ones we see fairly often if they have a current illness or chronic health problem.  Some of these patients are ones we can be completely confounded by.  Understandably, a pet not getting well is taxing on their family but it has a similar yet less devastating effect on the veterinary team.

Sometimes we will recommend you visit a specialist due to procedures being beyond the skills of a general practitioner.  Face it, there’s just some things they don’t teach you in the 4 years of veterinary school.  Other times, it’s the value of that specialized second opinion and a lot of the time they can help.

For Better or Worse

We (the vet team) try our best; nobody is perfect.  Some patients will keep us awake at night as we mull over what we should do next or contemplate the impending surgery the next day.  In the worst of cases after a few months or longer of dealing with a chronic illness, all we can do is help ease them of their suffering.  It’s in these moments that we realize it’s not possible to fix every problem or save every patient, no matter how hard we try.

This was the case with Maggie.  A very sweet dog, with an even sweeter owner.  Maggie was adopted with known problems that her family diligently addressed and more so if new ones appeared.  Maggie was a patient of mine for almost 3 years and her skin was the biggest issue that nobody was ever able to figure out.  This past fall Maggie developed cancer and combined with her other issues, it was time to say goodbye.  I hated that we couldn’t help her.

harsh reality of vet med

One of my last visits with Maggie

And so it goes, we have to pick up the pieces because there are more pets that need help.  In all this though, we take the experience and information we learned from one pet and, perhaps years later, remember the lessons they taught us to hopefully help another.

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

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