Category: Dogs (page 2 of 5)

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

Cognitive Dysfunction & Your Dog

What is Cognitive Dysfunction?

One of the saddest things you may experience in your life is seeing someone you know who was so full of life, so vibrant, so smart…all of the sudden just seem to not be able to think clearly anymore.  Imagine if this was your dog.  Yes, what we see in people such as senility, Alzheimer’s disease, or “sundowners syndrome” can also be seen in dogs (and possibly in cats but much less understood).  The entire cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) has been an emerging area of understanding in the last several years.  While senior pets may show signs that could be attributed to medical issues, those potential diseases should be ruled out before coming to the conclusion of what is considered to be a behavioral problem.

Studies have shown that starting around 6-7 years of age, dogs may start showing signs.  Oftentimes, these go unnoticed until the condition has progressed to severe levels.  Signs can include greater attention seeking to seeming to want to interact less with family, increased anxiety levels in situations that used to not bother them, and becoming less responsive when called or given a command.  And these are the harder ones to note sometimes but also may not be as concerning in the mind of the family.  Signs more likely to get attention are soiling in the house, restlessness at night (stay up all night and sleep in the daytime), or pacing constantly.

What can we do to help?

cognitive dysfunction enrichment

Jennifer & Keltie rally obedience practice

The sooner signs are noted or addressed, the better chance we have of helping a dog’s quality of life.  Much like we encourage enrichment for cats or exotic pets, dogs can benefit from such activities as scent detection, competitive obedience, or agility – activities that help them think and positively stimulate their brains.  Sometimes just playing and interacting with your dog can be a good start.  It’s important to keep in mind any medical or physical limitations, especially as your pup ages.  Adding in toys can always be a good idea especially puzzles or toys that dispense food to keep then thinking and engaged.

Further treatment to help alleviate signs can be found with some medications but their effects may be variable from patient to patient.  Medications and supplements should be discussed with your veterinarian to determine what might work best for your particular dog and what the proper dosages are.  Senior pet diets supplemented with fatty acids, antioxidants, and medium chain triglycerides can also be beneficial.  There is a lot of exciting research and new tools to help these patients coming in the near future.

Due to our ability to better recognize these problems and the tendency for the earliest signs to start at middle to early senior years, it truly is important to have your pet checked out at least once a year.  There may be something we can work on together to help you and your dog live in harmony while working through cognitive dysfunction.  Have you noted any changes or signs mentioned above in your dog?  If so, what have you done that seems to help?

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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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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