The Dachshund: A Tiny Dog With A Big Personality

There are few more smile inducing sights than seeing a miniature dachshund confidently standing up to a larger, more docile dog. This tiny creature with short stubby legs and a long body is stubborn, often foolishly so, and will fearlessly frolic with other dogs, cats and any other pet you may have in your home. A lively little mutt, a dachshund is an ideal choice for the first time dog owner due to their relaxed temperament and ability to fit in pretty much anywhere. Your dachshund will be your faithful companion and relish any opportunity he has to sit with you and succumb to your chin rubs.

Although he is a healthy breed, the dachshund has a few medical ailments that need to be watched out for as he grows older. Be aware and get him to the vet if you spot any of the warning signs of the following conditions.

Epilepsy

As with the human condition, dachshunds can develop seizures at any age. Watching your dog have a seizure can be terrifying, but the best thing you can do is stay with him and soothe him until it passes. It is thought that this neurological condition is genetic and incurable. However, there are plenty of medications that can be utilized to get your little hound’s epilepsy under control should he develop it at some point in his life.

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Parasites

In a similar way to other hounds that love their walks, dachshunds are susceptible to anything parasitic ranging from fleas to ticks. The best way to combat this is to ensure your little guy starts a regular flea prevention routine from puppydom. Spot on treatments are the simplest and least intrusive way of giving your dog medication. You place a tiny pipette of medicated liquid onto the back of his neck once a month to keep him protected against the nasty parasitic blighters.

There are many parasites carried by other tiny critters that you need to be aware of. If you have a read of a post about a heartworm dog named Bobby Sue, you’ll see just how deadly parasites can be. Mosquitos can carry heartworms and release the parasitic larvae into a dachshund’s bloodstream after biting his skin. If your little pal starts coughing, seems wheezy or is losing weight, get him to the vet for a check up.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Because dachshunds weren’t blessed with the strongest of vertebra, their elongated shape means that they can find themselves with a whole host of back issues. They may need to have anti-inflammatory medication or have an operation to have discs removed if the pain becomes too great. It’s vital when you lift up your dachshund to give him a cuddle that you support his rear end and back. Because this is such a prevalent problem in the dachshund breed, owners have tried to fend off back problems with visits to a doggy acupuncturist or chiropodist with great success.

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If you find yourself the proud companion of a dachshund, you’ll be welcoming a fiery, entertaining and delightful little creature into your home. He or she will be at the center of many a comical memory and will be a welcome addition to any family.

How Not To Make A Dog’s Dinner Out Of Your Pooch’s Diet

Every pet owner wants to take good care of their pet. Whether it is a cold or fleas, it is essential to fix the problem so that your dog isn’t in pain. However, there is one area where dog owners are not up to scratch: their pooch’s diet. Pets are like humans and need a balanced and tailored diet. With that in mind, the following tips are here to help. This is how not to make a dog’s dinner out of their diet.

Take Them To The Vet If There Are Problems Like Itchy Skin

Yes, going to the vet is expensive and a lot of hassle, but it is the only way you will find out about allergies and deficiencies. Like people, dogs are allergic to certain foods, or their stomachs can’t digest them as well as others. Obviously, you need to avoid these foods, but it isn’t possible if you don’t know what they are in the first place. By visiting the vet and asking for a food trial, intradermal skin test or a blood test, they will be able to tell which items in foods are good and which are bad.

Go Au Naturel

If in doubt, opting for organic food is always a good option. Natural dog food doesn’t contain any chemicals or unnecessary additives. Therefore, it shouldn’t be hard to digest or cause them to be sick. Plus, the natural ingredients will boost everything from their mood to their stamina. The key is to find truly natural food because there are suppliers who fudge the facts. A good tip is to take the label test. This means forget about the packaging, reputation, and PR and focus on the ingredients. What you are looking for is a high percentage of meat as well as soy protein and corn.

Introduce Human Meats

If your dog has ever been sick bets are a vet has recommended chicken and rice. This bland diet is good to help “reset” the digestive tract when they are ill. To get the most nutrients out of their diet, a dog needs a balanced diet which can be commercially made however treats can be given. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to introduce meat you would eat, such as beef. Of course, the protein in meat is an essential nutrient. But always do your research first and avoid chocolate as it is poisonous to most dogs.

But Don’t Cook It

Every time you have a piece of red meat it will go in the frying pan or the oven. Humans have evolved to need cooked meat as a part of their diet, yet dogs aren’t the same. Pretty much every other animal species on the planet requires meat, and they should have it raw. When you cook it, the meat loses its nutritional value and your dog won’t get the same benefits. Also, chewing raw meat is good for their teeth. However, stick to beef because poultry and pork can cause salmonella.

Ultimately, your dog’s diet is down to you, so please take the responsibility seriously.

Cold Facts: Common Health Concerns Among Siberian Huskies

Siberian Huskie

It is no wonder why the popularity of Siberian Huskies has grown exponentially over recent years; they are just so hard to resist. There aren’t many other breeds that are quite as strikingly gorgeous as the Siberian husky, what with those piercing blue eyes, that thick coat of fur and those disarming wolf-like looks. But it isn’t just their appearance that makes them such amazing pets. It is their joyful demeanour, their buoyant energy, their loyalty and friendliness. But the fact they make the best furry friends imaginable is also what makes it so hard to cope with when they get sick. There is an emotional bond that can crush your soul like nothing else.

Yes, Siberian Huskies tend to be incredibly healthy compared to a lot of other breeds, but that doesn’t mean they are free of all health concerns. Quite the contrary, in fact. Of course, the best medicine in your arsenal is knowledge and prevention, which is why we are going to highlight the main health problems of this very special breed:

Huskie in the snow

Corneal Dystrophy
Unfortunately, Siberian Huskies are known for suffering autoimmune disorders that affect the eyes and one, in particular, is to do with the cornea. Unfortunately, this tends to be a hereditary disease and one that your local veterinarian will probably tell you has no known cure, whether medicinal or therapeutic. What it looks like is tiny white spots in the cornea, with the condition affecting your pups vision. It’s not nice, but the good news is it isn’t painful.

Zinc Deficiency
Another autoimmune disorder your husky is susceptible to is a low level of zinc in their body, which tends to cause hair loss. The most common areas of hair loss are on the face – lips, chin and eyelids – but it can also occur at their elbows, hocks and feet. The obvious thing to do is add a zinc supplement to their diet. However, before you do this we would strongly recommend you speak to your vet first.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Yeah, Huskies tend to get it pretty rough with their eyes, and this is another hereditary example of this. This is a condition whereby your dog’s retina slowly disintegrates over time. The best way to ensure that this condition doesn’t affect your puppy is to have your Husky screened at an early age and let it undergo the necessary examination. While this won’t cure them, it will allow you to make lifestyle adjustments to ensure any progression is put off for as long as possible.

Hip Dysplasia
Ask any vet and they will tell you that a lot of big dogs are prone to hip dysplasia and Siberian Huskies fall into the category. To give you a little more information on it, hip dysplasia is where the joint doesn’t quite fit together properly, making later life a lot harder for them. There are certain things you can do to help your dog if they suffer from this. However, we would also recommend you ask the breeder whether the pups parents have been screened for hip dysplasia. It is hereditary, so those parents who were fine on this front tend to produce a litter that is unaffected too.

The Cat Owner’s Guide: Drawing The Line With Your Wild Feline

Keeping your cat happy

Cats are beautiful and fascinating creatures. They have minds of their own, and, whilst this is one of the many exciting and intriguing things about them, it does mean that cats have a tendency to wander off into the outdoor world without warning. Of course, this wild attitude is fine outdoors, but there have to be rules at home. You can’t let their untamed behavior go unnoticed indoors. Dragging in dead animals, scratching, and generally making a mess are all things which you can’t let slide. Here’s the cat owner’s guide to drawing the line with your wild feline at home.

House-train your cat.
It is possible to house-train your cat, no matter what the myths may say about cats being independent and free spirits who bow to no owner. First of all, cats can go to the toilet. You don’t have to just accept that they’re going to urinate everywhere; train them to understand the rules of the house. Think of a place that suits you; a litter box or perhaps the outside the world. Then, the next time your cat needs the toilet, take them to that place to go.

Make sure you praise your cat for doing a good job, as they’ll associate this affection with going to the toilet in the right place. Obviously, reinforcing good behavior goes for all forms of house training, such as getting them come home every time you call them from your garden or front porch. It’s all about your cat making mental associations to reinforce their good habits and diminish their bad ones.

Regular visits to the vet.
Your feline friend likely has mixed thoughts about the vet, but it’s important that you put your foot down and manage to get your cat to the vet regularly for check-ups on their health; they may like to venture off into the outdoor world to freely explore and do their own thing, but that’s all the more reason to get them checked out for infections, illnesses, and injuries. You’ll want to look out for cat worming because this is a pretty nasty intestinal parasite. Of course, even the small cuts and scratches, which are wounds your cat will pick up a lot in its outdoor excursions, are things you should check out; you don’t want a small cut to become infected and make your furry buddy sick.

Simple toys for cats

Keep them entertained.
Cats are wonderful pets when it comes to entertainment. A simple ball of string or a toy mouse can keep them happy for hours, but it is important that you give them toys. Animals are like humans; they become restless when they’re bored. A restless cat is sure to make you restless and cause a fuss around the house, so giving them forms of entertainment is a great way to ensure that they’re not going out of their mind and they’re not making you go out of your mind either. A happy household leads to a happy cat.

Sorry Chow Chow Owners, Your Pooch Just Isn’t The Best For Training

Are some dogs harder to train than others? Unsurprisingly, the answer is “yes.” Despite the fact that all dogs are descended from the same species, the breeding process has made some of them a nightmare to live with. While poodles might be relatively easy to train, chow chows and pugs certainly aren’t.

Here are some of the breeds of dog that are hard to train.

Beagles

Do you own a beagle? They can be loving dogs. Too loving perhaps. The problem with beagles is that their strong sense of affection can sometimes get the better of them. Often all their training goes out of the window, once their emotions start racing.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Beagles need authoritative owners. They need people who are willing to be consistent in their instruction, even if their dog might seem adorable sometimes. That mean no feeding at the table, relatively few snacks and treat, and a strict doggie timetable.

Mastiffs

Mastiffs are impressive dogs. Perhaps that’s why they always seem to feature in films. But these giants hounds are certainly a handful to keep under control around the home. There’s no doubt that Mastiffs are gentle giants. But their gentleness doesn’t mean that they’re particularly interested in training: far from it.

To really communicate with a mastiff, you need to have a firm hand. Mastiffs will respond to their owners, but their owners must put themselves in the dominant position. Submissive owners or owners who break the rules around feeding time will soon have an unruly mutt on their hands.

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If you can get mastiff training right, they can make great companions. But they need to respect you first.

Pugs

Pugs are among the strangest dog breeds out there. Owners of pugs are often approached by people who’ve never seen a pug before asking “what is it?” Even pug owners have to admit their dogs look strange.

Pugs, however, can be a problem dog, according to training specialists Royvon. It’s no so much that pugs are unruly or aggressive, it’s just that they’ve got more important things to do, it seems than obey their owners. Pugs just want to be left to their own devices to do their own thing, it seems, and that can make them particularly different to train. Unlike most dogs, they’re independent spirits.

It’s not impossible to train a pug. It just takes a combination of consistent training and confident instruction. Pugs can become bored quickly, so great discipline from the start is essential.

Afghan Hound

Afghan hounds are a beautiful breed, thanks to their fur and ears. They’re also surprisingly intelligent: almost in sheepdog territory. But unlike sheepdogs, Afghan hounds are not particularly easy to train. They have almost cat-like personalities according to some experts, meaning that they’re more interested in what they can get out of you, rather than actually doing anything you tell them to do.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Even if you do manage to train an Afghan hound, getting that training to stick is a big challenge. Afghan hounds have a tendency to forget the lessons they learn, which is why they need to be regularly refreshed. There’s nothing worse than an unruly dog!

Dalmatian

Dalmatians are incredibly cute: everybody agrees with that. But their cuteness has also made them cheeky and unruly. In fact, Dalmatians are extremely highly strung compared to more laid-back breeds like spaniels. Because of this, they’re almost impossible to control without vigorous, active training.

To keep a Dalmatian successfully, owners need to be constantly vigilant and engaged with their dogs. Dalmatians need regular walks in the park, perhaps twice a day. And they need a daily training ritual to let them know who the boss is. Without these, things can quickly get out of hand and Dalmatians can become disruptive in the home. Over time, a lack of owner interaction can cause them to disobey your instructions, even if they are trained.

Chow Chow

The Chow Chow likes to be the master of its own destiny. As a result, many owners find it difficult to control, especially around feeding times. To get the upper hand in your relationship with your chow chow, you need to establish a clear pecking order early on. It should be entirely clear who is the leader of the pack.

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In practice, this means being consistent. Just a small thing, like feeding your Chow Chow from the dinner table rather than out of its bowl can lead to disruptive behaviours, especially around meal time. Sometimes, Chow Chows can display aggressive behaviours. If this is the case, then you may want to consult with a specialist.

Pet Birthday Parties: The Ultimate Guide

They are a valued member of your family and the centre of your world so they deserve to have their birthday celebrated too! If your pup, bunny or kitten is celebrating their birthday soon, why not throw a party and make an occasion of it? You may end up enjoying it as much as they do!

Guest lists and invitations

The guest list will very much depend on the type of pet that is celebrating their birthday. Cats do not always like being transported around and smaller mammals can get stressed during car journeys so it is best to limit the guest list to humans!

Dogs, however, are an entirely different matter. They may already have some good buddies that they meet up with in the local park and they have to be top of the list. Then just make up the numbers with some B-list humans who will not be anywhere near as much fun!

It is easy and fun to make up your own invitations using a picture of your pet and perhaps sign it with a paw print. Be clear about the time and the venue. You do not have to hold a party for your pup in your own house. You could meet up in a local park first and then head back to your place.

Decorate your house

The only limit here is your imagination. For dogs, it is fun to cut out paper bones or lamp-posts and hang them from your ceiling or from trees in your garden. For cats, you could use fish shapes and paw prints. Draw some paw prints in chalk on outdoor paths etc.

Some dogs love to dress up and they could have a special new outfit. What about a tuxedo or tutu? For those canines who are a little more refined in their tastes, you may want to choose a new collar. A collar is definitely the limit for cats as they are not keen on dressing up.

Gifts for the birthday girl or boy

Who doesn’t love a birthday gift? Dogs are probably the easiest to buy for and a strong toy is a popular choice but how long will it last? Can Indestructible Dog Toys Really Be So Tough and Durable? You will soon find out! What about an outing or an experience? A trip to their favourite beach or a camping trip would be their ideal weekend break.

For cats, a toy is a good choice as are blankets, cushions, and beds. Some lovely new bowls always go down well. You can’t go wrong with some healthy treats.

For small mammals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, you are a little more limited but new bowls or even a new hutch is a good idea if you have a big budget. There are plenty of delicious treats out there too. As for toys, a rabbit will be kept amused for hours with a willow ball or a willow grass hut. You can’t go wrong with a toy that you can eat!

Why did the doctors go on strike?

I came across this and had to share – it is written by Dr Ravi Jayaram

I have kept quiet on here until now about the junior doctor’s strike but the time has come to stand up and say what needs to be said. Apologies in advance for the long essay, I will try to keep it simple. This is aimed at those of you who are not medical; those who are will know exactly what I am talking about.

If you simply believe what is said in the media, you might think that this is all about Saturday pay or even that junior doctors don’t want to work at nights or weekends. It is depressing to overhear people express these views but hardly surprising given the public coverage of the issue.

So what exactly is going on? A junior doctor is any doctor who is not a GP or consultant who is in training to be one of those two. Most doctors spend 8-9 years as a junior but many stay as juniors for longer, especially female doctors who may take time out for families, academics who take time out to do research and doctors in specialities where training in two specialties is needed such as paediatric intensive care. I myself spent 14 years as a junior doctor so was still one aged 37. Junior doctors are the doctors you will see first when you go to A&E or get admitted to a ward and will be responsible for delivering your day to day care when you are in hospital. Junior doctors are covering the hospital 24/7, 365 days a year and always have done. And contrary to what you might believe from the papers, they don’t have any choice in the matter, their contracts say they have no choice in working evenings, nights and weekends.

So what is all the fuss about? Well it is about being able to be safe. When I was a JD, I used to work ridiculous hours. In one job in my 1st year, every 3rd weekend I would go to work at 9am on a Saturday and leave at 5pm on a Tuesday. That was 80 hours in a row with sleep grabbed when the chances arose. It was dangerous and dehumanising and the even crazier thing was that I was actually paid at a lower rate for the unsocial hours than basic pay (1/3 of basic in fact).

Fortunately my generation of juniors was amongst the last to have to do that and things slowly changed. Now junior doctors get paid at a higher rate than basic for unsocial hours, that rate determined by the intensity of work in that specialty e.g. emergency room work would be a higher rate than dermatology. Standard hours are defined as 7am-7pm Monday to Friday (which are not exactly standard working hours for most people) and there are rules on the maximum number of hours per week and consecutive hours that can be worked. There are also safeguards in place so that if employers are consistently making juniors work beyond these rules, they can be fined; hence there is a disincentive for employers to overwork junior doctors, therefore they are not tired and dangerous 1990-style.

But work done outside standard hours is NOT overtime. These hours are contracted hours and have to be worked and, quite rightly, are paid at a higher rate than basic pay. In specialties where there is not a lot of emergency work, the majority of work is in routine hours, but areas like A&E, paediatrics, intensive care have a lot of work done in unsocial hours and attract a higher rate of pay for those hours. I stress again that this is not overtime; overtime is work done in addition to contracted hours. All doctors and nurses do overtime – staying late to complete work and ensure patient safety and very rarely if ever does anyone claim for these overtime hours.

But Jeremy Hunt wants to change the contract for junior doctors, his logic being that doing this will help to deliver the “7-day NHS”. Nobody is really sure what exactly this means. It may mean that he wants routine services such as outpatient clinics and planned surgery or scans for non-urgent problems to take place on Saturdays and Sundays, not just Monday to Friday. If this is the case then changing the juniors’ contract is not going to make this happen as without doing the same for (deep breath) consultants, nurses, porters, receptionists, pharmacists, operating department assistants, radiographers, physiotherapists and many other staff these things won’t be able to happen at weekends.

The 7-day NHS may refer to emergency work. If this is the case then it already exists. Junior doctors are already there at night and at weekends. The proposed contract changes are not going to change the numbers who are there as there is no plan to increase the total number of junior doctors. What is proposed is that the definition of normal time changes from 7am-7pm to 7am-10pm Monday to Friday and from 7am to somewhere between 5pm and 10pm on Saturday. This means that employers could make junior doctors work more unsocial hours as they have redefined as standard hours. It is true that the basic rate of pay for standard hours will be increased by 13%, which sounds great doesn’t it? Except that for the emergency specialties as above that routinely have a lot of evening, night and weekend work, what is currently paid at an enhanced rate will be paid at standard rate; even at 13% higher for standard rate, total pay for junior doctors in these specialties will drop considerably, maybe by as much 30% for some. Doesn’t sound so good now really.

And, of course, there will be the same number of doctors but spread over 7 days rather than 5 so there will be weekdays where there will be fewer juniors than there are now. A great analogy I heard was to imagine that you have a 10-inch pizza cut into 5 slices. You decide that 5 slices isn’t going to fill you up so your mum cuts the same pizza into 7 slices and tells you that you’ll be full with that. But she won’t get you a bigger pizza.

So same number of junior doctors spread more thinly is going to reduce cover on weekdays as compared to now. And weekdays are when not only emergency work but also routine planned work that also needs input from junior doctors takes place so this will have a detrimental effect on waiting lists for clinics and operations as well.

Junior doctors with children will be hit particularly hard, especially those who have junior doctors spouses, as more unsocial hours will be worked. Childcare is generally difficult to get hold of outside of 8-5 on weekdays; the department of health have actually said (with no hint of irony) that in this situation, family members who are non-medical and don’t work evenings or weekends should be asked to provide child care to get over this problem! It is very likely that couples could go several days without actually seeing each other or their families if rotas do not coincide.

But what about the increased deaths at weekends we have been hearing about? Actually, the statistics have been completely misrepresented and even the authors of the research paper that gets quoted regularly have pointed this out. The statistic was that if you are admitted to hospital on a weekend, your risk of dying within 30 days of that admission was higher than if admitted midweek. Your risk of dying is very low anyway and that very low risk is marginally higher (but still very low) if admitted on weekends. This is probably because admissions to hospital in the week consist of not only sick people but also well people coming in for routine things, whereas at weekends you would tend to avoid hospital unless you were desperately unwell and most likely would leave things as long as possible and so be sicker when you got there. Interestingly they also showed that if you were already in hospital on a weekend, having been admitted in the week, your risk of death within 30 days was lower than it would have been. Either way, there is no evidence of cause and effect in terms of numbers of junior doctors around at weekends. The so-called weekend effect has also been seen in the USA and Australia too so it isn’t peculiar to state-funded health as opposed to private insurance-based systems.

Interestingly the misrepresentation of this study has led to ill people actually avoiding hospitals on weekends and delaying presenting till Monday with potentially devastating consequences. Have a look online for the ‪#‎hunteffect‬. Scary.

Another worrying thing about the proposed new contract is that it takes away the safeguards against juniors being made to work ridiculously long hours. Whereas currently there is a mechanism that makes it in the interests of an employer to ensure the hours are not exceeded, the new contract removes these safeguards. It does suggest that each hospital trust has a “guardian” to whom junior doctors can flag up concerns about their hours but this “guardian” will also be a senior member of the trust who has no obligation to actually do anything about these concerns. I think back to my days as an exhausted junior doctor and it scares me to think that such unsafe and dangerous hours could make a return.

The pay scales are also changing. There has been automatic pay progression as you gain experience and seniority until now. The new system means that there are fewer points where pay is raised. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it can be argued that you shouldn’t get a pay rise unless you deserve it. But remember that over 10 years can be spent as a junior doctor in which time you are likely to acquire husbands, wives, children and mortgages; many existing junior doctors have made their financial plans for the next few years based on the expectation that there will be pay progression. One part-time junior doctor who has worked with me told me that if the new contract came in she would no longer be able to pay her mortgage and would have to sell her home. Bear in mind that these are young people who have spent at least 5 years at university accruing debts from both student loans for living expenses and now also £45000 in tuition fees before even starting work. The new pay scales do not reflect the levels of responsibility taken by junior doctors at different stages of their training at all which makes no sense whatsoever. For female doctors who are likely to take time out to have children and then return to work part-time, the consequences on their income will be huge. The department of health actually acknowledged that women would be hit unfairly but suggested that this had to be accepted as an unfortunate consequence.

The BMA junior doctors committee walked out of talks with the department of health because the DH’s definition of negotiation was that they would reserve the right to do what they wanted if they didn’t agree with what the committee was suggested. In other words, they did not want to negotiate so there was not point in the BMA trying. This is why industrial action was proposed because there was no other way to try to get Jeremy Hunt to talk. Sadly, even when negotiations restarted, he could not see that without a bigger pizza nothing was going to improve patient care and in fact things would be worse and so talks stopped. He has now said he is imposing the contract and that is that, he won’t talk anymore. When a strike ballot (of, let’s face it, intelligent reasonable and educated people) has a 75% turnout and 98% vote in favour, it is clear that there is a serious problem with the DH’s thought processes and they need to listen. It is highly improbable that a small bunch of radical lefties have brainwashed 50000 intelligent doctors who have been trained to analyse information and draw conclusions, much as the press like that idea.

If you have read this far, please take it on board and share with your friends. I’ve tried to keep it simple (even though it may not seem that way!) The public is not getting the full story from the TV and newspapers and if this contract is imposed then we will all be on the receiving end of the consequences eventually.

The difference $50 vs $400…

The difference in $50 or $400...

A vet on Facebook posted this earlier in the week, and it is so important that I have to share…

I lost a patient this past weekend. I don’t know why and I will likely never know, as the owners of the dog decided not to have a necropsy to find out. They blame me, however. This would not be the first time I’ve been blamed for the death of an animal (nor will it be the last), and though I can’t be certain, there are likely some that I was responsible for, directly or indirectly—-unintentionally, of course. I recall during my senior year of vet school telling a classmate that I was terrified of losing a patient or accidentally killing a pet. A nearby faculty member, typing quietly on her computer, overheard me, and without moving or turning her head, said gently, in a conversational tone, “You will.”

This large-breed dog was spayed at the shelter, and though she was a big, obese girl who had recently had puppies, there were no complications with her procedure and she recovered well and went home bright and alert. The next night, the owners called to say that she hadn’t been feeling well the morning following surgery (sadly, they did not call or take her to the vet), and that she had died later that night. Then they emailed— to say that I was negligent. That I was responsible. That I didn’t know how to properly care for their dog before, during and after surgery. They stated that it was my fault. They even sent an article and asked me to read it so that I understood how to be a good veterinarian and surgeon to other dogs, “so this never happens again.”

As people often do, they look to seek blame—they are sad, confused, angry, and need a direction for their feelings. And I understand that. Of course I feel terrible….for them, for the dog. Anytime an animal dies, I am heartbroken, as we all should be if we have any degree of empathy for people and the pets they love. But I do not feel responsible for their dog’s death. I am a good veterinarian and I am a good surgeon. I did everything the way I have typically done in my previous thousands of other surgeries (as did our staff)…..and I care.

I don’t know why this dog died—-unknown or unintentional surgical complications, underlying metabolic disease, bleeding disorder, improper home care, etc.—but I do know that the owners had bred this dog, have had several of their dogs spayed at our clinic before without issue, they declined bloodwork, they didn’t reveal pertinent medical history before surgery, and they didn’t call or seek medical attention when they knew something wasn’t right. Though we will never know the significance of these choices or whether the outcome would have been different, partial responsibility, at least, must be placed back on the owners for some of their decisions. I don’t fault these parents for their misdirected anger and hurt, but I think situations like this warrant a conversation about the risks of surgery and anesthesia—-specifically the risk differences in surgery in a shelter or low-cost spay/neuter clinic and in a full-service veterinary hospital.

I don’t want to imply that low-cost facilities provide sub-standard care (though people often assume this)—perhaps there are some, but typically this is not the case. In fact, spay/neuter clinics often have very experienced veterinarians who work quickly in surgery, often lowering many anesthetic risks that might be seen in places where pets are under anesthesia longer. In addition to managing my own non-profit organization for pets of the homeless community, I work in two other places—in a low-cost spay/neuter clinic run by a local shelter, and in a high-end, AAHA accredited, full service veterinary hospital. I also do relief work at several other low-cost spay/neuter clinics because I believe in the cause. I am the same doctor in each and I spay and neuter dogs and cats the same way in all places. How can I be a great, caring surgeon in one place and a terrible, negligent doctor in another? Additionally, there is a common misconception that full-service veterinary hospitals are money-hungry, that they price-gouge and charge too much for the services they provide, including surgery. I’m sure this is true for some places, however, for the most part, this is not the case. What I have come to realize is that people simply do not understand the differences and reasons full-service hospitals charge what they do, versus what low-cost clinics provide, when offering the “same” service or surgery. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “My God, my vet wants to charge me $400 but I can get my pet spayed down the street for 50 bucks!” then I could retire yesterday.

I am going to shed a little light on these differences here so you and those you know can make an informed decision when considering and scheduling your pet’s surgery and where you would like to do this. Why is the surgery $50 in one place and $400 in another? Think about it. It’s the same procedure, but what might be different so that the cost can be less? In order to offer a surgery for a negligible price, corners have to be cut. So I am going to tell you what those corners are (this is variable from place to place, but generally true). And I’m certain my low-cost clinic veterinary colleagues will be amenable to me offering this information because no one is trying to hide this and we all want the same thing—to work with informed owners and provide a successful, safe surgery for all of our patients.

1) Low-cost clinics do not typically require or offer bloodwork before surgery. One main reason for this is because most young, healthy animals do not have any underlying metabolic issues. But there are always exceptions. If the clinic provides a bloodwork option, your cost will go up. But if you decline the bloodwork or if the clinic doesn’t offer it, if your pet has an underlying medical issue (liver or kidney disease, bleeding disorder, etc.), the vet and staff will not know and the risk for surgical and post-op complications will go up. Or your pet may die. Bloodwork helps your vet and staff know what risks are present, what anesthetic drugs to use and/or whether your pet can even safely have surgery.

2) Low-cost clinics do not usually place an IV catheter or give intravenous fluids to your pet during surgery. One of the reasons for this is that most high-volume spay/neuter veterinarians are able to perform surgery in a fraction of the time of many others (often less than 5-10 minutes), simply due to experience. But why might an IV catheter and fluids be important? Fluids provide assistance with blood pressure stability and perfusion to organs. If your pet has trouble with blood pressure, decreased perfusion to important organs may cause them to fail, typically not seen for days or weeks after your pet goes home. Most young, healthy animals will not have this problem and typically the surgery is quick, but not always. If your hospital provides this, your cost will go up.

3) Low-cost clinics have limited staffing and cannot provide constant attention to your pet before, during and after surgery. There are often only one or two veterinary technicians or assistants on staff during a typical surgery day, and they are commonly multi-tasking. The most consistent time we see complications or accidental death is right after surgery, in recovery—this is true for any hospital or clinic. If your pet is not directly monitored by a technician at all times, if they have any difficulty in surgery or recovery, it is possible that a minute or two (or more) may go by without this difficulty being noticed. This is not intentional, of course—it has to do with the number of staff available. If a hospital provides constant nursing care and monitoring for your pet, your cost will go up.

4) Low-cost clinics do not often monitor CO2 levels, ECG, blood pressure and constant body temperature for your pet during surgery. A pulse-oximeter is usually the only monitoring device present, revealing heart rate and oxygen perfusion in the blood. But other vital signs can be important too. Hypothermia can make recovery long and difficult, ECG readings help determine any heart abnormalities, abnormal CO2 levels can be deadly, and I’ve already explained what low blood pressure can do. If your hospital provides these other monitoring devices, the equipment costs money and the trained/certified staff member must be paid to be there, use them and know how to manage any complications….so your cost goes up.

5) Low-cost clinics do not provide a full, comprehensive physical exam and vet consultation for your pet before surgery. Exams are limited due to the number of surgeries that must be performed in a day. You do not have an opportunity to discuss your pet’s health and concerns with a vet before the surgery is performed. There may be an area on your drop-off sheet where you can write your concerns, however you likely never see or meet your veterinarian. If your hospital provides time and an opportunity for a comprehensive exam and discussion with your vet, that’s right, your cost goes up.

6) Low-cost clinics are not the best option for higher-risk pets: large and giant breed dogs, senior pets, brachycephalic breeds (those with flat/smashed faces), obese, in-heat, pregnant and aggressive dogs and cats, those with a history of medical issues, etc. Low-cost clinics are not typically set up to handle emergencies if they arise or hospitalize animals overnight for additional care if necessary. They lack the proper equipment, training, staffing and time to handle anything outside of a normal, healthy patient surgery and recovery. If your hospital is set up for this, your cost will go up.

So, you see where the costs are cut? There are liability waivers to be signed and information is provided to help owners make reasonably informed decisions, however, most places do 30-50 surgeries in a day and shelters and low-cost clinics simply cannot afford the time and staffing to have lengthy discussions with every owner about the differences in what they do and what full-service clinics do. And 99.9% of the time, pets recover well in these facilities and there are no issues, so these discussions do not typically take precedence. That being said, owners should take some responsibility and do their own research—-if a surgery is $400 in one place and $50 in another, you must use common sense and ask questions to discern this difference (this information is also true for places that offer dental cleanings for $100 versus your vet who quotes you $800—ask questions because there are definitive differences.) Conversely, just because a surgery cost is higher at your vet, it doesn’t mean they offer all these other services—again, you must ask questions. Do you provide bloodwork? Does my pet receive a comprehensive physical exam, a limited exam or any exam at all? What sort of monitoring is done? Will there be a technician with my pet at all times? Do you give IV fluids? What do you do in the event of an emergency—are you prepared to handle an emergency? Understand the services offered so you can make an educated decision. Low-cost spay/neuter clinics can be good options for young, healthy, low-risk pets and for those who cannot afford the cost of a full-service hospital—that’s why they exist. And that’s why I will always support them and continue to do this rewarding, necessary work and help provide a solution to the pet overpopulation problem. But it’s important to understand what you are getting and what you are NOT getting. There are risks. Of course, there are risks regardless of where you go, as some complications cannot be foreseen regardless of the amount of care given and preparation taken, but the risk is higher when you do not understand the above points.

This article is not to dissuade you from using a low-cost clinic—-many places are amazing facilities with wonderful, caring, experienced technicians, assistants and veterinarians, and thousands of pets have surgeries in low-cost clinics across the country every day without incident, including many in the higher-risk category above. This information is only to help you understand the differences in the services provided from place to place and how to make an informed decision when thinking about your pet’s surgery. Things cost money. People cost money. Equipment has to be purchased and maintained. Staff must be trained to use this equipment, run labwork, monitor your pet appropriately and recognize and manage complications. Veterinarians must be paid to perform the surgeries. Providing additional services requires more time and resources. So, suddenly, a $400 surgery makes sense when you understand what risks you may be taking for $50, right?

Again, I don’t know why this dog died, and perhaps the outcome would have been the same regardless of where the surgery was done or if the owners had made different choices, but after receiving an angry email from a heartbroken owner whose beloved pet died from unknown complications, accusing me of being a negligent vet and not caring for their pet appropriately, I wonder —–if they understood this information and the risks involved, would they have paid the $400?

Carolyn Karrh, DVM

Tearing the tips of a cat’s claws off…

Blue boots after surgery

Just imaging letting a doctor cut the end bones in your fingers and toes off… I found this story on Facebook today and just had to share. Blue Boots is doing fine now as far as I am aware…

Blue Boots. In 2013 Blue Boots was surrendered for behavioral issues including litter box avoision and extreme aggression. Fortunately, someone stepped in and Blue Boots went to a Specialty Purebred CAT Rescue foster. The vet through SPCR found the cause that explained everything, though most people would not have connected the dots, as Blue Boots’ original owner did not. See, years earlier, Blue Boots had undergone a 4-paw declaw procedure. It’s quite routine and widely accepted in the US and even vehemently defended. What you see in these photos are the deformed claws that were growing WITHIN and THROUGH Blue Boots’ paw pads.

claw
removed

In one study of declawed cats in a particular shelter, one vet found that 66% had left over P3 fragments from the declaw being performed improperly. 33% of them had more than 5 fragments. Of those with fragments, 45% had at least one fragment larger than 5 mm. 28% had a 100% fully BOTCHED declaw procedure, meaning they had bone fragments larger than 5 mm left in each declawed toe.

In the case of Blue Boots, he was 100% botched, meaning those bone fragments left behind in each toe also included a part of each nail bed. Over the space of time after his declaw, the ingrown claws caused constant pain and resulted in his litter box issues and his aggression. Again, his owners weren’t able to connected the behavior with the cause and he would have been killed.

If an individual MUST have a declawed cat, either due to the potential health risks of a possible scratch or due to the rules of their living arrangement, please consider adopting an adult feline from a rescue or shelter that has already been declawed. If a child colors on a wall, you do not cut off their fingers. You teach them not to. The same applies to kittens and training them to use an appropriate scratching surface. There are so many alternatives and humane solutions. This is not merely my opinion, but a truth based upon the research of countless veterinary professionals, proven statistics and studies done throughout the world. Declawing is now banned in at least 22 countries.

Personally this is a surgery that I consider cruel, we should not be modifying animals to fit our needs.

Where does that “old” saying come from?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & Sold to the tannery…….if you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor”
But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot……they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” & were the lowest of the low
The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell . …… . Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof… Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive… So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

Randomly found and shared for entertainment…