“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI always thought I would be identically fond of all my pets. As a kid, before I had any furry pets, I was in love with the concept of loving a cat or a dog, having a little best friend to be mine; all mine, not shared with sisters or brothers, as loving and loyal to me as I would be loving and loyal to him. Continue reading

Stuck in the 60’s

There’s an interesting mind set with some clients when it comes to treating animals, a sort of temporal stickiness. Their minds get stuck in time, to when they were kids and how animals were treated “then”.

Most of the time this happens with people from a rural background, and I can understand why. Animals on the farm are regarded as commodities, which most certainly are (thinking cattle, sheep, chickens). You can only put as much money into them as you think you can get out, or you’ll go broke. Continue reading

The “it” factor

Dog, Scottie-ishI will admit to a personal pet peeve. Well, OK, I have a bunch because I’m old and crotchety, but this is one that’s in the front of my brain at the moment.

I simply cannot stand it when pet owners refer to their pets as “it”. Pets are not “it”, even when they are neutered. They are “he” and “she” and a proper name or a cute nickname. “It” distances the person from an emotional involvement. “It” means that the pet is a thing, not a companion or a friend. “It” means you can’t even remember whether your own pet is male or female, or it doesn’t matter to you.

It even bothers me that animals are referred to as “it” in veterinary journals. I really want to change all of the “its” to “he” or “she” when I read these articles.

We don’t call our friends “that man” or “the subject”. We save that for people we don’t know or care about; strangers. Pets should be close to us, tied to our hearts. We should know their personalities, their foibles, their likes and dislikes, and we should strive to make their lives pleasant and fulfilling. If we have this relationship with animals they aren’t objects, but little furry beings that deserve better than to be called “it”.

Not the sharpest tool in the shed

After more than 30 years in the veterinary field I have finally come to the realization that I’ve been doing things wrong all this time. I guess I’m a slow learner.

I last wrote an entry on anesthetic-free dental cleaning and how veterinarians are being cast in a very negative light by the proponents of these “procedures”. You can, obviously, read the post yourself. A bit of spleen was vented, and I felt much better afterward. I’m almost over it, I promise.

The other day, though, I had an epiphany. What I finally realized is that it doesn’t matter whether clients follow my advice or not. In fact, it’s absolutely financially more lucrative for me if my clients don’t take my advice on any preventive measures. Better yet, I can stop recommending preventives or screening at all. This would have two huge benefits to me.  Continue reading

Today I’m a tetchy dentist

I’ve been getting feedback on a recent post (The Ten Commandments of Dentalism). Veterinarians saw the humor in it, and the clients who have read the explanation gave generally positive feedback.

Mustache and dog 108 x 148There is, however, a small subset of readers who think that veterinary dentistry is just a way for vets to make money as they sit back and twirl their Snidely Whiplash mustaches. Why would owners spend $500, $600 or more to have the vet “clean the teeth” when it’s obviously something that can just be done by a groomer for $75? What a scam vets are running.  Continue reading

The Ten Commandments of Dentalism

Gingivitis mouthHere’s one for all of our veterinarian friends. For the non-vets reading this blog, I’ll explain the commandments for you down at the bottom. (If anyone wants to copy the Ten Commandments elsewhere, I’d prefer you to link to this page or, if you feel the need, copy the text with attribution, please.) Continue reading

One vet’s view on euthanasia

People often ask me how I can “be a vet” and save lives on the one hand, and euthanize animals on the other. The truth is, oddly, that the best and worst parts of my job surround the end of a pet’s life.

On the one hand, it’s a heartbreaking time. Any time a life ends, there is sadness. If the pet was well loved and will be missed beyond words, I feel bad for the owners and the grief they are going through. I’ve been there many times myself, and I know how it feels not only to lose a dear friend and family member, but to have to make the decision to end that life. The sense of loss and emptiness is overwhelming.

Sad in a different way are the times when pet is alone and without family to hold him and comfort him at the end. Although I really do understand why this happens and why people cannot stay with their pets, the animal’s aloneness carries a poignancy that is heartbreaking. Continue reading

Here, kitty kitty!

I opened a hospital in a very urban, very “big city” neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops and things available within walking distance so people don’t have to drive cars much. People live cheek-by-jowl in high-rise apartment buildings and live-work condominiums. No houses. We see an unexpected number of large breed dogs, like pitbulls and labs. And we see cats, but not as many as I expected. I thought we’d see lots, what with all of the apartments.

It seems that people are reluctant to take their completely indoor cats to the vet because there is a perception that they don’t “need” to go. I agree that completely indoor cats with a stable pet population in the home don’t need to be vaccinated much, if at all. This completely depends on the specific home, of course. Cats who live with a kind volunteer who fosters litters of feral kittens should probably be vaccinated intermittently. Cats who are loners or have a couple of siblings and the  family isn’t going to be changing any time soon… not so much. Continue reading