The Rise of the X-Poo

Several things came across my Facebook feed and showed up on my favorite vicarious veterinary forum this week with a similar theme.

I must conclude that a lot of veterinarians are somewhat irrational breedists.

Cute mutt

Simply full of squee.

Why do we (vets) insist on being breed purists? We aren’t dog show judges. We aren’t dedicated to preserving the genetic purity of any one breed. When we see some admitted mutt with a cute little face we melt and feel happy and gush over how adorable he is. Yet, when presented with a dog that is a putative cross between known breeds, particularly if the cross is given a name, some veterinarians completely lose their shit. Continue reading

She died peacefully at home

Paw print in snowHollywood has a lot to answer for. Movies and TV portray death as this noble, painless (other than a few dramatic twinges), peaceful event. Our hero is shot in the chest, and manages to gasp out his last profound words before slumping slowly over in the arms of his beloved (or his faithful sidekick). There’s blood, but not too much. Or the old person at home in front of the TV who just “slips away”. These things are not the norm, not the expected. Death is often the opposite of peaceful.

I can’t answer to what really happens with people, though my ER doctor clients can, and it sounds roughly the same as what happens with pets. Natural death (unassisted by any hospice-type medications) isn’t generally pretty, it isn’t sanitary, and it is generally not sentimental or peaceful. It’s profound sometimes, but mostly it’s just very real. Continue reading

Madison Avenue & Fido

Don Draper (Mad Men). He could take any product and craft an advertisement in print or on screen that really hooked people and made them buy. Cigarettes, floor wax, cars, burgers, shoes, mundane things were magically transformed by the ad men from “meh” to “I need that” or “I love that”.

Who can forget the iconic Coke commercial with all the young people singing, “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony…”? 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

Keep the dog? Or keep the kid?

A relative was recently lamenting his decision (many, many years ago) to rehome his beloved dog.

His toddler ended up in the hospital on several occasions with severe asthma due to dog allergies. He contacted the dog’s breeder who immediately acted to find a new situation for the dog. (See? This is the reason you should get a purebred dog from a BREEDER, not a pet store or a puppy mill. They are dedicated to the dogs they place.)

He was contacted by several people and found a new home that he felt would be perfect for his dog. He drove 12 hours to deliver his furry friend to a new family that he hoped would love the dog as much as he did. He did everything exactly right, because he loved his dog. 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

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

imageAs a veterinarian I have seen death aplenty. I have been responsible for the ending of thousands of little lives, inflicted the pain of loss on thousands of people in my own “professional” way, and experienced loss of my own – family, friends, pets, patients. There are times that I feel as though I specialize in death and dying.

This isn’t unusual for veterinarians, of course. Our dog and cat patients have short lives compared to ours. Many of my clients, like myself, feel empty without the love that a pet can provide and will have the opportunity to live with many animals over the course of a lifetime. They will also have the opportunity to say goodbye to those pets one by one, experiencing the pain of loss and the psychic and emotional toll that takes over and over again. 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


Real life phone call today, from a lady about her dog:

Mrs Nomeds: He’s licking his leg, but I don’t want to put anything on it that’s not natural.
Receptionist: Well, he’s licking there for a reason. Probably best to have it seen.
Mrs Nomeds: But then the doctor is going to want to give him something for it. I don’t want that.
Receptionist: If I’m hearing you right, you might want him seen but you wouldn’t want Dr  Claws to actually prescribe anything to help it.
Mrs Nomeds: Right. Unless it’s natural. Right now I’m using tea tree oil.
Receptionist: Is he licking the tea tree oil off?
Mrs Nomeds: Yes, he’s still licking but it’s fine. Tea tree is natural.
Receptionist: You know tea tree oil is toxic when ingested, right?
Mrs Nomeds: But it’s natural!

“I thought you said your dog does not bite?” Insp. Jacques Clouseau

Your dog bites. Whose fault is it?

Snarling GSDI can tell you whose fault it isn’t – mine. And it’s not my assistant’s fault. So please don’t get pissy with me when I tell you that I’m going to have to muzzle your dog. I don’t muzzle many dogs; I find that with low-stress techniques we can usually de-escalate the biting and snapping and actually make the visit bearable even for very anxious dogs. But sometimes a dog is too big to control well, or the owner is very tentative and afraid of the dog, and I’m not sure I can keep someone from being bitten. Or, after many years of doing this, I recognize the signs of stress in your dog and I know he’s about to lose it (and no, he hasn’t growled yet). Out comes the muzzle.

No, I’m not hurting him. No, he’s not like this because he was abused as a puppy (I buy that this is a temperament or personality issue, but not abuse. You’ve owned him since he was 7 weeks old). No, he’s not dominant. He’s never growled before? Hmm. I seem to recall this behavior last time I saw him. He’s a “talker”, but never bites? Your son just said the dog bit your new girlfriend. That must have been an exception.

Enough excuses. You have had many opportunities over the years to address this and you haven’t. You came in today for a routine wellness visit. I don’t have, right now, the hour it will take to condition your dog to some of the procedures I need to do. You have consistently declined help from trainers and behaviorists, so I don’t have a choice. If you won’t recognize the problem and take steps to protect other people, I have to. On goes the muzzle.