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

Truth in advertising

How many veterinary websites have you seen that look like this:

State-of-the-art services… cutting edge technology… highest quality veterinary care… first rate pet care… animal clinic of choice for the XYZ area… advanced training… high-quality… advanced technology… compassionate care for all the animals we work with… unique… ultimate in care and convenience…

DVM AlmightThis kind of thing is common and ubiquitous. Some veterinary websites sound like they are written by the same folks who write ads for Saul Goodman. Many sites are grandiosely self-laudatory. If the verbiage on the sites is to be believed, these clinics are all brand new, equipped with millions of dollars’ worth of wondrous gizmos, staffed by selfless angels who weep at the thought of an animal in discomfort, and whose veterinarians are to the field what Dr Michael DeBakey was to human heart surgery. Continue reading

Don’t come crying

Photo by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

Photo by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

Herd immunity is a wonderful thing. As long as we have about 70% of a population immune to a disease, the chances of a devastating epidemic are low. When the percentage of the population that is immune dwindle, the risk of an outbreak increases. And we’ve seen this in action in the natural world before the inception of vaccines – a population would be exposed to a disease like influenza or yellow fever, survivors would gain immunity, the epidemic would fade out, and the risk of a repeat epidemic would be minimal until an adequate supply of susceptible individuals emerged again.

There has been a real push back against vaccination in the last 10 years, in humans as well as pets. I’m all for minimizing vaccinations. I don’t think I’ve advocated annual vaccines for routine illnesses since graduating vet school almost 2 decades ago, and I hate that some local vets are advising clients to vaccinate their pet (mainly dogs) for diseases that we really don’t see here. So I’m not a shill for the vaccine companies, and I don’t live in the pocket of big pharma. Continue reading