I had someone call
recently about what I would recommend for a pet safe weed killer. A bit of veterinary information network (VIN)
searching verified what I was taught in veterinary school.
Most weed killers are really mammal
safe. Of course, if you think about it,
they would have to be because humans are being exposed to them too. The danger in weed killers is probably more
about the other ingredients than the active ingredient anyway. Active ingredients usually target things only
plants have. For example Roundup
(glyphosphate) targets the shikimic pathway involved in photosynthesis-
obviously not going to affect humans. Of
course the other part of that product helps it stick to the plant so that part
could cause some issues if ingested directly.
Bottom line on
most weedkillers are spray what you need to, let it dry, and then let your
critters out and don’t worry about it too much.
Of course, always store the bottles where your pets cannot access them
because the toxicity increases in higher concentrations (straight from the
And anyone, human or pet, can
have a contact allergy to just about anything- so itchy paws may be an
idiosyncratic individual reaction and washing the affected paws w warm soapy
water will help decrease reactivity.
In my world of
veterinary medicine science is very important.
It decides what works and what does not.
I feel a bit like Don Quixote tilting at windmills with all of the
pseudoscience in the veterinary field.
There are days I think just grinding up some dandelions and calling them
a supplement and selling it for a profit of 50 bucks a bottle would be easier
than fighting it.
I recently had an
emergency call about a cut on an ear that was bleeding persistently. After we talked through things she could do
at home she asked if she should give the dog a well-known calming remedy that
is essentially water. It is a
homeopathic solution which in realist terms is something to treat the owner not
the dog. Part of the “don’t just stand
there, do something” technique.
remedies are based on a discredited theory that like cures like. So they are herbs or substances that cause
the symptom that is being treated. As in
a substance that causes vomiting to help the body stop vomiting. The key in homeopathic remedies is that they
are diluted over and over and over and over (times 30) enough that there is NO
ingredient other than water in the remedy.
Not. Even. Kidding. Why anyone
would think that would help is clearly not versed either in what they are
giving or in science or both.
aggravating part of this is that pharmacies carry homeopathic remedies right
next to real products. And some
veterinarians dispense (and charge for!) these products too. It is a huge for-profit scam. As a consumer I ask you to eschew such lunacy
and maybe even mention it to the pharmacy or veterinarian that the solution is
water or the tablets are just sugar and that it is inappropriate for them to
sell them to an uneducated public.
I feel it is
vital to be educated about your pet’s care (and your own) and not spend money
on quack remedies. Caveat emptor.
Just today a
fella in a truck across the street at Traylor’s had his Siberian husky pup run
out of his rig and across all 5 lanes of
successfully- thankfully. I
became aware of it when he was yelling and doing a dominance roll on the pup and
tugging on the pup’s skin in anger and, I am sure, fear in front of the clinic. The pup squealed in pain. And wriggled to get
away, but did not succeed.
understandable but counterproductive to punish a pup who has run off in such
frightening near death circumstances. If
the pup lets you catch him and he gets punished for it, what do you think he
will do next time? Not let you catch
him, that’s what. In getting a dog to
come on command you want to reward the return with a treat or a kind word. Make
it a positive. Never a negative.
I had a real
life lesson in this when we first started boarding dogs here and did not have
all the fences we do now. Katie and
Dartagne were a lab and Dalmatian who boarded with us. One day when I was
taking them out, Katie did an end around me and pushed on the kennel door, and
the chase was on because the door had not latched. She ran straight toward HWY 101 and I put
Dart back and went screaming out the door for her. I was frantic to keep her from going in the
road and yelling her name anxiously at the top of my voice. She was on the sidewalk when it occurred to
me that she would never come to me with the tone of my voice being upset, I
immediately brought the tone in to play sound (high fun pitch) and said, “come
on Katie, you want a treat?” “who’s a good girl?” and she ran right back to me
and let me leash her up. Phew.
Another time I
saw a loose dog at the railroad bridge park being chased by the petsitter who
was hollering frantically and running as fast as she could to keep up. The dog was having a grand time of keep
away. I opened the hatch to my ford
explorer and said, “wanna go for a ride?” and the dog jumped right in. The petsitter was amazed that the dog would
just jump into a stranger’s vehicle. I
told her, “what dog doesn’t love a car ride?”
It is that easy a lot of the time to catch a runaway.
like a dog, what would you run to if you were a dog?
Some of my
favorite patients are old critters. They
tend to be more serene and not nearly as anxious in my office after all the
previous visits and loving we have had together. I am surprised that I can still be shocked
when I look at a chart and see that a dog is actually 12 years old and not the
five I had in my head. Especially when
the dog suddenly looks old from the last visit.
Even veterinarians try to deny aging in their patients, it seems.
A few years ago I
was stunned to realize that my lovely great dane, Zoey, was 11 and a half and
not going to make 12. It is easy to miss
the creeping signs of old age.
Some of the
indicators that our elderly pets are feeling their age are subtle. My dog was sleeping more than usual and
drinking more than usual. But she still
had her spark plug moments of racing around the house with my terrier. Sleeping more than usual can indicate any
number of issues in older pets. Some are
somnolent because they have diminished vision, hearing or mental abilities. Some because they have heart disease or an
endocrine disease like hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is often accompanied by decreased appetite and weight
gain. And, of course, pain from
arthritis can be a reason to snooze more and exercise less.
Drinking more is not a good sign, as most
people think. Drinking more implies that
the kidneys are not doing a great job of concentrating (making more dense,
thicker) the urine. The first thing that
goes wrong with kidneys is usually a loss of ability to concentrate – leading
to increased drinking and increased urinating.
Accidents in the house can be due to kidney disease or a urinary tract
infection or urinary incontinence. Many
aging pets urinate in the house, some because of brain aging (senility) too.
Bad breath is
sometimes not just a sign of dental disease.
It can indicate kidney or liver or endocrine disease. Dental disease is common in older pets
too. Untreated dental issues can leave
bacteria seeding from the mouth into the bloodstream to the valves of the
heart, the liver or the kidneys and precipitate a crisis. It is as important for your pets to have
their dental issues taken care of to preserve their health as it is for you to
take care of your teeth too. Pets can
have very significant dental disease and still be eating just fine. They are masters of hiding pain.
An exam every 6
months of a geriatric pet (those 8 years and older) is recommended to check for
signs of arthritis, endocrine disorders, liver or kidney or bone marrow
disease, mental acuity, vision, hearing and to screen for dental disease. We can’t change the age of your pet but we
can make it easier to live with by treating the issues of aging. Non steroidal anti inflammatory medications
can make a very arthritic pet much more comfortable and mobile. Dental treatment can relieve pain and clean
bacterial seeding out. Heart drugs can
extend the lifespan and quality of life.
Dietary modifications can slow the progression of kidney, bladder, or
liver disease. Just because your dog or
cat is old does not mean he or she does not need care. We can help a lot.
I have been thinking about veterinary medicine a lot
lately. Well, for years and years
really. It is the best job there
is. I love being a veterinarian.
I would like you
to know a veterinarian’s perspective on a few things. Well, at least THIS veterinarian’s
I do love
animals. I do love puzzles. Putting
those two together was the best decision I ever made. Veterinary medicine is about taking an
uncommunicative, sometimes uncooperative, patient, gathering clues to the
picture and setting a course for treatment.
My job is to recommend how to collect those clues and then put them
together. Sometimes I am left with
little choice in gathering that information.
I do not love
to talk financials with clients. I do
not love to choose between the best medicine and diagnostics and your financial
constraints. I understand everyone has
them though. My job, if I do it right, is
to recommend the gold standard. My
OBLIGATION to the animal is to recommend the gold standard. I get that you might not be able to afford
referral to a neurologist for a CT scan or an emergency clinic for a blood
transfusion. I understand that. It is my job to tell you, with the available
information I have, what is the best course for your pet. It is YOUR job, as the guardian of your
animal’s best care and the supervisor of your wallet, to balance those two
interests. I cannot see the depths of your
bank statement all I can see is your pet and its illness or its longevity.
I am focused on
preventing disease and alleviating suffering of your family member. I don’t know that you need 4 root canals, or
your kids need new shoes for school, but I understand when you tell me that is
why you can’t do the gold standard care for your pet. I can work within your budget, but then you
need to budget your expectations of my results.
If I do not get to do all the diagnostics I need to see the whole picture,
I may head down the wrong path for treatment and the outcome may not be what
either of us want or expect. I use my
head and experience and odds ratios to pare down my tests and treatments to the
most likely scenarios that might cause your pet’s issues. This is part of the caveat emptor, you get
what you pay for, of veterinary medicine.
financial constraint approach often ends up delaying appropriate treatment and
with less than stellar results.
In this ramble I
really want to say that I want what is best for your animal. It is my job to recommend that. I know you have limits, I accept that you do.
You need to tell me what those limits are and remember you get what you pay
for. I will always try my best in each
circumstance, but even so results are NOT guaranteed, we are dealing with a
living breathing thing whose mysteries sometimes are not fully