Blog - Family Veterinary Clinic - Port Angeles, WA

Family Veterinary Clinic

3217 East Mahogany Street
Port Angeles, WA 98362


- 06/06/2016

Weed Killer

    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 bottle).  
     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.

- 04/12/2016

     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. 
     Homeopathic 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.
     The most 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.
     Good places to educate yourself are and

- 03/14/2016

Runaway dog!

     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 traffic 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.

      It is 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. 

     Remember think like a dog, what would you run to if you were a dog?  

- 02/25/2016

Old Pet Syndrome
     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.

- 12/19/2015

     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 perspective anyway.

     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. 
     Unfortunately the 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 discoverable.