Tag Archives: veterinarians

Love your dog? Restrain it when riding in the car!

This week has been a very rainy one in Christchurch.  Since I am a mobile practitioner, I spend a fair amount of time in the car.  When stopped at a traffic light, I snapped this photo with my phone:

Dog in car on rainy day

You can clearly see this little white dog sitting on the ledge at the rear window of the car.  I watched while the dog moved around on the ledge and onto the back seat of the car, then back again.

If this vehicle had to stop suddenly for any reason, this dog would go flying!  Just as the driving safely videos show things like drink bottles flying after a crash, so too would this little dog.  If it survived, it would likely need intensive medical care that would be both painful and expensive.

I don’t see enough dogs in Christchurch that are restrained properly using a car harness.  It’s very concerning.

I’ve even met and talked with vets about this subject, and many have admitted that although they know they should restrain their own dogs, they don’t!   Most vets don’t even ask as part of the annual check-up with their clients whether or not their dog travels in a vehicle and, if so, whether it is properly restrained.

We need more people leading from example….

…like the lovely lady who came yesterday to fit her Labrador puppy, Harley, with an auto harness.  She’s training him at a young age to accept being restrained in the car.

Please let me know if your vet encourages you to restrain your dog when traveling in the car.  I’d like to promote them via my Facebook page.  And send me photos of your dog safely restrained in the car!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Support for a healthy dog

Preventive healthcare is essential both for you and your dog.  In the USA, the Partners for Healthy Pets website aims to help pet owners understand the value of preventive healthcare.  You can even register your dog to receive reminders that it is time for their annual checkup.

The site contains useful information about annual checkups, weight management, and other issues.  Here’s just one example to encourage good weight management.

If you have a 20 pound dog,

A treat of one hot dog....

a treat of one hot dog….

...is the human equivalent of eating 2 1/2 hamburgers!

…is the human equivalent of eating 2 1/2 hamburgers!

The site also contains a searchable database for veterinarians and veterinary hospitals.  Worth bookmarking if you are one of my USA readers.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You? | Video – ABC News

One of the things I try to do through this blog and my column in NZ Dog World magazine is to educate dog owners.  This item, from ABC News in the United States, gives you some food for thought.

The key messages are:

1) Be an educated dog owner about health care

2) Ask knowledgeable questions about recommended procedures (including vaccinations)

3) Understand that some practices market procedures (up-selling) to increase sales

And the subtle one for me is really to develop a working relationship with your vet.  I believe that most vets are ethical and are willing to have an intelligent conversation with you.  But, it’s up to you to be the steward of your dog’s care.  You are the one who says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to all treatments given to your dog.

Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You? | Video – ABC News.

The year of the vet plus one

Thirty-five years ago, on the waiting room wall of our family’s first vet, this passage from the actor and cowboy Will Rogers was mounted in a frame:

 The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter- he’s got to just know.

 What Mr Rogers said still holds true today.  Our veterinarians must have enquiring minds, good social skills (with dogs and people), observation capabilities beyond compare, a good network for researching and diagnosing illnesses, and the dedication to continue learning as new drugs and medical techniques are developed.

Did you know that last year (2011),  marked the 250th anniversary of the veterinary profession? French veterinarian and animal pathology researcher Claude Bourgelat established the world’s first veterinary school in Lyon, France in 1761.  Another school was established several years later in Paris.

I get to witness the rapport between client, dog and vet when I’m allowed to sit in on Gumboot Morrall’s post-surgical examination with Dr Tim Nottage of the Merivale Papanui Veterinary Clinic in Christchurch.  Gumboot  –  ‘Boots’ for short – has had a 1.2 kg tumour removed from his abdomen.  His owner, Min Morrall, tells me that Gumboot is a 10-year old Labrador cross and that she takes all her animals to Dr Tim for care and treatment.  She’s obviously comfortable at this practice as she shares the latest news with the receptionist while waiting for her appointment to begin.

Dr Tim Nottage rewards Gumboot after a successful examination

Dr Tim immediately asks for a progress report from Min, who says that Boots is walking again, although slower than normal.  Whilst he works on Boots to examine the surgical scar and drain the wound, Dr Tim asks various questions of Min.  These range from Boots’ appetite and medication to Min’s opinion on how her dog is doing.  Throughout his exam, Dr Tim murmurs encouraging words to Boots.  Afterwards, he gives Boots a treat which Boots happily accepts before heading for the relative safety of the reception area, clearly happy that his uncomfortable visit is over.

Our veterinarians go through years of education and training to become qualified and then their lifelong journey commences as they learn from their patients as new cases are presented.  Today we are reaping the benefits from a profession established over 250 years ago and the lives of our animals are better for it.   When you are next at your vet’s office, consider the words of Will Rogers and watch a true professional in action!

Weight gain and obesity are not only human conditions

We live in modern times, and in western societies such as ours, obesity and weight gain are consistent problems.  And not just for people.

36 million pets in the United States are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  In dog population terms, that’s 55% of the dog population.  The Association does a pet obesity survey each year, timed with National Pet Obesity Prevention Day (in October), where it asks pet owners to fill out a survey about their pet’s size, breed and eating habits.

Veterinarian Ernie Ward is a co-founder of the Association and he says that the focus on reward-based training has helped to contribute to the obesity problem.  Simply put, owners are not adjusting their dog’s daily intake of food at mealtime to compensate for treats being given as a reward.

And once a dog is fully trained, the rewards seem to keep coming for sometimes very basic tasks.  Like pooping, for example.

(Ask yourself:  once your child is potty-trained, do you keep praising him/her each time they use the toilet? – even into their teenage and adult years?)

And I’ve found that delivering the news to a client that their dog could lose some weight can often be a reason for not being asked to return for another massage treatment.  According to a recent article in The Boston Globe, I’m not alone.  Vets that deliver the news that a pet is overweight may find that the owner becomes defensive or, worse, takes their business elsewhere!

However, when I am dealing with a dog with arthritis or other mobility disorder, I am looking for ways to relieve their pain.  If they are carrying around extra weight, their sore joints and muscles are pulling double-duty.  I remember a client with a Pug, for example, who was easily twice its normal body weight.  Sure, the dog had arthritis, but it was so fat that it didn’t want to exercise and so weight loss was going to be a challenge and something the owner had to a) recognise and b) act on.

The Globe article also discusses the wide range of calorie content amongst commercial dog foods.    People may change their dog’s food, but continue feeding the same number of cups per day.  Weight gain is insidious and many people don’t recognise that their dog has put on weight until a vet or someone else points it out to them.

I do nutritional assessments for this reason.  I ask questions about the dog’s lifestyle, exercise habits and eating.  And I can run caloric calculations based on the dog food label to give advice on how much to feed.

There are many health professionals including your vet that have your dog’s best interest at heart.  Don’t be afraid to ask if they think your dog is overweight and be humble enough to make changes.

P.S.  When I take Daisy to her acupuncture treatments, my vet asks me to weigh her prior to each consultation.  This keeps me very disciplined to ensure that Daisy remains in her ideal weight range.

Some full-service pet shops and veterinary practices are happy for you to drop in to use their scales.  Why not make it a habit of walking your dog to these places for a weigh-in?  It’s a new routine that will keep you focused on your dog’s weight in a more positive way.