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Medical Monday

Medicine versus Mom: What happens when my pet gets dropped off at the veterinary clinic?

Medical-Monday--Medicine-versus-Mom

Carol Byrant from Fidose of Reality and I have matched up to bring you a veterinary experience from a mom and veterinary technician’s perspective. I will be writing from the veterinary technician’s perspective in order to bring you some insight into what happens “in the back” of a veterinary hospital.

Please keep in mind that every veterinary hospital will have its own unique processes and procedures, so this post will be a direct reflection of my experience working in veterinary hospitals.

Today we want to answer the question, “What happens when my pet gets dropped off at the veterinary clinic?”.

For example, let’s say that your dog is being dropped off for a dental including full anesthesia, and possibly 2 teeth extractions. Estimated surgery time is 20 minutes, and total estimated anesthesia time is 45 minutes. The staff will use the additional anesthesia time to clean and polish the teeth either before or after the extractions.

The Drop off (8:00am): When your pet is dropped off in the morning, the first thing we do is weigh your dog, and get them checked in with the standard paperwork. The reason we weigh your pet the morning of surgery is that we want to make sure they haven’t gained or lost a significant amount of weight since their last exam, because that could be a sign of a possible medical issue. We also want to make sure that the anesthesia calculations use the most recent and accurate weight, since doses are calculated based on weight.

If the veterinarian who is doing surgery that day (this would apply in a multi-veterinarian practice) is already in the hospital, they may give your dog a physical exam before we put your dog in a cage. The purpose of the physical exam is to make sure your pet is in good health, and has no signs of any medical issues before we begin prepping for surgery.

If your pet’s physical exam goes well, we will go ahead and calculate their pre-med. The pre-med works as both a pre-anesthetic and a pain medication. Basically, this will start making them sleepy and serve as pain control before, during, and after surgery.

Your dog’s critical information, and reason for surgery will be placed on a whiteboard, and a name card will be placed on their cage. This helps the staff know who is in the hospital, and what treatments they will need throughout the day. Many procedures vary across hospitals, but this procedure of writing patients on the white board was true for every hospital where I have worked.

Pre-Op (9:30am): If your dog is first in line for surgery that day, we might already be in surgery with your dog. However, on any given day we could have 3 or 4 surgeries, so your dog may not be going into surgery until 11:00, or 11:30am. Feel free to ask what time your pet is expected to go into surgery, but be prepared for this time to change, as we never know what the day will bring. Around this time in the morning, we will be placing catheters in all pet’s who need surgery that day.

Placing a catheter can be an uncomfortable process, but we have already given them their pre-med, so your dog will be much more comfortable. At this time, we will also be setting up all necessary items for your dog’s dental procedure.

Surgery (10:00am): A 10:00am surgery time would be typical for a pet who was 2nd or 3rd in line for surgery that day. At this time, your dog will be comfortably under anesthesia, and your veterinarian will likely be performing the teeth extractions. The length of time to extract teeth will vary based on the location of the teeth and the quality of the roots. For example, if your veterinarian is extracting a tooth in the vary back of your dog’s mouth, and the tooth is so rotten that the roots start to crumble as the tooth is being extracted, this may lead to a long extraction time because your veterinarian will want to make sure that all roots have been removed otherwise they could cause your dog issues down the road.

Post-op (11:00-noon): After your dog’s surgery is over, we will start to wake them up. We turn off the gas anesthesia and keep them intubated, depending the quality of their other vitals, we may decide to keep them on IV fluids at this time. Your dog will start to show signs of waking up within the next few minutes depending on how affected they are by the anesthesia. As your dog is waking up from surgery, they are with a veterinary technician the entire time. While waking a patient from anesthesia we are sitting or laying with them in their cage so that they feel comfortable when then wake up.

Anyone who has had anesthesia knows that your initial wake up can be very confusing. So we are sure to be there to let them know that they are okay, and we also assess their vital signs to make sure their body is recovering from anesthesia well.

Normally, this is the time that the veterinarian will give you a call to let you know that your dog’s surgery went well, and they are comfortably recovering from surgery. However, if an emergency walks through the door (like I said you never know), your veterinarian may have to postpone their call to you another 30 minutes to an hour, so patience is key at this time. I always remind pet parents that if your pet were the one with the emergency, you would want your pet to have veterinarian’s full attention at that time.

Post-Op (noon-5pm): Most of our surgery patients get picked up between 4:30pm and 5:30pm. We typically decide what pickup time will be when your veterinarian provides you with your post-op call. During these post surgery hours, the veterinary technician on the surgery will continuously assess your dog’s health. Meaning, we constantly check on our patients. Because we spend significantly less time in rooms with clients than the veterinarian does, and we are always in the back, it is our job to make sure all post-op patients are perky, and recovering with appropriate energy. We make sure to keep them warm and comfortable, and also prepare all of their post-op medications that will be going home with you.

Sometimes we would send a picture of the patient to the client’s cell phone (if they provided the number), with a message saying something like…”Hi Mom! I am recovering well from surgery, and I can’t wait to see you when you pick me up at 5:00pm”. I think pet parent’s really liked this, and I hope other clinics would do the same.

At 5:00pm you get a chance to see your pet, and we update you on their surgery and send you home with all necessary information and prescriptions. We always go over with you the signs of pain or discomfort that you as a pet parent should watch out for:

vomiting

diarrhea

panting

extended lethargy

and other surgery specific symptoms

If you have any questions now is the time to ask, but don’t be afraid to call the next day with further questions. We would rather you ask than worry!

Please remember while your pet is at the veterinary office, no news is not necessarily bad news. Like I mentioned previously, we could have 3-4 emergencies walk in before 9:00am and completely change the course of the day, so please be patient. Your veterinarian wants to update you just as much as you would like to be updated.

Hop on over to Fidose of Reality to get Carol’s perspective of the day as a dog mom!

Medical Monday: Understanding the Feline Herpes Virus

Welcome to another edition of Medical Monday where we discuss veterinary medical issues experienced by pets and their families.

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The Feline Herpes Virus, or FHV-1, is the most common type of upper respiratory virus in cats worldwide (PetMD). Yet, many cat owners are still unaware of the virus and its potential implications on their pet’s health.

Feline Herpes Virus causes Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, or influenza. This virus, like many others, is extremely common in shelter environments where cats are kept in close quarters (PetMD). The spread of the virus is caused by direct cat-to-cat contact, however, the virus survives up to 18 hours in an external environment (Today’s Veterinary Practice).

While working in veterinary hospitals, I saw quite a few cats who were positive for FHV-1. They often led very normal cat lives, however, they would have upper respiratory infections (URIs) more often due to the opportunistic nature of this virus.

Once exposed to the virus, a kitten, or cat, will develop symptoms within 2 -4 days (PetMD).

What are the symptoms of Feline Herpes Virus?

According to PetMD:

Coughing

Sneezing

Nasal Discharge

Conjunctivitis

Sometimes they experience a high fever or lack of appetite

According to Today’s Veterinary Practice peer reviewed article on “Vaccination of Cats Against Infectious Upper Respiratory Disease”, this virus can also cause oral ulceration.

The symptoms typically run their course in 4-7 days. As soon as their symptoms are no longer present, they are now officially carriers of the virus (Today’s Veterinary Practice).

However, some kittens will become ill because they have developed pneumonia secondary to the virus, or even permanent scarring on their eyes.

Is this a virus that they will carry with them throughout their life?

Yes. Just like the human form of herpes, cats never rid their body of the virus, it lays dormant within their body and they will occasionally experience “flare-ups”.

When can you expect to see these flare-ups?

The virus is a bit opportunistic, and it waiting for the immune system to become suppressed to then show its symptoms once again. Therefore, keep an eye on your cat during stressful times of the year (like the holidays).

Are their vaccines available for this virus?

Yes. There are several different types of vaccines available, but the vaccine for FHV-1 is part of a combo vaccine (called FVRCP at the hospitals I worked at). The current vaccine protocol recommends giving the first combination vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks of age, then providing a booster vaccine every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16 to 20 weeks old. As adults, it is recommended that they are revaccinated 1 year after the initial series (Today’s Veterinary Practice).

If your cat is indoor only, and lives with no other cats, they may be considered low risk for the virus, and may only need to be revaccinated every 3 years. However, if your cat lives with other cats and ventures outdoors, they may need to be revaccinated every year (Today’s Veterinary Practice). You will want to discuss this vaccine protocol with your veterinarian.

What are the available treatments for this disease?

Broad spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent secondary bacterial infections (PetMD).

Opthalmic medications may be prescribed for the eyes, to prevent further damage, or to control a current infection (PetMD).

Nutritional and fluid support may be necessary if your pet is experiencing a lack of appetite since maintaining healthy energy is crucial for recovery (PetMD).

What can I do to make recovery easier for my pet?

PetMD recommends removing as much stress as possible for your pet. Allow them a quite place to recover (especially if you have other cats, isolating them will prevent the spread of the virus). Also, you can make their litter box, water dish, and food bowl easily available to them in their quite recovery place so that they don’t have to use a lot of energy to get around.

Dehydration and poor nutrition can lead to fatal consequences, so make sure that your pet is eating (provide them with easily digestible food), and make sure they have access to plenty of water.

Does your cat suffer from Feline Herpes Virus? How often does your cat experience symptoms?

Don’t forget that you can protect yourself, and your pet, with pet insurance. Avoid the financial surprises that come along with owning a pet. Click below to get yourself a free quote from Trupanion.

Medical Monday: Fur Chewing in Chinchillas

Welcome to another edition of Medical Monday where we discuss veterinary medical issues experienced by pets and their families.

Did you know that I had 2 chinchillas when I was in college?

Well, I did! Their names were Chili & Cheese. 🙂

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Chili was the standard gray chinchilla color and Cheese was the almost albino one.

Today I want to talk about a common disorder seen in chinchillas: fur chewing.

Although it is still considered to be an abnormal behavior, according to Merck/Merial, it occurs in about 30% of chinchillas.

This is a behavior where they chew on their own fur, or the fur of others, which causes their fur to look spotty or “moth-eaten”.

What causes this behavior?

According to Merck/Merial, fur chewing can be caused by:

boredom

stress

malnutrition

warm or drafty environments

or increased hormonal activity

What signs should I look out for?

Their fur will actually look darker in some spots due to their exposed underfur. Typically, you will observe these dark spots around the shoulders, flanks, and paws (Merck/Merial).

What is the current treatment?

Because the different causes of this behavior vary, there are several different treatment options.

Decreasing room temperature and humidity could be the solution if the environment is the issue.

Changing their diet would be the solution if you are suspicious that their diet might not be sufficient.

Remove, or reduce anything that may be causing them stress.

There are also certain ointments, tablets and supplements that you can provide for your pet, but I recommend talking to your veterinarian before use any of these treatment options.

Have you ever owned a chinchilla or thought of owning a chinchilla?

Don’t forget that you can protect yourself and your pet with pet insurance. Avoid the financial surprises that come along with owning a pet. Click below to get yourself a free quote from Trupanion.

Medical Monday: Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

MM-HGE

Welcome to another edition of Medical Monday where we discuss veterinary medical issues experienced by pets and their families.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis can be identified by blood in the stool and/or vomit of a your pet (PetMD).

This is a severe disorder and can be fatal to your pet, so if you notice blood in the stool or vomit of your pet you should seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY.

What other symptoms can be observed with HGE?

According to PetMD:

Lethargy

Listlessness

Weight loss

Electrolyte imbalance

Dehydration

Hypovolemic Shock (when a pet goes into shock because their blood or fluid levels drop suddenly)

What causes such a sudden and severe condition in pets?

According to PetMD, HGE can be caused by a variety of different pathogens:

Bacteria (Salmonella, E.Coli): This can be caused by an infectious food perhaps. Additionally, this type of infection can affect all family members because these types of bacteria can be passed to humans. (Side note: I had a severe bacterial gastro infection when I was a kid and I lost 25 lbs in 2 weeks as an 8 year old, so I can attest to these infections being very serious)

Virus (Parvovirus, Canine Distemper): Although these two diseases are part of your puppies vaccine protocol, if you think that your pet is at risk for either of these diseases, you need to get to the vet immediately! Many shelter pets are exposed to Parvo and Distemper, and unfortunately, many don’t survive because this disease is so fast moving.

Fungi (Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium): Aspergillus is known for being an opportunistic fungus, that will often cause an infection when the pet’s immune system is already weak (PetMD).

Parasites (Roundworms, Hookworms, Tapeworms, Whipworms, or Coccidia): Your pet can be exposed to these parasites in a number of different situations. Occasionally, you monthly flea and heartworm preventatives also include a dewormer, which can help you protect your pet against parasites. Rooney’s stool samples have been positive for parasites after we visit some public parks that have a lot of mud or stagnant water, but he hasn’t had HGE.

If my veterinarian suspects HGE what is the common protocol for treatment?

After diagnostics have been performed, your pet may need the following treatments:

Fluid and Electrolyte therapy (IV Fluids)

Antibiotic therapy

Medications that sooth the intestine and provide supportive therapy.

When you bring them home, you will need to give them a bland diet for several days, before returning to their regular diet.

Some veterinarians have suggested using probiotics to help prevent the incidence of such diseases.

I have seen many patients suffer from HGE and many survive and feel much better with the use of the above treatments. The most important thing a pet owner could know is that you need to seek veterinary attention immediately.

Has your pet ever had HGE? What was the cause and course of treatment?

Don’t forget that you can protect your pet with pet insurance to avoid the financial surprises that come along with owning a pet. Click below to get yourself a free quote from Trupanion.

Medical Monday: Tick Borne Diseases

MM-Tick-Borne-Diseases

Welcome to another edition of Medical Monday where we discuss veterinary medical issues experienced by pets and their families.

Today I want to discuss Tick Borne Diseases.

I was recently contacted by Vicki from Earth Heart Inc., (a company that provides natural remedies for pet) to join in the effort of educating pet parents about tick borne diseases.

You may remember earlier this year I wrote about a family who suddenly lost their lab Buddy, to Lyme Disease. Tick borne diseases are very serious and can be fatal to your pet.

Ehrlichiosis:

Cause: Dogs bitten by ticks that are infected with certain types of ehrlichia bacteria (PetMD). The bacterial causes the immune system to attack the platelets in the dogs body. Destruction of platelets, makes it impossible for the body to form blood clots.

Symptoms (PetMD): Fever, lethargy, lymph node enlargement, lameness, abnormal bruising and bleeding, chronic eye inflammation, neurologic abnormalities

Treatment: Diagnosis of this type of disease is very difficult! Both false positives and false negatives are very common. Once diagnosis has been confirmed, the treatment of choice may be antibiotics, more severe cases may need blood transfusions or immunosuppressive medications. Most importantly: signs can show up long after exposure, so no recent tick exposure will not rule out this disease (PetMD).

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri

Anaplasmosis

According to PetMD, there are 2 forms of Anaplasmosis, the first is caused by Deer Ticks and Western Black-legged ticks, and then there is another that is caused by the Brown Dog Tick (PetMD).

Symptoms: pain in the joints, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and some nervous system disorders (PetMD).

Diagnosis: Usually, pets will start to display symptoms a few weeks after infection. Diagnosis of anaplasmosis requires blood and urine tests to confirm infection (PetMD).

Treatment: Oral antibiotics may be an option for your pet, but it depends on how severe the infection is (PetMD).

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri

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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Cats can be infected with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but the incidence is much lower. Dogs however are highly susceptible to infection (PetMD).

Symptoms: fever, loss of appetite, enlargement of the lymph nodes, coughing or difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and swelling of the joints (Merck/Merial). In severe cases, you may see red spots on the lining of the mouth and eyelids.

Treatment: If this disease is suspected, your veterinarian will often not wait for results, but will immediately start antibiotic treatment (Merck/Merial).

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri

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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease has been reported in every state in the United States. There are 3 known species of tick that can transmit Lyme disease. However, the most common cases of lyme are cause by Black-Legged Deer ticks. These ticks harbor that bacteria that cause the lyme disease. The highest risk times for this disease are spring and fall. The disease is actually named after the town Lyme, Connecticut where the earliest outbreak was first seen (Merck/Merial).

Symptoms: The most common symptoms include fever, inappetence, pain and swelling in the joints, swollen lymph nodes, and lethargy (Merck/Merial).

Treatment: includes antibiotics, although it is not helpful in all cases pending the severity of the infection (Merck/Merial).

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What can you do as a pet owner?

Avoid tick exposure.

Vaccination for Lyme Disease may be an option, so check with your veterinarian.

Have a plan in place to repel ticks from your pet when you hike, camp, etc.

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Remove ticks as soon as you see them!

14868449429_2c64b9bb39_o In addition to spreading the word about tick borne diseases, Earth Heart is letting us giveaway a bottle of they Buzz Guard to 2 lucky readers. To learn more about Buzz Guard, please visit their website here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I want to thank Earth Heart for helping us spread the word about tick borne diseases.

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