Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sure, They're Acting Normal, But....

Eating and drinking normally, along with normal bathroom habits are always a good sign. But it's no guarantee that your pet is in optimum health.
Well pet checks on a regular basis are always encouraged. But in this economy with money being tight we are seeing pets that have had problems go on so long that immediate action is necessary, and usually expensive.
Boss Man and I have had a higher than usual number of cases of mammary gland tumors and pyometra in older unspayed female dogs. When we ask the owners why they waited until the dog is in critical condition before seeking help the answer is always "But she's been eating and drinking and acting fine, so I didn't think there was a problem"
A tumor the size of a grapefruit that is dragging the ground didn't happen yesterday. A Pyo so infectious that the smell comes into the room 10 minutes before the dog does has been brewing awhile.A small male dog with testicles swollen to the size of a tennis ball is not macho nor is it healthy. Having to call an owner and tell them that their beloved pet has metastatic cancer is hard on everyone. Which could have been avoided with a simple and relatively inexpensive sterilization surgery when they were young.
These cases are expensive and time consuming. Blood work is needed to make sure the patient can survive the surgery. X rays to check for metastasis before. Biopsies of the tumor are not cheap. And the surgery itself is touchy. While we do perform the neuter or spay at the time, there is also the extra of removing the tumor and making sure the whole tumor is excised. Some of these are so large that there is very little skin left to suture together. This means a longer and more arduous recovery time for the pet, with more possible complications than a routine sterilization.
Remember the childhood taunt: "See with your eyes, not with your hands"?  This doesn't apply to having pets. A routine examination no less than once a month will catch things before they get critical. Run your hands all over your pet. Note any lumps or bumps, and their size. You don't have to measure, just compare the size (a dime, a quarter, a softball, etc). If you find something, have it checked out. Your vet may recommend surgical removal, or monitoring the progress, depending on the type of lump and the location. It's much easier on you, your pet and your wallet to remove something the size of a quarter rather than something the size of a grapefruit.  Even if everything is normal, at least getting an exam is good preventive care.
And, if you're not breeding them or are done breeding them, get them fixed.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Vacations and Petsitting

Summer's just about here and most people are planning a vacation of some sort. One part of the checklist that seems to get sorely neglected is the care of their pets in their absence. Every pet owner needs to budget in the cost of boarding or a petsitter as part of their vacation expenses.
If you choose to board, get references and inspect the facility before leaving your pet with them. Make sure they have what you need, and be sure that what is important (a large run for a large dog, for example) will be provided.
If you choose to have a pet sitter come to your home, make sure they are licensed (check) and also check their references. This is a stranger to you and your pet, make sure you know enough about them before you hand them the keys to your kingdom.
If you use a family member, friend, neighbor, etc, choose wisely. I've seen many long time relationships lost over petsitting deals. Choose someone whose standard of pet care is as good or better than your own.

DO-If you have a pet that is medically not well or has special needs, is an escape artist or a biter, consider boarding that pet with a reliable facility or your vet's office. I once had a very sweet dog that I didn't find out until a short day trip that she wouldn't let anyone, even people she knew, in our yard without me present. She was also a master escape artist during firework season. I started boarding her during our vacations and life was much easier for everyone.

DO- Arrange a meet and greet with your petsitter, even if it's one you use frequently. Make sure to go over what you expect them to do while you're gone, what time to feed, etc.

DO- Put everything in writing. What food goes to which pet, which pet has special needs or quirks.

DO- Include in writing descriptions of your pets, names, ages, vaccines, license tag or chip numbers, special dietary needs and allergies. Including a recent picture is a good idea in case the pet gets lost.

DO-leave a list of veterinarians that you use, directions to their office, and phone numbers. Also leave contact information of at least one friend or family member who knows your pets and can act in your absence.

DO-Leave a signed written consent form for your petsitter to seek veterinary attention or euthanasia in your absence. This is crucial. Because of this litigious society, most vets won't touch an animal brought in in the owner's absence without written consent. Accidents happen, and you don't want Fido or Fluffy suffering because you're out of cell phone range.

DO-Leave plenty of food and supplies. I leave double the amount needed for the time I'm gone. Planes get delayed and cars break down, sometimes we don't get home when we expect to.

DO-Clearly label and go over instructions of any medications or special supplements. A daily pill minder from the dollar store makes life easier for Fido or Fluffy's meds. Dobbin's powdered supplements can be put in a baggie with his name and day and feeding time so all the petsitter has to do is dump it in the feeder.

DO-Make sure you are clear about what you want the petsitter to do about poop. If you want her to scoop poop, make sure that the tools are in good working order and easily accessible and the waste receptacles are where they need to be.

DON'T- leave without written instructions. If something is forgotten, it's there in black and white. If  a veterinary visit  is necessary in your absence, the short history you've left will be valuable to someone who hasn't seen your pet before.

DON'T- make changes to diet or routine before you leave unless it's medically necessary. Your vacation may be relaxing, but your absence is still stressful to your pet. Wait until you get home to make changes.

DON'T-Leave a mess and expect your petsitter to deal with it. Leave the cats with fresh litter in their boxes before you go, scoop up poop in the backyard, clean Dobbin's stall. Leaving your petsitter to deal with Bandini mountain means that next time you go you won't have a petsitter.

DON'T- Expect your petsitter to automatically know everything about your pet, even if she is very experienced. If Fluffy usually only eats half of her food or won't poop in a used litter box let the sitter know. Also be sure she knows what is usual, and unusual, habits of your pet. Tell her what to watch for and what is considered an emergency.

DON'T-Leave and expect the sitter to supply necessities. If Fido will only take his seizure meds with peanut butter, make sure it's available. If Dobbin gets a carrot daily, supply it. Everything your pets need in your absence is on you.

Have a great vacation!!

Coming soon: The Cranky Catwranglers Mis-Adventures in Petsitting

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ass Clown Redux

So I've been neglecting my little blog. Life took some strange twists and turns in 2012, most of which I'm happy to leave behind, but there were learning experiences all the same. I've found myself in yet another full circle yet again: I'm doing relief work for Boss Man. I'm not so sure this is a good thing. The F bomb has reentered my vocabulary out of either necessity or a requirement of working there.
Today was a shot clinic day, and with good weather and the promise of spring we were busy. It was the typical mix of new puppies and old clients, those who were happy with us and those who will never be happy.
Then I get a guy who comes in after speaking to a co worker. He went to give his dog a bath, the collar is embedded and the dog won't let him near him (big surprise). So he stopped by to get some tranquilizers so he can get the collar cut off the dog. I go through the whole ritual of what he needs to do, that the dog will probably need veterinary attention, etc., then off to find Boss Man to get the script written. I hand him the chart and the following conversation ensues:

BM: Is the dog here?
ME: No, the owner is. He can't get near the dog. He needs to tranq the dog so he can get close enough to cut the collar off.
BM: Does he look stupid?
ME: How smart can he be if the dog has an effing embedded collar?
BM: Let me talk to him.

Seriously. An embedded collar does not happen overnight. Most embedded collar cases are a guarantee of neglect charges. While I would really like to give this assclown the benefit of the doubt, such as he was out of town and this happened under someone else's watch, still, there is no excuse for an embedded collar.

Preaching to the choir here: We all have busy lives. Pets are a responsibility, and a duty. Part of ensuring their well being is checking them. All pets should have a visual inspection daily. No less than weekly, a pet owner needs to go over their pet with their hands and check. Check teeth, sniff ears and skin, check foot pads and between toes. Anything different needs attention. If a collar is too small, get rid of it or replace it. Whether the pet never leaves your side or lives outdoors guarding your property there should always be a good going over. With the exception of feral cats, all pets should tolerate a quick general inspection. If this is impossible, get yourself a good trainer for help, or reconsider pet ownership.
Embedded collars are signs of weeks or even months of neglect, and shouldn't happen. Ever.