Tuesday, December 23, 2008

T'is the season for dietary indiscretion

When our little furry critters eat less than wholesome, harmful, or obstructive items that subsequently make them sick, we call it dietary indiscretion. At no other time in the year are dietary indiscretion cases more common for both canines and felines, than the holiday season from Thanksgiving though New Years Day.

Case in point, to date since Thanksgiving, 2008, I have surgically removed turkey neck vertebra from a canine esophagus, a lobster claw from a canine small intestine, an ornament hook from a canine stomach, a sponge from a canine stomach, and a 6 inch section of yarn removed from a feline colon. In addition, while I cannot recall the exact number of vomiting and diarrhea cases I have treated in this time period due to owner feeding of rich holiday food, or pets being naughty and getting into holiday food or garbage, off the top of my head, I have treated at least 50 cases.

Therefore, in my final post of 2008, I implore all pet owners to be vigilant in keeping holiday food, ornaments, and garbage out of the reach of pets. I also strongly recommend resisting the temptation to allow pets to partake in the indulging of rich holiday food - while this may provide a moment of intense pet gratification, the negative consequences can last longer and be far more costly than the reward.

Wishing you and your families, including the furry ones, peace and happiness through this holiday season, and a happy New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pet Health Insurance Rising In Bad Economy

With the average American's earning potential continuing to decrease in the current economic downturn, while veterinary costs steadily increasing nonetheless, pet health insurance has become more popular among pet owners, according to an article in Veterinary Practice News. Per the article, Pet Health Insurance premium sales this year have increased by 100,000 - 150,000 policies written from previous years nationwide. The article went on to cite a report that indicates that the pet health insurance industry is forcasted to grow by 25%-35% annually over the next 5 years.

From a veterinarian's perspective, this trend generally speaking is a poositive for the veterinary industry, but there are still some aspects that concern me. On one hand, quality pet health coverage helps pet owners pay for necessary veterinary care in the untimely incidence of pet illness or injury. Sick animals do not have to go without treatment because of financial constraints, and we get to perform our jobs to the best of our ability, unhampered by owner financial constraints. On the other hand, however, not all pet insurance companies are quality, and some pet owners are bound to get duped into purchasing premiums that ultimately do not fulfill expectations.

The solution for pet owners is to properly research pet health insurance companies before committing to a policy. Utilize consumer reporting agencies such as the better business bureau, and ask fellow pet owners and people in the pet care industry, such as groomers, trainers, and breeders, if they have pet health insurance preferences.

With more pet owners inquiring about pet insurance and veterinary clinics encouraging quality pet health insurance to help pet owners offset vet costs, many veterinarians are increasingly keeping a close eye on the industry, getting a solid feel for which pet health insurance companies are of good quality, and which ones should be avoided. This may make your vet a good source of pet health insurance company information and reputation.

Overall, I think that pet health insurance with a quality company under the current industry structure (re-reimbursement for vet costs remaining a matter directly between the owner and the insurance company with no veterinary clinic billing responsibilities), is a good idea for pet owners that do not think they could financially handle a sudden work-up and treatment regimen for their pet, that these days could approach a few to several thousands of dollars. A pet health insurance policy with a reputable company could be the difference in having to make the tough choice of choosing between the financial the stability of your family and saving the life of your beloved family pet.

Monday, December 1, 2008

We Love Lucy

About three months ago, a very nice lady brought in a 6 year old Labrador Retriever named Lucy to be put to sleep. The lady was agonizing over her decision to put Lucy down, because she had belonged to her best friend that had recently passed away in his sleep. The lady's friend told us that Lucy's owner had very little money, but whatever he had, he put into the care of his dog, cherishing his canine companion above everything else in life.

After he died, this friend of Lucy's deceased owner felt it was her obligation to take Lucy in both out of respect for the owner, as well as for the sake of a dog who had just lost her companion. However, once the lady's landlord caught wind of the fact that she had a dog in her home, he went ballistic, threatening to evict her on the spot due to his no dog policy. After she pleaded with him to make an exception to his rule given the special circumstances, the landlord did not budge, telling her that the eviction proceedings would begin immediately if she did not get rid of the dog.

Having no money to relocate, having no friends or family to take Lucy, and a cold hearted landlord that would not even grant her some time to seek other arrangements, the lady was left with two choices, either bring Lucy to the county shelter, or have her put to sleep. She chose the latter because of the fact that, although she was decently healthy, Lucy was middle aged, had very bad teeth, had chronic recurring allergic skin infections, and as such she felt that her chances of getting adopted were slim. She was unfortunately correct in her assumptions, and thought of her sitting in the strange setting of an animal shelter after having spent her life loved and doted on by her deceased owner, only to be put to sleep when nobody adopted Lucy was too heartbreaking for her to consider.

We were all devastated about the situation as well, and the fact that Lucy was a wonderfully sweet dog, made it all the more heart wrenching. With every one of us having reached our capacity in the number of animals we have adopted through the years, however, it did not look good for our ability to help Lucy and her new guardian. With very heavy hearts, we moved forward with getting the paperwork signed and the necessary injections drawn up.

At the last moment, one of my technicians, Melanie, overcome with tears, despite being already overburdened with rescue animals in her home, asked me if she would take the dog, would I spay her, repair her teeth, and treat her skin. To this I did not hesitate in telling her emphatically, "Absolutely!"

At this, we were overjoyed to enter the room and tell Lucy's guardian that there was a home for her, complete with a dedication to get her properly spayed and manage her ailments. The nice lady who had taken Lucy in on behalf of her deceased friend, was elated, relieved, and overjoyed. Although still grieving for the loss of her beloved friend, at least now she could engage in the grieving process without the guilt of knowing that her circumstances would not permit her to help the one thing her friend held dear in life.

Since then, Lucy has been spayed, her teeth repaired, and her skin comfortable and managed with appropriate medications. She is thriving in Melanie's home, getting on well with her assortment of rescues animals, and proving to be one of the best dogs Melanie ever had. Although Melanie's house is even more crowded than ever with rescue animals, she does not regret her decision to keep Lucy at all.

Just last week, a regular client of ours came in with his dog for a routine yearly, thanking us for helping the dog of "Sam, the one man band." As his name indicates, Sam was a one man musical act that performed some of the local pubs in the area, and was known by a select few pub goers, as a talented musician, as well as a kind and personable man who lived for his dog, Lucy. Only months after Sam's death when a few of his fans had wondered about his absence from the pubs, had they had learn of his circumstances. Their first concern being for Lucy, the one cherished treasure in Sam's life, all who knew him were relieved and moved to know that she had found a special home.

A heartwarming tale we can enjoy for the holidays.