It’s that time of year…thunder rattling the windows at night, lightening illuminating the bedroom walls, torrential rain beating upon the roof, Fourth of July fireworks…and a dog, panting and trembling next to the bed as the storm rages outside. Thunderstorm and fireworks phobias are very common, particularly as dogs age. This type of anxiety can manifest with a spectrum of symptoms, from just mild attention-seeking behavior (Fido may come over and sit on your feet, but otherwise acts pretty normally) to severe, panic attack-like behavior. When I was a veterinary student at the University of Pennsylvania, a German shepherd was admitted to the surgery service after he crashed through a plate glass window during a thunderstorm. He was covered in lacerations that required surgery.
Whew! The Philadelphia area has been boiling the past several days, with temperatures well over 90 degrees. Most of us are seeking out air conditioning, or finding a shady spot by the pool. It’s equally important that Fido be kept cool; dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke than humans, since our canine friends lack the ability to sweat. (Cats can certainly be susceptible to heat stroke if the mercury rises enough, but they are more heat tolerant than dogs.)
My favorite appointments to see, of course, are those with new puppies and kittens. These can be long appointments, with much to discuss, but they are an opportunity to educate new pet owners, forge a bond with clients, and smell some seriously wonderful puppy breath! Sadly, sometimes these appointments contain an awkward moment, when the client who purchased a new puppy at the pet store asks “Do you think Fluffy came from a puppy mill?”
Those of us fortunate enough to work in veterinary medicine love our clients. And we love their dogs. We are thrilled to see a wiggly, happy dog burst through our front door, dragging a client behind them. We are even glad to accept slobbery dog kisses from said patients. What we don’t like to see, however, is a dog on a retractable leash.
Phoebe was brought into my clinic by a good client who frequently rescued stray cats in her neighborhood. Since she already had many cats at home, my client couldn’t keep Phoebe but wanted us to assess her health before finding her a home. When I first looked at Phoebe, she was missing most of the fur on the back half of her body. She had large, ulcerated wounds on the backs of both thighs, ulcerated areas on her stomach, and tiny scabs over most of her back. If that wasn’t bad enough, she also had two very large ulcers on her upper lips. Somehow, despite her skin misery, she purred throughout the appointment.
Just recently, a client asked me what I knew about the human Lyme disease vaccine and why it was pulled from the market. Since my veterinary hospital is located in what I refer to as the “epicenter” of Lyme disease, we frequently field questions about Lyme disease prevention and treatment.
While veterinarians practice on many species, humans are one exception. I confessed to my client that I was happy to discuss the canine Lyme vaccine, but the “V” in front of my “MD” meant I had little knowledge of the human Lyme vaccine. Always happy to cram more information into my overstuffed brain, I offered to research the human product. The common perception among my clients has been that the human vaccine was removed from the market due to safety concerns; this, in turn, has led many clients to question the safety of the canine vaccine.
Litter box issues are one of the most common, and frustrating, problems cat lovers encounter. Anyone who has ever been owned by a cat knows that there is nothing worse than the smell of cat urine on the carpet (or sofa, or comforter, or laundry…the list goes on.) The question: why is Kitty urinating outside of the litterbox in the first place?