Veterinary General

Not Business as Usual

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Not Business as Usual in 2020

As with everyone I talk to, I thought life would be back to normal / business as usual by now – actually, well before now. I’m not a fan of the term “the new normal” and I never will be, but now I’m beginning to wonder if things will ever be “old normal” again.

Like most businesses, the veterinary profession is being affected by Covid-19 and the constant changes in the way we can (and should) do business.  It’s just not possible to social distance when you have multiple people performing treatments on a pet so it’s necessary to wear masks and sanitize all day. We have a fairly small staff and we try to keep our circles tight. When a co-worker has to quarantine due to exposure, it puts a great deal of strain on the daily schedule. Additionally, staff with younger children have to reduce work hours due to on-line schooling. Because of staff shortages, it has become necessary to reduce our hours of operation.

We begin each day by taking our temperature and assessing our health.  Some of us choose our mask as carefully as we do our scrubs for the day. Speaking of masks, can I say that they certainly make communication a struggle?  Not just in person, but even more so on the telephone because they muffle our voice. With the need to speak louder, I go home each evening wondering if my throat is sore because of the mask or because I’m starting to get sick.

To keep our practice open and healthy, we have instituted curbside service. In this day of curbside food pickup and click-it grocery shopping, many of our clients like it – or at least don’t mind it. On the other hand, for many pet owners, handing their best friend over to face the veterinarian alone can be a struggle. I have to say though, I’m pretty impressed with how well your pets have been getting along without their guardians by their side. At times, we rely heavily on our Adaptil bandanas and Feliway spray for our nervous patients.  A dab of peanut butter, cheese, or Churu treats will do the trick for others but with some tender love & care we can get things done pretty efficiently.

Of course, we experience other struggles each day. Perhaps that big dog just won’t come inside or the client didn’t realize she had to call upon arrival or the doctor tries to call the client and they aren’t picking up the phone, etc. The latter is one of the problems that we frequently experience. Our phones are very busy and having five telephone lines, clients may not recognize the number we may be calling from. Then we have the client that thought he was supposed to drop his pet off.  This is probably one our most frustrating events because now we have a staff member pet sitting and unable to help with other services or bringing the next pet in for the doctor to see.

It’s understandable that people are frustrated with all of the changes and implementations in the face of this pandemic. Just when we thought we were nearing the end, new restrictions and guidelines are passed on to us.  We are meant to socialize, gather, eat, and just hang out with our friends and families. Everyone needs a good hug now and then and even that’s frowned upon right now. We are fortunate that as of today, our staff and immediate families have avoided Covid-19 infection. I’d like to think that’s because of the precautions we are taking and we hope and pray that we can continue to stay Covid free. It feels as though, this time around, it’s closer to home than ever.  Several area veterinary practices and Emergency Centers had to close temporarily due to Covid-19 outbreaks. I know the negative impact that has. Veterinarians are busier than ever. With just existing clients, our appointments are booked out over a week. Currently, we can’t even consider taking new clients. We take several calls daily from frustrated pet owners because their vets are booked out even farther. So many pets needing veterinary attention and we just aren’t able to see them all. This is not what we signed up for and it’s not easy for us.

I’m not sure where the next several months will take us. I am concerned about our staff running outside all day as the weather turns cold, the snow and ice is under foot, and the temperature changes from the toasty warm clinic to freezing outdoors will affect the health of our staff. This will be yet another hurdle in the ever-changing business experiences with Covid-19.  I just ask that you continue to be patient with us and know that your babies are in good hands.

Thank you for your trust and confidence and have a safe and healthy holiday season.

The Mouse and the Lion

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The Mouse and the Lion – Aesop’s Tale

When we were growing up, most of us heard or read Aesop’s tale of The Mouse and the Lion.  Versions of the story vary between a man (Androcles) or a mouse pulling a thorn from a Lion’s paw.  The lion is in such pain that he goes to extremes to take care of the mouse after the thorn is removed.  In veterinary medicine, sometimes we get to play the role of the mouse.

Once upon a time, we had Lexi, a mix breed dog, present to us with a bleeding paw after running in a field.  After a brief exam it was determined there was a wound on the underside of her paw.  During the examination of the paw we found a stick lodged in her paw.  The stick was so long it was pushing up on the skin on top of her foot, just short of going completely through.  Due to her high level of discomfort, Lexi was anesthetized to remove the stick.  Using forceps, Dr Barta carefully removed the stick via the entrance wound.  The stick was a half centimeter in diameter and 5 centimeters long (about the same length as a pink eraser).

Lexi’s wound was thoroughly cleaned, flushed and treated with cold laser therapy.  She was sent home with a bandage on her paw, oral antibiotics and pain medication.  After only 6 days of wearing her bandage the wound looked great and the bandage was no longer needed.

Our second lion in our series is Duke.  While Duke was visiting family he began limping on his right rear leg.  His owner thought he could feel a stick in his paw.  During the exam we found a wound on the underside of the paw.  Unlike the stick in Lexi’s paw, this object was thin enough to move – making isolation difficult.  Using a local anesthetic, Dr Barta was able to make a small incision and pull a thorn out.  The thorn was about an inch long, but very slender.  Duke went home with antibiotics and recovered well.

It is not often that veterinary medicine can be compared to a classic fable, but in these cases, we were able to play “hero” and save the day.  Our patients felt the relief of the thorn being removed just as the lion did.  They may not feel the same affection towards us as the lion felt toward the mouse but seeing our patients leave our office feeling better is all we can ask for!

Preventive Health Exams

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Spotlight on Preventive Health Examinations

Annual visits to the veterinarian are so much more than just vaccines!  Pets live longer, healthier lives if they keep fit and see their veterinarian yearly for preventive health exams. Early recognition of diseases is achieved by having a veterinarian perform a complete physical exam, screening blood tests, urine analysis, and microscopic fecal exams annually.  Complete preventive health exams involve a visual or manual (feeling and palpating structures) inspection of the entire body.  Even though this exam doesn’t take a lot of time, it can reveal hidden problems.  An examination begins at the nose and ends at the toes.  Let’s go through an exam to see what our veterinarians look for:

Overall Appearance: As patients enter the hospital the technician and veterinary staff are observing your pet’s overall appearance. Things that we observe at a distance include gait (is there a limp), coat condition; nail length, weight, and lesions.

Nose: Visual inspection at the start of the respiratory system to look for abnormalities such as crust or discharge.

Eyes: Visual exam of the eyes includes the cornea (surface of the eye), the internal structure, and tissues surrounding the eyes.  Veterinarians can look for any redness, irritation, changes in pupil size, changes in the lens (such as cataracts), adequate tear production, and pressure of the eye to screen for glaucoma.

Oral Exam: Teeth and gums are checked for evidence of dental tartar, gingivitis, periodontal disease, fractured teeth, or abnormal growths in the mouth.

Ears: Veterinarians will begin with a visual inspection of the ear flap and outer ear canal.  Continuing the exam we look for discharge, check for odors, hair in the ear canal, and finally an inspection of the tympanic membrane (ear drum) to identify any swelling in the inner ear canal.

Auscultation of the Chest: Next the veterinarian will auscultate (listen with the stethoscope) the chest, listening for normal or abnormal cardiac sounds (such as murmurs or irregular rhythm) and lung sounds.

Palpation of the Abdomen: Many organs can be felt and evaluated for enlargement or abnormal shape.  How comfortable the pet is during palpation can alert us to a possible problem area.

Lymph Nodes: When palpating the lymph nodes near the surface of the body the veterinarian is checking for abnormal size. Swollen lymph nodes can be a sign of disease or infection.

Evaluation of the Skeletal System: Feeling and manipulating all joints and bones for signs of swelling, and/or pain.  All joints are evaluated for range of motion and the gait is evaluated for any subtle lameness.

Rectal Palpation: This involves evaluating the end of the gastrointestinal system and anal glands for evidence of infection or abnormal growths.  Male dogs are screened for enlargement of the prostate gland.

Skin and Coat: Finally the veterinarian looks for evidence of any skin diseases, growths, and external parasites.

For Our Senior Pets

As our pets age, we don’t always recognize the subtle symptoms they may exhibit and commonly can be chalked up to age. Organ function can decrease over time without our pet showing any signs or symptoms of disease.  Wellness blood screens and urine panels should be done annually and even biannually in our elderly patients.  Trends seen in yearly blood panels can lead veterinarians in diagnosing disease early.  Early detection allows us to make changes in the pet’s diet and lifestyle, or prescribe medications if necessary.

Next entry we will take a closer look at routine blood work.



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Welcome to Veterinary General’s blog! We decided to enter the world of blogging not only to educate our clients, but to educate other pet owners around the world. The internet can be a source of great information, but also a lot of misinformation, rumors, myths, and opinions presented as fact. We will make our blog a great educational resource filled with unbiased, scientifically backed information that you can rely on. However, we want to make sure it is reader friendly and as free of medical jargon as possible, so our blog doesn’t become your cure for insomnia.
To start our blog we wanted to begin with a sensational, attention grabbing article that will make anyone want to read more every month. No pressure right? Since our goal, was “a new year, a new blog,” we thought an introduction to our culture is a good place to start. Below is a scholarship paper written by a valued employee that moved on to be certified in physical rehabilitation. We feel she captured our philosophy precisely.
How Veterinary Technicians Make a Difference in Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary technicians are the medical partners to veterinarians; highly skilled and knowledgeable, technicians are an asset to the veterinary practice. Technicians fill many roles in the hospital as well as keep it organized, sanitary, and running smoothly. Out of all the essential tasks technicians perform, the biggest difference a veterinary technician can make is to the families of the pets they treat. Without the families who own pets, veterinary medicine could not exist. When a technician loses sight of the client, they lose sight of the very essence of veterinary medicine; helping improve the human-pet bond through better health and well-being of their pet.
Every new kitten or puppy gives a veterinary technician a chance to lay a solid foundation of trust and respect between the family and their veterinarian. A technician can aide the family through the ups and downs of puppy and kitten hood, and provide the guidance they need to raise a great family pet. As the pet grows so does our relationship with the family, sharing the pain of needle like teeth and the laughs of baby antics.
As puppies and kittens grow up the technician walks the family through their pet’s spay or neuter, and this is often the last time they see their patients as babies. Educational puppy and kittens visits become annual, wellness, or vaccine appointments. These yearly routine visits can easily make families feel like a number. Asking questions, observing, and listening to the family, a technician can use their knowledge to identify potential concerns before they can become medical problems.
As their pets age or become ill, veterinary technicians can make the biggest difference in the family’s life. Technicians, with their knowledge of diseases and pharmacology, can guide the family through treatment regimens and explain the disease processes to truly educate the family to the health status of their pet. This allows the family to leave confident in their decisions, treatment plan, and diagnosis for their pet. Clients educated by their veterinary technicians are less likely to venture to other non-medical sources for their medical information.
Veterinary technicians can work with their veterinarians to develop plans that must fit the needs of the patient and also fit the needs of the family. Treating and preventing illness is our long-term goal and client compliance is the veterinary professional’s biggest hurdle. If a family feels they cannot follow through with the treatment plan a technician communicates with the veterinarian to alter the plan. Compliance cannot be forced, but can be inspired by a caring, patient technician who knows the special needs or circumstances that surround the patients and their families.
Veterinary technicians can use their skills to aid elderly patients in a humane and caring manner. Technicians are there to share the grief of the families when a poor diagnosis is given. They are there for families without judgment, with words of sympathy, and a box of Kleenex when it is time to say goodbye. With the veterinarian, technicians help the family through the loss of their beloved family member with compassion and kindness.
From adoption to the senior years, veterinary technicians make a difference to the health of their patients, but also their family. It is an honor to support the bond between a family and their pets. This bond is the cornerstone of our profession. As veterinary technicians we have a choice to embrace our clients as families caring for their loved ones as best they know how or just another appointment, this choice can be the difference between a rewarding career or just another job.
We hope you enjoyed the article and the introduction to our practice’s culture. Next entry we will cover socialization of puppies! This will be a series of posts aimed at creating a socialization plan that is fun and customized to your puppy’s personality.

Cathryn Adolph, LVT, CCRP